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Founders School: 'Just in Time' Lessons for Entrepreneurs

Thom Ruhe

You don't need to spend countless hours in a classroom, or have an MBA to become a successful entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs often don't have the time or patience to sit through a semester long class or six-week course in order to retrieve the answer to a question they have now--today. They need help quickly and efficiently. And this is where our idea for Founders School started.

In my own entrepreneurial journey, I remember coming to points while starting my company where my knowledge or education couldn’t provide me with the information I needed to make a sound decision. This happens to many startups in their early days. They need a “just-in-time” answer for the cumbersome decisions that arise, whether it be about when to hire a salesperson or when to start protecting your intellectual property. This is exactly the reason we created Founders School, the Kauffman Foundation’s new (free!) online, educational resource that provides lessons for entrepreneurs in a curricular style.

FoundersSchool_webFounders School looks to address the areas that have been left on the backburner by other online resources. When we started throwing around the idea for this project over a year ago, we didn't jump in blindly. We scoured the web to see what other sources were currently offering, and found several gaps in the education they were submitting for perusal. These gaps are where we have focused our Founders School content, answering questions for the beginning entrepreneur that must be part of starting a company.As we seek to encourage more people to start and grow companies, the Kauffman Founders School allows us to reach entrepreneurs with critical education, delivered by best-in-class experts, that, until now, hasn't been broadly available.

When you give your first presentation, how should you start? What's the difference between an investor pitch and a sales pitch? What's the consequence of disregarding your IP strategy from the beginning?

These questions and countless others are what our content experts try to help entrepreneurs answer as they throw themselves into their new venture. We continue to search out the gaps in entrepreneurship education as we prepare our upcoming modules that will be rolling out next.

The setup and easy-to-use Founders School system makes it useful not only to entrepreneurs themselves, but also those teaching and mentoring entrepreneurs. With a curricular structure, teachers at universities and community colleges can apply our program to their classrooms in the form of flipped classroom models and discussion tools, and mentors, advisors and resources can pass this online program onto their entrepreneurs and startups.

Mr. Kauffman spoke to founders when he said, "you should not choose to be a common company. It's your right to be uncommon, if you can. You seek opportunity to compete. You desire to take the calculated risk, to dream, to build...even to fail, and to succeed." With Founders School, we hope to provide assistance to those who are prepared to travel down the risky road of entrepreneurship n the form of educational lessons and advice needed to assess the consequences of their actions, and make the best choices possible.

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