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Launching a startup is not an easy task. In this reality series "Startup U", entrepreneurial millennials get help by spending a semester at Draper University. During the seven-week program led by billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper, he helps mentor the students who are looking to launch their own companies. Guest speakers also share their business knowledge and experience with the class. The candidates pitch their ideas to a panel of venture capitalists, hoping to get an investment that allows them to launch their businesses. The millennials face hard lessons along the way, but the payoff could be life-changing for the one who gets the seed money to launch a business.
In "Welcome to Draper University," it's move-in day, and after meeting Program Director Charlie Taibi and Entrepreneur in Residence Sequoia Blodgett, the first item on the agenda is jumping in the pool fully clothed. It's soon clear to everyone that Startup Legend Tim Draper is not the average premiere venture capitalist; he's about to shake things up in a big way and constantly surprise them with challenges designed to provoke a new way of thinking. Will the students be able to overcome their skepticism of Tim's unique approach to business and understand there is a method to his madness? Charlie sends everyone into a panic when they learn they have to give a one-minute pitch about their startup; their presentations let the staff know where their businesses are now and where they need to be on Pitch Day. As it turns out, Charlie and Sequoia aren't the only tough critics; their classmates have a few opinions of their own. Erin's concept doesn't quite receive the positive feedback she was hoping for, while Shawn and Sharon aren't impressed by their competition. Meanwhile, make-up demonstrator and notable YouTube personality Michelle Phan visits Draper University and shares her business background and motivation for success, a story which really resonates with Ana.
In "The Hack-a-Thon," now that everyone has pitched their ideas and sized up their competition, they are ready for their second assignment. Charlie informs the entrepreneurs that they will participate in a hack-a-thon; they have thirty-six hours to create an entirely new business idea and present the working prototype to Tim, Jesse Draper and Ben Parr. As the deadline rapidly approaches, Shawn, David, Carly and Malcolm's confidence in their project may prove to be their undoing, while Keyonna's team aims to redefine sperm donation. Meanwhile, Tony struggles with Charlie's latest challenge, and David and Keyonna take an instant dislike to each other.
In "Bro's & Bras," it's Evangelism Week, which teaches the students how to become experts at selling their brand. Tim puts everyone in yet another challenging situation when he sends them to San Francisco to sell men and women's underwear to the many shoppers in Union Square. There's a catch, though: they have to sell the undergarments based on only a picture, with no actual product. Frustrated by the process, Tony makes a decision that irritates Sequoia and his classmates. Sharon meets with resistance when she pitches Hotpoint to various venues around the Bay Area, only to have things get tougher when Tim puts her in the hot seat. Meanwhile, Michael Volpatt and Charlie meet with several students to evaluate their brands.
Tim makes it a point to stress to everyone that their individual passions can be the best motivator for success. The students visit Drybar where Founder Alli Webb shares her story, highlighting the fact that her business came from the heart, which ultimately led Drybar to grow from a small and mobile model into its current form. Never one to miss a chance to talk about her app, Sharon introduces Alli to Hotpoint, much to the annoyance of her classmates. Shawn is determined to win funding regardless of the rules, so he focuses on his original business idea, 6 Degrees, while enlisting Robbie to handle another proposal, RoundIt. But when Sequoia confronts Shawn about his dual business plans, he resents her questions and refuses to accept any suggestions. Meanwhile, Ana receives some unsettling news about her business in New York, which only adds to the pressure she has put on herself to succeed.
In "The Great Outdoors," the program's toughest, longest challenge is finally here: Survival Week. Eager to give his students a unique perspective on building a business, Tim takes everyone into the middle of nowhere to complete several team-oriented tasks designed to make them better entrepreneurs. Never one to do things halfway, Tim puts Roc, former US Military and a survival specialist, in charge of designing the challenges and evaluating the students' progress. But before they head out into the great outdoors, guest experts Gina Kloes and Felix Linn prep the students for the tough road ahead by encouraging them to face their fears and literally break through the obstacles that have held them back. Survival Week is off to a rocky start when everyone misses the train, and Carly is injured during the trek across the city; from there, the experience only goes from bad to worse. Meanwhile, as the week goes on, Team Phoenix crumbles as Sharon and Tony continue to compete for leadership at every turn.
In "Not So Fair," this week's lesson addresses cost, profit and enthusiasm and comes in the unique form of a startup fair. Each team must create an imaginative booth that demonstrates their knowledge of money and resources, ultimately proving they can sustain their businesses long after the program ends. As preparation for the fair kicks into full gear, Team Phoenix's arguing threatens to ruin yet another assignment, and it remains to be seen if Tony, John, Keyonna, Malcolm and Sharon finally put their differences aside and work together towards the greater good. Erin is on edge as she really begins to questions "Romeo in a Box," and a one-on-one meeting with Tim leaves her with even more self-doubt. After a pep talk from Ana and Carly, Erin hits the streets of San Mateo to do some market research, but the mixed results seems to set her back again. Meanwhile, Dan Price visits Draper University and speaks to the students about making an impact and helping others, and Shawn is on the hot seat when Erin McPherson moderates the third and final Pivot meeting.
In "Motivation," it's only two weeks before Pitch Day, and everyone is really feeling the pressure. Tim shifts the focus from team challenges to preparing for the big day. Everyone must go over their Pitch Decks to Charlie before presenting their business ideas to a room full of tough venture capitalists. Carly visits a local animal shelter to do some market research on Pretty Litter, but some feedback from one of the staff members forces her to reconsider her methodology. When Carly later expresses her concerns to Charlie, he has an intriguing solution. David is not happy when guest speaker Naveen Jain challenges his business idea, but he is determined to move forward and makes an important local connection. Meanwhile, Tim shares some hard truths during his one-on-one meetings.
The students fine-tune their Pitch Day presentations; Keyonna and Carly must adapt to working with a business partner.
Pitch Day is finally here, and each student presents their idea to a panel of premiere venture capitalists in the hopes that one or more will give them the funding necessary to start their dreams. But only one student can be crowned "Best in Class," and Tim makes it very clear that he is looking for that special idea that will transform the world. After the winner and runner-up are announced, they must make some important decisions about their respective futures. Tim is very confused when the winner is hesitant to accept his generous offer of funding, forcing the premiere venture capitalist to try and find out what is really going on. Finally, after the excitement of Pitch Day, graduation is the last major milestone, and it's clear that the students have learned many lessons during their time at Draper University, the most important being that anything is possible.
Tim Draper(Tim Draper)
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