Over the last few years, we’ve spoken to more than 300 founders. Very few of them are technologists. Many of them have never even worked for a software company. Most of them are what we would call “domain experts” — they’ve spent years (usually 10+) working in a particular industry and, as a result, they understand the nuances of how that industry works. More importantly, they understand where it fails to work and the problems these failures cause. These domain experts have an itch to solve these problems. Many of them realize they need technology in order to do so.
This is where FounderTherapy comes in. We formed FounderTherapy to help the many domain expert founders in NYC that don’t have technical or product experience build successful companies.
Like many others before us, we were concerned about the state of the tech ecosystem. There was so much venture money being invested in less-than-stellar ideas, there were so many struggling founders with great ideas, and there were so many companies failing due to reasons that were entirely preventable. So, we built a company that addressed these exact issues.
While building FounderTherapy, we routinely attended events and talked to founders about their struggles. We’d ask them, “What’s keeping you up at night?” They responded honestly. Their answers and insights were surprising at times. We met brilliant, accomplished, industry experts who understood all the intricacies of the problem they were trying to solve, but lacked a compass for how to sell. We met promising, venture-backed companies that were increasingly anxious about how long it was taking their product and engineering teams to deliver product updates. We also met idealistic hustlers who’d sunk tons of money into launching products that no one wanted.
We also discovered that when founders turned to their existing networks and go-to education sources, the guidance they received was so general that it was unhelpful and, at times, directionally wrong. So where do founders look to get the help they need? And do they understand the root causes of their problems well enough to determine who can actually help?
Consultants want hundreds of dollars for their time and are often too specialized to provide feedback as it relates to the broader startup ecosystem. Investors sometimes have interesting ideas, but often aren’t product-minded enough to make strong decisions that affect the intricacies of each unique startup. Development shops might be willing to talk to founders about the technical aspects of their products, but they typically don’t have the product experience to help them shape their companies.
Once we discovered this gap in the community, we realized we needed to do something. We wanted to develop a space for founders to get honest feedback from a completely neutral third-party. So, we created FounderHours.
FounderHours are free founder-to-expert sessions designed to tackle founders’ most pressing issues. Our FounderHours format consists of a very brief introduction to our company, then immediately places the founder’s concerns front and center. All conversations are 100% confidential.
The response was tremendous. But that was merely phase one of our long-term vision for FounderHours.
We’d been in the testing and iteration process of FounderHours for quite some time before we recently decided we were at a point where we could scale the vision. Over the past few months, we’ve taken everything we learned and codified our program to help scale it out so we could help more people. This involves appearing onsite at coworking spaces to make it easy for founders to get help, sharing our insights on our blog, and offering remote options for FounderHours through video conferencing.
Our North Star metric is founder success, and we will always prioritize doing the right thing over any financial incentive we might earn from trying to save a company that has little chance of long-term prosperity. We bring this approach to our FounderHours sessions as well. If you liked meeting us and think we’ve provided some value to you, then we’re obviously thankful if you refer us to a friend who might need some more structured help. But all we ever ask of our founders is to be completely honest when speaking with us.
FounderHours offer learning experiences for us, too. We have grown tremendously in the ways we can help founders by listening to their needs and developing programs and tools designed specifically to address common issues.
In the future, we hope to roll out even more opportunities to help founders by hosting AMAs, creating helpful video content, and sharing the templates we use to help founders achieve product-market fit. But it all starts with our vision to create a thriving tech ecosystem that’s no longer dominated by “fail fast” and “ask for forgiveness, not permission” mentalities. We don’t want you to fail fast, or at all… we want you to thrive, and we’re willing to help you however we can.
If you’d like to sign up for free FounderHours with FounderTherapy, please get in touch with us!