Crowdsourcing Tuition and James Altucher on the new startup idea


I opened up a GoFundMe campaign to see how it would help to raise the money for the PhD. I actually want to see how it would work. Of course if it works, it will certainly help! After setting it up, I felt cheap to share it on Facebook. I was skeptical as to what people would think. Would they think that I am begging for money and I am dead broke? Would they think ‘what the heck is wrong with this guy?’ So I started asking a few folks around.

First I asked a friend of mine, a serial entrepreneur who had a very good exit. I asked him what he thinks of the GoFundMe campaign. He waited a while and said “my immediate reaction is that your education is what you should pay for. most people aren’t denied education because of funds.” He has a point in a way. It is true that most people aren’t denied education because of funds. It is the cases in States, people are denied education for parents pure stupidity, laziness and many other things. This is mainly in the western world. In certain parts of the world, people are denied education for many other factors such as religion, poverty, lack of opportunity within the system and many other things. So there’s definitely two sides to this argument.

Then I asked another friend, James Altucher. James is known for several of his very successful exits, podcasts, talk shows and of cause the books. He wrote several NYT best sellers. I had a short but a very interesting chat with him. I thought I would share some of it, because it may help fellow entrepreneurs. I, again, asked him what he thought of the GoFundMe for the tuition. I asked, “Does it look cheap to crowdsource the first year’s PhD tuition?” and his immediate reaction was “No! you should try it and see what happens!“. I kinda felt relaxed. After getting that out of the way, I told him what I was working on. Below is the conversation after that. He points out several key things.

SP: yeah, thats what I thought too. Chamath just funded an exact copy of ******* product I was working on and now I am working on a different one. A platform that will enable startuper to take an academic (PHD) route. My thesis is going to be on that too.

JA: neat!

SP: Startupers have a lot of research knowledge, why don’t they get a PHD for it as well. That will also enable universities to build a great portfolio as well..

JA: yes, some schools are starting to do that. like Georgia Tech here in the US and schools often take a piece of any tech that is developed on campus like I bet Stanford got a piece of google for instance

SP: exactly! People here think Im crazy when I say this.

JA: you should get all the data together. show how much money each university has made in the past 2 decades of spinning off startups. CMU made hundreds of millions on Lycos for instance

SP: Yeah, I am working on collecting the data. I need to figure out a way to keep things running to work on this full time. Its very difficult to juggle too many balls at the same time

JA: No it isn’t. don’t tell yourself that. the only way to succeed is to juggle more than you think you can juggle. Else, everyone would do that! the average multimillionaire, for instance, has over 7 different sources of income

SP: mmh.

JA: when I look at what I’m doing: I do books, blogs, podcasts, i’m on the board of 2 companies with billions in revs, and I’m an investor in over 20 cos that i keep active in. i’m not bragging when i say that. that’s all just simply what i do. and i have to do it because that’s where everything i have done before has led me. Today i had to put on at least 5 different hats just to keep up with things. or, rather, to stay ahead

SP: So you think the idea is worth pursuing?

JA: not as a PhD, no, unless you want to be an academic. But, perhaps there is a better way to do it. you collect all the data and then help universities set up their own incubators

SP: I was thinking, if I get in an academic setting, it might be easier to get the word out.

JA: yes, but a PhD will take you 5 years or more. The world will be different then.

He makes several key points. Pursuing a startup in an academic setting, specially for a PhD might not work, but launching of the startup can really be done in a few months. Most of the research would have to be focused towards getting the academics and universities within the framework we would build, not to mention the endless amount of work that will be involved in building a framework PhDers would follow to create a startup.

As for the GoFundMe campaign, I asked several others and they had mixed responses. Most of them were ok with it and said should give it a try! I am going to leave it up and see what happens.


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