'You must be slightly delusional': 5 tips for building a startup from the Founder Institute - Technical.ly Philly


‘You must be slightly delusional’: 5 tips for building a startup from the Founder Institute

The Founder Institute, which is bringing a 13-week course to Philadelphia next fall, hosted a pitch bootcamp during Philly Tech Week 2017 presented by Comcast.

A call for volunteers to pitch during Pitch Bootcamp.

(Video by Donte Kirby)

Philly startups, you are not a Silicon Valley unicorn but you can be a shiny pony.

Founder Institute (FI) is a startup launch program that in September is bringing their 13-week course to Philadelphia. The org has brought programming to Philadelphia before.

Apply here

Their goal is to create an ecosystem that breeds startups led by entrepreneurs that have the skills and veteran support to execute on a million-dollar idea.

Philly native Brenden O’ Hara, managing director of FI, accompanied by fellow FI director Kat Klasnic, gave a six-hour crash course on pitching a startup during Philly Tech Week 2017 presented by Comcast.

Brenden O'Hara gives pitch advice at Philly Tech Week 2017. (Video by Donte Kirby)

Brenden O’Hara gives pitch advice at Philly Tech Week 2017. (Video by Donte Kirby)

A few major keys to nailing not only a pitch but building a startup:

  • Stop worrying about people stealing your precious idea like Gollum.

“If your idea is any good you’ll have to shove it down people’s throats,” said O’ Hara. Being secretive prevents feedback. Feedback turns good ideas into great ideas. “What you value is execution over ideas.”

  • An elevator pitch should never include “I’m looking to raise money.”

Asking for money makes people shutdown and that’s counterproductive to making a connection. “You are not trying to sell,” said O’ Hara.

  • Be wary of false positive feedback about a startup idea.

“The opportunity cost [is] working on a business for a long time thinking people will pay for something when they really won’t,” said O’Hara. Failing fast and moving on beats failing slow.


  • Remember the Madlibs approach to structuring a pitch.

We solve [X problem] by providing [Y advantages] to help [Z target audience] accomplish [Z’s goal].

  • “To be in the entrepreneurial mindset, you must be slightly delusional in your head,” said O’ Hara.

Balancing irrational optimism with realistic objectivity is the tightrope every entrepreneur walks “because you have to believe you can do something most people don’t believe they can do.”   

Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-
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