Student Perspective

The New Student

thenewstudent

About Draper University and Student Entrepreneur Opportunities:

Draper University, founded by famed venture capitalist Tim Draper, is focused on inspiring people and accelerating ideas by igniting the entrepreneurial spirit. To date, DU has over  305 alumni, with 185 companies, raising over $15,446,500 in venture financing. They’re funded by some of the most prestigious investors including Marc Andreessen, Tim Draper and Marc Benioff.

Beyond fostering a community of diverse leaders who want to change the world, the program equips its students with the skills, access and resources available in Silicon Valley. DU teaches entrepreneurs how to build a startup from business plan to execution and in real-world, accelerated terms. Something very hard to find with collegiate programs and even internships. This concept of real world acceleration is at the heart of the program and its curriculum. 

Each program lasts 7 weeks and students come to the live-in entrepreneurship program prepared for some intense schooling. The program culminates with "Demo Day", where the students present their ideas to a panel of technology luminaries and VCs and some even walk away with a deal and/or chance to incubate their idea at Hero City. Hero City is an entrepreneurial ecosystem that houses an incubator, eco-working space and offices of VC funds. The location is conveniently across the street from Draper University’s main building.

Michael Lisovetsky’s entrepreneurial journey started in the 6th grade when he and a friend created a website called HomeworkSwap.

Their goal wasn’t to earn money but to avoid mindless schoolwork. The site did not take off nor did their next venture, a web hosting company that failed miserably, but it set the stage for Michael’s next company FazeWire, which succeeded.

The aspiring young entrepreneur sold FazeWire while still in middle school, and, though the amount was small,Entrepreneurs Michael knew this was what wanted to do with his future—he was on the road to joining a growing group of young entrepreneurs.

After high school, Michael entered New York University in the fall of 2011. He quickly realized that traditional university courses were not doing much for him, but he knew a degree would prove credible to outsiders, which fueled his drive to succeed.

Enter Draper University

Michael found Draper U completely by accident. He attended a Wearable Tech conference where he met Draper alumni and founder of Q Bracelet and Q Designs, James Kernan. James told Michael about Draper U and since he thrives on serendipitous opportunities, he felt that Draper U was a no-brainer. NYU was put on hold while Michael attended Draper in the summer of 2014.

“At best, NYU spurred a path of self-education, in which I understood the fundamentals of finance from greats such as Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett, and Charlie Munger,” says Michael. “The $150k+ price tag on my education could’ve been funneled a lot more effectively towards practical learning, and Draper U is an excellent example of that...”

[Tweet ""I learned more about myself and the world in the 7 weeks at #DraperU than in 4 years of university""]

Michael and HomeSwipe came out on top, securing an angel investment from Tim Draper. Now HomeSwipe is rapidly approaching product/market fit. They are scaling to Chicago soon and flipping the switch to start generating revenue.

“It’s been a complete whirlwind for us, and it feels great to be behind the controls of a rocket ship that’s taking off,” said Michael. “I recently pitched HomeSwipe at the VCIC Global Finals, and won the Startup of the Year award. Winning against entrepreneurs significantly older and more experienced was an extremely humbling experience.

At 22 years old, Michael is already equipped with the experience and knowledge he needs for his entrepreneurial future, and he has Draper University to thank for teaching him how to—in the words of Tim Draper—”explore the world with gusto and enthusiasm.”

For the full article, read here.

MichaelLisovety

The Case for a "Virtual Citizenship" for Silicon Valley

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Edmilson, is the founder of the EdTech startup Edudream and alumnus of Draper University. 

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Once upon a time, in this very same galaxy...

The technology and Entrepreneurship community was shaken. Investors asked themselves: The VC Market is so hot right now... Where are the good entrepreneurs? How can we find the next big thing?

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Meanwhile, I was just an average Latin American guy with a big passion for technology and Entrepreneurship. My heroes were Steve Jobs and Larry Page, just regular Joes (like me) who changed the world by developing a technology that spread like fire.

However, those stories were in the epicenter of the digital world: Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley was a fantasy to me. Unreachable due to its high cost and my lack of connections in that world. Yet, just like the young Luke Skywalker, I dreamed of seeing the Galaxy.

