Founder Speed-Dating Focuses on People vs. Ideas at Founder Labs NYC

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By Sonia Sahney (Participant, Founder Labs) This past weekend marked the beginning of Founder Labs’ first NYC endeavor. Like many other entrepreneur-support programs, Founder Labs aspires to foster the development of start-ups that will change the world… However, Founder Labs differs from other programs in that it focuses on picking people pre-team, and creating a mash-up of individuals’ unique skills and talents.

Part science experiment and part social experiment, the program combines 8 engineers, 4 designers and 4 business-focused people for 5 weeks. The program encourages the development of 4 person teams, and provides tender-loving-care in the form of mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs, investors and mobile experts.

This is the stuff reality TV is made of, but hopefully ours is the uplifting, happy-ending kind of reality TV like Extreme House Makeover vs. the train-wreck, booze-filled dramatics found on the Jersey Shore or the Real World.

I’ll give special mention to our dinner guest, Naveen Selvadurai - Foursquare co-founder and poster-child of the blossoming NY tech scene (literally, you’ve seen the Gap ad, right?). He fielded our many questions and spoke candidly on how he got started, sans glamour (e.g., quitting his job without a clear idea of what he wanted to do, having to take side jobs to make rent). As I listened to his story, it occurred to me that everyone has to start somewhere.

Of course we’ve discussed our ideas, but surprisingly, at this point it’s really not about the idea. We’ve been told, and I believe, that the idea will evolve and change so much over the next 5 weeks that it’s really not that important. What is important is finding complementary people and that very broadly, your areas of interest somewhat intersect. On a very positive note, I found I had interest/work-style overlap with most everyone (good job picking people, Shaherose) which greatly alleviated my team-matching-related anxiety.

Read the full post at www.founderlabs.org About the guest blogger: Sonia Sahney is a former engineer and a semi-professional shopper (10,000 hours+). This combination has fueled her passion for the intersection of digital and retail. Sonia is currently a management consultant based in NYC. She graduated magna cum laude with a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Michigan and has a MBA from Harvard. Follow her on Twitter at @ssahney.