May 11, 2015 — Draper University alum, Oliver Page, has created a unique ride-sharing service in Rome with mounting success. In a city where scooters are one of the most popular forms of transportation, Scooterino allows you to hop on the back of someone's scooter who is traveling in the same direction. Oliver's idea was to adapt American ride-sharing services (like Uber) to Italian culture. Romans rely heavily on Vespas to zip through the congested metropolis, and Scooterino allows users to locate travelers on a similar route and catch a ride for just a few Euros. The service is meant to be efficient and cost effective, and Oliver will eventually take a small cut from each transaction. So far, Oliver has about 2,000 users and $50,000 in seed capital. He will test the Roman market for viability, but the service has already sparked interest in other scooter-happy cities across Europe. Read FastCompany's profile on Scooterino here.
March 5, 2015 - Located directly across from Draper University on 3rd Avenue in downtown San Mateo is Hero City - a large co-working space that is home to roughly 50 startups. Membership to Hero City includes access to conference rooms, meeting space, kitchen and lounge area, mentors, and exclusive events. In addition to the co-working space on the main floor, the bitcoin accelerator Boost VC is located downstairs, along with a large auditorium that is used to host events and conferences. The upstairs floor holds offices for Draper VC funds and desk space for angel investors, dubbed "Angel Landing." Hero City and Draper University are both part of VC Tim Draper's larger Draper Ecosystem where all the pieces - entrepreneurs, startups, angel investors, and VCs - come together as one:
"VCx brings in billionaires (mostly from abroad) who have cash and want to diversify into tech, so they supply the capital. Draper University brings in the talent. Hero City supplies a workspace for the fledgling companies. The executive education program fosters connections with companies that can become valuable partners for the startups. The VCs upstairs invest the capital in the most promising of those companies. And when they grow big enough, these companies migrate to nearby office spaces."
I Stared at Startup Pitch Decks for 3 Straight Weeks – Here’s What I Learned
Reblog from NextView Ventures' Blog - February 25, 2015 - A few weeks ago, we launched two startup pitch deck templates for raising seed capital — part of NextView’s platform of exclusive startup resources. And while the NextView partners served as the editors and directors of the project to ensure its usefulness to founders, I wanted to share a few of the more surprising or alarming lessons and trends I witnessed after spending weeks of my life staring at actual pitch decks from dozens of startups to inform our templates.
Some of these lessons might be useful because I’m not the founder who created those decks. Sometimes, when you’re too close to a task or challenge at hand, you miss the obvious. You lose the forest thanks to all those damn trees.
Other lessons I learned might be useful because, well, how often does someone spend hours upon hours of their waking life comparing and contrasting pitch decks? I wasn’t evaluating companies, mind you, but the decks themselves — nitpicking every little design and layout element to borrow and adapt and inform our project. How often does that happen? (Answer: Never, because that sounds like what a crazy person would do. But for three weeks, this was my world. As an aside, please send coffee. I’m still recovering.)
So, begging for your sympathy aside, here are the biggest things I learned after sorting through pitch decks and re-building the wireframe from the ground up. In sharing them, I hope you can create a deck that’s better informed, more compelling, and more effective at raising capital for your venture.
5 Surprising Mistakes Found in Seed-Stage Startup Pitch Decks
#1: Founders Often Miss the Most Important Slide
The first thing that jumped out was just how often decks lacked a clear, over problem statement. “THIS is why we exist. THIS is what we aim to solve. THIS is why customers will care.”
You can make the case that the “what we do” slide is the most important, but in the seed stage, the exact details of the product and even the target customer is a moving target.
Instead, I’d argue that the most critical slide to include early in the deck is a succinct, jargon-free problem statement. The “what” and “how” are still being developed, though you will obviously include some of those details in the deck. But the “why” of your company is absolutely essential.
The “why” is about two things:
- Explaining the market opportunity. Why will your customers care about your company? Is this a really big problem right now? Is it only growing as a problem/opportunity? Are there other solutions that exit but fall flat, thus putting you in a position to win?
