Startups are hard. If you don't think so, try one.

One of the reasons is because you are trying to create something from nothing, and change the world in the process. This is not an easy task. Even the most successful entrepreneurs fail over and over again. Even the most prolific accelerator in the world has a 99.6% failure rate. If it was easy, everyone would be a billionaire. Obviously, that's not possible.

To make matters worse, startups take a tremendous emotional & psychological toll on their Founders. The ups and downs of an intense, uncertain and chaotic lifestyle can tear people down over time, leaving them uncertain of themselves, their decisions and their business prospects. These heroic Founders, who risk it all to change the world, are often left scarred, beat up and even depressed.

Fortunately, you don't have to do this alone. I created FounderSensei to help entrepreneurs fail less, succeed more and not lose their souls in the process.

I know this is an important mission, because I've experienced it first hand. I've created six technology startups over the past 14 years. I've had a mix of successes and failures. There were many times I was over the moon with our success. There were also times when I was utterly depressed. I've learned it's a common experience, quietly shared among entrepreneurs all over the world. Mostly through trial and error, I've learned it doesn't have to be so tough to create something from nothing.

At the end of the day, there are only three things that really matter in building a successful startup.

  1. Finding product-market fit
  2. Finding a scalable path to customers
  3. Managing your own psychology so you don't lose your mind in the process

Everything else is a distraction.

Our most precious asset is our time. Most startups fail because they don't focus on what matters and get distracted by what doesn't. This is a fatal mistake because we all have limited time when we are building a startup. Even a few months of wasted time could make the difference between success and failure.

That's why I've built FounderSensei to focus exclusively on helping entrepreneurs with the things that truly matter. The best way to start is with The Founder's Workshop. I hope you will.

Dave Linhardt
Founder & CEO

Introducing The Founder's Workshop

The best way to build & grow your startup

The Founder's Workshop is the best way to build and grow your startup into a successful business.

Every successful entrepreneur had help along the way. Every successful pro athlete has a trusted coach. Everyone who has ever succeeded at accomplishing anything extraordinary received help and support from others that deeply cared about their success.

We've created the same kind of supportive infrastructure at FounderSensei. 

The Founder’s Workshop is for bootstrap entrepreneurs who are focused on finding scalable, repeatable business models for their startups. It is a personalized learning session that teaches a proven methodology for building a successful business. Unlike going it alone, our solution provides entrepreneurs with the tools, mindset and support they need to do what sometimes seems impossible.

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There are three components of the FounderSensei Founder's Workshop.

  1. Insight-Driven Iteration is our proprietary methodology for finding product-market fit and a scalable path to customers. Insight-Driven Iteration is a process designed to unlock hidden insights from customers and put them back into the business model to enable your startup to gain traction and grow faster.
  2. Resilience Psychology is our self-development program for cultivating a resilient mindset in the midst of uncertainty, fear and doubt. Changing the world takes a huge emotional toll on Founders. Unless you manage this proactively, it could lead to intense skepticism, self-doubt, unnecessary failure and even depression.
  3. Mastermind Group is the peer group that will surround you while you are in the workshop. You will not be alone. The group consists exclusively of startup entrepreneurs who are facing the same challenges you are. With the Mastermind Group, you will face these challenges together.

Sensei means "person born before another."


A Sensei is much more than a mentor. A sensei is an startup practitioner who guides you through the process of iteratively running customer experiments and interpreting data until you get traction and draw data-driven conclusions about your startup idea.

the sensei also provides important support & training to help you cultivate the right mindset for managing through the ups and downs of your startup journey.

We believe only an experienced entrepreneur can be a true Sensei for another entrepreneur. Because entrepreneurship can only be learned by doing, only one who has lived entrepreneurship can be a trusted guide on this journey. While investors, lawyers, corporate executives, business people and government officials can be helpful, they cannot be a Sensei to an entrepreneur. They just don't have the right experience. They don't know what it's like to live on the edge of creating something from nothing that changes the world. 

The standard to be a Sensei at FounderSensei is extremely high. All Senseis must meet the following criteria and there are no exceptions.

