Founders Fund

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.

Draper University's Winter 2015 Class Kicks Off with a Bang

January 26, 2015 - Draper University's 8th residential program kicks off today with 36 new Heroes-in-Training. Student entrepreneurs come from all corners of the globe, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Estonia, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Russia, Thailand, and Ukraine. Students will get access to some of the brightest minds and inspirational speakers in Silicon Valley, and the week one is no exception. Check out the line up below of amazing thinkers, innovators, investors, and entrepreneurs who will be speaking to DU Winter 2015 this week.

Winter 2015 Week 1

Ready to start your entrepreneurial journey? 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!