Guest Speakers

From Latin American Oil Rigs to Silicon Valley

Student Post — March 18, 2015 — Can you imagine a young Pakistani lady working on oil rigs in the middle of nowhere in amazon jungles in Latin America? It’s hard, but it’s even harder to imagine her transition from that world to a magical place called Silicon Valley. Graduation and Oil and Gas Industry

Rig photo

My name is Maha and I was part of Draper University's Winter 2015 class. I graduated with a Chemical Engineering degree from National University of Sciences and Technology in Islamabad, Pakistan and the University of Mississippi, US in 2013. As a fresh graduate, I was swamped with opportunities, and if you ask me today, I still don’t understand why I chose working as a field engineer on international mobile for Schlumberger. I left my family, everything I had, and took a plane to Brazil. After a week of training in Rio de Janeiro, I flew to Colombia and started working on oil rigs. My job was running measurements and logging while drilling tools to provide data such as gamma ray, resistivity, neutron porosity, bulk density and others to client companies (Ecopetrol, Petrobras, Equion, etc). I was part of the drilling group and had to be on the rig from the moment drilling starts till the time it ends. After working for 5 months, I was sent to the Training Center in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates where I was fortunate to be first in my class of 40 engineers from all over the world - and I was the only woman in my class!

After the training, I went back to Colombia to resume my work. I felt frustrated and tried to figure out why. Was it family, work rotation (I used to go to the rig for 40 days and come back for 3 days off), jungles or what?

It was during the Society of Women Engineers annual conference in Los Angeles a month later that I could see patterns. I realized that I was passionate about research, technologies, and startups.

After conducting a 26-hour long fishing operation in the rig, I stumbled on an e-mail from YouNoodle. The e-mail mentioned something about an entrepreneurship program in Silicon Valley, and that e-mail ended up changing my life!

I applied to Draper University of Heroes, was accepted, and immediately packed my bags and came to Silicon Valley.

Draper University and Silicon Valley

I can neither summarize my time at Draper nor at Silicon Valley in one blog post! It’s an experience, a learning, and a feeling that can only be experienced, learnt, and felt.

But for all the prospective students and avid parents out there, I would jot down some of the key workshops I completed: Vision of the future, Agility, Evangelism, Survival, Resource Acquisition, Incorporation, and the Art of Pitching.

Draper University is not a traditional university. Neither it’s an accelerator nor an incubator. It’s something more than that. It challenges one to think beyond her limits, believe that everything is possible, and be ready to embrace failure. The university leaves no stone unturned by bringing in speakers from Facebook to Twitter to SpaceX to Khosla Ventures to Founder’s Fund to Stanford University. It would take me another 3 hours to compile a list of the incredible speakers who came to speak to our class.

Another significant thing about Draper University is the mentorship the program provides. The university inundates a student with mentors. From famous Silicon Valley VC mentors to Entrepreneurs in Residence to Alumni mentors to personal female mentors, I felt overwhelmed. But mentorship played a very crucial role in helping me build relationships which I’ll cherish forever!

To summarize, I feel completely transformed today. I feel blessed to have gone through the program and built a network of friends, mentors, and people who want to help me succeed. I feel fortunate to have explored the magical Disneyland they call ‘Silicon Valley’ and 10x more excited to begin my PhD in Chemical Engineering at Stanford University this Fall.

As Tim Draper says – the world needs superheroes and I’m going to be one of those superwomen!

Jennifer Tyler Lee of Crunch a Color: Making Healthy Eating Fun

jennifer tyler leeFebruary 10, 2015 - We all know what happens when kids hear "Eat your veggies." It's all pouting and head shaking and pursed lips refusing to open. Jennifer Tyler Lee, creator of Crunch A Color (2011) and author of her newest book 52 New Foods Challenge (2014), is changing this by turning healthy eating into a game. Not only is this fun for kids, but it's also simple and easy to parents to implement. Tomorrow February 11, Jennifer will be speaking to Draper University's Winter 2015 class about strategic partnerships and her experience as a former strategy consultant. You can catch her talk live at 2pm by tuning into this livestream link.

