A Non-Technical Parents’ Guide to Digital Tools for Kids Online Classes

Laaija's Desk

A new school season has started, and schools are moving online for the classes. There are lots of changes, and they are happening real fast, and all-at-once. Not all parents are ready to switch to a new lifestyle so fast, but we have to.

Schooling is going to be an entirely different experience for everyone involved — students, parents, teachers, and schools. It is not just about transitioning everything that happened offline in schools to the online world. It is a totally different approach, new thinking, and the eventual “normal.” Everyone involved will have to treat this in a new way — by the schools, teachers, and parents.

Today, I will try to focus on just a small piece of the more significant change — tools that will help kids be part of the new learning paradigm.

The Room, Space, and Lighting

You should try to have a separate space or a room dedicated to your kid to be part of the classes. The better lit the room is, the better. Try to have the light facing your kid — liting up her face and not from the back. A better option is to have sunlight coming in from an angle that is not too bright to the eye, but enough to light up the face. Try to avoid the sunlight shining directly onto the screen/monitor.

If you need artificial lighting, then a LED light lamp should do just fine.

Search for;

  • LED lamp
  • studio lamp

Devices

This depends a lot on the activities your kid will be involved in. Will it be just listening to the teachers, or will she be presenting at times, talking, and discussing with her friends and doing other digital activities during the classes? Let’s assume that the events will be a bit of all and better prepare for them than stand short when needed.

If your kid already has a device, use it and gauge the device’s performance before spending money on upgrades. Look for performance degradation of the quality of audio and/or video. It is always better to have much better quality audio than video.

New Device / Computer

Apple MacMini

If you have to buy new devices, and unless portability is crucial, invest in a desktop computer instead. Desktop computers allow for easier upgrades, have better performance, and are usually more economical.

I would personally suggest for a 16GB of RAM, and an SSD (Solid State Drive) instead of hard drives that have mechanical spinning parts. Don’t worry too much about the size of the SSD, a minimum of 200GB+ is suggested. You can always have a cheaper external drive for more storage. The other components will be good enough when you try the above particular configuration. If you are already thinking Intel, AMD, etc., then I believe you already know what you need.

If you’re more of a Mac Family and find it more comfortable, the cheapest MacMini would do just fine. If you can get an earlier generation MacMini or a refurbished one, it will still be suitable for a less expensive investment.

My daughter uses a 2012 MacMini with an upgraded RAM and SSD replaced drive. Well, Apple’s 2012 MacMini model is the last easily upgradable model. Please be advised that Apple hardware are tightly coupled and integrated with their software that an 8GB RAM might just work great.

Search for

  • Laptop with 16GB Ram, 256GB SSD
  • Computer with 16GB Ram, 256GB SSD
  • Laptop with 16GB RAM
  • Computer with 16GB RAM

Microphone

Even if you use a Laptop with a built-in microphone, I can guarantee you that they are not the best. Most software has become really good these days to filter out echo and other noises. However, a decent microphone goes a long way and will really help.

Here is my suggestion, in order of preference;

  1. Pop Filter Microphone with a stand, either on the desk or clipped/screwed to the table.
  2. Lavalier Microphone that can be clipped to your kid’s top/shirt.
  3. The last option is an audio headset (speaker + microphone). However, they come in the way of your kid studying or listening to the teacher.

Search for

  • Microphone kit
  • Lavalier Microphone
  • Headset
  • Microphone with Stand

Speaker

If your device or computer comes with a speaker, stick with it. Otherwise, any desktop speaker should do the job. If you have already invested in a Headset, then a separate speaker may not be necessary.

Search for

  • Desktop Speaker
  • Computer Speaker

Webcam / Camera

Video is needed but not as crucial as a Microphone. Your kid can get away with a not-so-good video, but her voice/audio should be the best possible. So, depending on your budget get for something you can afford. If your kid has a Laptop, stay with the built-in webcam but invest in the external microphone and audio setup.

Search for

  • Logitech Webcam
  • 720p Webcam
  • HD Webcam

UPS

Invest in a entry-level UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply). A UPS is used to protect hardware such as computers and other electrical devices where an unexpected power disruption could cause data loss, or damage to the devices.

