“Founder Labs was the best way to keep my thoughts innovative.”: The Volunteer Perspective

This post was first published on 7/25/11 on the Founder Labs blog.

Two weeks ago, Founder Labs’ first session in New York, lead by Shaherose Charania, wrapped up with an awesome demo night at the USV event space. Leading up to that evening, I spent many of my nights and weekends working with her and the teams as a volunteer, and I’m grateful to have been part of it.

What I found from the inside was that Founder Labs really is a different type of startup accelerator. The company is run by a team of brilliant and totally authentic women. When they advise on team dynamics, they’re leading by example. The participants were unique too. Every single team consisted of technical minds, business minds, and design thinkers. They all had widely varying experience and perspectives from all aspects of life. I spend my time in the startup world, and many of my coworkers and closest friends are white male engineers in their 20’s — and that’s ok. The thing was, you could tell at Founder Labs that everybody was a whole lot more interesting because there was so much variation in their ideas and teams. The positive feedback loop was apparent. 

Founder Labs is designed for professionals who are moonlighting. You go in and are encouraged to keep your day job, while being provided with a best-in-class network of mentors to help you figure out if you, and your idea, are cut out for building a real company. Of course, if you are doing this while keeping your day job, you’re making double the time commitment. Participants weren’t afraid to shed some blood, sweat, and tears.

At Shapeways, I’m focused on contributing each day to the long-term growth of a meaningful company. With Founder Labs, the opportunity for me to temporarily put myself back into the mindset of seed stage, pre-funding entrepreneurs was one of the best ways to keep my mind fresh and my thoughts innovative. 

If you’re thinking about whether or not to take the plunge as an entrepreneur, check the program out. It’s run by some seriously high caliber people, and rumor has it they may even be back in NY soon.