Become a Startup Founder (Complete Course)

Learn everything you need to know to launch your startup! Taught by Aaron Patzer (Mint), Phil Libin (Evernote), and more
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  • Lectures 75
  • Length 67.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 10/2011 English

Course Description

The Founder Institute presents "Become a Startup Founder" - the first online program designed to teach you everything you need to know to launch your startup.

Become a Startup Founder is a comprehensive step-by-step program to help Founders launch a meaningful and enduring technology company at their own pace.

The curriculum and the assignments are based on the intensive four-month Founder Institute program, an entrepreneur training and startup launch program that has helped launch hundreds of successful companies across the globe, like Udemy. The more than 55 videos organized in this offering represent the most inspirational, most informative and best-rated talks by leading CEOs at Founder Institute sessions worldwide. Everything has been curated to assist in your success.

Your instructors for this course include legendary entrepreneurs, investors, and startup gurus, such as:

Aaron Patzer

Aaron Patzer is both the visionary and technical mind behind, now the leading free, online money management tool in the U.S., and purchased by Intuit for $187mm in 2009. In 2008 he was named one of CNN Money's "Money Heroes", and a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneer. In 2009, he was named to Inc Magazine's Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30, and Fortune's Top 40 Business Leaders Under 40.

Adeo Ressi

Adeo is the Founder of the, an online community of entrepreneurs, and the Founder Institute, a pre-seed startup incubator launching hundreds of technology companies per year across four continents. The Institute is the eighth startup that he has founded or built - four of which were acquired and three of which are still in operation. Adeo also sits on the board of the X PRIZE Foundation, a non-profit organization solving the world's greatest challenges through prize competitions.

Dan Shapiro

Dan Shapiro is the founder and CEO of Sparkbuy Inc, a comparison shopping website recently acquired by Google. Previously, Shapiro was founder and CEO of Ontela, a pioneering mobile imaging company, where he was named CEO of the Year by MobileBeat. Ontela was frequently recognized including the Dow Jones Top 10 in Wireless list, receiving the CTIA award for Best Social Networking Application, and being named Breakthrough Startup of the Year by the WTIA. Ontela merged with Photobucket in December of 2009 where Shapiro now holds a seat on the Board of Directors.

Russell Fradin

Russell Fradin is the Founder and CEO of Dynamic Signal, a new startup in the Social Media Marketing and Monitoring space. Prior to founding Dynamic Signal, Russ was the co-founder and CEO of Adify, acquired by Cox for $300M in the Spring of 2008. Prior to starting Adify, Russ was the SVP of Business Development for, EVP of Corporate Development for comScore Networks, and VP of Business Development at Flycast/Engage. Russ is the Chairman of Social Shield and is also a Board Director for, Udemy and Red Aril.

Phil Libin

Phil Libin is the CEO of Evernote, a web service designed to allow users to easily capture and store information, memories, and content in any environment. Phil was a founder of two other successful tech startups, is an investor and advisor in several startups, is the inventor of several issued and pending technology patents, and holds a top-secret security clearance from the Department of Defense.

Jonathan Abrams

Jonathan Abrams is the founder and CEO of Nuzzel, and Co-Founder and Managing Partner of the Founders Den. Previously Jonathan was the Founder and CEO of Socializr, Friendster, and HotLinks. Jonathan was hailed as "The Social Pioneer" by Vanity Fair in June 2008 for creating the pioneering social networking service Friendster, and was also honored as one of the world's top young innovators by the MIT Technology Review.

Mike Stemple

Mike currently is CEO/Founder of Mosoro, which builds a developer platform that enables real-world objects to communicate with smartphone apps. Prior to Mosoro, Mike served as Founder and CEO of Odojo, which allowed parents to monitor their child's Social Networks for inappropriate content & the Internet for leaks of their personal information. Previous to Odojo Mike served as Founder and President of Mike's background also includes serving as Founder, Chairman and CEO of nReach Inc. which was purchased by SmartServ, Inc., and TRIPDA/Nomad Labs Inc. Mike is a Colorado native, a graduate of Metropolitan State College, a governor appointee to The Colorado Governors Council for Physical Fitness, and a proud veteran of the US Army.