Software

Besides the usual software that she will need, as suggested by the school, try to get some additional life-skill software-tools that will come handy. Some of the basics include but not limited to;

  • A calendar. Teach your kid to schedule class video calls, homework submissions, peer-to-peer meetings, etc. You should also have access to it, so you can help when needed. Google Calendar is a pretty good option.
  • A TODO app. Try to stay with the basic simple listings and not overwhelm them. A lot many people have wasted countless hours trying to hunt for the best TODO app, the best ways of using it. So, just stick to simple listings and checking items off. Better yet, stick to the physical Sticky / Post-it Note.
  • A Password Manager. It is high time to teach your kid to use a Password Manager. Some of the good ones are 1Password (paid), Keepass (free, open-source), Bitwarden (free, open-source, paid)

Upgrades

The next best upgrade after the basics are taken care off, would be, to separate their activity/study computer from the video device — have a device such as an iPad, a Tablet or a Phone just for the video calls/classes and a desktop or a laptop or a Raspberry Pi as their study computer.

The Books of 2018

Books by Oinam (2018)

I have a fascination with the novel by Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things. It is that one novel which I remember while starting to read serious fiction. Of course, I went through the usual teen-romance, teen-detectives, et al before I outgrew them soon enough in my early days. This year, I decided to re-read her book and it took me a really long time to finish it.

For quite a while, I’ve been practicing minimalism. Sometime last year, I decided to experiment with the idea of “essentialism” instead of just plain minimalism — stick to the essentials but pick the best possibilities in it. I like to consider minimalism as one of many ways to essentialism. I re-read Joshua Becker’s book – Simplify. If you’re into minimalism and want to explore more, you should also watch, Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.

My target for 2018 was to read about 50 books but ended up short at about 40. Some were re-reads and it was a good decision. Going forward, instead of trying to read more, I’ll experiment with re-reading good ones and going deep into them — less but more quality time with each book.

I also continued with the habit of including physical versions of the books that I read. That is one way to make my daughters learn and practice “reading books”. Reading on a Kindle makes them feel like I’m just looking at another screen.

I have lined quite a list of interesting books for this year.

A lot of my readings were focused on the Startups and Business world, punctuated with quite a few on entrepreneurship and life’s philosophies.

66% of small businesses fail, and it’s not for the reasons you think.

The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster is about the emotional journey of entrepreneurship. It warns of the forthcoming fears, doubts and self-defeating conditioning of past/upbringing, inoculate from the naysayers, dream stealers, and pains of rejection and failure and guide them through the skills of independence, self-motivation, and self-accountability. The idea is to safely past the landmines that blow-up of 66% of all new businesses.

Venture Capitalists, Tim Draper, tries to guide and outline ways for Entrepreneurs and Aspiring Entrepreneurs to succeed in the world of Startups and Businesses with his book How to be The Startup Hero. It takes you through a variety of activities, questions, stories, and challenges working both the right and left side of your brain and all the parts in between. The activities are challenging and sometimes even embarrassing. The questions are probing and provoking. The stories are used as examples to guide you toward the notion of Startup Heroism.

A new discovery I made was the philosophy of Stoicism, the idea of focusing on accepting things out of one’s control and maintaining mastery over one’s emotions.

The Daily Stoic presents in a page-per-day format – a daily resource of Stoic inspiration combines new translations of Seneca, Epictetus, Zeno with calls to reflection and action. The book is arranged topically following the three movements of Perception, Action, and Will, this guide features twelve principles for overcoming obstacles and achieving greater satisfaction.

“A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.”

Other books in a similar line of thoughts were that of THINK STRAIGHT, which reveals the recipe for taking control of your mind so you can improve your life, career, relationships, business.

Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now by Dr. Gordon Livingston is another book that will make you think hard and give a different perspective on life. Out of his lifetime of experience, Livingston has extracted thirty bedrock truths: We are what we do. Any relationship is under the control of the person who cares the least. The perfect is the enemy of the good. Only bad things happen quickly. Forgiveness is a form of letting go, but they are not the same thing. The statute of limitations has expired on most of our childhood traumas. Livingston illuminates these and others in perfectly calibrated essays, many of which emphasize our closest relationships and the things that we do to impede or enhance them. These writings underscore that “we are what we do,” and that while there may be no escaping who we are, we have the capacity to face loss, misfortune, and regret, and to move beyond them.

One of the best books that I’ll definitely re-read is Ego Is the Enemy. The book draws on a vast array of stories and examples, from literature to philosophy to history. We meet fascinating figures like Howard Hughes, Katharine Graham, Bill Belichick, and Eleanor Roosevelt, all of whom reached the highest levels of power and success by conquering their own egos. Many of us insist the main impediment to a full, successful life is the outside world. In fact, the most common enemy lies within — our ego. Early in our careers, it impedes learning and the cultivation of talent. With success, it can blind us to our faults and sow future problems. In failure, it magnifies each blow and makes recovery more difficult. At every stage, ego holds us back.

If you read The Martian, you might like Artemis by the same Author. Andy Weir tells us the story of Jazz Bashara’s life on Artemis, a fictional city on the moon. Life is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So, smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts.

While I was still in the celestial mode, I re-read The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking. Hawking is seeking to uncover the grail of science — the elusive Theory of Everything that lies at the heart of the cosmos. In his accessible and often playful style, he guides us on his search to uncover the secrets of the universe — from supergravity to supersymmetry, from quantum theory to M-theory, from holography to duality. He takes us to the wild frontiers of science, where superstring theory and p-branes may hold the final clue to the puzzle. And he lets us behind the scenes of one of his most exciting intellectual adventures as he seeks “to combine Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and Richard Feynman’s idea of multiple histories into one complete unified theory that will describe everything that happens in the universe.”

I decided to stay a while longer in space and time. So, I went ahead and read Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.

As a father of two daughters, I got the fancy of this title, which turns out to be an amazing crime-mystery British thriller — Their Lost Daughters.

I added Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House to my reading list to have some twist in my thoughts. Never before in history has a presidency so divided the American people. Brilliantly reported and astoundingly fresh, Fire and Fury shows us how and why Donald Trump has become the king of discord and disunion.

Here are other notable books in no particular order and preferences;

I continue to read, re-read, and carry around a copy of the book – The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Stan Liu

Stan Liu

Sometime during late 2004, I got introduced to Stan Liu by a prominent author in the Macromedia Flash Community. It was the start of a lasting relationship which I will cherish throughout my life.

Stan Liu became our client. My team and I worked for him. He was really happy with the result. He offered me a partnership and owner equity in the new venture. Later, he even went on to get a term sheet from an Investor, north of $1.5M. However, he felt the terms were not in our favor. By then, my company got acquired and we both drifted apart, hibernating our business idea.

Stan and Joan

In the summer of 2005, I got a good opportunity to visit San Francisco. I got invited to Macromedia’s Lego program to spend a week with some of the best Flash folks in the world. I also decided to head to Los Angeles to meet Stan Liu. I have many fond memories of meeting the family — Stan, Joan, and the then 4-year old Khylen.

I had my first experience with a luxury sports car — rev his Porsche (and years later his Maserati). I also experienced my first authentic Chinese cuisine. I learned a thing or two more about Hollywood, got pretty much free entry to Disneyworld (he worked at Disney). I had my first Sushi at the Yoshida Sushi Bar. Later that winter, I went back to his place and repeated many events, including spending the Christmas-eve with his family and friends.

He encouraged me to try this, try that, made me experience many new events. I remember us attending an Adult Film Industry conference – laughing like crazy in-between our animated poses taking pictures with the stars. Unfortunately, I lost that photo collection.

When I left them that winter, River was on his way.

In 2010, by the time I left Paisa (Infinitely Beta) and was pondering on what to do next, I talked to him. We started Levoma, Inc. He, pretty much, bankrolled my stay in Silicon Valley to be part of the Founder Institute in 2010-2011. I survived frugally but he was always worried that I might run out of pocket money. When I visited them before I leave for India, I met the whole family – Stan, Joan, Khylen, and River.

