Nov 25, 2016
SAN MATEO, CALIFORNIA —
Many future entrepreneurs first attend university and business school. In Silicon Valley, though, a place that celebrates innovation, there is a school aimed solely at current and future entrepreneurs that uses unconventional methods of teaching.
Most of the students did not expect jumping into a chilly pool with a billionaire investor would be their first step at Draper University. But the unexpected is the norm at Draper, and Aima Ohiwerei from Nigeria is experiencing it first-hand.
“It's not like your regular school. Kind of like pushes you to try and imagine more than you can actually think you can imagine,” said Ohiwerei.
One drill is to try crossing the street blindfolded with only the help of verbal instructions.
Thinking about doing something beyond the conventional is what Draper University tries to teach, says the school's founder and venture capitalist Tim Draper.
“People need to be able to step out, apart from the crowd, and try extraordinary things and now that we're all interconnected, and all communicating with each other throughout the entire world, it's even more important for people to be able to step out and do something a little different,” he said.
Draper says for entrepreneurs to move outside their comfort zones takes a certain mindset and emotional tenacity.
“I'm trying to get into people's heads that starting a business is very difficult. You will be up against a lot of pressures and we want you to, after going through this program, we want you to be able to be immune to the pressures that are going to be coming against you,” he said.
That's exactly what Ohiwerei hopes to learn in this seven-week course. “Just push through all the negative thoughts and all the negative comments towards your startup, toward you, just push through that's what I want to learn.”
“I would like to know how to be fearless, just go full speed without stopping,” said David Lopez, a student from Peru.
Hundreds of students from more than 70 countries have attended this entrepreneurship course. Students between 18 and 28 years old learn to be emotionally prepared for entrepreneurship by listening to Silicon Valley startup founders who have succeeded and those who have failed. They also experience some unusual training, like a volleyball game they play where the rules keep changing.
“Different things start to happen and their brains start to open up and they start thinking anything is possible,” said Draper.
Consistent with the uniqueness of the school, the graduates become superheroes. They get a cape and mask as they are sent out as entrepreneurs to change the world with their unique ideas.