- Validating you as the founder. Why are YOU out to solve this problem? Why do you care? Are you authentic as a founder who’s hell-bent on solving this issue? Will you run through inevitable future brick walls because you care so much, or did you just spot a weakness in a market and may not be overly passionate? In short, what’s your unfair advantage to gain traction and distribution and start to solve this particular problem?
It can’t be overstated — stating this clearly and early is crucial to the success of your pitch, whether you’re pitching investors, customers, or potential new hires.
#2: Type-A People Try to Cram Too Much Information onto Every Slide
If you were a Type-A student and always over-prepared for tests, then you’re likely to struggle with the copy and layout of your pitch deck a bit more than other founders. That much was clear when reviewing all the various types of decks I used during my research and matching them to my perception of a given entrepreneur.
I am that Type-A person too, so take it from me: On a single piece of paper, write down the main point each slide tries to make. Then add exactly those points to the slides. Leave the color commentary to the slide notes or appendix.
Good pitch decks are clear, concise, and contain only the most critical information … not ALL information. It’s hard to avoid if you’re this type of person, but don’t feel the need to cram in every single detail about your company. Nor should you stuff tons of copy onto a single slide.
Again, like the above mentioned “why” slide, this clarity and focus is also great practice for selling your product to customers.
#3: Claiming You Won’t Need Future Funding Is Actually a Mistake
I always believed that, were I to found a company after NextView, I’d say exactly that. I’d simply raise a single round then never fundraise ever again.
Not so fast. As it turns out, claiming that you’ll never need another round after your seed financing can hurt your credibility as a founder. A lot of the reasons why are implied, not stated, simply by you raising capital at all. First of all, if the business is destined for greatness, you’re likely to want future capital to step on the gas. Additionally, by raising institutional capital, you’re implying that high growth potential is the name of the game. It’s much different than a friends and family round or even an angel round in some cases. When raising from a VC, you’re signaling that you’re trying to maximize growth and returns.
#4: Many Decks Fail to Mention a Distribution Strategy
In our templates, this information can be found on the Go-To-Market slide, which has its own dedicated explainer slide ahead of it just because it’s so critical. The slide itself — and the reason it was a surprising lesson learned after my time staring at these decks — both point to one reality: Many founders focus too much on the tech rather than how they’ll actually get that tech into the hands of customers. (Some decks did include this fact made the mistake of citing very broad generalizations. “Content marketing” is not a go-to-market strategy.)
I need to acknowledge that the lack of info around distribution could be due to the number of Boston based startups I reviewed. It’s a common knock that Boston entrepreneurs think about tech and tech alone and fail to articulate how they’ll generate demand. (I personally disagree and think that this is a gross generalization of Boston-based marketers and entrepreneurs. As an aside, I believe the area’s founders are actually very good at targeting customers, but lousy at targeting tech press and larger, splashier goals. And for that reason, the tech press believes they lack good marketing chops overall.)
As NextView’s David Beisel likes to say, “We live in a demand-constrained world. Tell us how you’ll combat that issue when you launch.”
Show you’re thinking about distribution, and even better, show you have an unfair advantage for gaining traction.
#5: Many Founders Share Decks in Editable Files, Ruining All Design
Many of the decks sent to me by the NextView partners were originally shared in PowerPoint. These are editable files and can cause disastrous perception problems — namely, the design, layout, fonts, and alignment of all slides can suddenly appear incredibly sloppy.
This is an easy one to avoid: Send a PDF. It’s that simple. As a bonus, you can hyperlink to things in PDFs through Adobe Acrobat Pro that are instantly clickable, compared to PowerPoint-based links.
(It’s worth noting that our pitch deck templates are indeed built in PowerPoint in order for you to download and easily edit the slides. But if your operating system or specific edition of PowerPoint causes any design issues, check out our SlideShare account for two PDF versions you can view alongside the PowerPoint as you edit.)
#6: More Than Half of All Pitch Decks Weren’t Framed as a Story
We believe telling a compelling, authentic story is so critical that we built a template called “The Show” which is quite literally a story-telling deck. Even if you don’t use that version, you can still adapt the framework of good storytelling into your more straightforward pitch deck.