Each student will also receive a copy of Jennifer's new book 52 New Foods Challenge and 100% of the proceeds from the books will be donated to FoodCorps, a charity where emerging leaders teach kids how to eat and live healthy by building school gardens and connecting farm and school.

52 New Foods Challenge

The fun and easy way to end battles over broccoli, break your recipe rut, and get your whole family eating healthy, one new food at a time.

Don’t forget to watch the livestream of Jennifer's talk on “Strategic Partnerships” on Wednesday Feb 11 at 2pm PT!

Naveen Jain @ Draper University: How to Build a Billion Dollar Company

naveen-jainFebruary 6, 2015 - “It's not about the innovation, it's about flawless implementation.” There are some people who think that if you have a good idea you are going to “own” the market. Naveen Jain has a different perspective on that. He believes that the execution of an idea can be more important than the idea itself. In fact, he says that the idea is a 10% of a business and execution is the other 90%.

Naveen visited Draper University last week and spoke to DU's Winter 2015 Class. He stated that if you want to create something big, you don’t have to see outside of the box, you have to be in a completely different box. He went on to say, "If nine out of ten people don’t consider you crazy for your idea, then you are not thinking big enough.” Naveen believes this is the only way to solve challenging problems, such as today's education system, which according to him is not broken, but obsolete because it doesn't apply to the realistic situations and problems. It only allows for either a right or wrong answer with no gray area. That’s not the case in the life. In reality, problems are solved by teams working together to find different solutions.

Advice for Entrepreneurs

Naveen believes that in order to be a successful entrepreneur you need to work with people whose perspective are opposing your own. He also says that you have to deeply believe in yourself, have a passion, and make your differences your advantages. You can never beat someone in their own game, you have to beat them being you, in your game. Then, you can use all the things that make you different as your weapons. Be yourself and take advantage of what makes you stand out from your competition.

~ Guest post by Raimundo Silva who is from Santiago, Chile and is currently a student in DU’s Winter 2015 Class.

John Egan of Pinterest: Growth Hacking to Success

john egan pinterest growth hackingFebruary 4, 2015 - Tomorrow Thursday February 5, Pinterest's growth engineer John Egan will be speaking to Draper University's Winter 2015 class on "Growth Hacking." We will be streaming his talk live from DU at 11am, so be sure to tune in here to hear his growth tips and stories. For a little more background on John Egan, read about his work and accomplishments below, and get an peek inside Pinterest with this article he wrote on the 27 metrics in Pinterest's internal growth dashboard.

John Egan's Bio

John Egan is currently working on the growth team at Pinterest where he's the tech lead for the push notification & email team. At Pinterest, there are tens of millions of people use their service every day & he has led the team that learned to grow the company at scale. Previously, he led the growth team at Shopkick, a cross-retailer mobile loyalty app funded by Kleiner-Perkins & Greylock Partners and acquired by SK Planet for $200MM.

Pinterest’s Internal Growth Dashboard

pinterest growth hackingIn this article, John answers the question: “What metrics should be in my growth dashboard?” He gives people a peek behind the scenes at what Pinterest's internal growth dashboard looks like. He goes through the 27 metrics they look at through stages of MAU's, Acquisition, Activation, Engagement, and Resurrection.

Don't forget to watch the livestream of John's talk on "Growth Hacking" on Thursday Feb 5 at 11am PT!

Naveen Jain of Moon Express: Shoot for the Moon

naveen jain moon expressJanuary 29, 2015 - Have you ever wondered what the moon is made of? What new materials and opportunities may be there? Thanks to Moon Express, you may be able to have those answers. We have the pleasure to announce that Naveen Jain, co-founder and chairman of Moon Express (amongst an impressive resume of other startups and companies), is coming to Draper University's Winter 2015 class!