My home city of Recife/Brazil is to Silicon Valley what Tatooine is to Coruscant in the Star Wars universe. We have a developing entrepreneurial ecosystem and an abundance of technical talent due to good universities. But in regard to opportunities for entrepreneurs and access to capital, we are just a big pile of sand. 

But everything changed when The Force gave me access to an amazing opportunity: Draper University of Heroes

There, I found everything I was looking for: knowledge, inspiration, networking and, most importantly, access to capital by receiving investment from Draper Associates. After graduation I felt like a Jedi and had wings to pursuit my full potential as an entrepreneur.

We incorporated in the USA to stay close to investors and clients, but our developing team is actually in Brazil, where our costs are 1/5 of that of Silicon Valley. We connect the best of both worlds: Investors, capital and clients from Silicon Valley and a brilliant, motivated and passioante team from Brazil (where the hiring costs are 1/5 of Silicon Valley´s). And guess what? We pay taxes in both countries, so we are helping to generate progress in both!

But put yourself in the shoes of a technology entrepreneur from a developing country for a minute: You are just a little nerd from a third world nation. You have an awesome idea, experience and a relentless determination to make it happen. But you have no money and no connections, there is no venture capital industry in your country and you have to work for a living while you see a great opportunity to loose its time to market.

Consider for example the case of one of our dreamers:  Deborah is a BioMedicine PhD candidate from UFPE (my alma mater) who graduates in August 2015. Deborah has been researching about Cancer RNA markers for 4 years and developed a diagnostic system that is cheap and detects very early stage cancer cells. She was accepted at the MIT Entrepreneurship Bootcamp. From 60 thousands applicants, she was one of 50 selected! But she needs USD$10,000 to finance the tuition, airtickets and cost of living.

She might loose the opportunity to attend this amazing bootcamp because there is no early stage venture capital in Brazil. That is why we work so hard on Edudream: to build a bridge between talent and capital, anywhere in the world. Through Edudream, people anywhere can invest in her Education and get a percentage of her future income with a vehicle called Income Share Agreement.

So, after seeing so much talent in places like Latin America, Africa, Eastern Union and Asia, and so many VC firms and incubators eager to find talent it makes me concluded: 

The current allocation of capital to talent is not optimal!

Places like Draper University, or entrepreneurship bootcamps and incubators/accelerators are helping to bridge the gap. But, still, there is a great divide between the talented people all around the world and the wealth of opportunities in places like Silicon Valley.

So, dear venture capitalists and technology tycoons, my humble suggestion is that you open your mind for new possibilities. The world is big and Flat. New technologies allow people to work remotely and build good stuff from anywhere in the world. The costs of producing software are significantly lower and there are talented entrepreneurs eager for new opportunities. So, investors can find more favorable terms and an abundance of potential investments if they look outside the boundaries of Silicon Valley or disregarding nations.

And the best thing is, you do not have to have a USA Visa to be an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley and follow the american dream. One can start a business online, incorporating in Delaware through a service like Clerky, open a bank account, receive the investment and manage the money everything online! Therefore, the companies you would be investing in are legal entities in the US, but the entrepreneurs can work remotely from anywhere in the world.

In Brazil, I grew up hearing that the US is the land of opportunity and where nothing is impossible. But in this new world, you do not actually have to be physically there to be an entrepreneur. Anyone, anywhere can be a virtual citizen of Silicon Valley!

And I will say it again: Companies like mine pay taxes both in the USA and in its home country. So, instead of thinking "They took our job!", let´s think about how we are creating jobs and paying taxes.

Let´s empower entrepreneurs from all over the world to be virtual citizens of Silicon Valley. 

That can be the solution for the talent pipeline problem of the venture capital industry, and a way to create wealth and opportunities for everyone!

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!

My Draper University Experience: The Secret Behind This Summer Startup Progam

summer startup program“I will do everything in my power to drive, build and pursue progress and change.”

Student Post - February 23, 2015 - When you hear a sentence like this out of context, it is difficult to extract its true significance. However, after only a couple days at the summer startup program Draper University, it’s easy to understand the importance of such a phrase, and it becomes even more meaningful taken in context with Draper University's Superhero Oath.

