Timothy Draper – Founder & Managing Director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson

Timothy Draper is the founder and a managing director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, a venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, California that has more than 30 offices around the world and $7 billion in capital commitments. Some notable investments include Baidu, Hotmail (acquired by Microsoft), Skype (acquired by Microsoft), Tesla Motors, and Box.net. Draper also founded or co-founded Wasatch Ventures (Salt Lake City), Zone Ventures (LA), Draper Atlantic (Reston), Draper Triangle (Pittsburgh), Timberline Ventures (Woodland, WA), DFJ EPlanet (global), Polaris Fund (Anchorage), Draper Fisher Jurvetson Gotham (NYC), DFJ Frontier (Sacramento and Santa Barbara), and DFJ Dragon (Shanghai).

Timothy is regularly featured as a keynote speaker in entrepreneurial conferences around the world. He is ranked #52 on the list of Harvard University’s most notable alumni and recently founded the Draper University of Heroes in San Mateo, California where 18-24 year olds learn to become proactive entrepreneurs. Timothy has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

1. How do you define success?
I wouldn’t know. I never seem to get there.

2. What is the key to success?
To fail and fail again until you succeed.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
I always knew I would work toward success with whatever I tried. I have failed a lot, and the more I fail, the more successful I become.

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
I love the challenge. I like to think differently when faced with a problem. I like to redefine the problem so the solution is easy.

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
My father taught me to always make the deal work for both parties. It has helped me negotiate with more creativity in mind. I have also learned that life is much easier if you are honest.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I love games. Board games and sports, mostly because they are social. Basketball, risk, chess, football, volleyball, Monopoly, and Settlers of Catan. But what I really do in my spare time is my work, which I believe is unending, as long as I keep coming up with things to do.

7. What makes a great leader?
Someone who leads by example. Some great leaders have been able to separate their own actions from their words, but the very best ones say it and do it too.

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Do it with gusto and enthusiasm, and if you run up against a roadblock that you can’t overcome, take a quarter off and apply to Draper University of Heroes, where your heroic side will come out and shine.


This interview is an excerpt from Success: 30 Interviews with Entrepreneurs & Executives by Jason Navallo.

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