Why I started Founders Network3 min read

Founders Network is a peer mentorship organization of over 350 tech startup “founders helping founders”. Members help each other efficiently solve startup problems through a private member site while building trusted relationships through offline meetings in SF/SV, LA and NYC.  All members are vetted through an approval process and pay annual dues that support a full-time staff dedicated to continually improving the network.

Too often tech founders can get sucked into a never-ending vortex of networking events where everyone scours name tags for worthwhile people to talk to (‘please, not another service provider!’) before quickly exchanging business cards and sitting down to listen to panel of speakers. At the good ones you’ll hear an interesting talk or make some useful connections. More likely though, you’ll return home to toss those business cards you collected into a pile and never pick them up again.

While these types of events can be energizing and fun, the likelihood of forming game-changing business relationships at one can be too small to justify them. For tech founders, time spent networking is also time not spent getting your product to market. Striking the right balance between the two is critical.

Two years ago I started Founders Network, a private group for tech founders focused on becoming better startup managers through problem-solving and peer mentorship. The idea: a vetted network of founders helping each other through advice, introductions and moral support is a more effective way to build enduring professional relationships than, say, attending happy hours with strangers. Since no one is more qualified to advise founders than other founders, investing in long-term, trusted relationships with a peer group can pay dividends throughout the life of your startup career.

Today, we have over 350 “founders helping founders” who take part in our private member meetings and forums. Topics range from protecting IP (“How much about our technology should we disclose to investors?”), to immigration issues (“Finding a Visa for my CTO”) and even staying motivated (“Keeping Jazz Hands in the Face of a Tough Raise”). Like clockwork, one founder after another weighs in — helping turn ambiguous challenges into finite sets of tasks, helping them avoid expensive mistakes and saving time finding what they need.

As a result of all this common problem-solving, we’ve fostered a powerful culture of camaraderie. Members refer to the group as “team”, offering multiple responses to questions with a shared sense of urgency. They speak off the record about the real problems they face and get unbiased founder advice; problems which can’t always be discussed easily with investors, advisors and other key stakeholders. As one member puts it, “There’s something wholesome about the experience that brings out the best in people.”

The foundation that Founders Network is built upon is an approval process which only admits experienced tech founders who make an express commitment to the success of the group. We are now adding a new cohort of tech founders each month, so if you’re ready to stop networking and start solving problems, check out our approval process and fill out an application before our next deadline on the 21st of the month.

Kevin started Founders Network to help tech founders achieve success through peer mentorship. Prior to Founders Network, Kevin advised hundreds of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs from idea stage through funding. Kevin was named “40 Under 40 in Silicon Valley” by the Silicon Valley Business Journal for his work with startups and promoting entrepreneurship. He has served on the adjunct faculty at both Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business and the University of San Francisco School of Business. Kevin holds a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Business Administration from Santa Clara University.

Comments 1

  1. Great post! I laughed at the “More likely though, you’ll return home to toss those business cards you collected into a pile and never pick them up again” bit. So true. Thanks again for starting FN!

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