For any growing startup ecosystem, mentorship is a key success factor, particularly for early-stage startups. And when it comes to the Indian startup ecosystem, the disparity in mentorship in urban and semi-urban contexts is a big factor. Startups beyond the metropolitan areas still lack consistent mentorship support in India. In our conversation with over a dozen entrepreneurs, many pointed out how this lack of access to mentors has also led to scams in the name of mentorship.
Given the considerable demand for good mentors, Draper Startup House’s proposition of live sessions with Silicon Valley stalwarts and serial entrepreneurs might just spark off innovation in places as yet untouched by Indian mentors. The likes of Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, Twitch cofounder Justin Kan, Coursera founder Dahne Koller and Lyft cofounder John Zimmer among other Silicon Valley bigwigs have been part of previous Draper’s mentorship programmes, which is definitely a unique opportunity for Indian entrepreneurs.
Startup-focused hospitality chain Draper Startup House has collaborated with Draper University to make the Silicon Valley’s Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship course available at its 10 physical locations across the globe including in Bengaluru, India’s startup capital.
Draper Startup House International founder Vikram Bharati told Inc42 that all Draper Startup House locations worldwide would be turned into micro Draper University campuses. “This combination of both an online and offline education experience is exciting because it may be the way forward on how education will be delivered in the future, at scale globally. Together with Draper University, we will accelerate our mission of enabling 1 Mn entrepreneurs by 2030.”
Under this partnership, the 15-day course is being priced at $490 for startups along with two weeks of local coworking space and/or accommodation for no additional cost. This discount pricing is made available to all entrepreneurs joining the course from DSH locations, as a result of the partnership. Other locations of DSH centres include Indonesia, Texas, Thailand, Portugal, Philippines, Singapore, Estonia, and Myanmar.
The course sessions will include 2 hours of daily live classes conducted by Silicon Valley experts and mentors, with the big names holding special sessions. The plan is to run one cohort per month with a capacity of approximately 80-100 students per cohort. The course does not have any selection process or a focus sector, any startup can apply to the course. Draper University itself is running the course completely online, and are charging $800 for the course.
According to Aashish Ramamurthy, the business development manager and venture associate at Draper Startup House India, Indian entrepreneurs who have had to Silicon Valley to interact with such names will find it much more affordable to get the access. Draper Startup House envisions making the course affordable and accessible to entrepreneurs in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities as well as seen by the price.
“With this collaboration, not only people will get to attend the same program at an affordable cost but they also get to be a part of our space, live here for free, consult with other local ecosystem players, meet local investors to pitch their ideas, and also collaborate with our team to see how we can help them in scaling,” he added.
Some Indian startup alumni of Draper University include logistics tech startup Blowhorn, edtech startup Leverage Edu, and medical devices startup nVision among others. Till date, 2300 entrepreneurs from 87 different countries are said to have come through Draper University entrepreneurship programs, cumulatively raising over $350 Mn in venture funding after coming through the programme.
The course covers all stages of a startup’s journey, including ideation, customer discovery and market fit, revenue modelling, growth hacking, and scaling and pitching to investors. Startups will also get an opportunity to raise seed to Series A funding from noted VC investor Tim Draper and other investors. Draper University has a fund dedicated to investing up to $100,000 in alumni companies of this program.
Draper Startup House, also runs a seed-stage investment syndicate platform for Indian startups called Draper Venture Syndicate Network. The syndicate is aimed at facilitating seed and angel investments across sectors by leveraging its global network of investors. As of June 2020, the company has onboarded 25 investors and 37 startups and is in talks to collaborate with investment firms such as Qualcomm Ventures, Nexus Venture Partners, Inventus Venture Partners and Axilor Ventures in India.
“The future of humanity has always rested on the shoulders of those who build against all odds. Draper University and Draper Startup House are collaborating to find these entrepreneurial heroes,” said Andy Tang, CEO of Draper University.