New York-based serial entrepreneur and angel investor Andrew Weinreich’s next venture is to offer a free education for would-be founders.
Weinreich is joining the ranks of business schools, serial entrepreneurs and even national foundations offering startup entrepreneurs a compressed education in how to succeed in (starting up) a business through Andrew’s Roadmaps.
Rather than charge hefty fees to participants, Weinreich is partnering with service professionals like the law firm Goodwin Procter and others to defray the cost of the two-day program Weinreich calls “Roadmap To Entrepreneurship”.
Over the course of those two days, Weinreich hopes to share what’s basically a startup toolkit designed to give entrepreneurs templates for every aspect of the development of a business.
What sets Weinreich apart from a sidewalk huckster hawking two-bit advice is his longtime experience in the startup racket.
The Penn-educated, Westchester, NY-born Weinreich launched what’s considered to be one of the first social networking businesses in 1995. sixdegrees, which was sold to YouthStream Media Networks in a deal brokered in 1999, was only the first of Weinreich’s startup ideas to be acquired.
Weinreich has a habit of being prescient and ahead of the curve, but it might be that some of his startups (chiefly sixdegrees) are too far ahead of the curve (he may have had the original patent on social networking, but it was a decade before Facebook made the idea wildly profitable)
“I’ve always tried to imagine where the world will be,” says Weinreich. “When the web started taking off and startups were hot in the nineties. i thought it was inevitable that we would index people we knew in a single database. I thought that was inevitable.”
Other inevitabilities that Weinreich predicted were the demand for high-speed broadband in public spaces in 2001; the movement of political organizing online in 2003; location-based mobile dating services in 2006; and geo-location and geo-tracking services in 2008.
Now Weinreich thinks its time to change the model for educating entrepreneurs. “There’s this deficiency in curriculum for entrepreneur,” he says. “In terms of macro changes, the ability to share a curriculum on a massive basis is unprecedented. We’re seeing this in education.. Classes that are offered in universities can all of a sudden have students from all over the world.”
Ultimately he envisions his curriculum for building startups achieving the same scale, but for now its just Weinreich and a series of 30 lectures that come with templates for “every aspect of entrepreneurship.”
The whole endeavor might have the whiff of a vanity project and a late-night infomercial if the classes weren’t free for attendees and Weinreich wasn’t so accomplished.
The site boasts testimonials to his business acumen from tech luminaries like David S. Rose and Sam Lessin and up-and-coming executives like Payal Kadakia, whose company just raised $40 million (Weinreich is an advisor to, or has raised money from all of them).
“The idea is to run through these series of 30 lectures that come with templates to give people end-to-end visibility on every aspect of entrepreneurship,” Weinreich says of his new entrepreneur’s bootcamp.
Admission to the program is by application only and the costs of running it (from a conference room in the new New York Times building) are defrayed by service providers. So far, Weinreich has offered two versions of the program with 60 entrepreneurs attending each session, but that was before sponsors had come on board.
Weinreich isn’t alone in his mission to reinvent business education for startups. Colleges ranging from Babson to MIT offer bootcamps for entrepreneurs. Pace University has one specifically aimed at veterans, while the center for all things entrepreneurial in the U.S., The Kauffman Foundation, has its free FastTrac program.
Part of Weinreich’s mentoring is just providing a toolkit that startup founders may want to emulate for success. To Weinreich, it’s really about standardizing the process. To that end, there are a series of templates that he provides for doing everything from retaining a lawyer, to hiring the first company employees, to setting up a cap table, and beyond.
“I would argue that mostly [startups] don’t fail because of a bad idea. Even the best businesses are pivots from initially ill-conceived ideas; they’re failing because of lack of execution.”
The more visibility an entrepreneur has into the mechanics of running a business, the more successful that entrepreneur can become, says Weinreich.
“We have hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs who have the opportunity to do something fantastic,” he says.