The Founder Institute: My crash course in Tech Startups

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“Globalizing Silicon Valley” is the ambitious tagline of the Founder Institute. Basically, FI is a 4 month part-time course for anyone who wants to do a Tech Startup. No prerequisites. You don’t have to be a coder. You don’t have to be a business guy or marketer. You don’t even have to have an idea coming in. All you need is the time and energy to work your butt off in an extremely taxing program for the next 4 months.

I enrolled in the first Founder Institute batch in Manila last June, and it is about to come to a close. Graduation is in 2 days and I’d like to share some of my experiences and learnings while in the program. I know I tend to be long-winded, so I’ll try to keep this short. I’ll share first some notable highlight experiences and then some main takeaways.

 

Highlights during the past 4 months

The Customer Validation Assignment. All my business ideas were destroyed in the first 2 weeks. We had to generate 3 ideas, and then conduct interviews with people who would potentially buy/use the product. I didn’t sleep much in those 2 weeks and still I had no solid idea to go forward with.

Shelving my first idea. Finally, after getting a low score at the Mentor Idea review, I got a very difficult special assignment. It made me realize that what I was building, or at least the angle in which I was presenting it was not as unique as I thought. I decided to shelve my original idea and co-found Jumpsparc with Ely, one of my classmates in the program.

 

Main Takeaways

It’s not about what I can imagine. It’s about what people want. Keep listening. People think that customer validation is a phase to get through, and once done you can start building. Of course you can start building at any time, but the truth is, knowing a customer is a continuous process that never stops.

I should know what I am excellent at, and what I stink at. Doing a startup is really hard. I can’t do it all on my own. In this program, I realize that I am very strong technically, but am lacking on the business side. I’d give away everything for free if left on my own. I need someone to see value from other people’s perspective.

Entrepreneurship is crazy. It’s hard to find like-minded people in the normal everyday scenarios. This makes the working group an extremely valuable resource. That’s where we brainstorm, get feedback, get support, connections, you name it. Eventually we have grown very close and are cheering each other on in our respective businesses.

 

Best benefits of the FI program

The network and people you meet. I came in working as a developer and had zero connections to the startup world. I didn’t know anyone into tech startups, let alone any mentors who I could consult to guide me in my journey. Now I have my working group, as well as access to all the mentors who helped us along the way.

The learning and wisdom gained. Benefitting from other people’s mistakes, successes, and well thought through hindsight has changed my view of business. I know enough now not to jump into just any project, and that there are ways to see if it is really viable before going all in.

The drive. Entrepreneurship is in the air. With everyone talking about addressing needs and pain points that people have, you can’t help but be encouraged to go and change the world!

 

Conclusion

All in all, it has been a great experience for me.  I can honestly say that I now look at the world, as well as how I can affect it, in a very different way. Everything is now more realistically difficult.  But anything is now possible.

If you have a business idea, want to get into the tech startup scene, check out the Founder Institute at http://fi.co.

A simple procrastination hack that helps me get more sleep and stay productive

Insomnia episode: It’s late at night. My wife is asleep. My two daughters are too. I’m the only one awake and … I’m so excited because I can finally get some work done! My mind is bursting with things that I could do. Read a book, write a blog post, learn something new (in this case its IOS / Web dev), do some other task that’s been on my list for a while.

In my excitement to be productive, I choose 2 or 3 things and try to do them all at the same time, as well as checking my mail, facebook, feedly, linkedin, twitter, etc… Before I know it, it’s 2 or 3am, and I haven’t actually completed any single task.

Sound’s familiar? Yup, this has happened too many times for me. It’s my own form of insomnia. Whenever I lie down to sleep, my mind just suddenly fills up… with things I’d like to do, things I’m not yet finished with, and a host of other ideas. I know I need to sleep. But with my mind running at the speed of thought, what am I to do?

A solution occurred to me just the other day.

Continue reading

A not so fresh start (Who am I? And what do you care?)

So it’s been over a year since I made a real blog post… I’m thinking it’s time to restart. A renewal has happened to me over the past few weeks, and I just feel that the time is right to re-open. And what better way to re-open but to introduce myself again.🙂

Who am I?

Developer/engineer – I love seeing how things work, and tinkering with them to make them work better. I write code for small devices such as smart cards and wearable technology. I’m also learning mobile and web dev on the side.

 

Teacher – I enjoy helping people understand and be able to achieve new things. It’s a great feeling when I see them experience the “aha!” moment.

 

Family man – I am married with 2 daughters, ages 5 and 17 months (as of writing). By June we will start homeschooling our eldest.

 

Christian – gratitude is the key to humility and happiness. I will be forever grateful that Jesus came, lived, died, and rose again to show me what life really is all about. Up to now, I am still learning.

 

Freedom fighter – I believe that finding your purpose and passion and living it out is a natural process. Unfortunately, many things are in the way. Time issues, money issues, attitudes, physical weakness, fear and other things all tie us down and hinder this natural process.

