Third generation venture capital investor and Draper University founder Tim Draper appeared before the Television Critics Association this morning to talk about his new ABC Family reality series Startup U.
Set on the university’s Silicon Valley campus — where, Draper says, his immersive program “transforms ordinary people into heroic entrepreneurs” — Startup U stars Draper, his former student turned program director Charlie Taibi, 26, Draper University entrepreneur in residence Sequoia Blodgett, 31, and ten students eager to become business legends.
Draper told reporters that some 400 students from around the globe have gone through the program, launching 220 companies and scoring $22 million in support from himself and other investors. He said the curriculum focuses on forging each students’ own path to tech stardom — believing, trying and failing — rather than stale business models.
“We teach future instead of history,” Draper said, noting that he can spot a mogul in the making, even if their idea doesn’t sound viable right now.
Mike Duffy, who co-executive produces Startup U with his brother Tim under their Ugly Brothers banner, added that Draper “wants to invest in millennials and becomers — because they’re fearless. This show is about what happens before Shark Tank.”
Tim Duffy said he was fascinated by the process of watching Draper students go through “pivot moments,” where they had to make tough business decisions using the “scaffolding” Draper and his team provide.
Draper and Taibi reiterated that failure is an important part of the seven-week intensive — especially for people who have coasted through school and assume the business world would be equally accommodating. “We want them to go through something that is really uncomfortable,” Draper explained , adding that putting a big idea into practice always equates with moments where, “people around you are going to think you’re crazy. You’re going to have to put up with that.”
To that end, Draper students are encouraged to support one another during less-than-stellar moments. Taibi offered an example: if you freeze up while presenting, your classmates build you back up so you learn to feel comfortable in front of a crowd.”
Draper also touted BizWorld, his international entrepreneurial program that teaches young kids the ins and outs of business and to embrace the tenants of finance “not just in their heads, but in their hearts.”
To end the session, Draper, Taibi, and Brown slapped their hands over their own hearts and performed the Draper U “credo,” a several-minute proclamation that includes homages to freedom and failure and most of all — this part featured a booty-shaking moment of dance — fun.
Startup U premieres Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 10/9CT on ABCFamily.