  • Sensei must have created at least two profitable businesses from scratch that were self-sufficient without additional outside capital
  • Sensei must have had at least one startup failure
  • Sensei must be a master practitioner of the Insight-Driven Iteration methodology
  • Sensei must be an exceptional teacher
  • Sensei must have a sincere passion for helping other entrepreneurs without expectation of anything in return

Your Sensei

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Dave Linhardt


  • Serial entrepreneur and innovative business leader with 23 years of marketing, technology, general management and startup experience.
  • Lean startup practitioner as full-time entrepreneur for past 15 years 
  • Created six new businesses. Five out of six have achieved profitability without outside investor capital.
  • LegitLead, big data SaaS (software-as-a-service) business in lead generation market
  • Life Phase Media &, life event data company and leading provider of multi-channel consumer data
  •, consumer e-commerce company and manufacturer in fashion accessories and home furnishing category
  • Maverick Direct Marketing, email marketing and the first predictive-analytics platform for delivering personalized email marketing offers
  • e360data, a behavioral consumer data company for offline catalog and online e-commerce companies
  • Brandango, data integration platform for multi-channel direct marketing companies
  • P&G, AT&T Wireless, Experian in product development, marketing and general management
  • BS Engineering Purdue University & MBA Harvard Business School

What Founders Are Saying About FounderSensei

I owe 100% of my success to the FounderSensei program. I came to FounderSensei with nothing more than an app. Now, I have over 50 paying small business customers!

Whatever else you are thinking about doing, like raising money or building a product, stop what you’re doing and take FounderSensei. It will save you six years of your life.
— Jamie Johnson, Founder & CEO, Verde
FounderSensei helps you block out the noise. It helps you focus on what really matters to make your startup successful.

I think at the end of the day, what you are teaching people through the FounderSensei program is a discipline. It’s not something you are born with. It’s not something you can learn in school. It’s something you have to practice. It’s a step forward in learning the discipline of being an entrepreneur.
— Valentin Saportas, Founder & CEO, Hippoteq
I learned more from 12 weeks in the FounderSensei program than from two years at business school.
— Founder & Graduate Of A Big 10 Business School
Before I took the class, I used to think about what I wanted our product to be. Now, I listen to customers more. FounderSensei taught me how to get insight out of my customers.
— Sheila Guo, Founder & CEO, Peckish
FounderSensei gave me a different way to approach this whole startup thing. It taught me what to do so I can be ready to accelerate without wasting time and money.
— Rill Hodari, Founder & CEO, A Little Bit Of Happiness
After 30 years of entrepreneurial experience, I still got a tremendous amount of value from the program.
— Ron Niemaszyk, Serial Entrepreneur
FounderSensei changed my mindset. I started with a little idea and FounderSensei helped me turn it into a huge idea.
— Ronny Sage, Founder & CEO, Niche Interactive Media
FounderSensei helped me be more aggressive in selling and talking to customers.
— Joseph Sheahan, Founder & CEO, SAVVO
FounderSensei helped me see the parts of my business model that didn’t really fit. I learned my business wasn’t as flawless as I thought it was.
— Muhammed Fazeel, Founder & CEO, Benecure

What You Get From The Founder's Workshop

The FounderSensei Founder's Workshop is a powerful program for helping you build and grow your idea into a successful startup. If you ask the entrepreneurs who have completed the program, they will tell you there is nothing like it.

  • 30 hours of personalized, hands-on guidance from a seasoned Sensei

  • Powerful group learning environment with other entrepreneurs who are just like you

  • Resilience Psychology training that teaches you how to cultivate the right mindset to create something from nothing and survive the ups and downs of the startup lifestyle

  • Practitioner's personalized, hands-on guidance on how to find and validate a scalable, repeatable business model

  • Access to investors, angel groups and venture capitalists in the FounderSensei Dojo Day

  • Deep, meaningful relationships with serious entrepreneurs who are just like you

  • Accountability so you can stay on track with your activities, priorities and progress

Program Details

Unfortunately, we can't work with everyone. We just don't have enough Sensei's or capacity. So, you need to apply to The Founder's Workshop to get in. Not everyone will be accepted and space is limited.

The Founder's Workshop is a well-developed program that has been taught to successful entrepreneurs again and again. The schedule of activities includes training in our proprietary Insight-Driven Iteration Methodology for building a startup and our break-through program in Resilience Psychology.

There is a fee for The Founder's Workshop, but the first two workshops are absolutely FREE. There is no obligation to signup and no obligation to participate in the two FREE sessions. We think it's only fair to let you try before you buy. This is one of those programs that you have to experience for yourself.

Participating Founders can join the group in person or via web conference. The in-person sessions will be held downtown Chicago, in the loop area. To enable virtual participation, we use FuzeBox to host real-time sessions using multiple simultaneous high-definition video streams. 

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Sign Up Now. Space Is Limited.

The Next Founder's Workshop Starts Soon.

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