- Business Insider
If you are between 18 and 28, famous billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper has a plan to turn you into the “next Steve Jobs.”
That’s why he launched a school for young, would-be entrepreneurs called Draper University of Heroes, he tells Business Insider, which he turned into a reality TV show last year.
But even if students won’t appear on TV, Draper has a new plan for the school. He just added a new nine-month program to the curriculum, starting in the fall, which he views as an alternative to a master’s degree.
This is in addition to the school’s classic two months of “hero training” offered since it launched three years ago.
There’s a reason he calls it hero training. Before you can become the next Steve Jobs, you have to learn to be tough. Navy SEAL tough.
Days of survival training
Hero training includes “four days of survival training with military teams. We have Navy SEAL special forces and Army Rangers that take them to real survival training,” Draper says.
- Athit Perawongmetha/REUTERS
Once students have spent those days foraging for food and shelter in the wilderness, the next step is city survival training, challenges that sound like what Donald Trump gave to contestants on his reality show, “The Apprentice.”
“There’s another couple of days in the two months of hero training that’s Urban Survival training,” Draper says. Students have to go out and “sell something embarrassing, or go to San Francisco and come back with a job offer, on paper, in 24 hours.”
That job offer gives them the confidence that they can always quickly get a position, he says.
As Draper says, “How to create a Steve Jobs? It’s a way of thinking.” The school admits people “that have that spark and we create an environment that ignites that spark.”
$12,000 to $40,000
Once the students have learned how to survive, they are ready to learn about the tech industry – Draper U-style. The nine-month program will include learning about the newest, buzziest technologies.
- Tim Neely/ABC Family
Although every class has a different curriculum, Draper says, students might explore Bitcoin – which Draper loves – learn design, and use the newest programming languages to build an app, or maybe a robot.
They’ll also draft a business plan, turn that plan into a pitch deck, and turn the pitch deck into a two-minute presentation and pitch it to “between 30 and 50 VCs,” including himself, he says.
He’s dedicated a $1 million fund to invest seed money in startup ideas from the class, too, he says.
But it’s not a scholarship program. The two-month hero training costs $12,000. The full nine-month program costs $40,000, Draper tells us.
Draper calls it an alternative to traditional school. That’s important: This is not an accredited school. Students who finish the program do not earn an accredited degree.
Just to compare, many accredited universities charge about $40,000 to earn a bona fide master’s degree.
Draper defends his school
Draper says, “We definitely get mixed reviews. Our training is not for everybody.”
But Draper points to the alumni success stories as proof of the school’s value. Draper U has had over 500 alumni from 53 countries who have created 200 startups and landed a total of $22 million in funding, he says.
He points to businesses like biomedical startup nVision and conference-tech firm Loopd as examples of alumni startups that got funding.
Not that Draper is worried about controversy.
He has come up with a plan to turn California into six states, offered to make a large charitable donation if people watched his reality TV show, and bought a huge stash of Bitcoin auctioned by the government after seizing black-market site Silk Road and is fond of making large public bets.