Not Your Everyday Pledge of Allegiance

Every morning at Draper University's summer startup program, we recite the Superhero Oath as a class. To "pursue progress and change" is only one of the lines in the oath, and we stand by each and every line not only during the program, but also long after the program as we return to "the real world."

The Superhero Oath is not part of your typical summer startup program, but that's because Draper University is far from typical. Tim Draper, seasoned venture capitalist and founder of DFJ and Draper University, is a heroic leader and true agent for change. His investment successes include Hotmail, Skype, Tesla Motors, and Baidu, and his eccentric personality makes him the perfect headmaster for a unique summer startup program like DU.

Pursue Progress and Change, Forever

Over the last few weeks at Draper University, we were given many challenging tasks geared at thinking 10X and stepping out of our comfort zones. While most summer startup programs promote creativity within their students, Draper University goes the true distance by constantly empowering us. As a group, we are always reminded to “do everything in our power to drive, build, and pursue progress and change” - not just during our time at DU but in our everyday lives, forever.

During my first few days at DU, I remember questioning the Superhero Oath. However, as a student half way through the program, everything we do - all the remarkable speaker presentations & mentorships we receive - bring everything full circle so it really hits home. I can honestly say, at the age of 26, a pivotal point in one’s life, attending any summer startup program is a good idea; however attending Draper University is a life-changing idea. The network, education, experience, and location are all top-notch and it certainly lives up to its founders' past successes.

~Guest post by Eric Gursky who is from New York and was part of DU’s Summer 2014 Class.

My Draper University Experience: The Startup School that Changed My Life

startup schoolStudent Post - February 20, 2015 - Three weeks ago, I landed at the San Francisco International airport. I was zipping around the airport in an unusual way for someone who just got off a five-hour flight. It wasn't because I was excited to experience Silicon Valley for the first time; it wasn't because I was excited to learn how to launch a business; and it wasn't even because I wanted to receive some of the finest entrepreneur training from Tim Draper at his very own startup school, Draper University. The reason I was walking with so much pep in my step was because I am always THAT GUY - that guy who has way too much enthusiasm and excitement in mundane settings. I believe this is why, the moment I stepped foot in this one-of-a-kind startup school, I felt at home. Draper University is a startup school that completely embraces attitudes like mine. It is so engrained into this startup school that their motto is composed of lines such as:

“I will explore the world with GUSTO and ENTHUSIASM!”

Every morning, I and 39 other students shout this line with vigor at Draper University’s brilliant startup school in Silicon Valley as part of the daily superhero oath.

All of the “ra-ra” stuff we do is awesome and trust me when I say that I love it, but that is not what has been life changing for me. What I have learned at this magical startup school is that every individual has the ability to change the world. If you make a deliberate effort to follow your passion, interests, and intuition, you will almost certainly change the world. However, the moment you beginning losing touch with those things is when you lose your supernatural ability to change the world.

Draper University of Heroes is truly a startup school where heroes are made.

~ Guest post by Jacob Catalano who is from Toronto, Canada and was part of DU’s Summer 2014 Class.

My Draper University Experience: 3 Reasons Why You Should Apply

draper universityStudent Post – February 17, 2015 – Goodbyes have always been easy for me. I remember being shipped off to military boarding school when I was 9. The other rugrats — innocent, skinny, petite — just like me, would cry endlessly as the slow, sinking feeling of nostalgia gradually crept up their skin until it wrapped itself around their neck, choking them on their own tears. I never understood it. For me it was always quite simple. Why? It didn’t really matter where I went, it never quite felt like home, so I never had a reason to look back. From Minneapolis to Johannesburg, I’d pinky-promise to stay in touch but it would only take a few hours for the memories to start to evaporate.

It was not until this past summer that I fell prey to the very emotions that I often smirked at. After just 6 weeks in San Mateo, I met a roller coaster of emotions as I left Draper University because this time I didn’t have to look back: I knew that great "DU" would be in my future, as much as it is in my present and past.

3 Important Reasons Why You Should Apply to Draper University

1. The people. They don’t care much for GPAs, MBAs or fancy resumes. In fact, the application only asks spooky CIA-type questions to assess your "way of thinking." This way, they’re able to assemble a class of witty, passionate entrepreneurs from almost all continents — each one unique, yet able to identify with the family. It’s like "Xavier’s School for Mutants" for entrepreneurs.

