Noted tech investor Tim Draper is expanding what can only be described as Silicon Valley’s most unique school for aspiring entrepreneurs.
The Draper University of Heroes prepares students for the the chaos of the tech industry with lectures from all-star CEOs, a crash-course curriculum on business creativity, and supplementary lesson plans on dealing with uncertainty, including living on food stamps and surviving in the wilderness.
Draper’s offline, selective-admissions, private course of study, which costs $9,500 for a multi-week intensive package, boasts alumni from Google, Tesla, Yelp, and GoPro as “professors,” according to technical lead manager Kelsey Whelan. Its lectures include Silicon Valley notables, from Netscape founder Marc Andreesen to Intuit CEO Scott Cook.
The most direct applications of Draper’s rather unique startup school are lessons like these:
- Media training
- Predictive analytics
- Design thinking
- Fundraising and venture capital
The more unique aspects of the program is an assignment to create a video of your own Rube Goldberg machine (sample below):
While the offline version includes lessons such as wilderness survival, the online school will bring these elements with assignments like:
- Running six miles. “We have the online students download the Nike running app, run/jog/walk six miles, and upload a screenshot of the app as proof.”
- Living on the equivalent of food stamps for at least one day. Many students choose to do this the entire week.
The school will guarantee an investment of $5,000
to $2 million at a $2 million valuation for at least one lucky student. Like many selective incubators in the Valley, it includes a capstone pitch-off in front of well-known investors. Draper says that a beta version of the online school was a success, with completion rate of 51 percent.
The idea behind the school is that successful entrepreneurship is a mix of creativity, grit, and a high tolerance for uncertainty. And, if that’s the chosen field for an aspiring entrepreneur, it’s hard to imagine how the sterilized training grounds of a typical MBA program prepares students for life after graduation.
Draper’s school can boast success thanks to its selective admissions and well-connected alumni.
As a scientist, I would absolutely love to see someone take these lessons and apply them to a population that is less likely to succeed. Then, we might be able to tease apart valuable lessons for the education system.
Either way, interested readers can learn more about the Draper University of Heroes here.
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