The Show template aside, the pitch decks I studied were mainly fact-based flipbooks of copy and graphs. But the biggest realization I had while working with NextView’s partners on this project is that, in every case, you’re better off telling a coherent, compelling story about your company and where it’s heading.
Luckily, every story from nursery rhymes to Shakespeare to stellar startup pitches can be distilled into three parts: a status quo, some conflict, and a resolution.
This is the absolute best way to tell your own story and pitch your company. Gone are the days of transactional, slide-by-slide pitches being the most effective option. Investors make decisions with their heads and their gut instincts. You need to target BOTH.
And for a step-by-step template for doing exactly that, as well as compiling either of two effective startup pitches, I invite you to check out our startup pitch deck templates.
Best of luck telling your startup’s story.
January 14, 2015 - Humankind has been trying to predict the future since the beginning of time. Let’s look at some of the Silicon Valley predictions for entrepreneurs, startups, venture capitalists in 2015:
1. Bitcoin/Blockchain will continue to play an important role in our lives.
Venture capitalists and angel investors invested more than US$250 million in 2014, and you can expect even more in 2015.
2. There will be a growing need for better data utilization.
You've got your CEOs, CFOs, CTOs, and now: CDOs?
3. Machine learning will leave everybody wanting more.
With mass adoption of Google Now and Siri, consumers and venture capitalists can only expect more goodies.
4. Two industry titans are beginning to sweat...profusely.
5. Cybersecurity budgets will grow, and possibly explode.
Being “Sony’d” is a verb now. To all entrepreneurs and startups working on this issue: take the publicity with Sony and run with it!
6. Silicon Valley fully wakes up to health care.
“Healthcare represents nearly 18% of US GDP (and rising), making it perhaps the biggest market opportunity for venture capitalists and investors anywhere.”
These trends are changing the world as we know it. Stay ahead of the curve and come to Draper University's entrepreneurship program where you'll meet the movers and shakers behind these predictions. Apply now for our Spring 2015 class at http://draperuniversity.com//apply-2/.
Draper University is proud to announce we are now casting for our upcoming TV show. We've partnered with Ugly Brother Studios for a TV show that will follow selected students as they build and launch their startup in Silicon Valley. Together, we are seeking young entrepreneurs with brilliant business ideas who would like to enter the Spring Residential Program and be featured on the series! Selected students will be followed as they enter the hands-on curriculum of the Draper University program and apply their new knowledge, network and skills to their startup businesses.
Hear what Tim Draper, Founder of Draper University has to say about the show:
Draper University alumni have started more than 60 companies, raising over $7.4 million in capital. Some left to join other start-ups or large companies including Tesla and Google.
To be considered, please send the following information to: firstname.lastname@example.org Name: Age: Contact Information: Brief Bio: Tell us why you would be a great candidate & Please attach a current photo of yourself
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
November 26, 2014 – Check out this great piece on Draper University out of Taiwan - personal interviews with DU alumni Hua Zhao and Ryan Moon from the Fall 2014 Class and another awesome interview with Tim Draper!
November 19, 2014 – Last Wednesday, Draper University alum Cherry Kim held the first ever Draper University meetup in Seoul, Korea. Current student Ryan Moon was also able to video call into the meetup from DU's campus in Silicon Valley. More than 40 local entrepreneurs showed up for the info session and networking event. At the meetup, participants learned about and discussed the different activities in Draper University's unique entrepreneurship program and how the activities and assignments teach you to think big and build your ideas. Cherry also emphasized the importance of networking and the opportunity to get connected with Tim Draper's network.
Draper University's startup bootcamp will give you the real world skills and hands on experience you need to become an entrepreneur and launch your startup. Our students come from all around the world (including Korea!), and we have an average of 60% international students in each cohort. Many of our alumni have gone on to start their own companies (over 70+ successful companies and counting), land their dream job (alumni are currently working at Google, Tesla, and Yelp), and change the world. If you want to join the next cohort of heroes at Draper University, visit our website and check out our apply page for upcoming program dates and application deadlines.
