By Kostas Trakas

Those three words have become a mantra for countless entrepreneurs since Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup was published in 2011. While that ethos permeates the Founder Institute’s (FI) accelerator curriculum, there is something even more important in the design of the program – a deep sense of time. In the second session of our cohort’s journey, Aran Hamilton challenged us to be disciplined with our time because it is better to fail fast and move on to something else. I would add my own observation here as well, that there are a ton of bright young (or not so young) entrepreneurs out there hustling to take their idea (possibly something very similar to yours to market). That’s why for me, my FI takeaway will be another quote from Eric Ries, “The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else.”

Learning in this case doesn’t just mean product and business model experimentation – that goes without saying, but also learning from others in the startup community. The ability to meet and learn from new mentors each week in the program was in my opinion one of the most important benefits of the program.

Prior to striking out on my own, I worked at a Fortune 50 company with a team and a rich budget. As a solo-preneur (for the moment) I miss the value of being able to bounce ideas of other smart and talented individuals, I miss the benefit of diversity of experience and thinking, and I miss the emotional support when things aren’t going well. By working together as teams within the FI program I was able to regain some of the team spirit that I was missing.

Finally, FI brought structure to the entrepreneurial process. There are always so many things to do at any one time as an entrepreneur, but the program ensured that key elements of any business were addressed – customer validation, revenue models, legal matters, and let’s not forget pitch decks.   In that way, FI was a formative experience creating a solid base for my new venture. For anyone on the fence about FI, I would heartily recommend it. I promise that FI will test your commitment and your mettle as an entrepreneur – the experience simply cannot be duplicated.