Young Entrepreneurs and College: Changing Paths
Michael Lisovetsky’s entrepreneurial journey started in the 6th grade when he and a friend created a website called HomeworkSwap. Their goal wasn’t to earn money but to avoid mindless schoolwork. The site did not take off nor did their next venture, a web hosting company that failed miserably, but it set the stage for Michael’s next company FazeWire, which succeeded.
The aspiring young entrepreneur sold FazeWire while still in middle school, and, though the amount was small, Michael knew this was what wanted to do with his future—he was on the road to joining a growing group of young entrepreneurs.
Traditional Education and Entrepreneurs: The Birth of a New Idea
After high school, Michael entered New York University in the fall of 2011. He quickly realized that traditional university courses were not doing much for him, but he knew a degree would prove credible to outsiders, which fueled his drive to succeed.
One day at the gym, Michael was talking to one of his now co-founders Dean Soukeras about the power of card swipe. For a number of years, Dean was a real estate broker, which led the two of them to pair the concept of swipe and real estate to create HomeSwipe. Similar to Tinder, HomeSwipe allows people to “find their new home in a swipe.” Adding Jason Marmon, now the CTO, they decided to move forward with a minimum viable product, and once they saw traction, all three committed to the company full time.
Enter Draper University
Michael found Draper U completely by accident. He attended a Wearable Tech conference where he met Draper alumni and founder of Q Bracelet and Q Designs, James Kernan. James told Michael about Draper U and since he thrives on serendipitous opportunities, he felt that Draper U was a no-brainer. NYU was put on hold while Michael attended Draper in the summer of 2014.
“At best, NYU spurred a path of self-education, in which I understood the fundamentals of finance from greats such as Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett, and Charlie Munger,” says Michael. “The $150k+ price tag on my education could’ve been funneled a lot more effectively towards practical learning, and Draper U is an excellent example of that. I learned more about myself and the world in the seven weeks at Draper U than the four years of university I drudged through.”
While at Draper, Michael immersed himself in the seven-week course and worked with a team of four other young and other entrepreneurs: He pushed himself beyond his limits selling vibrators, learned team building via scavenger hunts, participated in a survival weekend—a perfect parallel to starting a business—and ultimately pitched to a team of technology luminaries and Silicon Valley VCs.
Michael and HomeSwipe came out on top, securing an angel investment from Tim Draper. Now HomeSwipe is rapidly approaching product/market fit. They are scaling to Chicago soon and flipping the switch to start generating revenue.
“It’s been a complete whirlwind for us, and it feels great to be behind the controls of a rocket ship that’s taking off,” said Michael. “I recently pitched HomeSwipe at the VCIC Global Finals, and won the Startup of the Year award. Winning against entrepreneurs significantly older and more experienced was an extremely humbling experience.
At 22 years old, Michael is already equipped with the experience and knowledge he needs for his entrepreneurial future, and he has Draper University to thank for teaching him how to—in the words of Tim Draper—”explore the world with gusto and enthusiasm.”
About Draper University and Student Entrepreneur Opportunities:
Draper University, which was founded by famed venture capitalist Tim Draper, is focused on inspiring people and accelerating ideas by igniting the entrepreneurial spirit. The school’s track record is pretty amazing. The program was founded in 2012 and in that short time of the 305 alumni that have gone through the Draper University program 185 have started a company and raised $15,446,500 in venture financing. They’re funded by some of the most prestigious investors including Marc Andreessen, Tim Draper and Marc Benioff.
Beyond fostering a community of diverse leaders who want to change the world, the program equips its students with the skills, access and resources available in Silicon Valley. DU teaches entrepreneurs how to build a startup from business plan to execution and in real-world, accelerated terms. Something very hard to find with collegiate programs and even internships. This concept of real world acceleration is at the heart of the program and its curriculum. We actually have an alum that put NYU on hold to attend Draper. He returned to NYU and has just graduated, is raising funding for his startup based in New York City and is only 21 years old. The story, which is included below, is pretty amazing and I am happy to put you in touch with the him, other alumni and the team from Draper.
Each program lasts 7 weeks and students come to the live-in entrepreneurship program prepared for some intense schooling. The program culminates with a Demo Day where the students present their ideas to a panel of technology luminaries and VCs and some even walk away with a deal and/or chance to incubate their idea at Hero City. Hero City is an entrepreneurial ecosystem that houses an incubator, eco-working space and offices of VC funds. The location is conveniently across the street from Draper University’s main building.
The program selects students purely on the basis of passion, creativity and desire to change the world, so people can apply before they have a team or a fully fleshed out idea. They accept entrepreneurs between the ages of 18-28 and students come from 30+ countries and as far away as Taiwan, China, India, Mexico, Chile, Estonia, Nepal, South Africa and Iraq.
Draper University also focuses on inviting the best of the best presenters — who also act as teachers — for the students. These are just a few of the experts, famous entrepreneurs and startup founders who have presented at Draper University:
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