 

And what do you care?

My purpose for this blog is to help you fight for (and win!) freedom from the things that take you captive, so your purpose and passion will be yours for the taking. We all need an environment where we can see the blocking points in our lives, where we feel safe, as well as empowered to change. Hopefully, we all grow together.
’til next time.
Mike
Just a question for the comments:

How can I help you? Ask me anything, or send me a tweet @MikeAlbano99

A Purposeful Interruption

What is a Pint?

A Pint is a Purposeful Interruption. Instead of the mundane interrupting your inspired time, why not interrupt with the mundane with something inspiring?🙂

The best Pints are the ones that are short and are meaningful to you. The most meaningful ones are the ones you write yourself, but if you’re not up to the task of writing right now, here are some quotes to get you started with OneMoment.

General Inspiration Quotes

“I don’t regret the things I’ve done, I regret the things I didn’t do when I had the chance.” –Unknown

“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” – Bill Cosby

“Forget all the reasons it won’t work and believe the one reason that it will.” – Unknown

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” – Steve Jobs

“Nobody ever wrote down a plan to be broke, fat, lazy, or stupid. Those things are what happen when you don’t have a plan.” – Larry Winget

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” – Carl Bard

Fitness Quotes

taken from (http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/fitness_programs_article.aspx?id=2927)

1. Strive for progress, not perfection. -Unknown
2. You want me to do something… tell me I can’t do it. -Maya Angelou
3. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. -Wayne Gretzky
4. If you don’t make mistakes, you aren’t really trying. -Unknown
5. You live longer once you realize that any time spent being unhappy is wasted. -Ruth E. Renkl
6. Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. -Mahatma Gandhi
7. Motivation will almost always beat mere talent. -Norman R. Augustine
8. I’d rather be a failure at something I enjoy than a success at something I hate. -George Burns
9. Energy and persistence conquer all things. -Benjamin Franklin
10. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
11. No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. -Aesop
12. Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. -Albert Einstein
13. Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. -Lou Holtz
14. Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. -Jim Ryan
15. I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. -Michael Jordan
16. Fear is what stops you… courages is what keeps you going. -Unknown
17. The finish line is just the beginning of a whole new race. -Unknown
18. The difference between a goal and a dream is a deadline. -Steve Smith
19. Just do it.™ -Nike
20. In seeking happiness for others, you find it for yourself. -Anonymous
21. The secret of getting ahead is getting started. -Mark Twain
22. It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not. -Anonymous
23. Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity. -Oprah Winfrey
24. It’s never too late to become what you might have been. -George Eliot
25. Clear your mind of can’t. -Samuel Johnson

Money Quotes

“I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money.” Pablo Picasso

“What difference does it make how much you have? What you do not have amounts to much more.” Seneca

“The art is not in making money, but in keeping it.” Proverb

“Know what you own, and know why you own it.” – Peter Lynch

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Thomas Edison

“Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.” James W. Frick

“In investing, what is comfortable is rarely profitable.” Robert Arnott

“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” Carl Sandburg

“If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.” Ben Franklin

Wall Street is the only place that people ride to in a Rolls Royce to get advice from those who take the subway.” – Warren Buffet

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffet

“It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.” – Warren Buffet

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” – Warren Buffet

Bible Quotes

The Top 10 Bible Verses of 2012 (Taken from BibleGateway)

10. Proverbs 3:6

“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (KJV)

9. Psalm 23:4

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (NIV)

8. 1 Corinthians 13:4

“Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant….” (CEB)

7. Proverbs 3:5

“With all your heart you must trust the Lord and not your own judgment.” (CEV)

6. Romans 12:2

“Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.” (GNT)

5. Philippians 4:6

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (ESV)

4. Romans 8:28

“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (NRSV)

3. Philippians 4:13

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (NASB)

2. Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (NLT)

1. John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV)

The best workout if you have no money

As promised in an earlier post, the most efficient workout if you have no time, here’s the best workout if you have no money.

I thought long and hard about this one. There really are so many options out there to look at that will give you some results. But I finally chose one fitness program to share with you that I can truly say will give you the best workout, for free.

My criteria for recommending a workout was really strict.

  • It has to be free.
  • Bodyweight with no special equipment.
  • You should be able to do it anywhere.
  • It has to be doable for all ages.
  • It has to be ‘tweakable’ for all fitness levels, and will give you a good progression.
  • It has to be full body, not just focusing on arms or any specific body parts.
  • It should give real world strength and not focusing on just aesthetics.

So here it is.

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3 simple things that will refresh a boring life

Have you ever been impatient with your life, waiting and waiting for the next exciting thing to happen?
Have you ever felt like you’re stuck? In a situation or a routine that you can’t get out of?
 It’s not very comfortable. What’s worse is we feel like there’s just nothing we can do about it.
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We’ve all been there. But the good news is that the solution to a boring life is not as far as you think.
Here are 3 ways to dramatically improve the quality of your life.