2. The philosophy. It’s not a conference or a bootcamp, and more importantly: it’s not about startups or funding. This is a big deal, considering that this is all your hear, everywhere you go. Draper University is entirely built on crafting a mindset of "heroism" — the enviable task of saving the world from itself, by being a better "you." DU’s true iridescence is more palpable in how the program underplays the "company" and "funding" aspects to focus more on the person.

3. Tim Draper. Fearless. Unpredictable. Boss. The experience wouldn’t be the same without him. Tim was always available to lead the pack. I watched him lead the class through a canyon filled with poison ivy at night. He once gave me bonus points for disagreeing with someone too rigidly. Just when you start to get comfortable, you can count on Tim to change the rules of the game. Clearly he’s nuts, but his daredevil personality has made him a success-magnet.

startup lifeAn evening meditation session with fellow heroes

"Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty." -Shonda Rhimes

They don’t come true just because you dream them, so take a bold step today for an adventure of a lifetime. So you think, "I wish I could attend." Great. Apply, get in, pack your things and go. Don’t wait for the perfect time; it may never come. If you already have a startup, then you’ll only get more busy. It’s okay if you don’t have a startup or a product or even know what your passion is just yet. Here’s your magical opportunity, so take it.

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

Eight Promising Student-Founded Startups to Pitch to Tim Draper at YouNoodle Live

We’ve partnered with YouNoodle, a global startup competition platform and network of over 50,000 startups, and their virtual demo day series, YouNoodle Live, to bring you YouNoodle Live With Tim Draper on Tuesday December 9th at 9AM (PST). The event will shine the spotlight on eight of the most promising student entrepreneurs from around the world as they pitch for Tim Draper’s feedback and global exposure. As an active advocate for entrepreneurs around the world, Tim is excited to be part of YouNoodle Live. “We are constantly recruiting young founders for Draper University and are proud to have one of the best networks for innovators looking to launch their ideas into the marketplace,” said Tim. “This is a great opportunity for us to see what is out there in terms of new and unique ideas.”

Pitching students belong to YouNoodle 1K – the top 1,000 entrepreneurs and ideas selected from over 28,000 startups coming through more than 400 YouNoodle-driven startup competitions worldwide in the past 12 months. And, with only the highest standard of applicants presenting, you will be sure to catch some pretty inspiring pitches!

Draper University is proud to support YouNoodle’s mission to level the global playing field for startups so that they may access opportunities no matter where they are located. The virtual and cost-free nature of YouNoodle Live does just that. See the pitch-off go down by registering free at www.younoodle.com/live

Taking a Leap into Entrepreneurship at Draper University

Student Post – October 30, 2014 – For the past year or so, my gut has been urging me to derail from the traditional engineering career path and dive into the world of entrepreneurship. Fortunately, a couple months ago I left a job at SpaceX to join aspiring entrepreneurs from around the world for an fully-immersive, action packed, 6-week crash course in entrepreneurship at Draper University of Heroes.

Draper UniversityTake a Leap and Challenge Yourself

I came into this entrepreneurship program with an open mind and a very optimistic outlook of my future. We are now 3 weeks in and I can say with assurance that the program has far exceeded any of my previous expectations. I have come to realize that Draper University (DU) is unlike any business school in the world. You are not only forced out of your comfort bubble but encouraged to fail and fail again until you succeed. Creativity, progress and change are encouraged over more traditional methods of thinking in order to foster entrepreneurial minds. Tim Draper’s goal is inspire the next generation of successful entrepreneurs and based off of the first half of the program, the DU team is definitely making it happen.

Steve JurvetsonLearn from the All-Stars in Silicon Valley

Each week at Draper University brings new adventures along with lots of fun. The program is split into a series of different theme topics starting with vision and followed by others like power and survival. These themes are presented through a variety of creative mediums including exciting collaborative activities and lectures by some of the most successful people in the world. These guest speakers include many well-known entrepreneurs, startup investors, and even a former Blue Angels lead pilot. You're probably wondering what an elite aerobatics pilot could teach about starting a business? Let's just say that when it comes to entrepreneurship, nothing is cut and dry.

