Technology entrepreneurship can be a lonely road. Not only do you have to convince a few friends or colleagues to work hundred-hour weeks for the next several years in support of your wild idea, but you’ve got to make it past the elevator pitch with at least one funder, and then prove that your idea can gain a toehold in the marketplace.
But in the last few years, the process of launching a tech startup has become, if not easier, at least more social. That’s thanks to the flowering of a new class of startup schools that admit budding entrepreneurs, or teams of entrepreneurs, for a “semester” or more of intense product development, collaboration, and business mentorship. Y Combinator, a Mountain View, CA, venture firm founded by software entrepreneur Paul Graham, is usually cited as running the first such operation, but groups imitating or adapting the model have sprung up in cities across the country—and they’re graduating a growing pool of successful startups.