Bloomberg Radio: Tim Draper

Bloomberg Radio Interview

Cory Johnson & Carol Massar speak with Venture Capitalist Tim Draper.


Cory: Wait, before we bring Tim Draper in Carol, do you know where I was July 3rd in the afternoon? Tim Draper Does.

Carol: Tim, do tell. Where was Cory Johnson on the afternoon of July 3rd?

Cory: Yes, I was lecturing at Draper University.

Tim:  Oh of course you were— and you were awesome! They loved you.

Cory: He was asleep at that time… it was really interesting, Tim! Thank you for the invitation to do that. Tell us about Draper University.

Tim: It’s an amazing place. The biggest surprise is that it worked. I started the school 4 years ago to attract entrepreneurs from all over the world who wanted to learn how to really be an entrepreneur, or at least get that wherewithal to become. So we started this school, Draper University of Heroes, and it’s amazing the students its attracted. Cory, I bet you’ve never spoken in a class where they are so dynamic and so dedicated to learning.

Cory: It was interesting, Tim. So I gave a modified version of a speech I’ve given at the Haas School of Business in Berkeley, and at the Knight School of Business at Stanford... both  graduate classes. Both those were very different. But this was very different, too. These people were really engaged in wanting to be entrepreneurs.

I talked a lot about accounting in this lecture which they weren’t especially interested in. They liked the tales of woe and intrigue. But these were people who were trying to take the discussion I had, and put it in their context of wanting to be startup entrepreneurs. Every single one of them.

Tim: Yeah, and that’s the cut. It’s getting harder to get into Draper University but it is a school that has some of the most dynamic, driven, entrepreneurial-minded people in the world. It’s something we’ve trained our admissions office to look for. We’re getting better and better at it. It’s really exciting! We take about 70 students per quarter, so we’ve had about 400 students. They’ve started about 200 companies, come from over 40 countries.

This most recent session is 70 students over 33 countries. The word has really gotten out. It’s a really exciting place to be. It’s only a 6-8 week program. If you’re a true entrepreneur, you don’t want to dedicate 4 years to become educated. You want to do it as quickly as possible and get out there and make your business happen.

Carol: So Tim, this is your Innovate Your State Program at Draper, right?

Tim: No, Innovate Your State is another program. Innovate Your State spun out of some things I saw. What it really is, is a crowd-sourced opportunity. This first one is for Californians to crowd-source and come up with new ideas they want placed on the ballot, or that they want me to fund, or me to donate to. We had 400 submissions, now we’re down to the Sweet 16. That group is really innovative.

They’ve come up with some amazing ideas, some that are Venture Governance. I’ve funded two of them now. One was called “Open Gov”, which was all about transparency in government. Another is called PlaceVote, which allows a Congress Person to put the bills in front of them out to their constituents and have constituents vote on them.

Long term, this could be a situation where the Congressmen gets his $175,000 a year, and his 5 Million Dollar slush fund, and his 50 staffers… but all he has to do is push the button that says which way his population voted on something. So it’s a really interesting and innovative idea.

There are some of the 16 that are quite interesting. They are really targeting getting on the ballot in 2016 or 2018, and we are figuring out if we want to take one and put it on the ballot in California.

Cory: And who is the “We”, Tim?

Tim: I have a team that does this for me, it’s the same team that helped me with trying to get Six Californias on the ballot.

Cory: Which is a whole other fascinating thing we can talk about another time. Your unconventional interest in politics is very interesting to me. I feel like this is the season when political candidates are running up and down Highway 280 asking every VC and CEO and anyone else with a thick wallet for money.

Yet, you’ve taken an approach that is very different saying, “I want much more dramatic change than picking one of the candidates running for one of the two major parties.”

Tim: I’m a believer that we really need strong structural change throughout the entire country, but specifically in California where we’ve gone from 1st to 47th in K-12 Education, and 1st to 50th as the least transparent State in the Union, and we’ve gone from 1st to 50th as the worst state to do business in. Our infrastructure spending has gone from 26% down to 3%.

There are some real problems in California, and the costs are higher, and the value we’re getting as constituents is less. There’s a real need of something structural to change. There have been some great Goveners put in all the way through.

Cory: Tim Draper of DFJ, Venture Capitalist and big thinker, thank you very much. Always a pleasure talking to you.

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