Well, that’s an unusual school assignment.
Colin Heilbut, who says he’s a student at the Draper University for Heroes, emailed TechCrunch earlier today to inform us that he’s selling Jimmyjane sex toys on Indiegogo as part of class. Apparently, today’s assignment in the entrepreneurial training program (organized by venture capitalist Tim Draper) involves sales — specifically, sales of Jimmyjane sex toys.
Heilbut said different teams are taking different approaches to the assignment. Some, for example, have been calling up escorts. His team, however, has taken a more familiar path in the tech world, posting a short campaign (fewer than 30 hours left as I write this) on Indiegogo, where they’re selling Jimmyjane products at a 30 percent discount. For example: You can buy “the Rabbit” for a measly $110.
I asked Heilbut if he was surprised at all by the assignment, and he said, “I would’ve been more surprised at the beginning.” Apparently, the University for Heroes is full of “zany activities,” including a weeklong survival program in the wilderness — I’d tell you more, but students aren’t allowed to discuss it in detail with the outside world.
I’ve emailed Draper and the university for comment and will update this post if I hear back. Heilbut did put me on the phone with Michael Hom, who works in customer service at Jimmyjane (which was actually just acquired), and who confirmed that he’s speaking to Draper students to help train them in cold calling potential customers.
Apparently, Heilbut’s team isn’t doing quite as well as the competition, which is why he’s hoping TechCrunch can give him a boost. I’m not sure that I agree of his assessment of TC’s readership, but hey, I’m always ready to be pleasantly surprised.
Update 1: Draper emailed me the following message: “Cold calling is one of their many challenges at Draper University of Heroes.”
Update 2: And a Draper University for Heroes spokesperson sent me the following statement:
Sales and marketing are an important part of our curriculum and skill for entrepreneurs to have. We invite all-star speakers to share their stories firsthand with our students (ie, the founder of jimmyjane came to talk about starting the company and sales/marketing). Draper University’s philosophy is that entrepreneurs learn best by actually going out in the world and TRYING things. Being an entrepreneur is one of the hardest things in the world, so we wanted our students to go out and sell something that would be uncomfortable or ‘difficult’ for most to sell so they would have to get creative- like launching an Indiegogo campaign. DUH students in the past have undergone selling a variety of goods to actual customers including not just luxury personal products but also high end condiments.