You cannot learn how to become an entrepreneur by simply reading a book. Instead, you must experience everything first-hand or carefully listen to people who have failed and learned from their mistakes. This is what makes a program like Draper University so unique and valuable. You don't just theorize about the right or wrong way to do something; you just do it. I remember walking past a sign inside Hero City, the co-working space at DU, and seeing a traffic stop sign that read, “STOP THINKING, START DOING.” This is exactly what the DU program is all about.

Fast Track into the Silicon Valley Startup Network

Despite what I may have said previously, learning by doing is only a small part of the overall Draper University experience. Even more powerful are the networking opportunities the program has given me. Having 24/7 access to some of the best and brightest minds from around the globe, gives one the ability to constantly share personal experiences and bounce ideas off one another.

Getting numerous different perspectives on a single problem has helped me quickly eliminate many bad business ideas and also build upon several great ideas. The level of collaboration and camaraderie I’ve seen at DU in the first three weeks is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. I cannot wait to see what the next few weeks have in store for us.

~ Guest post by Komal Choong who is from India and was part of DU's Summer 2014 Class.

Learning Entrepreneurship: Three Reasons to Consider Draper University

Student Post – October 27, 2014 – I was once told that “an idea is worth nothing more than the paper it was written on.” If you have a business idea that you think might have great market potential, you need to talk about it. You need to write a business plan. You need to find good partners. You need to develop a prototype. You need to interview your potential early adopters. And that’s only a few to mention. Being a Draper University student/alumni gives you the ultimate entrepreneurship program and a network of bright thinkers, innovators of the current and future, as well as top Silicon Valley VCs. It gives you the chance to pitch your idea(s) daily, get feedback, iterate (and reiterate), until you hit the real ‘big’ thing that people are really looking for.

Entrepreneurship Program

Your startup just got funded.

Congratulations! You just began the journey of entrepreneurship. But before you get so excited, please do yourself and your startup a favour by learning how to hire the best talent, how to manage a team, and how to keep ideas flowing. As I once read in the “The Creative Confidence” book, you need to train your creative muscle to bring you up with creative ideas. That makes your startup stand out from the crowd.

At Draper University, you get to do creative activities almost daily, you get to work in teams to make big achievements. You listen to other startup founders’ success/failure stories. You acquire, analyse, and filter ideas, then apply them in your own startup. It’s the “crash course” in startups that helps you turn $$$ into a successful plan.

You’re already running a small startup.

Well perfect, then you should be looking for bigger business leads, to raise more money, or even getting acquired by one of the millionaires of Silicon Valley! Dreaming is one way of achieving good results, but Doing is something else. If you want to get once in a lifetime opportunities to meet people like Elon Musk, Naveen Jain, and Dave McClure, then Draper University is place for you. It is the one collective option where you get all those opportunities at once.

You’re a software developer; you don’t do business!

Do you know that there’s a constant need for software developers in Silicon Valley? Do you know that nowadays most startups and even well known corporates were founded by technical founders?

At Draper University, you’ll meet people from a wide variety of backgrounds, from Finance, Business, and Law, to Medicine, Bioinformatics, and Science. You’ll have the great potential to explore different business opportunities, make like-minded friends, and most important of all, maybe even become the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs.

Okay, you’re convinced you need to learn to be an entrepreneur, but you’re running low on cash.

Draper University offers a broad number of scholarships as well as different payment options and financial aid. That should keep you away from the burden of saving lots of money to pay for the tuition.

Another plus to think about: you might end up raising some good money for your startup!

~ Guest post by Shady El-Yaski. Shady is from Egypt and was in DU's Summer 2014 Class. This article is cross-posted from his blog: http://blog.elyaski.com/uncategorized/5-signs-you-should-invest-in-joining-draper-university-of-heroes/


⇤ Back to Home

My Draper University Online Experience by Megan Lisa Jones

Student Post – October 30, 2013 – When I was five I wanted to be Cinderella. I had the blonde hair and blue eyes so coveted a long dress and glass slippers. I didn’t care about attending a ball because that was past my bedtime – but I wanted to be a princess. When I told people they laughed and patted my head. Then my mom brought home the blue princess dress and slippers. On Halloween I went trick-or-treating around my neighborhood and everyone called me Cinderella. Online Program ExperienceWhat I enjoy and hate both is being asked to push my limits. At 12, I snuck my mom’s Cosmopolitan magazine, curious why I wasn’t allowed to read it. Included was an article on women earning over $100,000. The investment banker, travelling globally and advising on complex deals, caught my attention. I decided to be an investment banker and told a few people. The response was similar to my Cinderella experience. Women don’t become investment bankers, was one comment, which I knew from Cosmo wasn’t true. Years later I became an investment banker. Again, the doubters were wrong. In the online Draper University class we watched a video in which Ron Johnson said you must decide whether you’re a doubter or a believer. Once you stop believing you lose.

