My Experience at Founder Institute

I graduated from the Founder Institute’s Paris Spring 2011 program. I want to write this post so that anyone interested in joining the program can get an idea of what the program is like. If you have any questions, please feel to reach me at gangadhar at sulkunte dot net.


Founder Institute is a Silicon Valley based startup incubator which has branches in many cities/countries in the world – Paris, Singapore, Chile, Indonesia, Brussels, Berlin etc. These branches then recruit many of the local entrepreneurs to serve as mentors to the founders. The local directors of the institute will themselves be entrepreneurs. The goal of the program is to take founders with ideas to start a viable business at the end of the program.


The application process involves a intelligence test which is a standard IQ test. Once you get through the entrance tests, you will pay the fee for the program before joining the program. The program is a series of sessions where the mentors (local and visiting) will talk about different aspects of starting your company – how to validate your idea, how to write your business plan, writing and executing marketing plans, fund raising etc. You will take this and apply to your company as part of the work for that week.


At every session, the founders get to pitch and hone their pitch about their company. The sessions are one evening a week and take place over a period of 3-4 months. They are very rigorous involving meetings with your teams and assignments.


This is probably the only incubator program that accepts solo founders. They will try to help you find co-founders in the program. They will also point you to the many startup related programs taking place in the local community. I know of a couple of founders who found their co-founders in the program.


The advantages of the program as I see it are:

  • Getting a cohort of founders with whom you can bounce your ideas and get great feedback. Personally, this was the best part for me since it instantly got me a community of founders which I would have difficulty getting to since I moved here recently.
  • Connecting to the local startup community and the investors community
  • Great feedback that you will receive about all aspects of your idea or startup as part of the program.

You should be aware of the following:

  • You should be serious about working for your company at the end of the program.
  • The program is very rigorous. If you are a solo founder, you will be working on all the assignments by yourself apart from your day job. This can be over whelming and you might drop out of the program.
  • Have funds to spend on your company since you are building your company as part of the program.
  • Have some technical expertise since you will be doing many technical things like setting up your domain, email, blogs etc as part of the program.
  • Check out the local mentors to see who will be a good fit for your type of business.
  • The program is mainly for technology startups. If you starting a different type of company, your experience will be very different and you might want to check the local mentors list to see if anyone will fit your company’s profile.

I hope this post helped you. Please let me know in the comments or by email.

Definition of Patient Centered Outcomes Research

The PCORI (Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute) is looking for input on their definition of Patient Centered Outcomes Research.

If you are wondering what it might be, the current working definition is this (copied from their site):

Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (Working Definition)

Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) helps people make informed health care decisions and allows their voice to be heard in assessing the value of health care options. This research answers patient-focused questions:

“Given my personal characteristics, conditions and preferences, what should I expect will happen to me?”
“What are my options and what are the benefits and harms of those options?”
“What can I do to improve the outcomes that are most important to me?”
“How can the health care system improve my chances of achieving the outcomes I prefer?”

To answer these questions, PCOR:

Assesses the benefits and harms of preventive, diagnostic, therapeutic, or health delivery system interventions to inform decision making, highlighting comparisons and outcomes that matter to people;
Is inclusive of an individual’s preferences, autonomy and needs, focusing on outcomes that people notice and care about such as survival, function, symptoms, and health-related quality of life;
Incorporates a wide variety of settings and diversity of participants to address individual differences and barriers to implementation and dissemination; and
Investigates (or may investigate) optimizing outcomes while addressing burden to individuals, resources, and other stakeholder perspectives.

As you can see from the definition, medical research done withe emphasis on patient’s quality of life and impact on their life and family is Patient Centered Outcomes Research. If you want to weigh in on the definition, head over to the “call for inputs” page on PCORI’s website.

Glut of Positive Reviews Online

Today, I came across this article in NYTimes about how Tripadvisor, Yelp and such sites are having too many positive reviews of restaurants and Hotels. The problem is that many of these positive reviews are commissioned by the business owners to give their business a very positive online image. Cornell researchers are studying how to identify the fake reviews from the real ones.

For an average consumer looking for a real review, there are a couple of options. One – look for the reviews which are the most critical of the establishment. These tend to be real. Also look for pictures posted by the users along with the negative review. If you can live with these type of problems, then the restaurant or hotel is for you. If not, look for a different one.

The other strategy is to look for the most recent reviews. If the most recent review is within the last month or week, you can believe it. This might also be a commissioned review but you are looking for consistency in the reviews. So if the negative reviews and the most recent reviews match in what they like and what they do not like, you have a good idea of what to expect in that establishment. I think this is enough information to decide if you want to do business with that establishment or not.

If you have any other strategies, please post them below.

Privacy in Mayo Health Site

Privacy settingsI was recently asked by a friend to vote for their essays on So I headed over to the site only to find that they require you to register before voting. Since registration would prevent duplicate votes, I felt that this is a fair thing to request of the voters. In the process of registering Mayo wanted me to tell them my birthday, name, city, state etc. Then they wanted me to share my health topics and concerns with them. I gave them all the information. The real surprise came on the last page  of “Privacy Settings”.

Take a look at the attached picture. The privacy settings are all set by default open to public (“Everyone”). Dear Mayo, we trust you to do the right thing. Unlike Facebook, please have our default privacy settings to be stricter than “Everyone”.