Unfortunately, the business failed; we pulled the plug and decided to work together on something else in the future.

The 8th of Aug, 2014 was a sad day. Stan pinged me on Skype for a talk. We had a long talk. He was sick and at a late stage. However, we drifted and discussed a few business ideas instead. He was full of ideas, all the time.

In the summer of 2016, I visited Stan and his family once again. He picked me up at LAX, “You looked pretty much the same.” I replied, “I was worried but you look pretty cool too. I don’t think anything is happening to you.”

I realized he was tired, he was no longer as agile as I knew him earlier. But, he was still energetic and going strong. We discussed a few business ideas again, introduced me to some new interesting VR stuffs, went to the movies with his family, joined their weekend family lunch, went shopping. I played few games with River and he beat me real bad; just like how Khylen used to beat me in his video games long back.

He saw me off at the Airport. As we hugged goodbye, he asked, “Do you need extra dollars in cash? Extra baggage, coffee, food! You never know when you need it.” He does that every time he drops me at the Airport. “I’m good. I’ll think over the idea, think of a plan. Let’s talk more.”

Last week, I got to know that Stan Liu is no more (Jul 12, 2017).

He was a caring person. I’ve lost a mentor, business partner, and good friend. Rest in Peace.

How to be a Good Parent, for the Lesser Mortal Startup Entrepreneurs

Yes, for those Startup Entrepreneurs, who cannot fly around the world with their kids, who cannot hire nannies at lavish hotels, and for those who do not have superhero, super-dad, super-mom tricks up their sleeves.

Being a Startup Founder and a parent; while seemingly dissimilar, both require a great deal of time, skill and dedication in order to be successful. It may sound like a daunting task, but is possible to run your startup while still maintaining a good relationship with your children.

Founding a startup can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor, but it is also a time consuming process. In order to accomplish your goals while still maintaining a healthy home life, it is important to manage your time wisely. It is easy to get caught up in the stress and excitement of your startup and neglect your family. By the same token, the commotion of a busy family life can cause you to neglect your startup. A healthy balance between work and family is absolutely necessary to running a successful startup while still being a good parent to your children.

Many have written and advocated on effective time management and routines to help you be a super-parent and a hustling Startup Founder. As a Startup Founder, you have to find your ‘style’ of time management and (un)routine to be omni-present for your startup and your family.

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I used Trello for my daughter’s school admission

In India, we have lots of good schools. The problem is getting to the right one in the right location. Ask any parent and they will tell you their adventurous stories of how they navigated through the chaotic processes of getting their kid admitted to the school of their choice.

Like any other established institutions in India, the Schools follow a rather bureaucratic and pain-in-the-rear approach to new admissions. Admission time is also the time when everyone involved with the schools is at their bossy-best, willing to dust off all their ranks and files to show-off “who they are and what they can do.”

Anyway, without going into the details of the discrepancies in the schools in India, let me tell you the story of how I used technology to streamline my daughter’s admission. I wanted to involve relatives, friends, and family without overwhelming them, so I needed a solution that is an easy, simple, and no-learning-needed approach to keep track of the progress.

Laaija

Let’s get my daughter admitted to a decent school in Bangalore, India.

Yes, I went to lots of ‘Education Fair’, stood in lines for hours in the hot Indian Summer, visited a hell lot of schools to check them out, met with teachers, roam around the campus, even talked to few students. Besides that, I tracked, labeled, and measured my actions and outcomes with Trello and mapped the locations with Google Maps. The mobile version of Trello (iOS and Android) is an awesome app and everyone involved really liked it.

My daughter outgrew her playgroup.

My daughter, Laaija, celebrated her 4th birthday on Dec 11, 2012. She is now ready for a ‘real’ school. She has already outlined the kind of school she would like to go to. It is a list of strange, funny, and cute (at least to us) criteria and we know what she meant. No, you won’t want to know that list.

