Starting up

I’m a SGFI graduate

5 months ago, I shared about Founder Institute opening it’s second semester for admissions. I submitted my applications, got into the waiting list before finally getting enrolled and now, I’ve graduated!

Just a quick intro, the Founder Institute is the world’s largest entrepreneur training and startup launch program. Based in Silicon Valley and with chapters across 50 countries, the Founder Institute has helped launch over 1,650 companies in 6.5 years.

On this graduation day, I can still remember how crazily I prayed, telling God that if there is one thing I ever need in my life, it’s gonna be FI (but of course, I foresee that this ‘if there’s only one thing I ever need in my life’ phrase is going to be repeated multiple times in my entrepreneurial journey).

I first met Adeo a day before the first session, and it didn’t go too well because my pitch was … you can’t even call that a pitch. It was a mess. The pitch next day didn’t go any better, and we’re tasked to do an assignment and complete it before the next class or get booted from it. I remember freaking out and refreshing the FI homepage like every half an hour just to make sure that my name is still there. lol


In the second class, many other participants disappeared. In the third, a couple of participants were gone. I’m the only women left and also the youngest person in class so I put a lot of pressure on myself. So much so that I’ve decided to overcompensate my supposed “weaknesses”  by being an overly-uptight group president. It was after a month into the program that I eased up a little.
Just so you know, we started the semester with about 30 people but only 14 founders (13 companies) made it to graduation.

Today, I’m now the founder of Learnemy. I’m an entrepreneur who can pitch pretty decently, and have access to a network of 390 (30+ of them taught in my semester) mentors from various parts of the world. Founder Institute, at the risk of sounding like a parrot, is the best thing that I have done for Learnemy. No regrets. The quality and the availability of mentors are stunning. It is hard to find people who are good AND are available to you.

That reminds me of a story about this professor in my college. He was in charge of Social Entrepreneurship and was very friendly, provided his contacts and said, “if you have any questions, feel free to contact me”. I took up his offer and emailed him, but didn’t reply to my call for help. Well, instead of speculating whether he was indeed kind but over-stretched himself or just giving empty promises, I’ve come to appreciate people who are rich enough not to bother about me but still give me their time.

Last but not least, a great shout out to Jeffrey Paine, our facilitator for Singapore FI, for his effort in bringing and scheduling the mentors! Props to his pivoting in both quality and quantity of pizzas during session breaks as the semester progresses (Canadian pizzas ->Too little Canadian pizzas ->Too little Sarpino’s pizza -> Sarpino’s pizzas heaven + Enough pepperoni pizzas for everyone. He doesn’t talk start-ups, he demonstrate. LOL) But seriously, Jeffrey has the know-how and know-who and most importantly, is always available to answer all sorts of questions I throw at him.

Now now, why wouldn’t you want to join Founder Institute too?

SGFI semester 2 graduates + mentors and SGFI 1 graduates. As you can tell, I’m the prettiest/smartest/wisest lady of the lot (simply because I’m the only one there).

Tan is passionate about helping people make a living doing what they love. Currently working at Facebook as a Marketing Associate, Elisha is also the organizer of TechLadies, an initiative teaching women how to code.

Prior to working at Facebook, she founded Learnemy, an online marketplace where you can find in-person classes taught by local experts and enthusiasts.