Sebastien De Halleux

Sebastien de Halleux co-founded and was COO of Playfish, one of the largest and fastest growing social game companies, which was acquired by EA for $400m in November 2009 where he was appointed Vice President of Business Development for EA Interactive. Prior to Playfish, Sebastien was part of the founding team at Macrospace, a European mobile games startup which merged with US-based Sorrent to form Glu Mobile and grew to a $337m IPO in March 2007. Sebastien also helped incubate Nokia Ad Service, an entrepreneurial new business unit at Nokia aiming to monetize traffic across 850 million Nokia handsets. Sebastien holds a Master's in Civil Engineering with honours from Imperial College, London.

Fred Joyal

Fred is CEO and co-Founder of Futuredontics, better known to the public as 1-800-DENTIST. Fred's mission in building the 1-800-DENTIST brand was to provide a consistent flow of screened patients to member dentists and, equally important, to encourage millions of consumers to visit the dentist on a regular basis. Fred has written, produced and appeared in more than 100 of the company's television and radio commercials, which air more than 5,000 times each month on major networks nationwide. The company also has evolved to the point where 50% of their referrals come through the Internet. Fred recently published a book, "Everything Is Marketing: the Ultimate Strategy for Dental Practice Growth", written for dentists and dental office managers, which is already in its third printing.

Joe Bezdek

Joe Bezdek is a co-founder of DivX, Inc., the creator of the popular DivX video format and technology. While there, he filled a variety of roles in product management, marketing, and brand management, most recently as brand director. He has a BS and MS degrees in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M and The University of Texas - Austin, respectively. He also serves on the board of trustees of the Rady Children's Hospital Foundation in San Diego.

Gabriel Yoran

Gabriel Yoran is co-founder of consumer privacy software company Steganos and Europe's leading location-based social network, aka-aki. He is an expert in product design and consumer marketing with more than 10 years of professional experience. Products designed by Gabriel have earned numerous awards, including two Webby Awards and numerous Best Buy and Product of the Year awards in magazines like PC WORLD. Gabriel is a regular speaker at IT and mobile industry events such as Wireless Communication and Information (WCI), World Usability Day, Web 2.0 Expo, Mobile 2.0 Summit. He also gives Master Lectures on Entrepreneurship and Product Design.

David Weekly

David has been programming since he was five and has coded for MIT, Harvard, Stanford,, atWeb, and Legato. David wrote the first layman's description of MP3 in early 1997 and graduated in 2000 with a BS in Computer Science from Stanford, where he was a President Scholar and a finalist in the ACM International Programming Competition. David started the company that became PBworks in 2003. He likes to throw hacker parties (he co-founded SuperHappyDevHouse in 2005 and Hacker Dojo in 2009), connect people, fly helicopters, and build useful things. David won Best Mentor in the SF Summer 2010 Session and Most Supportive Mentor across the whole global FI program in 2011.

Eric Ries

Eric co-founded IMVU in April 2004 and served as Chief Technology Officer from its inception to August 2008. Eric is the co-author of several books including The Black Art of Java Game Programming (Waite Group Press, 1996). While an undergraduate at Yale University, Eric co-founded Catalyst Recruiting. Although Catalyst folded with the dot-com crash, Eric continued his entrepreneurial career as a Senior Software Engineer at, leading efforts in agile software development and user-generated content. In 2007, named Eric one of the Tech's Best Young Entrepreneurs. Eric earned a B.S. in Computer Science from Yale University.

Heather Harde

Heather Harde is the CEO of TechCrunch. She spent the last ten years working within News Corporation. She held a variety of corporate development, strategy and operating roles both in Los Angeles and New York. Most recently, she was part of the founding team at Fox Interactive Media and their SVP Mergers & Acquisitions. Her team spent over $1.3 billion on eight acquisitions and two equity deals during her tenure. Their acquisitions spanned pre-launch start-ups all the way through public-company and pre-IPO buyouts.

