Breakfast at Founder Institute HQ. Got to be a muffin and coffee from a cask. A large cask. With coffee. Not sure if the coffee bag could be used as a pillow later.

Surprisingly good coffee, by the way, which reminds me there is good coffee in the US. Even at Starbucks, a double espresso is a double espresso.

Another day of meeting with mentors including Paul D’Souza who very patiently reminded me that, no matter how cool Passel is, if I fail to get the potential client to take ownership and feel their pain, then they’re not going to buy. Yep, 20 years in B2B and I still need someone to point these things out

My favourite quote from Paul – “Find out how much shopping cart abandonment costs your prospect. Then ask – “Who, at this company, cares that you are losing this money every day?”.

Which brings me to an excellent part of the Founder Institute in general and FounderX in particular. No matter how much I think I know, there are others with more experience in different areas. Regardless of my (quite justifiably) high level of self-confidence, I only have the wisdom of one.

This is a big challenge facing the solo founder, and it is often hard to know who to ask, or even to get the people you want to speak with to connect.

As Founder Institute graduates, we have been pre-vetted which, I feel, gives the mentors the confidence to invest their time in us. They know we’re not time-wasters. We’ve got skin in the game and have given up full-time jobs to see this dream through to completion. They know we are people who will act.

The rest of the day was spent learning. Listening is an often overlooked skill in entrepreneurs. I loved meeting other grads and talking about their businesses, their solutions and their challenges. There is a theme throughout the startup world – growth is hard, especially in enterprise solutions.

I met the lovely Angela from Fat to Finish and was instantly captivated by her, and by Jen Roe’s story. I promised I’d run Monday morning when I made it home (and I did).

Also, Bram Cohen (founder of BitTorrent) was able to explain exactly how much seed funding Passel needs, and why, and when. Many had tried, but he cut through a lot of the noise and buzzwords to present a simple explanation. It’s $500,000 for two years, by the way.

Gold. Or, maybe Cryptocurrency?

Apart from that, there were the crazy Brazilians who, apart from inventing a version of Myki for about 1% of the cost, had managed to source some rocket fuel which they were generously sharing around. Then there was Rob from the Virtual Robotics League, Mark with his electric trike, Erica, a nurse who taught herself to code and build hardware so she could invent a device that somehow detects if a patient with Alzheimer’s is at risk of wandering off.

If that was not enough, it could also predict if someone is going to start road raging!

Congratulations to all the Founder Institute Graduate Award Winners! Will Passel be there next year?

Back to the campfire and I am introduced to Daniel Kottke. For an Apple fanboy like me this was pretty cool, and of course, I pitched him Passel. I was too shy to ask for a photo! How many times do you hear “it’s the things we don’t do that we regret!”? Especially the next day when a someone showed me their selfie with Daniel.

Another late night. My AirBnB host has skipped town for the week. I’m okay with that, as there is only one room in the apartment! I know rent in Silicon Valley is expensive, but the logistics of moving out of your flat whenever a guest stays is beyond me.