How Prasanna Made “The Founders Program” Happen

6 minutes

Prasanna

As a founder myself, having worked with hundreds of founders in the past 10 years, I’ve seen so many face major challenges in their startups and personal lives.

Many co-founders may have been working together for a long time or may have known each other for a long time. However, as co-founders, they often experience tremendous stress in their relationships in the form of conflicts or misunderstandings. Co-founder conflict gone wrong can destroy startups.

Founders go through financial stress as well – many years of low or no salaries – collecting money from customers, making payments to employees and vendors. 

Some founders experience relationships going sour. Others face life changes after getting married, having a child, or having a loved one struggle through major illness. All this while being unable to share with either friends or colleagues.

Founders face issues

Add to these issues the daily unending stress of running a startup, even when it’s doing well, never mind these especially testing COVID times.

What you have is a perfect recipe for founders making poor decisions and breaking down under the emotional burden.

As we work with a new set of 30-40 founders each year in Upekkha, we saw that some of them were experiencing similar challenges.

We wanted to make sure that each founder had the necessary support to overcome these challenges to achieve their own equanimity and perform at their peak.

I first heard about YourDOST in April 2019 when I was running a workshop for Upekkha startups at Capillary Technologies and saw that they offered YourDOST’s services to their employees. 

So, I reached out to Puneet and together we came up with the Founders Program.

We pitched the program to founders at two levels:

  1. If you’ve been struggling you will get professional support to resolve it
  2. If you’re doing fine and you want to do better, you will get professional guidance towards achieving your goal

We told all the founders that they had to take this program up, experience it, and see if it helped them.

In India, mental support is often seen as taboo. We wanted to change that. So at Upekkha, we decided to pay YourDOST ourselves in the beginning, to encourage our founders to get the help they needed. That’s how we kickstarted the program for the first set of 20-30 founders.

Founders who participated, worked with their respectively assigned YourDOST coach through personal issues, co-founder conflicts, and even cigarette addictions. They were happy with the progress they made over the next three months.

Some founders rolled it out to their employees. A senior employee was going through issues at home which they didn’t want to talk about with anybody at work. Getting outside help from YourDOST that was practical and actionable made a difference.

I myself participated in the Founder’s program without any specific outcome in mind. I felt there were a bunch of different things in my head which I needed to straighten out and think through.

I went for Vipassana a few years ago where I started practicing mindfulness. But I’ve found it hard to sustain and practice mindfulness on a daily basis. From Puroitree (my YourDOST coach), I got some practical support in bringing mindfulness back into my life. Now, I’m able to take a breath, take a step back and observe what’s happening within me and around me.

Planning

Something tactical that I wanted help with was spending less time on social media. Puroitree guided me with specific practices to reduce my time spent on my phone – only a partial success there though 😉

I know that there are many entrepreneurs out there who’re hesitant about seeking the guidance of a therapist or a coach. 

I’ll tell you what we tell our founders. 

If you broke your bone, you wouldn’t say it’s my bone, I know how to fix it, I’m not going to go to a doctor. However, when you’re dealing with an emotional challenge or a mental challenge, it’s your mind telling you that you don’t need help. If you go to a professional when you break a bone, you need to go to a professional to deal with your own mind.

Let’s say you’re actually a sprinter and want to run a hundred meters in 10 secs after the injury heals. Then you wouldn’t go to a regular physio, would you? You would go to a sports physio. The sports physio is not just going to help you walk again – they’re going to help you get back to 120% of your peak physical fitness.

Now, suppose you’re not injured. Does it mean you won’t work with a sports physio or coach? Of course, you will!

As a founder, you have to think and act like a world-class athlete. You need to find a path to better mental fitness.

You need someone who, like a coach or sports physio, will help you reflect on the decisions you’re making, how you’re making them, what are the potential biases you have, where those things come from, and how to overcome those biases. 

Decision-making is the absolute number one job of a startup founder. To make better decisions you need to be at peak mental fitness. Get to peak mental fitness with a therapist, or a coach! Don’t take your mental fitness for granted.

Since we’ve started this partnership with YourDOST, 100+ founders in Upekkha have had the chance to work to improve their mental & emotional fitness while growing their startups. I am proud to share that we’ll extend YourDOST’s support to every founder who joins Upekkha in the future as well.

Are you a startup founder, incubator or VC looking to boost your and team’s growth? YourDOST’s Founders Program will help you do just that. Click here to learn more.

Team YourDOST

YourDOST is an Online Emotional Wellness Coach. Through YourDOST anyone can Sign Up and anonymously seek advice and guidance from Counsellors, Psychologists, Special Friends, Mentors and other experienced individuals.

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