TheFunded to Bring Startup “Training Camp” to San Diego—Eyeing Other Cities From Seattle to Boston to Paris
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of 79 entrepreneurs who attend evening sessions several times a month, which enables students to continue working at day jobs. The curriculum, which is led by experienced business mentors, focuses each class on assignments that are intended to directly benefit the early stage businesses that student-founders are working to develop. In addition to CEO mentors, Ressi says the institute also has recruited corporate partners and service providers, such as such as Intuit, Microsoft BizSpark, and the Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati law fim, to provide the founders with needed products and services.
At a time when entrepreneurs are not getting much help from traditional sources of venture funding, Ressi also has developed an unusual funding model for startups enrolled in the institute, one intended to encourage hesitant investors and share the prospective upside with CEO mentors, partners, and other students in the program. The institute asks participating founders to contribute warrants equivalent to 3.5 percent of each company. The warrants form a pool that is shared among the CEO mentors, partners, students, and other participants in the program. (CEO participants are also asked to pay a course fee, which Currie says will likely be $495.)
Prospective investors are welcome to attend three “investor friendly” sessions in which students make 15-minute presentations, answer questions, and get immediate feedback. Currie, who attended one of the San Francisco investor sessions with Jacobson earlier this week, says, “It was a very collaborative process, something I’ve never seen before.”
The idea is for everyone to get a stake in the outcome. As Ressi puts it, “What we are trying to encourage is an ecosystem within the institute that has the best interest of the entrepreneurs at heart—and that shares the economic interest as well.”