Startup U

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Startup U TV Poster Image
Tech start-up school reality promotes more than educates.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Creativity, hard work, innovation, greed are themes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Draper views himself as a mentor to entrepreneurs.


Occasional disagreements, arguments between cast members.


Occasional innuendo.


"Ass," "hell"; bleeped curses.


It's a promotional vehicle for Tim Draper, his university, and student start-ups. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One start-up deals with legalized marijuana.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Startup U is a reality series about a for-profit program designed to help entrepreneurs develop and find funding for their start-up companies. The cast's various business ventures are prominently featured, and there are some references to marijuana, strong language ("piss," "hell"; bleeped curses), and some mild arguing during stressful situations. All this being said, the show does contain some positive messages about hard work, creativity, and confidence. Unless your teen is interested in business or start-up culture, she probably won't be interested.

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What's the story?

STARTUP U is a reality series about a group of young entrepreneurs hoping to win funding for their individual start-ups that they believe will lead them to wealth and success. The series features 30 students age 18 to 30 who are attending Draper University of Heroes, a seven-week program located in the San Francisco suburb of San Mateo, California, to learn more about business and venture capitalism. With the help of program creator Tim Draper, a third-generation venture capitalist who invested in start-ups such as Skype, Hotmail, and Tesla, and his team, including staff members Charlie Taibi and Sequoia Blodgett, the students work on their business skills, mental stamina, physical strength, and emotional stability to prepare them for the entrepreneurial world. Students also have the chance to get tips from successful businesspeople throughout their tenure. At the end, each person will present his or her business plan to Draper and top venture capitalists. The one most able to impress will receive the capital necessary to fund a start-up.

Is it any good?

Though this somewhat interesting reality show tries to focus on its young entrepreneurs and their learning experience, it spends a whole lot of time hyping Tim Draper and his program, known by few outside of Silicon Valley -- until now. This is further underscored by his constant reminders about his philosophies, his curriculum, and his venture-capitalist team's successes throughout the series.

Though budding entrepreneurs may find some bits and pieces of information helpful, others may find some of the advice nothing more than common sense. Nonetheless, the show offers some good reminders for everyone in any field about the importance of creative thinking, being willing to work hard, and believing in what you're doing if you want someone to believe in you.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about marketing and television. When does a TV show that showcases a specific person or business go from being entertainment to promotion? Is it always easy to tell the difference?

  • Do you have an idea for a business? Why do you believe it will be successful? How would you go about starting it? Could you convince someone to invest in it? How can shows such as this one help you answer these questions?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love reality

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