I didn’t always believe in miracles.
Back in 2014, it had only been a few months I started my first company and this bizarre opportunity knocked on my door. A friend told me he just went through the most transformative bootcamp in Silicon Valley and I should apply for it. It was a type of a pre-incubator for entrepreneurs, called Draper University. A 7-week residential program with a rich curriculum that taught how to start and grow a business. The speakers line-up was mind-blowing. The best of the best; Elon Musk, Naveen Jain, Tony Hsieh, Tina Seelig, Dave McClure, Justin Kan, and of course Tim Draper among many remarkable visionaries and experts.
My response to my friend.. “Uhm haha. I’m humbled you think I should even apply but haha no, that’s not for me.” I was living in Karachi at the time, and had only been outside of Pakistan once for a college trip. When my friend asked why I wouldn’t consider it, I thought hard and told him I had three major roadblocks:
1. Back then, the program cost $10,000 USD for 7 weeks. I was earning $300/mo just a few months ago, this was unimaginably and outrageously expensive
2. I didn’t have a world-changing idea. Isn’t that the requirement for getting into such a niche program? I was running a plain-old UX Agency and there was no way I would get in
3. My parents would never give me permission to go. Yep, I was 26 and still needed permission. Even as a kid I wasn’t really allowed to go to slumber parties to friend’s places. So traveling alone across the world, for 7 weeks where I knew nobody? HAH! Never gonna happen!
While my brain had perfectly rationalized my decision based on my circumstances, it was really I, who was holding me back. The idea was so out of my league that I decided I wouldn’t even waste time thinking about something so unattainable. Luckily for me, my friend persisted and said I should at least submit an application. I gave in. However, as I went through the process, I started doing something I hadn’t given myself permission to do in a very long time.. dream.
Well, as you’d have it.. not only did I get accepted in the program, I got a 100% scholarship (Thanks to Jesse Draper who decided to take a bet on me ❤). Before I knew it, I was having a very interesting conversation with my parents and let’s just say they weren’t thrilled, but I was soon on a plane off to Silicon Valley :)
Even though I was on my way to every entrepreneur’s dream place, I was scared out of my mind. From taking my first solo flight to pitching to an auditorium full of Silicon Valley’s best investors.. Draper University was a very impactful turning point in my life. During those 7 magical weeks, as much as I learnt about running a business, I learnt more about myself.
My biggest lesson though? Don’t be your worst enemy.
Allow yourself to dream, and to believe :)
Read here if you want to learn more about my Draper experience.