By Giulianna Crivello
The Draper University Story
In 2012, Draper University was founded by Venture Capitalist Tim Draper to provide education globally for entrepreneurs in a non-traditional way. The mission was to inspire people and accelerate ideas by igniting the entrepreneurial spirit globally.
Draper U became a melting pot for diverse-minded individuals excited to learn from top leaders in Silicon Valley. Entrepreneurs are taught leadership and how to apply it to all facets of life, in addition to more fundamental skills such as finance, fundraising, and marketing. The curriculum is not taught by professors, but rather successful founders, top level executives, venture capitalists, and individuals working at top innovative companies.
The reach extended much further than DU ever anticipated, with startup heroes, the DU term for someone who is willing to take the first step toward a global change, a big opportunity, or a new life, beginning to emerge worldwide.
Alumni of Draper University originated from over 89 countries and wound up generating $240M+ in venture funding, raising $110 million in ICO’s, and an ICO unicorn, QTUM valued at over $1B was born. DU also saw many entrepreneurs emerge who went on to innovate at top technology companies such as Tesla, Google, Facebook, Baidu and more.
One trend became apparent – it was incredibly challenging for those interested in attending the program to get to Silicon Valley, and for the team to provide support to alumni once they returned back to their home countries. With immense talent across every industry, there was a larger need that had to be explored.
The Tribe Theory Story
Backpacking through 50 countries after a long finance career led Vikram Bharati to his true calling of becoming an entrepreneur. Vikram founded Tribe Theory, a global chain of business hostels targeted for young startups and entrepreneurs.
What began in Singapore in March 2018 as an initial concept for digital nomads to have a relaxed, yet productive work “office” on a quest to conquer the world, became a movement to inspire one million entrepreneurs.
Traveling startups, digital nomads, and the creative and entrepreneurial community gathered under physical roofs to connect with one another. Through the use of physical beds to act as one leading focal point, the physical locations quickly became a hub of inspiration for global citizens around the world. Through startup events, networking opportunities, and an unusual amount of local and global connection, the common ground acted as physical space for people to cultivate a sense of belonging.
In September 2018, an Indian entrepreneur came to stay at Tribe Theory Singapore who was struggling to stay afloat. After his stay, he had an opportunity to meet numerous people from South America, Canada, and Eastern Europe who were also experiencing business pains and became his support system. He kept going. Through these connections, his business is doing much better, arguably even thriving, and he claims that staying at Tribe Theory was critical to his survival. This incredible connection, perspective, and inspiration to progress through challenges was one of many that led founder Bharati to question, “what if we do this for one million people?”
Tribe Theory began to differentiate themselves as a global entrepreneurial ecosystem. Through meeting an incredible amount of dedicated entrepreneurs, digital nomads, hackers, content creators, tech geniuses, global innovators, and any and all who executed truly awesome ideas, the purpose to enable one million entrepreneurs became incredibly clear. The immense success led to expansions in Bali, Yangon, Tallinn, Manila, Lisbon, and the decision to partner with Construkt with two locations in Bangalore.
The further expansions allowed for a larger community of global collaboration and opportunity for movers and shakers. Tribe Theory began dabbling with other venture and academy programs in attempt to capture the human connection and continue to connect, inspire, and empower people, whichever their location. Through the immense and early successes, there was a larger vision that had to be executed.
The Draper Startup House Story
When Tribe Theory first launched in March of 2018, it was to create a new category of “global hostels,” which would serve as an aggregator of talent and ideas of young, traveling startups and entrepreneurs. These global hostels would collectively become a giant entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Startup Hostels is a new category and Tribe initially set out to lead the charge. Although there are components of co-living and co-working in Tribe’s DNA, the fight for differentiation quickly became diluted in the crowded market of co-living.
For the past year and a half Bharati fundraised – it was comprehensively agreed upon that the Tribe movement was easy to ‘feel,’ but hard to explain. With a clear vision identified, it was also not simply about the money. The right investor was seen as a strategic partner, similar to past investors Reapra, Superangel, and Angel Mark Koojiman, and a gateway to achieving Tribe’s vision.
Two Draper University alumni, Katie Russel and Daniel Wiegand, were tackling their own challenge of connecting entrepreneurs around the globe, aiming to expand Draper U strategically beyond the United States. With the entrepreneurial stars aligned, Tribe Theory was then introduced to the US based Draper Ecosystem. Tim Draper’s dynamic and inspirational venture capitalist background was by far amongst the most genuine, where the dedication to progressing each entrepreneurial life was undeniable – this was the 10x differentiator Tribe was looking for.
It was then that the two teams joined forces to utilize Tribe Theory’s existing hostel network and implement the Draper influence worldwide. Draper’s investment in both entities allows both to continue to make their joint vision a reality. With the strategic investment of Tim Draper in Tribe Theory, the existing hostel will rebrand to Draper Startup House and form the international division of the business. This rebrand will accelerate Tribe’s mission of building what it originally set out to accomplish – hospitality as the foundation of an entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Tribe Theory is rebranding to reinforce the new combined vision – to enable one million entrepreneurs by 2030. The transition begins NOW but within the next couple of months each location will offer co-working spaces, custom programming focused on entrepreneurship, access to venture capital funding, and the ability to submit pitch decks to the Draper Venture Network, which has 23 global funds.
Through the use of real human connection, inspired business travel, a diverse-minded community and access to global citizens – one is able to connect to new opportunities, inspire one another to innovate and execute, and empower one another to GO BIG, give back, and drive progress.
Tribe Theory and the Draper Network look forward to evolving to Draper Startup House.