It was only a matter of time before Millennials got their own startup reality show.
On Tuesday, billionaire venture capitalist Tim Draper will premiere Startup U, a reality series that bills itself as "Shark Tank for Millennials." The one-hour ABC Family show follows Draper, the founding partner of DFJ Venture, as he mentors 10 Millennial entrepreneurs enrolled in his seven-week startup program Draper University.
Startup U profiles founders aged 18 to 30 who are in the early stages of launching a startup. At the end of the 10-episode series, the participants will pitch their businesses to a panel of investors, and one entrepreneur will be named best-in-class and receive funding for his or her startup. The amount of funding awarded depends on which startup wins.
So why is Startup U focusing only on Millennial entrepreneurs?
"We want to catch people [early enough] where we can still make an impact on their lives," Draper says, adding that his long-term goal for the show is to create more billion-dollar businesses and potentially transform education.
Unlike many traditional college courses, Silicon Valley-based Draper University uses what Draper calls "activity learning" and grades students based on extraordinary effort rather than not making any mistakes. The four-year-old unaccredited program, which students at certain colleges can count toward course credit, pushes students by testing their mental stamina, physical strength and emotional stability, according to Draper. About 400 students have graduated from the school, and more than 180 have received a combined $22 million in funding, some of which has come from Draper himself. The 10 inaugural participants of the show were granted free tuition for Draper University, which is normally $9,500.
Among the 10 "cast members" featured on the first season of Startup U are 27-year-old David Kram, a former investment banker whose startup Stonr is a medical marijuana delivery app. Another cast member, former 2013 Miss USA winner Erin Brady, is the 26-year-old founder of Romeo In a Box, a subscription service that helps men send personalized gifts to women.
The businesses may sound like some of the crazy ideas that Shark Tank's hosts have turned down, but Draper says all his entrepreneurs earned their spots on Startup U by impressing both the show's producers and his school's admissions team.
"They had two filters," Draper says. "We got an amazing group."