External Education: Bootcamps and Events

The goal of Founder Central’s external-education activities is to help startups with great ideas anticipate and avoid the pitfalls that could prevent their ideas from impacting the world.


To bring the Founder’s Dilemmas lessons to the people who can most benefit from them, Founder Central will conduct intensive bootcamps for key players in building startups. Bootcamps will feature interactive talks, experiential exercises, panel discussions with experienced founders and investors, and appearances by case protagonists in person or via video.

Founder Bootcamps

What characteristics increase the likelihood that a founding team will be effective and stable?

How can I anticipate and avoid the pitfalls that tend to sink high-potential startups?

What leads to a founder being replaced as CEO of his or her startup?

For founders and their startups, early decisions about people – cofounders, employees, investors, and board members – are vital to the founders' and startups' long-term success. Yet these decisions are often made without the benefit of a roadmap of the most important early decisions, when these decisions should be made, which options to consider, and the likely long-term consequences of those decisions.

As a result, preventable people problems are the biggest reason (by far) for the high failure rate of high-potential startups. Without a solid roadmap, founders are at an increased risk of making poor people decisions and thus increasing the chances that the founding team will splinter, growth will be harmed, or the founder will be replaced as CEO. In contrast, with a solid roadmap, founding teams can increase their stability and achieve better growth.

The Founder Bootcamp provides this roadmap for founders and potential founders.


Noam Wasserman

Prof. Noam Wasserman is the founding director of Founder Central. Prof. Wasserman was an award-winning professor at Harvard Business School for 13 years before coming to USC to start and build Founder Central.

He is the author of a bestselling book, The Founder's Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup, that was a #1 Management bestseller and has now spent more than 4 years on Amazon's top-ten bestseller list for Strategy & Competition and related topics.

Noam developed an award-winning entrepreneurship course, Founder's Dilemmas. During its 7 years at Harvard Business School, the course was the highest-rated entrepreneurship course in the school, with Prof. Wasserman winning HBS's teaching award for its elective curriculum.

When Noam taught Founder’s Dilemmas as a visiting professor at Stanford Engineering, he received the highest teaching rating in the engineering school, and when he taught it at Columbia Business School, he likewise received a perfect teaching rating. The course was named one of the 10 best entrepreneurship courses in the country by Inc. magazine (the only "top course" that focused on people issues), won the Innovation in Entrepreneurship Pedagogy award from the Academy of Management, and (along with the book) won the Academy of Management's Impact on Practice award.

The course will form the core of the Founder Bootcamp.


Part 1: Pre-Founding, Founding Team Dilemmas

> Preparing Yourself to Found
> Relationship Dilemmas
> Roles and Decision Making Dilemmas
> Rewards Dilemmas

Lunch: Venture Capital & Founder Panel

Part 2: Accelerating and Exiting: Investors and Successors

> Financing Dilemmas
> Time Permitting: Founding and Building a Board of Directors
> Founder-CEO Succession
> Tradeoffs: The Throne vs. the Kingdom

To apply for Founder Bootcamp, please click here.


Angel Bootcamps

Founder Central Angel Bootcamps are targeted at investors and advisors who help fund and guide startups. This bootcamp is presented annually in conjunction with Techstars LA. It covers the evaluation of founders and founding teams (taught by Prof. Wasserman) and the legal and financial issues faced by angel investors (taught by Techstars experts).

To apply for Angel Bootcamp, please click here.



Founder Central hosts an annual Symposium exploring different facets of entrepreneurship teaching and research. In 2018, a curated group of faculty who teach Prof. Wasserman’s Founder’s Dilemmas materials convened at the Academy of Management meeting in Chicago to exchange ideas on new materials they have developed, lessons learned about how to tackle entrepreneurship teaching challenges, favorite experiential exercises, recent research on founders that pertains to the classroom, and other relevant topics.

For the Summer of 2019, we look forward to hosting an Entrepreneurial History Symposium centered on Founder Central’s new course, Making History: Entrepreneurship in the Past, Present and Future.


Founder Central Forums

As valuable as the one-day Founder Central Bootcamp is for founders, they yearn for lasting connectivity to the Founder Central community. Thus was born Founder Central Forums – in-person peer groups for Founder Bootcamp alums.

Our primary goal with the Forums is to foster casual, welcoming groups where founders can share advice, seek feedback, and receive support within (and beyond) the context of the lessons learned during our Founder Bootcamps. These groups may also facilitate expanded networks for recruiting, fundraising, and business development, but this is really about community.

For more information, please email Prof. Michael Rivera at