Naveen Jain

Amongst being an amazing entrepreneur and philanthropist, Naveen Jain is also behind impressive companies such as Moon Express, inome, TalentWise, Intelius, World Innovation Institute, and InfoSpace. Also he writes in Forbes, WSJ, Huffington Post, and Inc.com. Currently Naveen is exploring ways to use neuro-plasticity to create better learners and develop neuroscience-based in multi-sensory video games that are effective and additive for teaching students skills like math, science, and history. He is convinced that our education system is obsolete, not meeting the needs of the present threating all the kids like if they where in an assembly line being exactly the same, while they are all different with different learning. Another thing he mentions is that we are advancing the kids in an annual basis and not when they are ready to advance to the next grade, which could be a month or a year depending on the person.

Moon Express

Moon Express is currently working on the lunar lander MX-1 - a low cost spacecraft that is powered by sunlight and use hydrogen peroxide as fuel (oxygen enriched water compound). But this is not any ordinary lunar lander. The MX-1 can support many apps, so it can explore the moon and it's resources. If everything goes according to plan, the MX-1 should be lunched this year. In 2010, NASA selected Moon Express to take part in the Innovative Lunar Demonstrations Data program, and in the same year, they were recognized leaders by Google Lunar XPRIZE due to the flexible and scalable MX-1 that is going to dramatically reduce the costs of space exploration.

We invite you to read more about Naveen and see his TED talk about the most complex problems on the growth of the population in the world. We'll also be livestreaming his talk to DU's Winter 2015 class tomorrow Friday 1/30 at 10am so be sure to tune in!

~ Guest post by Raimundo Silva who is from Santiago, Chile and is currently a student in DU’s Winter 2015 Class.

Scott Nolan @ Draper University: How Much of a Difference Are You Making in the World?

scott nolan founders fund at duJanuary 28, 2015 - "When starting something, ask yourself: how much of a difference am I making in the world?" This is one of the truths that Scott Nolan lives by, one which inspires every aspect of his work - both as an entrepreneur and as an investor. This is why, as a partner at Founders Fund, Scott is constantly looking to back founders who work on solving complex problems by building companies working far into the future.

An Inside Look at Founders Fund

"We always ask ourselves this question: How do we make a difference as investors? That’s why we try to invest in  smart people solving difficult problems, especially those working with engineering-driven technologies." Usually, these "big problems" are less crowded places for investors. "When we invested in SpaceX, no one was doing anything like it, and it seemed too far-reaching. But we trusted the team tackling a difficult problem. We’ve created FF Science to make sure we invest a portion of our fund in deep technology that will make the biggest impact in the world."

Scott enjoys working at a venture capital firm that is willing to stand by the founders of their portfolio companies. "At FF, we believe in backing our founders. We have never replaced any founder in the company they started. We always bet on them, allowing them to run the company. We provide strategic support, but we are very hands-off."

When asked about the thought process behind his work, Scott said that FF tries to pick a future winner in an industry. They specifically seek out teams that will be leading a company in an industry that is not currently crowded because it's focus is on reaching for the future, not on current trends. Future and return come hand in hand.

Advice for Startups and Entrepreneurs

scott nolan founders fund du studentsEven as a young entrepreneur with little experience, going after difficult problems will allow a person to have more power when convincing others to be part of a team. Businesses should always think about the scope of what their trying to do; bigger and more complex problems make people think harder, ideate unique strategies, and make themselves more difficult to be copied in the future. "You want to make yourself unique. Find the right time to scale and then scale fast."