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.
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/
San Mateo, CA – Sept 3, 2014 – Draper University entrepreneurship program graduates are making waves in startup communities across the globe. Launched in 2012 in Silicon Valley by successful venture capitalist Tim Draper, Draper University runs startup training programs for entrepreneurs from all over the world. Students learn to think differently and are encouraged to start businesses that will change the world. Recent graduates from the entrepreneurial program include female racecar driver Collete Davis, who graduated from the Spring 2013 cohort. Collete, a Formula 1 racecar driver and STEM education ambassador recently co-founded TechDrive online magazine with Bravo! TV Silicon Valley cast member Hermione Way and was recently featured on the cover of FSHN magazine.
Other Draper University alumni include Mu-Chi Sing and Colin Heilbut, both from the Winter 2014 cohort, who successfully crowdfunded over $200,000.00 for Bistro, the smart feeder that recognizes your cat’s face. Bistro is the world’s smartest feeder that can track appetite and weight change using an innovative cat facial recognition technology.
More innovative graduates, all from the Summer 2013 cohort, include the founders of two wearable technology startups. James Kernan founded the startup Q Designs and launched the Q Bracelet, an innovative stylish bracelet that charges your smartphone. Brian Friedman and Allen Houng founded the startup Loopd, a platform that streamlines interaction between business professionals.
In the social entrepreneurship sector, alumnae Lizzie Faust and Kendra Wilkins are supporting malnourished children in Haiti with sales of their all-natural peanut butter through their startup Peanuts4Peanuts.
Innovative marketer Kerstin Karu of the spring 2013 cohort launched Blast Buzz to help brands connect with people to co-create and amplify word-of-mouth buzz across social media. Kerstin was recently featured on VentureBeat speaking on the future of marketing.
Other notable alums include Apurv Mishra, a developer and engineer who is launching TAP, an app that will be the fastest, simplest messaging application. Users simply “tap” their smartphone to send a notification. In the gamification sector, alum Alex Chen is changing the landscape by creating TestLegends, a tool for educators to make test preparation more fun and engaging. Disrupting the moving sector in India is Mithun Srivasta, who launched Blowhorn, the Uber of home delivery, in order to bring easy delivery into homes across India.
Draper University is now taking applications for its Winter 2015 cohort, which runs from January 25 to March 13, 2015. Apply online at http://www.localhost/sites/html
October 7, 2013 – Draper University alumni are changing the world with their gusto and enthusiasm. Their startups are already making an impact and creating disruption. Check out what some of our alumni are up to: Loopd - Re-imagining how you connect with people with wearable tech products
New Tide Commerce - B2C Consumer Product Exchange
Booth4 - Amazing rental photo booth service for parties and events
Roomrr - A safe, community marketplace for you to rent storage space to and from people like you
Trumo - A truly mobile application that allows you to easily access your contacts from any phone when yours is unavailable
EquityLancer - A global equity marketplace that enables startups to use their equity as a currency, instead of cash, to find and acquire critical resources such as talent, products, services, and funding, to develop their business idea
JayStay - Airbnb for exclusive networks
Actively Learn - An online literacy platform that empowers educators to transform reading
Coup - A new 21st century interpretation of the classic private social club, provides innovative and modern offerings and experiences more appropriate and attractive to its specific demographic of successful and upwardly mobile young professionals
Draem Ventures - Pre-seed impact venture fund dedicated to finding, founding, and funding the next generation of socially, environmentally, and technologically conscious businesses
Aimwith - Social equity marketplace for impact
Galaxeeds, Inc. - Creates a stress-free, comprehensive and reliable hiring, training and placement system solely based on job candidates' proven problem-solving capabilities and cultural fits with the companies.
NutKase Accessories - Design and manufacture high end personalised tablet and computer cases for educational institutions and corporates
BluVPN - Online privacy cloak and website unblocker
This is only the beginning - keep an eye on these amazing heroes - they are changing the world!