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We Built the Dōjō to Level the Playing Field for Founders

The Dōjō is not just another "Seed Stage Accelerator." It is not a "Pre-Accelerator." It is an entirely new approach that puts the founder at the center of everything we do. Simply stated, we build better founders.

Our Vision is Clear

We envision a world where founders have access to all the knowledge, training, skills, connections, markets and financing needed to achieve their full potential.

Success is not limited by where the founder lives, but by their drive, ambition, intelligence and resilience.

Our Mission is Focused

We design and deliver programs designed to:

  • Develop driven individuals into great founders that in turn create great companies; 

  • Connect those founders to the resources and markets they require; and

  • Accelerate the development the ecosystem in their home market that is needed to support them.

We Learned Why Existing Programs Are Largely Ineffective

Through research and experimentation, we discovered that most programs are too limited in scope and the designers are limited in their understanding of the nature of the challenges founders face.

Effective program design requires an understanding of:

  1. What drives entrepreneurial activity;

  2. The mindset of a successful founder;

  3. The knowledge needed by the founder;

  4. The skills needed to implement that knowledge; 

  5. The best way to transfer knowledge and build skills;

  6. The need for access to deeply experienced, successful founders to give them guidance and advice;

  7. How both the founder and the startup evolve over time (which we refer to as the Entrepreneur's Journey);

  8. The amount and timing of the financial resources needed at the different stages of the Journey.


But most startup support programs:

  1. Were designed to increase a founder’s knowledge, but Ignored the development of the right mindset and skills;

  2. Failed to help turn skills into habits;

  3. Struggled to facilitate effective access to "big enough" markets; 

  4. Failed to give the founders access to the right mentors;

  5. Lacked a pool of experienced founders as mentors;

  6. Were delivered by individuals with limited to no personal experience in starting and scaling a company; and

  7. Attempted to replicate programs that worked in fully developed ecosystems.

Over time, we learned how to build truly effective programs
in emerging ecosystems.

Effective Design Starts with
Understanding What Drives Entrepreneurial Activity

In 2019, the World Economic Forum published a research paper, "Beyond Borders Digitizing Entrepreneurship for Impact." One of the topics examined in this paper was "What drives entrepreneurial activity?" They concluded that:

"At the centre is the individual mindset – the personal psychological and transformative journey an individual must travel to form the conviction to pursue an entrepreneurial life path. The mindset needs to be actualized through skills and practices stimulated in a controlled environment that provides the budding entrepreneur with an immersive learning experience."

We believe that the WEF framework is a good starting point, but is incomplete.  For more than a decade, faculty at UC Berkeley the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology has been researching:


  1. The mindset of entrepreneurship;

  2. How to most effectively develop and strengthen that mindset; and

  3. The most effective means of developing entrepreneurial skills.


By combining the WEF Framework and UC Berkeley research, we have developed a more comprehensive view of what drives entrepreneurial activity. 

Next, You Need to Understand the Founder Journey

All successful founders share a common journey from inspiration, to opportunity, to product, to market and ultimately to success.

It is critical to:


  • Offer programs that support the founder through the entire journey; and

  • Align individual programs to a specific stage of the journey.


Programs that attempt to work with founders at different stages of development sub-optimize the outcome for everyone.

Founders Need an Immersive Learning Environment

Traditional, Classroom Learning is Inadequate for Training Founders

 As the World Economic Forum stated in their research report, founders need more than just knowledge, they right mindset and skills:

"[Mindset and skills must] be actualized through skills and practices stimulated in a controlled environment that provides the budding entrepreneur with an immersive learning experience." 

Conventional approaches to training, such as lectures, are inadequate for Founder Development. These "classes" focus on “knowledge transfer.” ​Knowledge is alone is insufficient. Founders need to know what to do, why they need to do it, when they need to do it and the theory of "how" to do it.
Founders also need to develop the skills that allows them to apply that knowledge.


That requires experiential learning.

​According the National Training Laboratories (Bethel Maine), the traditional classroom mode of teaching delivers, at best, 30% retention, after 2 weeks. 


Sitting in a classroom and consuming content by sight and sound may be effective for knowledge transfer. Retention is not as big of an issue because you can go back and "re-consume" the content or review your notes. ​

​Skills Development and Retention Requires Kinesthetic Learning

Entrepreneurship is a skills-based activity. It requires the founder to effectively act on knowledge. Not just "know it." Entrepreneurship skills need to developed by actually performing the skill, not just reading about it or watching it.

