Adeo Ressi doesn’t like what he calls a slanted field on the deals entrepreneurs get from investors. He says (I’m quoting):
Honestly, I think that the entrepreneur gets a raw deal today, and that this has gotten a lot worse since I started in 1994. Entrepreneurs are victims of a lot of predatory and exploitative behavior.
This has been bad for a while, but it’s gotten much worse. And it hurts the country, and the economy. We need to fix the availability of capital for entrepreneurs.
That led to The Funded Founder Institute, a four-month, $450 program to run selected entrepreneurs (including, by the way, wanna-be entrepreneurs) through weekly sessions with mentors and experts, ending with a certification that should smooth the path to investment. Microsoft BizSpark scholarships are available too, to pay the $450.
Adeo is serious about smoothing the path for founders. He says:
If we could eliminate all the headaches that the modern bureaucratic layering adds to start a company, and allow these founders to focus on the core business challenge, the likelihood of success increases dramatically. We want them learning how to do it right.
A brief interruption before I go on: this looks like a really good program to me, even though it’s brand new, and not certified formally by anybody else. Adeo has a good reputation, knows a lot of the right people, and he’s done some important things before. I think the certification he’s offering is likely to be very valuable. So if you’re interested apply now. Applications close for the first session, which starts this month, May 9. The application costs $50.
Look at some of the mentors already on board. Several are major Web names, founders or CEOs of Scribd, Mahalo, Socialtext, and so on. And Adeo told me has many more, including other mentors as well known as some of these, in the wings.
Adeo himself gives this program a lot of credibility. He’s the founder and main force behind TheFunded.com, a site I’ve posted about before, entrepreneurs reviewing investors. He got his skeptical view of investors the hard way, building companies. Game Trusts, one of his more recent efforts, won $15 million in venture capital and exited with acquisition by Real Networks.
He’s serious about leveling the playing field. The institute has posted sample startup documents including suggested deal terms more favorable to entrepreneurs than most. And the institute is offering to arbitrate disputes.
It’s also taking a piece of the action, which it’s hoping to reinvest in the long-term health of the program. Adeo says there will be warrants, linked to equity, as a “vehicle of valuable attribution.” That’s for “value as a sign to the mentors and the founders. And 60% of the warrant value goes right back to the participants. The remaining 40% is held by the institute as a value play.”