Last October, I had initialized the quest for her school. We wanted a good established one and not necessarily some fancy ‘international’ school (without explicitly excluding them), should not be very far from our residence. I should be able to get there within 30 minutes in the typical Bangalore Traffic. It should also not be next-door so she can learn to be independent, travel, and enjoy her school.

Trello, Trello & Trello

I treated it like a Project – steps, processes, labels, issues – a flow borrowed from the Kanban Method, which Trello is very good at.

I created 6 core boards:

  • Inbox – Everything is dropped here first – school names, location on Google maps, notes on people’s review, facilities and amenities available etc.
  • Considered – All schools which we considered applying were dragged into the “Considered” Board. We try to add as many details as possible here.
  • Applied – This is the board for all schools where we applied for our daughter’s admission.
  • Accepted – Schools which have accepted us. It’s now our decision to pick the school, to get admitted or not.
  • Rejected by Us – The schools rejected by us irrespective of the selection of the schools. The Cards in this List can come from “Inbox”, “Applied” or “Accepted”. It’s not surprising that this List holds the most number of Cards.
  • Rejected by School – Of course, quite a few of the schools rejected our application. This List holds all those cards.

Labels

I used a few simple labels to help with the choices. A card can have one or many of these labels. The labels were

  1. Transport (yes)
  2. CBSE
  3. ICSE
  4. IGCSE
  5. Girls
  6. Boys
  7. Co-Ed

Collaboration

I invited a few of our relatives, friends, and family members to this Board. They were told to install the Trello Smartphone apps, so they can do it easily on their phones and not worry about being totally involved.

The idea is to take notes and just write-down details while visiting a School or just seeing one while I travel around Bangalore, made it easy to sort them, work on them later. Writing down helps me free up my brain to concentrate on my work and not worry about my daughter’s admission all the time. The same goes for my wife, relatives, friends, and other family members to help us, without the need to indulge in useless talks, gossips, and lousy phone calls.

Yes, I finally got my daughter admitted a few days back and she is excited about her new school. We hope she will like it and have fun with her new school.

I created a Public Template of the Trello Board if you wish to use it – Picking a School (India). You should change the List Names, Labels to cater to your requirements.

Besides the activities that I cannot ignore, Trello really helped me get our daughter admitted and freed up quite a bit of my effort, time and I was able to continue my work while I stay engaged with the Admission Process.

Updates

It will be incomplete for this article if I do not include the story of the ‘interview’ which got my daughter selected. We were invited to meet the Head of Department (HOD) aka Principal of the School. She talked and got my daughter comfortable, after which she asked her questions including the likes of Apple’s color, the monkey’s favorite fruit. She was a bit concerned about my daughter’s inability to count numbers. The last question she asked my daughter was to use the crayons and draw a circle. That’s easy as Laaija is very good at drawing. She drew a circle. The Principal told her, it was awesome and finally asked her if she can draw a Balloon.

At that moment, I thought my daughter was doing pretty well and we’re pretty close to finishing this event. My wife told me later that, Laaija will now draw a balloon easily. The cool part was, instead of drawing a separate balloon, she just added the thread to the previously drawn circle and made it into a balloon. My wife and I were surprised and I’m pretty sure, if anything, that was the one that sealed the deal. :-)

Y Combinator’s new Gambit is the ultimate founder dating & recruiting manna

There’s been quite an array of reactions to the new move by Y Combinator when they announced the application for startup entrepreneurs sans the idea of a Business or a Product. As a ‘Startup Entrepreneur’, my spontaneous reaction, wrapped in a tweet was, “any entrepreneur or founder eager to do a Startup will be brimming with ideas.”

Oh! Yes, I don’t hesitate calling myself a Startup Entrepreneur these days as I’ve failed quite a few times to have experienced and know a thing or two about Startups and Entrepreneurship.

However, on a second look at YC’s initiative, I realized this is a brilliant gambit – YC is ready to take a much bigger albeit calculated risk for a long term winning move. Here’s why.

