Heroes in Downtown San Mateo

(Steve Jurvetson, of VC firm DFJ, in front of Draper University)

Have you spotted any caped crusaders in Downtown San Mateo recently? If so you may have run across some of the innovative young students from Draper University.

Draper University, located in the refurbished former Benjamin Franklin Hotel in Downtown San Mateo, is a residence and online program for bright young minds looking to pursue an entrepreneurial path. The University describes itself as “An unconventional world-class school for the brightest young entrepreneurs from around the world.”

Developed by venture capital guru Tim Draper, the school focuses on building entrepreneurs from the ground up. Not by teaching them about what other entrepreneurs have done, but through experiential learning geared to helping students understand through daily, practical experience and a rigorous course of study.

The program, launched in 2013, admits 18 – 26 year olds, 45 percent of whom are international. There is no faculty at Draper University; instead the school has guest lecturers such as Tony Hsieh from Zappos and Elon Musk from Tesla who come and talk about their experiences leading world class, breakthrough companies.

Not surprisingly the curriculum at Draper University is unusual. Hydroponics, painting and suturing are on the list, alongside business modeling, planning, marketing, survival training and business plan development. Studies culminate in a two-minute pitch to VCs. Last year’s graduating class included 40 young minds, many of whom went on to launch into the world of technology, medicine, engineering, micro-finance and social-change ventures, to name a few.

Says Tim Draper, “We built this school because the world needs more heroes.”


(photo: Tesla reception desk at Draper University, courtesy, Creative Commons)

Steve Jurvetson, partner of Tim Draper’s at the famous DFJ VC firm, says of the desk, above, “Perhaps the coolest reception desk ever, a slice of the Model S. You can charge it up and run the USB ports for a loo000ng time. =)”

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