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Why we need a “Startup University” and how it would work

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This is a really good point:

It will likely take at least six months to raise a significant seed-funding round. Before that, you must build a minimum viable product that starts to gain user traction. Early-stage start-up founders are typically not able to take a salary until the seed round has been raised. And even after the seed round, founders tend to pay themselves just enough to scrape by. It’s the ultimate catch-22: how does the normal person without a previous exit or trust fund afford to even get past the first six months?

And mind you, sometimes it's a LOT longer than six months.

Good point.  It was actually longer than 6 months for us at Speek - more like nearly a year.   But once we got past that we almost instantly created 8 (and more like 10 at this point) jobs and that are fairly stable for at least the next year and very likely more.  Seems like there needs to be a deliberate attempt to replicate this.  I know me and my co-founder certainly didn't learn what it took to accomplish this at college.  We learned it through jumping into startups very early and skinning our knees a couple of times. 

Danny, I think that is most peoples' experience: To learn it on the streets.

So I like the idea of systematizing it more.

Plus, the article points out this is not a replacement for YCombinator, TechStars, 500 Startups, etc.

It's something that makes the accelerators better.

Good for the economy, good for founders, good for startups. Sounds like a win-win!

Couldn't agree more.  I honestly started off writing this piece as a total hypothetic blue sky kind of pipe dream but the more I got into and fleshed it out and now that it's had time to "bake" a bit in my brain I honestly can't find any real reasons why this couldn't be a reality.  Obviously institutional backing and buy-in could kill it but I really think it's a viable potential system for scaling startups and the subsequent job creation and innovation that comes along with them.

The vision is great but it's missing one thing: A shepherd to keep it from being exploited.

It needs a leader who can balance the interests of the students, governments grants, accelerators, and would-be acquirers.

Unless you want to be the leader, in which case it's time to apply for a Kauffman grant or something similar. :)

Like all solid ideas that's definitely a major missing component.  Execution, execution, execution.  When Speek exits I'm in!  Otherwise it would be cool if someone solid picked up the ball and ran with it immediately.  

Danny, cool. I will spread the word.

I like that he doesn't sugar coat how hard it is.

Of course, food and rent money for founders is only part of the equation, and raising seed funding for the company is very, very hard. Most seed-stage venture capitalists still amount to a bit of an old boys’ club, angel investors often seem as ethereal as their namesakes, and “Investment Groups,” or paid pitches, typically fill rooms with real estate agents, dentists and insurance salesmen. It can be a bit of a tight rope act trying to find funding.

I went into this article skeptical, but actually, I really like this idea:

Startup U’s “studentrepreneurs” would be loaned money and released on a two-week basis with sufficient funding for room and board. This loan would be repaid over the course of one to two years. Recipients would repay this loan in small monthly minimum payments, including interest; the same way student loans are repaid. Loans would come from the same sources they do now for regular continued education: a combination of government, banks, and other specialized institutions.

Seems like lower risk / higher reward potential than both the existing student loan and University system to me.  I wrote the piece after really thinking a lot about how the US could scale the job creation that we have realized in the short life of Speek thus far and that I experienced with my first startup that I bootstrapped (with even more "breath holding") and subsequently exited. 

It does seem like a higher potential reward -- and a potential great job creator.

It's a great idea. I wonder what it will take to bring it to the next level.

someone like Michelle Rhee would be pretty awesome as a leader for this IMHO

Which gets me wondering where she is now.

So I looked her up, and she's traveling the country, on a mission to improve education:

Looks like she's not ready to settle down with a startup mission right now.

Check out   Created by Tim Draper.  They tweeted at me after reading my article.   Looks really cool and closest thing I've seen to the idea

Thanks for calling my attention to this, Danny. It looks excellent.

Danny, we were excited to see your article and excitement as this is something we are working on.

Draper University is the brainchild of venture capitalist Tim Draper. We are an unconventional boarding school for the brightest young entrepreneurs from around the world. The 8-week program helps young entrepreneurs create companies with coaching and mentoring from experts in their field. 

Like Danny said above, please check us out ( - We are currently accepting applications for our spring session.

Draper U, I had no idea you were doing this! Thank you for the heads up!!

Sweet! Now I have something concrete to aspire to for my kids rather than slotting them into a traditional college a decade from now...

Ernie, its hard to ascertain tone but I'm guessing you're more enthusiastic than sarcastic here!

Sorry, I realized that could've been taken ironically. I am dead serious.  My dream (quite literally) is for my son to never go to college:

I'm looking at Elementary Schools for this fall, so I am already desperate to get him onto a track that isn't distorted by the system's fixation on college admissions.

I pray Draper University (or something similar) becomes socially respectable soon, so I can convince my wife I'm not completely insane to want to take our kids in that direction...

Even if Draper University becomes respectable -- which I could see happening -- there's still a question of what education a child should have during her or his formative years.

There's no "leading up to entrepreneur" educational system I know of. Montessori?

Interesting thread on this subject:

Yeah, we're looking at Montessori, among others:

 A number of schools are starting to offer some sort of entrepreneurship training, though mostly at the High School level.

The main thing I'd like to find at the Elementary Level is a school that consider learning something students "Make" rather than "Consume."  I want to raise a Maker, not a Consumer...

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