Craig Kanarick

Craig is a seasoned executive with over 15 years of experience at the nexus of business, technology and design and was the co-founder, Chairman and Chief Strategic Officer of Razorfish. He has also held positions as SVP at Blockbuster Digital Technologies, Chief Creative Officer at Broome Crosby Limited, and Studio Leader at Rockwell Group. He received bachelor's degrees in philosophy and computer science from the University of Pennsylvania and a master's degree in visual studies from the MIT Media Lab.

Jeffrey Dachis

Jeff is the CEO of Dachis Group, the worlds leading Social Business transformational services and software company. Jeff's leadership and vision helped establish the digital services industry more than a decade ago when he co-founded Razorfish, Inc. out of a one-bedroom New York City apartment, which grew to$250 Million in revenue and 2,200 employees. Dachis is also a Senior Partner at Manhattan-based Bond Art + Science, which specializes in information architecture and user experience design for digital media and information services. He serves as an advisor to companies including Bazaarvoice and Waterfall Mobile. Jeff has also served as Co-Chairman of the Producer's Guild of America New Media Council East, and a frequently appeared as a lecturer and speaker, and in publications such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Wired Magazine and in television appearances including CNBC, CNN, 20/20 and 60 Minutes. His honors include Ernst&Young's Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000, among others.

Naval Ravikant

Naval is an entrepreneur, angel investor, and a co-author of Venture Hacks. He is also the co-founder of AngelList. Previously, Naval was a co-founder at Genoa Corp (acquired by Finisar), (IPO via, Hive7, Inc., and (now one of the largest auto shopping networks online). Naval has also advised, iPivot, and XFire, among others, and invested in many companies, including Twitter, Social Media, Jambool, SnapLogic, and Disqus.

Jason Calacanis

Jason Calacanis is the CEO of, a human powered search engine and founder and CEO of LAUNCH and ThisWeekIn.. He was previously the co-founder of Weblogs, Inc. with Brian Alvey, and the GM of Netscape.

Philip Kaplan

Philip Kaplan is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Blippy. Formerly he was founder and CEO of AdBrite, and creator of Philip is the best-selling author of F'd Companies (Simon & Schuster). Blippy is backed by Charles River Ventures and Sequoia Capital. AdBrite is backed by Sequoia Capital and is the largest privately-held ad network.

