Residential Program

Why Audiences Love Entrepreneur Reality Shows Like ‘Shark Tank’

TONY CAPASSO, ERIN BRADY, CARLY MARTINETTI, SHAWN ISAAC, MALCOLM TYSON, SEQUOIA BLODGETT (DRAPER UNIVERSITY ENTREPRENEUR IN RESIDENCE), TIM DRAPER (DRAPER UNIVERSITY FOUNDER), CHARLIE TAIBI (DRAPER UNIVERSITY PROGRAM DIRECTOR), ANA MARTE, JOHN FRYE, KEYONNA PATTERSON, DAVID KRAM, SHARON WINTER
Re-blogged from  of NerdWallet

You’re probably familiar with “Shark Tank,” the ABC show where real entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of equity investors. Since the program first aired in 2009, a slew of similar shows have popped up, including “Food Fortunes” on Food Network and “The Profit” on CNBC. ABC also launched the spinoff “Beyond the Tank” in May. The latest entrepreneurial reality show, “Startup U,” premieres on ABC Family in August. It will follow students at Draper University, a seven-week entrepreneur education program in Silicon Valley.

“Shark Tank” averaged 7.5 million viewers in its most recent season, its sixth, according to the Nielsen Co. Why do entrepreneurial reality shows resonate with viewers? We put that question to some business and media experts.

They inspire entrepreneur hopefuls

Reality shows about entrepreneurs are a form of “success porn,” says Paul Levinson, a communications and media studies professor at Fordham University in New York. Rather than depicting contestants becoming millionaires by chance, these shows feature entrepreneurs earning investments with their novel ideas and clever inventions.

“This appeals to fans who have an idea or two about how to become rich, which they’re sure would work if only they could find the right listener,” Levinson says via email.

They teach lessons about entrepreneurship

Startup UWatching shows like “Shark Tank” and “The Profit” can teach wannabe entrepreneurs about equity capital and how to make an effective pitch. Venture capitalist Tim Draper, founder of Draper University, says “Startup U” will reveal new marketing techniques and ways of thinking about finance, in addition to showing how entrepreneurs can be successful working in teams.

Viewers “are going to learn that a lot of entrepreneurship is just taking that first step and just doing it,” Draper tells NerdWallet. “Then they’re going to learn that it’s hard.”

They give viewers a vicarious thrill

A lot of people view entrepreneurship as a skill that you have to be born with, and that therefore is unattainable to them, says Berna Aksu, a business professor at Saint Mary’s College of California, in Moraga. Watching reality shows like “Shark Tank” lets audiences experience the entrepreneurial dream vicariously without actually taking the risk, she says.

“When people can’t do something themselves,” she says, “they still like to see other people succeed.”

They advertise cool new products

Shows like “Shark Tank” are as much a marketing tool as a funding opportunity for entrepreneurs. “What better commercial than network TV?” says Lisa Hennessy. Hennessy is executive producer of the NBC weight-loss reality show “The Biggest Loser” and co-founder of DreamJobbing.com, a site that advertises unique, short-term job opportunities, such as a photojournalist stint in Norway or three weeks with the Nitro Circus.

Products that gained popularity on “Shark Tank” include Ava the Elephant, an animal-shaped medicine dropper for kids; ChordBuddy, a guitar attachment for novice musicians; and the Squatty Potty, a bathroom step stool designed to promote “healthy toilet posture,” as its website says.

They show underdogs beating the odds

Although entrepreneurship has grown in popularity, it’s still not easy, says Marci Weisler, a creator of “Queen Bee,” a show featuring female entrepreneurs on Ora TV. Audiences enjoy rooting for entrepreneurs’ pursuit of the American dream, she says.

“Shows like these show the struggles and successes,” she says by email, “and that average people have a chance to do extraordinary things and create big business.”

Teddy Nykiel is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email:teddy@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @teddynykiel.

 

Don't miss the Startup U series premiere Tuesday, August 11th at 10pm|9c on ABC Family!

6 Steps to Being a Better Founder

michaelstaton Information provided by Michael Staton of Learn Capital as part of his lecture at Draper University.

1. Get more productive

It’s never going to get easier or more simple. What you need to learn is how to juggle and hustle, while keeping in mind that nothing will go according to plan.