Later, I heard Tim Draper speak at a Milken Conference on fixing California’s problems. He addressed changing the world and the difference people not only can make, but must make for our country. I thought, this man understands the world. Seeing him in the lobby later I approached him and we began to talk. He handed me a card, requesting that I forward on ideas for our state. Investment banking is all about meeting impossible requests for people doing the unexpected so I viewed his challenge as just another piece of work, wrote it, sent it and got back to my clients. Tim Draper helped me on a later education focused book.

Meanwhile, I got an email about Draper University a live-in program for ambitious entrepreneurs in San Mateo. It teaches innovation and creating change. I’m too old and busy for the program but was intrigued.   Why not teach starting, daring, dreaming, innovating, creativity and problem solving? Then I got an email about an online program.

Now Tim had my full attention. I could learn how to change the world and be a superhero? Those around me said I didn’t have time and was crazy. Usually when numerous people say so I’m heading in the right direction. The easy stuff everyone supports if only to protect you. Playing it safe lets you live to fight another day. Taking risks is an interesting but dangerous path. I’d already left investment banking to start an education venture. How to juggle everything?

So I applied to Draper Online and got accepted. The program is halfway through now and better than I expected, and I had high expectations.

What I enjoy and hate both is being asked to push my limits. Building a Rube-Goldberg machine and video taping it, writing a poem to Bill Draper and answering a complex question in five sentences. By being challenged we not only grow and expand our capabilities, we also increase our confidence. Creativity and innovation require such a process. I read recently that it’s those who fail the most who succeed at doing great things because by testing so many ways to make something work they finally figure it out.

Having grown up mostly in Silicon Valley I believe that the willingness here, unlike anywhere else I’ve seen, to try seemingly insane things and risk failure makes it so successful.

But at Draper University Online, we don’t just get asked to do frustrating tasks that ultimately create a sense of accomplishment. We also read great books and watch videos of people from Tim’s vast contact base. In the Draper U environment they open up and share beyond the cliches of the speaker circuit. Thus I’ve learned to think differently, dream bigger and turn vision into reality. Coming up we’ll prepare a pitch video to present our business idea to Tim and a panel of VCs.

Excuses exist, and too often people use them because they fear success. Superheroes don’t make excuses. My thanks to Tim and his team for helping me learn to work smarter, make better decisions and set my mind for success and changing the world. I look forward both with eagerness and trepidation for what my coursework next week will bring.

We all need to cultivate a circle of people who see the Cinderella in us. Draper U is a place to build that support structure of those who want you to succeed then make every effort to support your vision and provide the tools necessary for turning it into reality.

~ Guest post by Megan Lisa Jones who is from California and was part of DU's Fall 2013 Online Class.

Loopd is Born: My Entrepreneurial Journey

Student Post – September 17, 2013 – Sitting on a bamboo chair at Mama’s Fish House below the overhanging palms, I stared into the distance where I could see a shimmering sunrise above the Maui horizon. The crests of the waves glistened from the light, and at that moment it occurred to me that this was it. The environment and atmosphere was pristine and perfect around me, however I was missing one thing. I had been observing the stunning innovation of Mother Nature, but within this beautiful picture I was just an observer. The desire to be part of this elaborate scene made me question my motivation and direction for the future.

Sunset View at Maui Film Festival

Soaring in the air I spun three rotations, and safely landed down on the downslope of a breaking swell. Guiding my kite to the left, I directed myself towards the beach, while digging the edge of my kiteboard into the Pacific. The wind was consistently racing through the air allowing my kite to harness its immense energy. Sending my kite back to the right, I raced towards a large wave. Approaching the lip of the wave, time started to slow down, and I entered a state of hyper focus. Each droplet splashing off the wave suddenly started to float. I could envision my route into the air where I would be once again part of the elaborate scene. Time sped up rapidly, and the wind blew against my body like a Maglev train racing towards its destination. Flying up towards the cumulus clouds, I looked below and felt at home. This feeling was pristine, and I had achieved my place next to the shimmering sun.