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6 months with an iPad & its my daughter’s favorite companion

Last November, when I was away to be part of the Founder Institute, my wife and daughter went to stay with the in-laws in our hometown – Manipur, a north-eastern state of India. My daughter have a very fuzzy eating habit and have to be watching something while she eats her breakfast, lunch and dinner. With no Internet in that part of the country and frequent power-outages, she was having a hard-time. I sent them an iPad (3G) and had a BSNL SIM carved out to fit into the MicroSIM Slot of the iPad.

Luckily during those days, Manipur was one of the testing ground for 3G internet in India and the speed was very good. With the internet working flawlessly, my wife was able to get my daughter to watch her favorite YouTube videos and she fell in love with the iPad. Few Barbie apps were the early apps downloaded to the iPad and she loves them. She even begin to called the iPad, “Barbie”. Even today she would ask me to put the “Barbie” to charge and sleep at night so she won’t die. These days she does say iPad but mixes it quite often with “Barbie”, “iPad Barbie”, “Barbie iPad”.

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“Cogito Ergo Sum” i.e. I blog, therefore I am

I blog there I am
I blog therefore I am (source : GoComics)

It is the generation of the lazy, the people who need their 11am cuppa coffee to even register that they are alive, and the generation of the creatively competent, the ones who are up all night writing about their fantasy alternate worlds. Is blogging dead then?

Writing isn’t easy, and Blogging is even tougher. Keeping up with the self acquired deadline of creating something readable on a regular basis is quite a task, especially when the only proceeds are the comments and a readership. Blogs that began as a drunken epiphany have a short shelf life, and even the ones that were born out of a meticulously thought out ideology are tough to keep up with. So what do you do when you want to prove that blogging is your calling, especially in this micro-blogging obsessed world that gets jaded if you write more than 140 characters? Do we need to force-fit blogs into snack-sized containers?

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The Founder Institute Experience

Those 101 days at the Winter 2010 Bay Area semester, Founder Institute was one hell of an action-packed, fast-paced learning experience. Some of the who’s who of the Startup world, who mentored us delivered some of the best sessions, which taught us a lot more than we anticipated. Thanks a million to Adeo Ressi.

Let me tell you my story

Somewhere around July 2010, I left Paisa.com after working with it for a year. Designing the whole User Interface and Interaction of Paisa was a wholesome experience. I remember re-iterating about 5 times until we settled on the final UI/UX.

After Paisa, I spent about a month trying to decide what to do next. I got in touch with a good friend and decided to pursue the startup that we’ve been thinking since 2006. We felt the time was right, technology cost and availability – favorable and the usage of video communication on the rise.

Sometime around September, I stumbled upon Founder Institute and applied for the Winter 2010 Bay Area Semester. By late October, I got selected into the program after passing the IQ, aptitude, and personality test. I packed, left Pune, escorted my wife, and daughter back to my hometown in Manipur, and I flew down to the Bay area to be part of the Founder Institute experience.

The Founder Institute Experience

The very first day, I realized that it was not going to be easy at all. Well, by the second session, I was already told to leave the program unless I can prove that I should be part of the program. I did and I stayed.

The second shock came somewhere around the holiday season, 2010. I was to leave the program unless I beta launch my startup (which was impossible at that time). My team helped me and figured a way to prove that I can still kick ass. I realized, it was not just me but almost all of us had to some daunting task during the holidays to stay back in the program. By that time, if I can remember correctly, almost half of the class was out of the program.

Surviving each week was hard enough and there was no room for compromise. We slogged on the weekly assignment, special assignment, and product building of our Startups. Finally, the persistent, relentless, and hard-working ones remained. Out of the 50+ odd entrepreneurs that started with the Semester, only 14 graduated on 23rd Feb 2011.

We became good friends, helped each other, and enjoyed the time spent together. I’m sure, we’ll always remember the great time spent at the Antonio’s Nut House, Palo Alto.

