Founder Institute – It’s Graduation Day!

Well guys, tonight is my last session at the Founder Institute. I made it to graduation. 14 weeks of intensity, deadlines, self-doubt, stress, emotion, elation, and surprise.

When I started the semester in April, I was pretty sure I would drop out by June. But I figured, what the heck, I’ll get started, see how far I last, and if I need to drop out maybe I’ll re-enroll for the next semester. I needed to just get started if I wanted to see if my idea had any legs. I hoped it would be worth it. I had no idea what to expect except a lot of work and feeling overwhelmed.

At the very first session, I remember everyone went around the room saying their background and I was one of the VERY few people without a law or tech background. That did loads for my confidence. Umm, I’m pretty sure I don’t belong in this group, right? An admissions counselor turned SAHM? Yeah, they are going to see through me immediately.

But then I watched people drop out over the weeks because they weren’t sure about their idea, or they couldn’t get the assignments done, or they needed time to step back and think about their goals… I supported all their decisions because how could I not relate? I had all those same doubts every week. But every week I managed to get the work done (with not a few incidences of tears, and real-talk from DH) and slowly came to what the biggest journey was for me – moving into the mindset of an entrepreneur, owning my journey, my experience, and my vision for my company.

FI Ladies. (That's me on the right.)
FI Ladies. (That’s me on the right.)


Yeah, I wanted everyone to like me and my idea. But I couldn’t let that drive my decisions. I’m ultimately the decider of my company’s fate. Nothing has to happen that I don’t OK. I can listen politely to people’s ideas and suggestions, and then do what I think is right.

I’ve learned so much over these last four months, but my most important takeaway is confidence. I was always a generally confident and outgoing person, but not in this new and scary startup world. I generally feel like I have no idea what I’m doing on any given day, but I can ask questions, I can ask for help and advice, I can try things and fail and then try something else. I can go up to CEOs and investors, introduce myself, and ask for advice. They’re people just like me. What have I lost if they say no?

We made it. 14 graduates plus some of our directors/mentors.
We made it. 14 graduates plus some of our directors/mentors.

I’m leaving FI with many things – a company; connections; advisors; a plan for developing the product; amazing peers who’ll continue to provide support, guidance, and friendship; lots of resources; and a new identity too –

Hi. I’m Coralee. I’m the Founder and CEO of Shortcake.

And if you’re a mom starting a business or a new entrepreneur considering FI – give me a shout. I’d love to pay forward all the advice and support I’ve received and am happy to be uncomfortably honest with friends and complete strangers alike.  You can reach me at coralee [at] shortcakeinc [dot] com.

And now, for my FI compatriots and I, for tonight at least, a celebration is in order.

Yay us. :)

Startup Mom is written by Coralee Dixon, a NJ mom and founder of Shortcake. Is she “having it all” or losing her mind? Follow along as we find out…(I’m just as curious as you are.)