Kiteboarding Tweaked Grab, Pro Beach Maui

Two weeks earlier I had applied to an entrepreneurship program called Draper University, started by the famous venture capitalist and superhero Tim Draper of DFJ Ventures. The program is a six-week intensive pre-incubation and concept generation experience for future entrepreneurs ranging from age 18 to 28. Even though I had sent in my resume and completed my interview, I was still not sold if this was the right track for me. I have always been intrigued by start-ups ever since I was born. My dad ran a successful trade show company on three continents, and he had inspired me to take the leap. Freshman year at Lehigh University, I started a technical entrepreneurship club called CREATE, where I was inspired to help students bring their ideas to life from the paper stage. This is where I had my first romance with entrepreneurship, and I knew the rest was history. I was going to start my own company, and finally I would find my way to add my own splash of innovation to society surrounding me.

CREATE Club 3D Printing Workshop

Halfway through freshman year at Lehigh University, I declared my major Materials Science and Engineering. This was a step away from business, but I knew that with my new knowledge I would be able to make physical products that acted as disruptors for other technology. The curriculum was challenging and enduring, but I enjoyed learning about the building blocks of plastics, metals, and ceramics. Form and function both intrigued me, and I was motivated to create something that tied the two together in a simple harmony. Thinking about my future as a Material Scientist and Engineer, I realized that the normal track would not be entirely satisfying, and once again I would be looking out at the sunrise. Draper University accepted me for their summer program, and I knew that it was my calling from the Valley to the Bay.

Apple Company Store at Cupertino Headquarters

While at Draper University I met two extraordinary minds and my future cofounders: Allen Houng and Sambhav Galada. They were both trained Computer Scientists and Electrical Engineers. Allen was from Taiwan, and Sambhav was from India. We had all come from different backgrounds and cultures, but our desire to create a company unified all of us. Halfway through the program, I came up with a new concept for connecting with people physically while using new technological advancements. Recently I had observed that from the emergence of the smartphone technology, most people had become more virtually social and more physically antisocial. My goal was to use the existing platform in a new way, so that everyone could optimize the process and become more physically social. With the rise of smart wearable devices and SaaS platforms, I saw an opportunity to invent a simplified product that allowed people to interact with others in a sentimental fashion, while awarding themselves among their virtual presence. Sambhav and Allen shared the same vision that I had, and we agreed this was our new path. As a romanticist for ideas I had several projects that I was devoted to, but I had never found “the” idea. This new project was “the” idea, and my new love.

500 Startups Demo Day San Francisco

Jumping up and down from trampoline to trampoline, I was officially a superhero. My cape swayed behind me in the air, and I moved across the vast room like rolling thunder. I sat down on a bright blue beanbag and watched the rest of my class leap across the room with their unique style. It was our Draper University graduation, and my class finished their short 6-week journey one by one as they bounced from the podium. The day before graduation, student teams participated in a pitch day to a panel of venture capitalists and angel investors. Each team had two minutes per person to share their life-changing plan to beneficially disrupt the world. There had been a rumor moving quickly among our class that a few lucky teams would be chosen to receive funding. Every team delivered an extraordinary pitch, and I knew that any team could be worthy. I walked outside through the double doors and sat down next to the pool. Looking at the water’s surface, I saw my reflection, and I imagined a new life in Silicon Valley.

Draper University Summer Class

A deep voice caught my attention, and I turned around. It was one of the investors from our pitch day. He wanted to help my team make our venture a reality, and immediately my dream had come true. I had been waiting for the right pieces to come together in a harmony, and finally an upbeat and energetic melody had formed. I had a great team, investor, location, technology, market access, and supply chain. Lehigh University was my current plan, but I knew that this was my shot for the big leagues. If I didn’t go for it, then I could regret my decision for the rest of my life.

