Is Peter Thiel Right That Entrepreneurs Should Skip College And Start Companies Now?

students, class, school, collegeGood move or waste of time?

Photo: Flickr / Tulane Publications

Brilliant young people may be better off skipping college and just starting companies, Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel famously said last year, when he announced a fellowship pledging $100,000 two-year fellowships for 24 young people to skip school and found a new venture instead.So will teenagers who enter the Thiel fellowship create amazing ventures — or flame out when their lack of experience and operational skills hold them back?

Two New York entrepreneurs are attempting to bridge the gap between big ideas and hands-on know-how by bringing back a business model that sounds more Middle Ages than Silicon Alley: the apprenticeship. Shaila Ittycheria and Kane Sarhan are launching E[nstitute], a training program for hungry young people to tether themselves to startup founder for two years, this summer.

They’ve already recruited co-founders of some of the city’s buzziest startups, such as Birchbox and Warby Parker. Some apprentices may enter the program in lieu of slogging through freshman English. “College isn’t right for everyone, right now,” Ittycheria said.

What’s the best way to learn entrepreneurship skills? Join the debate at Startup 2012, Business Insider’s conference on entrepreneurship and business-plan competition, taking place May 3 in New York City. The Startup conference focuses on issues crucial to innovation and company-building, from fund-raising to product development to hiring.

Join us by registering to attend –there are startup and early-bird rates! — and enjoy an intense day of discussion and debate with 800 other innovation junkies.

In addition to Ittycheria, you’ll hear from incredible speakers including:

  • Leah Busque, Co-founder, TaskRabbit
  • Jason Goldberg, CEO,
  • Alex Himel, Engineering Manager, Facebook
  • Philip James, CEO, Lot18
  • Sahil Lavingia, CEO, Gumroad
  • Ben Milne, CEO, Dwolla
  • and more! Check our speaker faculty for updates.

And BI is giving away $75,000 in cash and prizes as part of our annual business-plan competition, which runs concurrent to the conference. We encourage startups to apply to compete now! The deadline is March 31, and eligibility information is here. Six finalists will pitch a panel of VC judges onstage at Startup and one will take home the prize.

As for E[nstitute] apprentices, the plan is for them to spend one year as assistants to the founders, performing largely administrative tasks, before graduating to an operational division in the second year, according to Ittycheria. They’ll be paid in stipends, and along the way gain insight into how startups are run.

Want to hear more about founding and building amazing companies? Come to Startup on May 3. See you there!

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