Skills Can Only Be Developed Under the Supervision of a Master

Sports are great examples of a skills-based activity. Just look at tennis:


  • By watch a video or looking at a picture, I can know that I need to hold the racket in a particular way, but in order to start playing the game, I have to pick up the racket and put it in my hand. Am I holding it correctly?  Did I do it perfectly? Or am I a bit off? 

  • I want to put topspin on the ball. How much do I angle the fact of the racket? How do I change the motion of my arm?

The list goes on. And what happens if you are learning and "being corrected" by someone who is not already a master of the skill? The result is sub-optimal at best, and harmful at worst. ​

Unfortunately, almost all entrepreneurship programs outside of the major ecosystems are designed, taught and delivered by individuals who have never been an entrepreneur.


They may know the theory. But they have not mastered the skills. 

The Dōjō's Unique Approach to Developing Founders

Why We Use a Dōjō as Our Blueprint

Traditionally, a dōjō (道場) is a hall or place for immersive learning and/or experiential learning. The term is of Japanese origin, with the “Do- 道” meaning “The path/way of” and the “Jo-場” means "a place.” Taken together it can be translated to “The place of the way.”  How does a dōjō work?

  1. A dōjō is led by a Sensei. The Sensei is an indvidual who has mastered both "the way" of the discipline and the skills needed to implement the way.

  2. Students are instructed by the Sensei in "the way"

  3. The Sensei demonstrates the skills

  4. The students demonstrate the skill for the Sensei, who corrects them so they learn the proper "form"

  5. The students repeatedly practice, individually and with each other, until the proper performance of the skill becomes a habit.

This model of learning aligns with our "requirements" for designing and delivering more effective programs. It offers and immersive and experiential learning environment, where particpants learn the mindset (the path/way) of entrepreneurship from a group of individuals who have already mastered the craft. It blends mindset, knowledge and skills development in founders.

The "Global Innovation Dōjō" is literally "The place of the path/way of global innovation."

Our Pedagogy is Based on the
Award Winning Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship

Merriam-Webster defined pedagogy as "the art, science or profession of teaching." Most founder or startup training programs do not have a consistent approach to educating the participants. Training materials and styles vary from session to session. We believe having the right pedagogy is critical to effective learning.

The Dōjō's pedagogy leverages the award-winning Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship (BMoE). The BMoE was developed by the faculty at the UC Berkeley Sutardja Center for Entreprenerurship and Technology (SCET). Over 10 years of research and experience in teaching went into the development of this approach.


It employs inductive learning methods to provide foudners with the critical thinking and observational skills necessary for them to succeed at the next step in their entrepreneurial journey. It is comprised of 3 components: Mindset, Networks and Frameworks.

Participants are exposed to the entrepreneurial mindset including:

  • Ttrust;

  • Ethics;

  • Collaboration;

  • Risk assessment;

  • Communication;

  • Overcoming failure; and

  • Other elements of mindset.

Participants are given the opportunity to work in diverse, global networks and connect with:

  • Mentors, Subject matter and industry experts;

  • Investors; and

  • Other founders.

The Dōjō provides a safe and supportive ecosystem within which they can grow their global network.

Participants learn about various frameworks for:

  • Opportunity recognition;

  • Customer discovery;

  • Business models development;

  • Fundraising; and

  • Other tools and processes associated with entrepreneurship.

Mechanism of Learning at the Dōjō

  • ​Experiential Learning – gamified activities to introduce a core concept or skill area.

  • Master Class – A deed dive into the theory of a core concept or skill area. The must immediately apply the concept they learn in the theory session.

  • Interactions with Our "Blackbelts" – Group or
    1-on-1 coaching and sessions with successful founders

  • Peer Learning – By sharing with each other, participants become both the student and the teacher.

  • Facilitated Connections with the Local Ecosystem – By connecting with the local ecosystem, participants can learn from other founders as well as become teacher.

  • Curated Connections with Global Ecosystems – By connecting founders to key individuals in ecosystems around the world, founders can absorb knowledge and build networks with key individuals that can help their personal and startup growth journey. 

The founder is at the center of all we do. We train our founders using a variety mechanisms:

Our Content Was Developed By and is
Delivered by"Blackbelts" Turned Educators

Have a great pedagogy is important. It is the right starting point. But you need to have great content that aligns with the pedagogy and that content needs to be delivered by individuals who are masters of the topic of the class.

All of the content creators and instructors at the Dōjō have been trained in the pedagogy and we review content to ensure it is of the highest quality.

Our instructors are true "Blackbelts" in the content they delivery.

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