- October 28, 2014
- Posted by: Marcus Casey
- Category: Academics, Community, Events
How to Start a Startup, offered through Stanford University, became somewhat of a legend after Blake Masters posted his detailed notes from the Spring 2012 section of the class. Taught by Silicon Valley legend Peter Thiel (PayPal founder and CEO, Palantir Technologies founder, hedge fund manager, venture capitalist, and the first outside investor in Facebook), Thiel and Masters have gone on to publish a book based on Masters’ notes called Zero to One.
This semester, the class is facilitated by Sam Altman, president of Silicon Valley startup incubator Y-Combinator. The class is made up of twice weekly lectures given by a combination of Silicon Valley “all stars” (including Thiel, Y-Combinator founder Paul Graham, legendary angel investor Ron Conway, and investor/inventor of the Mozilla web browser Marc Andreessen) and the founders of Y-Combinator-backed companies. The lectures follow typical “how to” startup topics, evaluating your idea, building your product, raising money, growing your user base, building your team, PR, etc.
Unique to this year’s version of the class is the public doesn’t have to wait for a generous student to make his or her notes available to get a glimpse of what’s going on in the class. Instead, all of the lectures are being posted to YouTube the same day they are delivered. In addition, slide decks and assignments are posted online.
Thanks to the generosity of Stanford and the course administrators, informal viewing parties and discussion groups have popped up all over the country and around the world. In fact, as of this writing, around 470 universities and 125 other organization-based discussion groups have added themselves to a public spreadsheet.
Reno Collective co-founder Colin Loretz leads local startup enthusiasts (made up of founders, freelancers, students, and the simply curious) through lively discussions every Friday evening. All agree that the lectures have all been interesting, if a bit a inconsistent (it’s quite obvious that someone like Paul Graham has a lot more practice speaking in front of a group than some of the others). It’s been a great opportunity to get together, meet other members of the Reno entrepreneurship community, and participate in a thoughtful discussion.
The discussions are open to public and continue through the end of the year. To join the discussion online, visit the Facebook group.
Rick Winfield is a PhD economics candidate at the University of Nevada, Reno and a graduate assistant at the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship. He can be reached at LinkedIn and maintains a blog called Innovation Hacking.