The graduates from the Winter 2010 Bay Area Semester, Founder Institute:

  1. Amol Kher, Health Mobs (Facebook Page)
  2. Brajeshwar Oinam, Levoma (Facebook Page)
  3. Cyprien Noel, Object Fabric (Facebook Page)
  4. Fernando Pizarro, Cine Candy (Facebook Page)
  5. Gaurav Sharma, Right Buy (Facebook Page)
  6. Jason Seed, Ready2Sign (Facebook Page)
  7. Jayalaxmi Hangal, Family Alley (Facebook Page)
  8. Maren Kate Donovan, Zirtual (Facebook Page)
  9. Navin Bathija, Neo (Facebook Page)
  10. Rohit Nallapeta, AdNuance (Facebook Page)
  11. Sanjay Malhotra, Clevrr (Facebook Page)
  12. Seth Cohen, Screenius (Facebook Page)
  13. Steffany Boldrini, Ecobold (Facebook Page)
  14. Wesly Michel, Mosion (Facebook Page)

Founder Institute – Globalizing Silicon Valley

The Founder Institute is a technology pre-seed incubator currently on pace to launch over 600 companies per year in 17 cities worldwide. The program identifies high-potential entrepreneurs using predictive social science testing and then guides them through a series of collaborative company-building sessions featuring a network of over 400 CEO Mentors. All program stakeholders, including the participating Founders and CEO Mentors, share in the equity upside generated by companies formed in the program. In addition, participants get access to free and discounted services and are not required to quit their day job.

Some interesting FAQ and References about Founder Institute.

Join the Founder Institute

A letter to my daughter on her 2nd birthday

Laaija

Today, my daughter is 2 years old and I’m unfortunate that I won’t be by her side. I’m writing a letter to her and making it public so my readers, friends, and family will, in a way, remind me to keep my promises to her.

During her first year, I was working on my first startup and I missed most part of her earlier months. It was easier on her as she has no understanding of my absence. By the time we were together for about a year, I had given up on my failed startup. I knew that I had to be away from her again when I decided to take another plunge, get-up from my failed attempt and try harder. I just wasn’t sure how soon that would be.

However, the ultimatum came when my application to the Silicon Valley Winter 2010 Program of FounderInstitute was accepted.

Now that she’s 2 years old, understand separation and the very fact that I’m not there, had been making her hate the words “Bye Bye”. She would be angry at her mother — “No Bye Bye! No Bye Bye!” These days, she cries, “No Bye Bye” when anyone dear to her says “Bye Bye”.

Those words used to be something she likes saying, knowing that I’d return back home and watch TV together, play around, sing & dance all night, swing in the garden whenever she wants. The last gleeful “Bye Bye” for her was when I left her early this November. She felt it was routine until she realized I was not returning for quite a while.

Dear Leia,

Happy Birthday to you!

I hope you’ll read this one day and forgive me for not being there. I hope we can cherish these moments of separation, in the hope that we’ll spend more time together in the future. By the time you read this and ponder upon the lost moments — you’ll no longer need me to help you with the swings, you won’t need me to push you all around in your scooter, you would even have stopped crying and nagging me to buy you a new balloon each and every-day.

To most people, I was more of a heartless person hardened by the bitter experiences of life. I had a hard time respecting relationships and had never pursued one meaningfully. However, after you were born, I began to realize the deep impact and importance of the human relationship, love, forgiveness and the ability to express them openly without burying them deep within myself.

You’ll soon learn that Life is hard and very-unforgiving at times. There will be times when you feel that the whole world is conspiring against you, trying to prove you wrong even at some of your best intentions. Many a time, you’ll be left alone to fend for yourself, even out-casted in some cases.

You’ll also learn that when the going gets tough when you’re in your weakest, you’ll be tempted to take shortcuts, you’ll try to get away by lying, doing superficial actions just to make you feel good in front of people. I know that you’ve to learn through all the facades of life, but let me tell you early-on, it’s always better to do the right way. There is always a right way of doing things.

Patience is a virtue you’ve to learn and practice right from your early stage in life. Modesty is something you’ll learn when you faced multiple failures and able to learn from it. Honesty is another you’ll want to practice and master when people have cheated you. Do good and you’ll earn goodness.

I can give you an excuse for being away from you today but I won’t. However, I’m trying and will do my best that I will be there for you more often than not, in the future. I’ll tell you lots of stories when you grow up, I’ve lots to talk to you. I’ve lots to teach you from all the failures that I stumbled in my life.

With all my love.