Peter Relan has built up a lot of experience in his tech career and his five-plus years running the technology incubator YouWeb. He mentors the entrepreneurs who go through the YouWeb incubator one at a time, but now he wants to share his knowledge with a broader group of people. That’s why he is launching FounderQuorom, a web site where he will post his weekly advice on all things founder-related.
The FounderQuorom.com web site will provide general advice from Relan’s experience and answer difficult questions from founders. In an interview with GamesBeat, Relan said that his incubator’s approach has been to focus not on ideas, teams, markets, or business plans. Rather, he focuses on founders, whom he calls “fellow hackers.” By contrast, Idealab started by Bill Gross focuses on ideas, and Paul Graham’s Y Combinator focuses on teams with business plans. Relan likes mentoring “amazing technical developers,” even if they didn’t have startup ideas. While there are now hundreds of incubators and business accelerators, relatively few take Relan’s approach.
But that approach didn’t scale, and as Menlo Park, Calif.-based YouWeb’s reputation grew — it spawned social and gaming companies including OpenFeint, Crowdstar, Pluto, iSwifter (now Agawi), and Spaceport.io — Relan got hundreds of applications each year from aspiring founders. At YouWeb, he has been incubating companies since 2007. In the past, he didn’t have a way of helping them, but with FounderQuorom, Relan hopes to make a bigger impact.
“I’ve learned so much, the least I could do was share it with everyone who wants to be a founder,” Relan said.
Relan is kicking off the posts with a story about how he became a hacker and started with programming at the age of 15. He will also have an early post on seven steps that entrepreneurs can use to turn an idea into a real business. Relan has a track record as a serial entrepreneur, Silicon Valley executive, angel investor, and tech veteran for over 25 years. Last year, mobile-gaming firm Gree bought YouWeb-spawned OpenFeint for $104 million.
Relan said he had ideas for more than 30 posts, including topics such as The Evolution of a Founder and The Evolution of a Startup.
“Having a hands-on involvement from Peter and from the YouWeb team was a big reason we were able to grow so quickly and successfully. I think the YouWeb model needs to play a bigger role in the ecosystem as entrepreneurs need more mentorship than a few minutes per month,” said OpenFeint co-founder Jason Citron, a returning founder who has started his second company, Phoenix Guild within YouWeb.
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