Shervin Pishevar

Shervin is a visionary technology entrepreneur, published researcher, and technology incubation expert who raised nearly $40M in venture funding for his start ups. He is a managing director at Menlo Ventures, and is the founder and executive chairman of SGN, one of the leading social and mobile gaming companies with 17 million unique downloads of their games since 2008. Shervin was founding president and COO of Webs, and is an active angel investor or advisor in such companies as Aardvark,, Gowalla and Kissmetrics. Shervin was a member of the Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) policy working group that helped create the Obama Technology and Innovation Plan. His achievements have been highlighted by the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, LA Times, CNN and CNBC.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • All of the key secrets for startup success told in confidence by top CEOs.
  • How to research and develop a good idea.
  • How to come up with a strong name and brand.
  • How to secure top legal representation, incorporate and manage law firms.
  • How to recruit cofounders, hire employees and fire weak performers.
  • How to identify revenues streams and build a viable model.
  • How to identify, hire and manage vendors.
  • How to market and publicize your business.
  • How to deal with investors and close an angel and venture round.
  • Access to the best-rated talks by the best-rated Mentors in the Founder Institute, the largest startup incubator in the world.
  • Links, tools and other digital resources to help every Founder get better and to help your startup grow faster.
  • Detailed company-building exercises that you can follow at your own pace to build your business step-by-step.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Startup MBA Assignments
12 pages
Section 1: Vision, Values, and Ideation
What are you passionate about? What is your vision? How do you translate your passion and vision into a business idea? How do you brainstorm ideas? What are the tools for evaluating your ideas? What are the makings of a good idea versus a bad idea? Should you pursue multiple ideas at once, and when…
Sebastien de Halleux of Playfish
Phil Libin of Evernote
Fred Joyal of 1-800-Dentist
Glenn Kelman - Your Vision & Idea Types
Reading Idea Guide (Required Reading) - Teaches what it takes to build great companies from day one. Will it Fly? by Evan Williams - A blog post about how to evaluate a new product. Idea Evaluation by Entrepreneur Magazine - An idea evaluation checklist. Resources Idea Evaluation Worksheet (Required…
Section 2: Startup Research
What market are you pursuing? Is the target market big enough? Is it growing or shrinking? What are the other characteristics of your market, and why do you care? How do you find data on your market? How do you define your competitors? What are inexpensive tactics to do custom market research, such…
Jim Kaskade of SIOS Technology
Joe Betts-LaCroix of OQO
Winston Choe of Innoscape
Dan Shapiro of Photobucket
Reading Customer Development is Not a Focus Group by Steve Blank - How to interview customers to test your key assumptions. Note on Market Research by Rob Chess (paid item) - How to use market research and market information to test the validity of a business concept and to refine a business plan. H…
Section 3: Naming and Branding
What is a brand? Is it you? Is it your vision? How do you determine what you stand for, and then how do you come up with a good company name? What are the characteristics of a good company name? What do you need to do to protect your name? First, examine who you are by writing a list of 20 adjective…
Aaron Patzer of Mint
Joe Bezdek of DivX
Roger Yee of ShadowLogic
Gabriel Yoran Aka-Aki
Craig Kanarick of Razorfish
Reading Igor Naming Guide (Required Reading) - As discussed by Jay, the naming guide provides a framework to think about product and business names. Very comprehensive and thorough resource. Zillow Article - Answers the question, "Should we call our site something literal or should we make up a new…
Section 4: Startup Legal and IP
What does a new Founder need to know about law in order to run a successful startup? When should a Founder use a lawyer, and when should you rely on your own work? What are the key terms in contracts to understand and to avoid? What are common legal mistakes? How should a Founder handle their intell…
Phil Libin of Evernote
Dan Shapiro of Photobucket
Jim Franklin of SendGrid
Michael Seibel of
Reading Founder Institute Incorporation Documents (Required Reading) Patent it Yourself by David Pressman - A detailed and comprehensive guide to the process of getting a patent. Resources DocStoc - Standard legal templates and documents directory. Startup Company Lawyer by Yokum Taku - Comprehensiv…
Section 5: Cofounders, Hiring, and Firing
What talent do you need in the beginning to be successful? How do you recruit the first team members with extremely limited resources? How do you conduct a thorough interviewing process? How do you compensate? How do you set expectations, measure results and remove or fire under-performing resources…
Aaron Patzer of Mint
Jonathan Abrams of Founders Den
David Weekly of PBworks
Dan Arkind of JobScore
Justin Moore of Axcient
