We looked at all the lean startup programs out there and concluded FounderSensei is the best.
— Matt French, UP Global

We are honored to be rated the #1 lean startup program in the world by UP Global. Fundamentally, we are experienced entrepreneurs helping newer entrepreneurs build successful startups that change the world. We hope you will review the description of our services below and consider joining us on a transformative journey.  

The One Thing That Matters

You must have an imagination to change the world. A visionary dreamer sees a world that doesn't exist, yet. This beautiful vision is the seed of inspiration required to make our world a better place.

But how do you know if your dream will come true, or if you are simply...delusional? 


Traction is the physical evidence your dream can become reality. Without traction, you have no customers, no revenue, no profits and no investors. Without traction, all you have a theory, an idea and a nice pitch deck. The truth is, unless you have traction, no one except your mom believes your idea will work. Without traction, you have nothing. With traction, you have a business. It's that simple.

But getting traction is hard. If it was easy, then 99.6% of startups wouldn't fail.

Introducing FounderSensei

The best way to get traction for your startup

I created FounderSensei to help entrepreneurs build successful startups. I don't accept that startup failure rates have to be so high. I'm a 6x entrepreneur and a 4x intrapreneur who's helped create billions of dollars in enterprise value. My last five startups were profitable, a feat that has a 1 in 32 quadrillion probability of success (1/2000)^5. I did this using a different approach that many entrepreneurs have yet to discover. 

So what's the secret to building a successful startup? 

Some might think I should keep this secret to myself. But I freely share it with anyone who is sincerely interested. Would you like to know the secret?

Validate demand before building your product. 

That's it. That's the secret. The secret to startup success really is that simple. 

Over years of practice and of countless hours teaching entrepreneurs, I created a powerful process for validating customer demand called Insight-Driven Iteration. This approach is at the center of all of our Bootcamps, Workshops, Accelerators and other services that help entrepreneurs succeed more and fail less. 

Dave Linhardt
Founder & CEO

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There are three components of FounderSensei programs.

  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.

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

The First Of Many Senseis

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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 & uBaby.com, life event data company and leading provider of multi-channel consumer data
  • BargainDepot.net, 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


We've designed a series of programs based on where you are in the startup process. Click on the program that is right for you to learn more.

  • An immersive introduction to Insight-Driven Iteration
  • Three-Day session typically over a weekend
  • Detailed overview of business model validation process with principles, examples and specific tasks to learn the process
  • Ten to thirty teams per group
  • Run real experiments with real customers
  • Hands-on guidance from an experienced Sensei
  • One-time fee of $299 per student
  • Bimonthly in-person or virtual workshop sessions as a hands-on introduction to Insight-Driven Iteration
  • Five to ten startup teams in each group
  • Facilitated by an experienced Sensei
  • 20 hours of instructional content on how to build a profitable startup
  • Graduates receive FounderSensei certification and access to alumni support community 
  • MVP software development for $25K for non-technical founders (optional)
  • Keep your equity; we don't take equity unless we invest cash in your startup
  • $199 per student per month
  • Weekly in-person or virtual accelerator focused on generating customer traction
  • Five to ten startup teams in each group
  • 12 sessions personalized to each startup team
  • Facilitated by an experienced
  • 20 hours of instructional content on how to build a profitable startup
  • Graduates receive FounderSensei certification and access to alumni support community
  • Dojo Day pitch to investors
  • Keep your equity; we don't take equity unless we invest cash in your startup
  • 4 payments of $499 per student

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