Here are Scott's tips for startup founders:

  • Despite experience and background, what matters is what you have done. Why should people join your team and dedicate years of their lives to build a company? How much have you accomplished? The team you build is critical, especially at early stages.
  • Don't work for a company you're not excited about.
  • Don't assume you can't do something.
  • Why you should tackle the difficult problems:
    • You can get more resources/specialization
    • You’re less likely to get competition
    • Motivation to bring talent
  • Ways to create a great company:
    • Create value
    • Capture the market (eliminate the possibility of someone copying it)
    • Build it to last

If you want to learn more from inspirational speakers like Scott Nolan, check out Draper University's entrepreneurship program where you'll meet over 50 guest speakers and mentors from Silicon Valley.

We’re now accepting applications for our Spring 2015 class. Visit our website to submit your application by the final deadline: February 20.

Scott Nolan of Founders Fund: The Fire Behind Our Future

founders-fundJanuary 22, 2015 - We’re excited to announce that Scott Nolan of Founders Fund is coming to speak to Draper University's incoming Winter 2015 class! First and foremost, Scott Nolan is a futurist, technologist, entrepreneur, and investor. He is also a partner at Peter Thiel’s groundbreaking venture capital 2.0 firm: Founders Fund where he works to see startups thrive by helping founders reshape the world of today and tomorrow. At Founders Fund, Scott focuses on investing in technology-driven companies across a wide variety of sectors. Recently, the firm invested in Privateer to become the first institutional investor in the marijuana industry, confirming their leadership in spearheading novelty in the world of venture capital. He is also currently a board member at Collectivehealth, Tachyus, Tribogenics, and two other stealth-mode companies.

Scott Nolan

Prior to Founders Fund, Scott was an early employee at SpaceX, one of Founders Fund's portfolio companies, where he helped develop the propulsion systems used on the Falcon 1, Falcon 9, and Dragon vehicles. After SpaceX, Scott spent time at Bain & Company working with its private equity clients, and later co-founded a startup focused on building social web apps on the Facebook Connect platform. Regarding his education background, Scott earned both a BS and MEng in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Cornell University in 4 years, and received his MBA from Stanford University where he was co-president of the Entrepreneurs Club.

Founders Fund

At Founders Fund, a San Francisco based venture capital firm investing in companies building revolutionary technologies, Scott gets to be at the forefront of the startups and VC funds shaping our future. He is constantly looking for companies that push for a wildly more advanced future. Founders Fund invests at all stages across a wide variety of sectors, including aerospace, artificial intelligence, advanced computing, energy, health, and consumer Internet, with a portfolio that includes Airbnb, Knewton, Lyft, Spotify, Stripe, and ZocDoc. Founders Fund was the first institutional investor in Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Palantir Technologies, and one of the earliest investors in Facebook. In 2014, Founders Fund raised a $1 billion fifth suite of funds, bringing the firm's aggregate capital under management to more than $2 billion.

Scott Nolan will be speaking to Draper University's Winter 2015 class next week - check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages for live updates!

10 Tips from Inspiring Speakers at Draper University

Student Post – January 6, 2015 – Culled from the 2014 Summer class draper-selfie1. “Want to be a billionaire? Do this: solve a billion dollar problem OR solve a billion people’s problem.” — Naveen Jain

2. “After your first 12 years, you become a know-it-all. It’s simply the nature of intelligent beings. Now, we’re all tasked with re-gaining the template of being open or facing impending stagnation.” — Dr. Joon Yun

3. “You’re always better off renting; software, office, staff, etc. ” —  Joel Yarmon

4. “There’s honestly no better customer in the world than the desperate mom. That’s why I love direct-to-consumer marketing in the education industry.” — Dave McClure

5. “Once you get OPM (other-people’s-money), you officially have a boss. Entrepreneurs have bosses too. ” — Trip Hawkins

6. “Experts will either tell you why it can’t be done or give you an incrementally better idea. So, if you have a brilliantly disruptive idea, never go to an expert.” — Naveen Jain

7. “All technologies are combinations of technologies that already exist. Nothing is truly new.” — Steve Jurvetson

8. “It’s okay to say ‘no’ to unreasonable people. Protecting your network and reputation is paramount.” — Heidi Roizen

9. “When the going gets tough. Grab a partner. And MOSH.” — Chocolate Heads Movement Band

10. “It’s an incredible sight to watch when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object.” — Tim Draper

Interested in an opportunity of a lifetime? Apply today: http://draperuniversity.com//apply/.

