Startup University is Google Ventures’ efforts to transfer as much knowledge and as much background information as possible to its portfolio companies.
It does this by providing educational opportunities like office hours, classes and everything in between with the ultimate objective of helping startups avoid stupid mistakes, “None of this is to say that we have all the answers,” explains Google Ventures Partner Bill Maris “We’re just saying ‘This is how we’ve done it. And if you’re going to make a mistake, make a new one.’”
Startup University aims to provide its 70+ startups with mentorship resources including the “ability to tap into a network of 30,000 Googlers who are all good at what they do.” In addition to office hours and its network, it offers unparalleled opportunities like the ability to attend hands-on courses in completing user research studies from UX star Michael Margolis or sessions in recruiting tricks from Google Ventures recruiter Brad Strader.
Klau tells me that he hopes that Startup University will provide classes on a regular cycle — every couple of days — for the 150 portfolio companies that the fund hopes to support by this time next year. Thus far over a hundred people from Google Ventures portfolio companies have attended Startup University office hours or classes, in the nine months the program has existed.
“There was a tremendous appetite from the portfolio to get whatever we would give them,” says Klau, who was at Feedburner before it was acquired by Google. “I’m a startup up guy by heart, and the opportunity to take not just what I learned at Google but my experience from my startup days to help this growing portfolio was too good to pass up.”
“[Startup University] has already saved the Astrid team dozens of hours and tens of thousands of dollars in consulting and recruiting fees and given us deeper confidence as we prepare to share what we’ve been working on with the world,” says Astrid co-founder Jon Paris.
“This isn’t just about a Powerpoint slide detailing best practices,” says ReadItLater CTO Matt Koidin “The mentors are getting their hands dirty and helping us make Read It Later better.”
Google Ventures’ Startup University plans on expanding and taking up formal residence in a building off of the Google Campus with dedicated conference rooms, an auditorium, break rooms and a user research facility. “We’re really fortunate to be able to have someone of Rick’s caliber to own this project that we started out doing in our 20 percent time,” Maris confirms.