An extraordinary experience


"Challenging solutions has a vision to reinvent the age old wheelchair into a modern mobility assistant. This isn't easy. The experience really prepared us for what we are facing building a world changing company. Our team of medical researchers no longer feels like we need an MBA."

— Ernesto Diaz Florez, Challenging Solutions
caption imageErnesto Diaz is a founder of Challenging Solutions which is reinventing the wheelchair

a new way to build a company has a unique approach to building companies. Startup investors today are focused on short term gains. We focus on finding the highest potential innovators and working with them to scale. Our approach is organized around the eight key dimensions of company building we call 8D©. We use 8D to evaluate every company and gauge the progress of each team we work with. 8D is for pre-revenue startups who just have an idea and also for revenue-generating companies with customers who want to scale faster.

Click on the graphics above to watch a video about 8D

8D – Company Building Science

8D takes place over four quarters, with each focused on a discrete set of challenges — the ways in which we work together on an aspect of your company. Each of the eight dimensions has a series of challenges tailored to your company’s strengths and weaknesses on each dimension. Your team moves through these challenges with the help of your executive mentor from our team, a program mentor who has already been through 8D and other teams in your class. For example, the Team dimension includes six challenges:

  • Who you are and how you relate to others
  • How to manage a high performance team
  • The best way to recruit A Player talent
  • Scaling from a founder to a CEO
  • Managing a board of directors
  • Developing a personal leadership style

  • Approach that shakes you to the core


    Michael Martin, RapidSOS

    The experience is intense. It’s what I imagine it might have been like to play under John Wooden or Vince Lombardi. It is engaged, hands on, in your face on occasion and completely transformative. Our first week in, we were taking the Thinking Style Challenge to optimize our team functionality. The other 8D Challenges pushed us to refine our vision and strategy and prepare for day-to-day execution. Our executive and program mentors introduced us to partners, investors, and helped us with future hires. It’s an intense journey, but has really helped us realize our vision.


    Lindsay Stewart, Stringr is real. In a world where there are many investors that purport to help startups, does it. Michael Baum and his team knows from real experience, the trials and tribulations of solving important problems and building a new venture. They’ve taken their lessons learned and applied them directly to my experiences as a new founder. The FOUNDER team are always the first call I make whenever I have a problem, issue or opportunity where I need help.


    Mark Chung, Verdigris pours incredible resources, relationships, and time into nurturing the very best companies. We gained an incredible community of entrepreneurs, a supportive investor and mentors, and an invaluable education. Through the 8D challenges, the real eye opener was that a substantially better way to hire exists. When we realized we could develop a method for hiring the best, we advanced our recruiting agenda. The calibre of our impressive current team speaks to the insight we gained from

    Target InvestorsChallenge

    Right: Target Investors Challenge

    Intense challenges

    Each 8D challenge brings you face to face with key skills and decisions you and your team need to make. Challenges are organized across eight dimensions critical for success in building a holistic foundation to scale your company. Far from busy work, challenges are the way we work together on every aspect of your company including A Player Hiring, Agile Development, Market Engagement, Managing a Board of Directors.

    Team having an office hour

    Left: Office hours are held every week

    Weekly Office Hours

    Every team is assigned an executive mentor and an alumni mentor who has been through the 8D challenges. And we’re with you every step of the way. Our weekly office hours with each team are fully engaged and provocative. We utilize this time to prepare you for the road ahead and help you build the business by tackling real-time issues. Recruiting new talent, discussing difficult team issues and keeping you focused are just a few of the ways we are here to work with you to build a world changing company.

    Lydia Fayal

    Right: Lydia Fayal from Wharton presenting AdmitSee at quarterly forum

    Quarterly Forums

    Our Quarterly Forums focus on the important rather than the urgent. The goal is to step away from the day-to-day firefighting and step into a mini quarterly retreat. Here you’ll gain fresh perspectives on the 8D Challenges presented during the quarter, share your output with other courageous entrepreneurs, and learn from your mentors and classmates. Quarterly Forums are three days and are held at different university locations.

    KTH postcard

    Left: World Founder Forum 2014 in Paris and World Founder Forum 2015 in Stockholm.

    World Founder Forum

    To celebrate the end of the year long 8D challenges and beginning of the new, each June we host The World Founder Forum, bringing together our seasoned companies with our new teams starting out on the rich journey. The emphasis each year is to expand our cross-cultural, multi-industry network of amazing young innovators and the value they bring to each other. The World Founder Forum is a five day event hosted at one of our universities. It is the ultimate opportunity to learn, make connections and be inspired by the most talented young innovators in the world. COMMUNITY

    Building a company is hard work, but the thousands of young innovators around the world who are part of our community are here to help. As a member of the community, you have access to the brightest young minds on the planet. And chances are, one or two of them have been through what you are experiencing at any given point in your personal or company development. You will be amazed at how informed and generous our alumni are with their knowledge, insights and time.


    see also

    Michael Baum

    About Us

    We are bringing Silicon Valley know-how to the world.

    Loren Walsh

    Our Team

    Learn about the people behind



    Learn how we collaborate with universities around the world.


    "Our experience prepared us in so many different domains, from building our team, to engaging our market to understanding how to tell an impactful story."

    — Jennifer Farah, co-founder of SproutsIO
    caption imageJennifer Farah co-founder of SproutsIO, the personal produce appliance

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