Reading How to Write a Good Startup Job Listing by GoBigNetwork TopGrading by Bradford Smart - How to hire the smartest and best people for your company. What to Look for in a Cofounder by The Netsetter blog. The 10 Most Serious Hiring Mistakes by Dan McCarthy. Resources Glassdoor - Compensation Res…
Section 6: Revenues, Costs, and Profits
How do you plan to make money? How do you build a financial model? What are the types of expenses, such as fixed expenses and costs of goods sold, and how do they scale? How do you know if your model is right? What do angel investors and venture capitalists expect from your financial model? How do y…
Phil Libin of Evernote
Heather Harde of TechCrunch
Heather Harde of TechCrunch
15 pages
Alex Rampell of TrialPay
Ryan Alfred of BrightScope
Jay Samit of SocialVibe
Reading A VC (MBA Mondays) by VC Fred Wilson - A blog discussing business models and financial issues. Both Sides of the Table by Investor Marc Suster - A blog that covers financial and business topics. by entrepreneur and investor Chris Dixon - A blog that covers financial and business t…
Section 7: Product Development
How do you get from an idea to an offering? What are strategies to identify and prioritize features? How do you take a product definition and turn it into a development plan? What should comprise a minimum viable product? What are effective strategies to build your first offering? What are common mi…
Gabe Zichermann of Gamification.Co
Jeff Bonforte of Xobni
Eric Ries of The Lean Startup
Eric Ries of The Lean Startup
62 pages
David Weekly of PBworks
Reading Product Design and Development by Karl Ulrich - The book presents a set of product development techniques aimed at bringing together the marketing, design, and manufacturing functions of the enterprise. Getting Things Done by David Allen - Tactics to organize efficient task lists. Database D…
Section 8: Outsourcing, Partners, and Suppliers
What should you outsource, and what do you need to do in-house? How to segment the vendors that you need? What vendors do you need right when you start, and what vendors will you need as you grow? How do you recruit and select the important vendors? What are tips and tricks to manage vendors in orde…
Heiko Rauch of
Bob Rosin of Skype
Furqan Nazeeri of Viridus / John Predergrast OF Blueleaf
Mike Stemple of SkinIt
Aaron Patzer of Mint
Reading List of Potential Vendors - Comprehensive list of potential startup vendors. Request for Proposal Defintion by Wikipedia - An overview of key high-end vendor procurement terms. Should Tech Startups Outsource Product Development? by Vivek Wadhwa - TechCrunch article on the pros and cons of ou…
Section 9: Marketing and Sales
How do you portray yourself and your business to the world? How do you tell the story of your company? How do you define your ultimate success? How do you attract the first customers and partners to your vision? How do you involve your customers and partners in your success? What are techniques to r…
Craig Kanarick of Razorfish
Rajesh Setty of
Mike Grandinetti of Southboro Capital
Jeffrey Dachis of Razorfish
Dan Daugherty of rentBits
Reading How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie Master of 500 Hats by Dave McClure - A blog about investing, entrepreneurship and marketing. Resources Google AdWords - A place to advertise your sample messaging. Facebook Ads - A more targeted place to advertise your sample messaging…
Section 10: Presentation and Publicity
How do you get the world to take notice of your company? What are tips and tricks to present your business? What tools do you need to succeed with outreach? How do you identify newsworthy milestones? How do you craft a successful media release? What are effective tactics to get social media, the blo…
Phil Libin of Evernote
Ryan Kaltman of Brevity
Naval Ravikant of AngelList
Jeff Bonforte of Xobni
Philip Kaplan of Blippy
Resources - Publishing platform for corporate blogs. - Update status updates on multiple locations. Posterous - Post stories once to many locations. Techrigy  - Social media monitoring tool.
Section 11: Fundraising
When is it realistic to raise capital for a brand new company? How should you calculate the amount of money to raise? How should you define the  use of proceeds? What materials are required to fundraise? How do you identify and qualify target angel and seed stage investors? How do you find a lead in…
Jason Calacanis of Mahalo
David Teten of Navon Partners
Shervin Pishevar of SGN
Russell Fradin of Dynamic Signal
Reading VentureHacks - A blog about strategies to raise capital. Equity Fingerprint - A guide to equity for entrepreneurs. Redeye VC by Josh Kopelman - A blog by the managing director of First Round Capital. Feld Thoughts by Brad Feld - A blog by a managing director of Foundry Group. peHUB - A VC de…

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Instructor Biography

Founder Institute, Globalizing Silicon Valley

The Founder Institute is the world's largest entrepreneur training and startup launch program, helping aspiring founders across the globe build enduring technology companies. Based in Silicon Valley and with chapters across 40 countries, the Founder Institute has helped launch over 1,310 companies in 5 years. The company's mission is to "Globalize Silicon Valley" and build sustainable startup ecosystems that will create one million new jobs worldwide.

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