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! 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 100000 times in my prayers through-out my entrepreneurial journey).

When I first met Adeo a day before the first session, it didn’t go too well because my pitch was bleah, like you can’t even call that a pitch. It was in 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 students disappeared. In the third, a couple of students were gone. I’m the only girl left and couple this with being the youngest person in class – not too good on my morale. I totally experienced this spotlight effect of stereotypes weighing against me. (#chimtalk) Decided to compensate it by being an overly-uptight group president – not good either. It was after a month when I ease into the flow.

If you are interested, we started off the semester with about 30 people but only graduated with 14 founders (13 companies).

Fast forward, I’m now the founder of Learnemy who can pitch pretty decently (video coming up soon, if my face don’t look too fat), 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.

I remember this prof in NUS who’s in charge of Social Entrepreneurship (big give-away of his identity there) who was very friendly, provided his contacts and said, “if you have any questions, feel free to contact me” 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 in the lot (simply because I’m the only one there, I can use any adjectives I want. #selfpraise).

Elisha Tan is the Founder of TechLadies. TechLadies is a community for women in Asia to connect, learn, and advance as programmers in the tech industry. Elisha is also the Developer Programs Regional Lead for Asia Pacific at Facebook.


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