In 1997 an ad agency called Daiko came to me with a proposal to be the headmaster of a new school for multimedia and Internet. The idea of the school was that it would be a very hands-on trade school to help people learn how to make games, write Internet applications and make CG animations. The proposal involved working with a business partner who would run the day-to-day operations of the school. I would be in charge of the curriculum and the philosophy of the school. Sounded like a great deal.
The school was relatively successful in attracting a group of very interesting students. Most of them were quite young and some were very talented. I was also able to recruit a few good teachers with practical experience publishing games and building Internet services. Less than one year after the beginning of the school, and just after recruiting and receiving money from the second class of new students, the business partner's other business fell apart. I tried what I could and helped organize a deal to sell the assets of the school to another school which renamed the school "Silicon Hollywood". I was able to negotiate to keep the name. I joined the advisory board of Digital Hollywood and was allowed to set up the "Bithaus Lab" inside of Digital Hollywood.
The first class of students were clearly much more adventurous and risk-taking than the second class, although some of the second class students joined our "team". The first class of orphan's students planned and held their own graduation ceremony without help from the school. With the help of Digital Hollywood and the team spirit of the students, the core group has kept in touch and has held together as a group. Over a dozen of the students have worked for me over the years and several are in management positions in companies that I help run.
Anyway, we still occasionally get together for drinks and exchange notes about where everyone is and help those in trouble and congratulate those doing well.
Lessons learned: Don't put your name on a business where you don't know or can't control the person running the day-to-day operations. The "liability" of being responsible for people's futures is an incredible "asset" if you allow it to mature. Students willing to join a school with no history or name are probably pretty interesting...