[Tweet "Fail fast and iterate!"]

2. Reduce your personal burn

You can’t get a company off the ground without all the founding skill sets to create that product on your team. You need a Doer, Promoter, and Leader. Hire a team that will complement your strengths.

3. Get current and stay current

Be aware of your competitive landscape. An investor won’t give you money if you aren’t willing to take 6 months to educate yourself on what needs to be done. Learn as much as possible.

4. Build serendipity inbound and truth outbound networks

You've got to hire slow, and fire fast. High expectations are met through designing and implementing human systems. Carry with you & seek out the "entrepreneurship" gene in your networks.

5. Build an audience

Dave Mclure says: A startup is confused about at least one of three things: What their product is, who their customer is, or how they make money. Know all of these to build the proper audience.

6. Skill up

The skill most necessary to being a better founder is design—or the methodology to choose from infinite possibilities. This means being able to make disciplined choices and form ideas into concrete actions.

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

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!

Tech Guru Overwhelmed By Draper University Opportunity

dwaynesamuels3March 12, 2015 - Dwayne Samuels, the first Jamaican entrepreneur accepted to Draper University, graduated today as part of DU's Winter 2015 class. If you'd asked him a few years ago whether he would be accepted to Draper University and travel to Silicon Valley for a 7-week entrepreneurship program, "he would have laughed in disbelief." You can read about Dwayne's journey from Jamaica to Silicon Valley in the Jamaica Gleaner, and check out the main highlights below.

Dwayne Samuels & his startup Grikly

Dwayne, 25, is from a humble community in suburban Manchester and always had a knack for computer applications and software creations. His startup Grikly is an app that allows persons to share business cards via smartphones. He is working on expanding his idea to Grikly Events, which allows event planners to execute events and gather information of users who 'check' into the location with their smart phones.

His Goal for Attending Draper University

To get a better understanding of the US market, widen his network here in Silicon Valley, and expand his business operations to the US.

Why He's Never Given Up

Through all his failures and successes, Dwayne cites his drive to succeed and his parents for being the reasons he's never given up.

"My parents have sacrificed so much for me and I love them immensely. I couldn't ask for better parents, they are the main reason I am where I am today. I'm a part of the best program of its nature in the world."

Read the entire article on Dwayne Samuels here.

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.

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.

Superhero Training at Draper University of Heroes

draper-university-superheroes Student Post - January 27, 2015 - When I moved into my new room at Draper University two months ago, I encountered huge walls with graffiti art of superheroes, psychedelic colored room doors, white board walls in the whole building, and four dozen colorful bean bags in classrooms; I instantly knew this would not be an ordinary program.

When I left Pakistan for Draper University of Heroes, a 7-week residential entrepreneurship program in Silicon Valley, I honestly had no idea what I had signed up for.

Superheroes from Around the World

draper-university-classroom

We were a group of 32 entrepreneurs from 15 different countries. The culture and diversity of the place...oh my, it was over whelming!

The founder of Draper University is Tim Draper who is known as the Riskmaster. He is by far the most unorthodox and daring person I have ever known! He believes that entrepreneurs are like superheroes, who take risks and change the world with their innovative ideas; hence, the name of the program.

Superhero Oath

Every morning at Draper University, we recited the superhero oath:

I will promote freedom at all costs. I will do everything in my power to drive, build and pursue progress and change. My brand, my network, and my reputation are paramount. I will set positive examples for others to emulate. I will instill good habits in myself. I will take care of myself. I will fail and fail again until I succeed. I will explore the world with gusto and enthusiasm. I will treat people well. I will make short term sacrifices for long term success. I will pursue fairness, openness, health and fun with all that I encounter. Mostly fun! I will keep my word. I will try my best to make reparations for my digressions.

Unique Experience

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Draper University of Heroes appears to have more in common with Harry Potter’s Hogwarts than it does with anything seen in traditional education. Its system, its outlook, its curriculum, its policies, its staff, and its culture - all of it is unorthodox and proud to be so.

During the program we got the opportunity to visit amazing places and meet real world heroes; innovators, thinkers, geniuses and more who are contributing to the future of this planet.

Innovative Curriculum

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Our curriculum consisted of topics like creativity, future, evangelism, finance, law, survival, sales, venture capital, and so much more which we learnt from the best field experts! We were pushed to our limits both mentally and physically and in the end, we did come out stronger. The entire experience is pretty much summed up in this one video.

