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Pursuing My Passion, A Jump-Start With Founder Institute

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“It always seem impossible, until it’s done.”
~ Nelson Mandela

I’ve sat on an idea for months. Almost a year, to be exact, doing nothing about it. Until I stumbled on Founder Institute.

Eight years ago, I started moonlighting as a freelance copywriter. For 4 years I did that while holding down a day job in a multi-national corporation. And then later decided to quit my job pursuing my passion in writing as a full-time freelancer.

That was four years ago. I took a big leap, left my comfort zone and persevered endless challenges in an exhilarating journey doing what I love and making ends meet.

Two years into it, I realized a good amount of my time—half of it, in fact, was spent on not writing at all. The operations to manage my writing business took up most of my energy—things like getting clients’ requirements, generating official documents and proposals, getting payment, managing my accounts, and much more.

It got to a point that it was and still is damn frustrating. I dreaded the tasks most of the time. Hoping to jump quickly into writing without all those nitty-gritty. Then, I went about the Net to hunt for tools that could do the job for me. High and low, I’ve searched. Then, I tested out some of them—free trials, of course, otherwise I’d be putting a hole in my pocket to pay for them all.

Nothing helps.

Then it got me to thinking about how great it would be if there is something that’s catered specifically for writers who are focused on running a successful writing business.

That was when the idea came to me.

But, nothing got further than just a thought. I went on with my day-to-day stuff on the writing, continuing accepting the way things are because I was overwhelmed with deadlines and steady streams of projects.

Fast-forward to half a year ago. I casually walked into @CAT, one day, to meetup with friends and catch-up with acquaintances, for there was an event running at that time.

Little did I know that was when I came across Founder Institute program. Adeo’s face was plastered on the white wall, talking over a video call, I recalled. So, I walked over, sat down and listened. Few minutes into it, I realized that this could be it.

This could be my ticket towards realizing my idea.

Few days after the unplanned encounter, I enrolled in the Penang Winter 2016 Semester. I was asked to do a Predictive Admission Test—some psychometric test, which I later heard was to ensure we’re not psychopathic, to be eligible for the program.

On Feb 12, I got a letter from Founder Institute that goes like this…

Congratulations, you have been accepted to the Penang Founder Institute!
According to our Predictive Admissions Test, which has been featured in the The New York Times, CNN, and Forbes, you possess the traits needed to become a successful technology entrepreneur. In particular, you have above average fluid intelligence and openness, moderate agreeableness, and you do not show signs of deceit, predatory aggressiveness, emotional instability, or narcissism.

Less than a quarter of applicants are accepted, so you should be proud.

Yay, I’m not a psychopath! I got accepted. And so, everything else was history.

How the program has helped me

To refine my idea

The program has pushed me to deep-dive into my idea. Tore it apart, figuratively speaking, looked at it from different angles, and fine-tune it based on initial data. That’s where I sat down and drawn up a mind map of what the idea consists of. Investigate if they were viable, then go on about how to achieve them.

To consider the market/industry, existing players and opportunities

I’ve learned that merely focusing on your idea without understanding what’s going on around the world (in the context of the plan) would be paving a route full of uncertainties with a high chance of failure. Not like going through it would determine success, but more for us to refine or pivot the idea as we understand more about the idea, the needs and market fit.

To remain still functional despite red tapes and pressure

With the tight schedule and loads of work to do and juggling that with my writing business, there were times I felt so overwhelmed that I’d expressed in exasperations that “I don’t want to be adult today.” But, the program structure does not allow that. So I kept going.

To have relentless focus on the idea, strategy, and execution

It is so easy to let things slip off, especially when you have to juggle a lot of stuff simultaneously. Just like how I’ve sat on an idea for so long without actions. The program has helped me stay focused, making that first move, then the next and the next until my only next option is to go forward.

To go through the cycle of doubts and address the doubts with actionable steps

Throughout the journey of starting something from nothing, self-doubts and uncertainty tend to creep in on you from time to time. However, with the help of the program, I’ve learned to address them through actionable tasks and talking to the right people and mentors introduced through the program.

What I believe can be improved

The platform’s UI/UX is a pain for me. This may seem pretty small but as an advocate of productivity, I find it disconcerting. Don’t get me wrong; the outline of the assignments and detailed content is great.

But the execution of it gets me so frustrated.

For instance, after filling in the assignments, I can’t relate back to its corresponding task. That is unless I click the edit button, which I don’t want to because it’s wasting my time to wait for the page to load, then to check the outline and my input. I had to scroll up and down all the time to review a task and its corresponding input made. Because the tasks and corresponding answers are in two separate sections, they are not arranged together, chronologically, like a task and the corresponding answer. So, to check my input, I had to do a lot of incessant scrolling up and down.

This is just one of the many frustrations I came across while using the platform. And I believe an upgrade would be good. Something more user-centric and user-friendly, which offers better user experience would be great.

Also, at some point of the program, I realized the FI program structure is no longer suitable for my execution plan. I realized the program couldn’t be all encompassing for every scenario. That was when I thought about leaving the program because staying would be like wasting my time not working towards my plan—one I came up with after going through the FI assignments mid way. And when I found it difficult to meet the assignment needs, especially when it was not based on the new plan strategized, it just made me feel like I was wasting my time. It was as if continuing the program is just for the sake of completing.

I am not sure how this could be improved, given that the program has to follow a best-adapted structure to cater to everyone generally. But, it is this same structure that may turn out to be a problem for some people.


I’m glad I went with the program. I’ve discovered a lot of things about myself, besides how to start on an idea into something.

We’re graduating next week. The program may end soon, but my entrepreneurial journey towards my passion just gets started.

Also, despite a few hiccups a long the way, I would recommend Founder Institute program to the following groups of people

  • first timers who need to jump into actions and looking to bypass some common mistakes entrepreneurs-to-be may make
  • those who need to have a laser focus on working the idea and execution in a short time frame to quickly get the idea to market (like my case)
  • those who are looking for the right kind of exposure and experience for entrepreneurs-to-be but has no idea where to begin

If you have an experience to share about founding a startup, I would love to hear your experience. Just leave your comments below.

If you are interested in my startup idea and would like to know more, you can contact me at

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