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 What Would Joe Do?
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

Celebrated Headmasters: Dumbledore, Dale, Draper

December 18th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena

This time of the year is awash in magic.
If you want to be part of that, unlocking more of your own internal magic, you have three choices.

Numbers 1 and 2 reside in San Mateo on the outskirts of Silicon Valley, while Choice Number 3 requires you be a wizard, that you find Platform 9-3/4 at Kings Cross Station in London, take the Express Train from there to the shores of a mysterious loch in Scotland, and study for years under the tutelage of Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. An interesting experience from start to finish, no doubt, as Dumbledore is “the epitome of goodness and knows just about everything.”

At first glance, Choices 1 and 2 may not seem quite as thrilling, but they’re certainly more accessible to both muggles and wizards alike. Choice Number 1 can be found at 1700 South El Camino Real in San Mateo, Suite 100, and boasts the legendary (and late) Dale Carnegie as Honorary Headmaster. If you don’t recognize the name, here’s some help from Wikipedia: “Dale Harbison Carnegie (1888 to 1955) was an American writer and lecturer and the developer of famous courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills.”

His legacy to the American business community included numerous self-help books and a series of schools where you can still learn the skills Dale Carnegie codified: How to believe in yourself, channel your inner magic, and emerge a self-actualized leader full of confidence and vim.

If Dale Carnegie seems a bit too mid-century modern here in the 21st, or you weren’t born a wizard, then Choice Number 2 pushes far forward as the best of the three. Choice Number 2 also includes a school and a headmaster, but only requires a 6-week commitment and a few thousand dollars to produce an outcome that’s positively exhilarating compared to the calm, clean-cut cache of the Carnegie course.

Housed in an 8-story building, with classrooms at street level and dorm rooms in the floors above, Choice Number 2 is Draper University at 44 East Third Avenue in San Mateo.  The Headmaster is the founder of the Academy, Timothy Cook Draper, and believe me when I say he is neither as enigmatic as Professor Dumbledore nor as dispassionate as Dale Carnegie.

Instead, Tim Draper is straightforward, passionate about his mission, and clearly willing to risk his reputation on the idea that he can turn anyone into a hero. That his school can release the inner magic of self-confidence that produces self-actualized, aggressive, out-reaching, success-seeking, push-the-envelope heroes capable of outpacing any Hot Wizard from Hogwarts or Cool Cat from Carnegie.

All alliteration aside, I had the good luck to run into Headmaster Draper recently and he readily agreed to a brief interview via email. If you think I’m overstating what he and his university are offering, think again. The following Q&A will tell you in one quick read that Draper fully expects his students to unleash their inner magic, unlock their inner entrepreneur, and unveil their power to change the world.

What better sentiments to contemplate while the Season of Magic is here.

The Headmaster …

How is Draper U going, several years into the effort?

Tim Draper: We are making terrific headway. We have run six sessions, creating about 250 heroes from about 40 countries. They have created more than 60 companies.

WWJD: Is it possible to teach innovation?

Tim Draper: Yes, we recruit people with some innovative spark, and we encourage them to try things.

WWJD: Draper U describes itself as a school for young entrepreneurs. How old is too old to enroll?

Tim Draper: Our online school and our executive programs are for all ages, but the boarding school is for 18-28 year olds.

WWJD: How did you decide how much to charge for the courses? Did looking at similar academies in the area provided guidance?

Tim Draper: We are still improving the model. For now, it is $9500.

WWJD: Are you competing with places like Stanford where their young/restless are regularly showcased in front of potential investors?

Tim Draper: We really are more of a supplementary school, but we hope to be an alternative for the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, who come to DUH rather than dropping out of Harvard.

WWJD: Do you have licensing agreements with your students – ala MIT, Stanford, Harvard, etc. – such that any IP they develop while enrolled at Draper U is partially/totally owned by your school?

Tim Draper: No, students own what they do at DUH.

WWJD: If people are going to innovate in technical areas, do they need an engineering degree?

Tim Draper: No.

WWJD: Can people who are not technically trained lead technical companies?

Tim Draper: Yes, but technical training helps.

WWJD: How does an entrepreneur transition from founding a company to being a VC?

It isn’t hard. Just raise or make money and start investing it in startups.

WWJD: You’re an engineer. Do you think engineers who are skeptical of business functions – accounting, marketing, sales – are doomed to lives of bitterness?

Tim Draper: Ridiculous. Engineers relish the idea of working with teams of experts.

WWJD: Would you describe Draper U as an incubation space, a home for pop-up retail ventures, a clearing house for new ideas that matches idea-generators with investors, or a for-profit academy? Perhaps all of the above?

Tim Draper: Draper University is a place for heroes to hone their powers.


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One Response to “Celebrated Headmasters: Dumbledore, Dale, Draper”

  1. Tim Draper says:

    What fun. Your writing is magical. My responses seem abbreviated. Busy time. Draper University of Heroes is great fun and extremely challenging. If you have a hero inside you, apply.

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