I honestly did not have any idea how much this course would affect me, but it has contributed greatly in shaping both my personal and professional lives! The biggest lessons for me personally were to come out of my comfort zone, look beyond the fear of failing, and just try new things.

I couldn’t be more grateful for having been a part of this journey and to be part of the DU family! Thank you DraperU!

~ Guest post by Rumaisa Mughal who is from Pakistan and was part of DU’s Fall 2014 Class. Her startup Artboard was just featured in Pakistani startup news.

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!

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.

Cal Hacks: In the Land of a Thousand Coders

Cal Hacks hackathonStudent Post – December 1, 2014 –  I was part of Draper University's Fall 2014 Class, and altogether, we were 33 students from around the world who came to learn about untried entrepreneurial principles from the reigning Riskmaster himself: Tim Draper. Sometimes called a vigilante of conformism, Tim opened the doors to a unique Silicon Valley institution in 2013 called Draper University in an effort to continue his life’s new mission: education. The schedule was packed with a leading line up of world class speakers, and two weeks into the program, my fellow students and I entered our first real task of breaking out of the "classroom mode" by participating in one of the country’s leading hackathons: Cal Hacks.

Cal Hacks Hackathon

Two weeks into Draper University's "new kid on the block" entrepreneurship program, I boarded a bus with my fellow classmates who were just as excited and confused as me. We were on our way to Cal Hacks where college hackers from all over the US came to compete in an event that consumer the massive corridors of UC Berkeley stadium. Every corner of the stadium was occupied, with hackers lining up on staircases, behind kitchens, and in tiny alleyways. This was the big leagues and hackers had come to take no prisoners.

Internal Draper University teams were formed even before we entered the premises. All the students brought sleeping bags, food containers, lamps, etc. We were here for two days straight, which meant no sleep and being armed with all the supplies that would sustain us. Granted, food was catered by the sponsors during the event, but we needed to boost our energy levels for the frenzy that would follow.

Iterate and Reiterate

The first night saw a series of temporary hacking space movements, idea pivots, and team changes. Teams that had banded together were enduring the rigorous process of high-pressure, entrepreneurial collaboration. If ideas didn’t line up or the team dynamic wasn’t right, hackers would move onto the next team until they found their niche.

Although our team stuck it out and was fortunate enough to recruit a new Detroit-based team member who we met at the event, we were no strangers to the process of pivots and space changes. Our team went through a series of idea iterations, starting from medical concierge services, all the way to the idea that we eventually designed: a same day delivery service via Uber drivers. Our team actively broke up the tasks based on our strengths and skill sets, indulging in active market research, business model validation, and Android development.

We took few breaks, but during the breaks we did take, we ventured to the sponsor booths to talk to the companies who had generously sponsored the event and provided their APIs for development. From Andressen Horowitz to Facebook, each booth had two to three employees present to provide us with insight into their company, the power of their API, and of course, access to their freebies.

The Real Victory

CalHacksAfter 48 hours of rigorous, non-stop hacking, our team made it to the final 10 teams competing for the grand prize. Judges for the pitch competition included venture capitalists from Kleiner Perkins, Google Ventures, etc. Each pitch was given a total time of 2 minutes with 1 minute for Q&A afterward. Each of the finalists brought a unique hack, from drones to wearable gaming devices.

In the end, we didn’t win the grand prize, but we did win Best Mobile Hack of the competition. For me, the real victory was in all the teams from Draper University coming together and supporting each other, in spite of the competition. The victor can only enjoy the spoils of winning if she or he had a formidable army of Spartans. And on the day of judgement, I had 33.

~ Guest post by Nimay Parekh who is from New York and was part of DU’s Fall 2014 Class.

Top 10 Hot Incubators to Join in Silicon Valley

November 26, 2014 – Draper University was mentioned in today's Inc.com article by John Rampton on the "Top 10 Hot Incubators to Join in Silicon Valley." While DU isn't technically an incubator, we are a top entrepreneurship program that gives aspiring entrepreneurs the opportunity to raise seed funding by pitching to a panel of investors at the end of the program. Check out all the programs on the list.

Draper University in the Taiwanese Media!

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!