Startup Depression?

You might have heard about it. Most start up founders get depressed. (Here are exhibits A, B and C). I read about it and in my naivete, I thought I was immune to it. This is a post to put my depression out into the world and hope that it also helps some other founder who might experience it during their startup life.

As with everyone, I have had my share of depression. The good thing is that I get out of it soon thanks to my awesome wife and son. So far most of these episodes have not affected me longer than a day. Like they recommend in the exhibits above, surrounding myself with awesome family and friends is a good way to get out of the d-spot when it hits you.

This time it was different. We encountered a problem with our Android app. You can read about it here. The issue was that we had done everything we could to test the app before it was released to the market and yet we encountered this problem. We even tested the app once again using the Android 2.3 emulator but we could not replicate the issue.

I have to give credit to our awesome users throughout this process. They were extremely nice and willing to provide screen shots, logs and any other information that we needed to identify this issue. One of them even sent us an email saying “Don’t be embarrassed about this problem. I am glad to help you guys since you are creating such an useful tool for people like us!”.

But even with these words of encouragement, I felt depressed. I realize now that my depression had to do with the fact that I am unable to do much about this problem (mainly because I am not developing the Android app). Looks like one of the ways I have been staying clear of depression is to meet my problems head on and take care of them. Since in this case, I cannot take a hands on approach to solve it (by writing code myself!), I felt depressed. Very.

Once I realized this, I knew that the only thing that I can do is to go to the other ways to tackle the d-situation. Go back to family and let the knowledgeable people solve the problem they know and understand very well. So I went for a walk with my son, talked about people, sky, earth and the moon and I am now back to being my normal self.

BTW, the Android problem is still unsolved. I know that having the confidence that it will be solved is almost 90% of the way there. I will hopefully post an update on that front soon.

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.