~ Guest post by Adé O. who is from Maryland and was part of DU’s Summer 2014 Class.

Startup (and Life) Lessons from Bill Draper

Student Post – July 3, 2013 – A few months ago, I didn’t know anything about the Draper family. After I applied to Draper University, I started to figure them out. I knew DU was a crazy and innovative school for entrepreneurs, but I never imagined how much work and history was behind it. Tim Draper has been empowering entrepreneurs in every stage of his life and Draper University students are the latest ones. MariaGandaraWhen I started to read and to ask about Tim Draper (founder of Draper University and Draper Fisher Jurvetson), I realized that I was very lucky. I knew that for 6 weeks I was going to be surrounded by the visionary who first invested in Hotmail and Skype and who indeed has an amazing family and values.

While reading Bill Draper’s book "The Startup Game" I saw how Tim’s dad's life related to me and where I am in my life. Bill Draper is not only a prominent Venture Capitalist; he has also been behind amazing strategies and plans. He has worked in public service, at the United Nations Development Programme, and has supported many social entrepreneurs.

Bill came to our school this week and when we asked him about characteristics that entrepreneurs should have, he answered:

• Drive • Courage • Energy • Brain Power • Creativity

We wanted to know in what kind of person he would invest in and he answered that the kind of person that had a sleeping bag in his office. A person that is energetic, hardworking, and exudes confidence. When I asked Bill for advice on how to create entrepreneurship ecosystems, he told me that we needed a strong relationship between academia, business people, and industry. He said that a new Silicon Valley can grow wherever there is a good technical university.

"There wouldn’t be a Silicon Valley without a Stanford," said Bill.

Bill Draper is a perfect example that shows us that by doing business we can change many lives and confirms us that entrepreneurship will enhance the development of our countries and our life. At the end, Bill Draper gave us some tips on how to pitch to VCs, and to close his talk he told us that he has had a lucky life.

~ Guest post by Maria Fernanda Gandara Gil who is from Mexico and was part of DU's Summer 2013 Class.

Draper University's Amazing Guest Speakers from Silicon Valley

Student Post – June 20, 2013 – We had some absolutely amazing guest speakers come into Draper University during the Spring 2013 Class, they were all hugely inspiring and it was such a privilege to sit in beanbags and listen to them. In this blog post I'm going to run though five of my favorite guest speakers.

Bill Draper1. Bill Draper

Bill was one of the first venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, and with this comes some great stories! Bill was fantastically captivating when talking about some of his investments and his time in the US government working for Ronald Reagan.

Naveen Jain2. Naveen Jain

Naveen is a serial entrepreneur with a special interest in science and technology. Naveen has a first rate mind and can tell you about anything science related. He also has the best business card I've ever seen!

Strikingly3. David Chen & Teng Bao

David and Teng are co-founders of YC backed Strikingly, they make it really easy to build mobile optimized websites with no coding required. They sat down with us for an informal fireside chat about their story and how they got started. They were incredibly funny and very open about the struggles of running your own startup.

Jamis MacNiven4. Jamis MacNiven

Jamis is the owner of Buck's of Woodside, a small restaurant famous for hosting VC's and entrepreneurs. Some of history's biggest VC deals were done at tables in Buck's. Jamis came in to talk about why Silicon Valley is the best place to be and start your business.

Mike Cassidy5. Mike Cassidy

Mike is a serial entrepreneur with a number of successful exits and is currently a director at Google X. Mike came in to tell us about his startup philosophy of SPEED. He told us about a story when he pitched DFJ at 8:15am and demanded a term sheet by 4:30pm.

~ Guest post by Alex Nguyen who is from the UK and was part of DU's Spring 2013 Class.