I would have never of thought that all within one summer I would start a company, move to California, and take a leave from school. The first two on my list were life goals, but I had always planned to finish what I had started with minimal interruptions. A new chapter in my life has started, and I am excited to share it with the world.

Santa Cruz Surf Break at Lighthouse Point Park

“We need to learn how to want what we have NOT to have what we want in order to get steady and stable Happiness”  – Dalai Lama

~ Guest post by Brian Friedman who is from Massachusetts and was part of DU's Summer 2013 Class. This article is cross-posted from his blog: https://medium.com/@bfried9131/loopd-is-born-b1b7a5ecad2f Check out his startup Loopd at: http://getloopd.com/

Anything is Possible at Draper University of Heroes

Student Post  July 18, 2013 – They say that Silicon Valley is the place where things happen. Where overhearing a conversation about two guys working on their newest startup at a coffee shop is common place, and where people often reply to your pitch with a "Yes, AND" instead of a "Yes, BUT" or even worse, with a straight up "NO." Yes, Silicon Valley is the place where anything is possible, and this became clear when I convinced renowned venture capitalist Tim Draper to auction off a one-on-one lunch meeting to the highest bidder.

Ana DuranThinking Outside the Box at Draper University

Regardless of whom you are and what position you hold, don't be afraid to fail. However, having a strong network is always useful, and I must confess that being a current student at Draper University in San Mateo, CA might have helped a little to secure the lunch. Draper University is an unconventional boarding school for young entrepreneurs created by Tim himself. In fact, the auction is taking place because my team, the Wonders, is fundraising for "Survival Week" which involves being in a secluded area for five days as part of the innovative curriculum. Fortunately, Tim agreed to help my team out with our wacky idea to auction him off, and we look forward to going off in the wild and surviving from the resources we gathered and the team strategy we devised while he has lunch with the lucky winner.

Be Surrounded by Like-Minded Entrepreneurs

Being at Draper University is about more than just going off on survival adventures or having talks led by top CEOs like Aaron Levie who created Box, or industry leaders like Robert Metcalfe who co-invented the Ethernet. To be here means to be surrounded by a group of thirty-eight brilliant peers from different corners of the world who share a passion for entrepreneurship and disruption, and who will eagerly give you feedback on your business idea regardless of how many times you change it. To be here means to think outside the box like how to drop an egg off from the eight floor without breaking it, and to be prepared to change the rules at any given point like playing volleyball with two balls and no net. To be here means "to do everything in my power to drive build, and pursue progress and change" as our superhero oath constantly reminds us. Most importantly, to be here means to be a hero.

What Does it Mean to be a Hero?

Through Draper University, I have come to redefine my definition of this word. Four weeks ago I would have said that to be a hero means to do something extraordinary that will benefit society. Today, I believe that a hero is someone who is not afraid to fail and who helps raise others up so that together they can do something even more extraordinary. Yes, at DU it is all about the teamwork and helping each other out in order to achieve a common goal. After all, every one has something to contribute to the table, and it is only when we pull all of our strengths together that we become more creative, more valuable, and completely indestructible. And if we fail, we fail together, we help each other up, and we try again until we succeed.

Don't be Afraid of Failure

That is the biggest lesson I have learned since being here, and as obvious and cliché as it may seem, you really need to live it in order to understand it. Regardless of whom you are and what position you hold, don't be afraid to fail. In fact, the only thing that should really scare you is failing and not learning anything from the experience. Everything else, regardless of how bad it is, holds some sort value if you know where to look for it. For example, when I was ten I was diagnosed with leukemia, and as bad an painful as dealing with cancer was, I was surrounded by the best team possible: my knowledgeable doctors, my loving parents, and my supportive school friends. Together, they made chemotherapy more bearable, and when the roughest days arrived and I wish I would die, my team was there to hold my hand and lift me up.

Also, always try to help others and form teams with your family, friends, coworkers, and even strangers. They all have the potential to inspire you and to help you see the world with a new perspective, and you of course can do the same for them. So dream together, execute together and fail together. I believe this mentality is what makes places like Silicon Valley and Draper University so special. I only hope that all the heroes out there will help me share and implement this idea with the rest of world and start working together to do something extraordinary. And even if it fails, it will still be extraordinary.

~ Guest post by Ana Duran who is from Colombia 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.