Group to invest in student startups

9/26/2013 – The Huntington News

By Rowena Lindsay, News Correspondent

Students or recent graduates with an original business idea now have the possibility of winning capital to make it a reality, thanks to a student-run venture firm called the Dorm Room Fund.

Venture capital company First Round Capital started the Dorm Room Fund one year ago. The project began in Philadelphia where First Round Capital chose students for an investment team and provided $500,000 for them to fund fellow students’ start-ups. Since then the Dorm Room Fund has invested in 24 startups and expanded to New York, San Francisco and now Boston. The Boston investment team will be announced in the first week of October and companies will start to be reviewed by them before Halloween.

“The Dorm Room Fund brings capital and resources to campus and inspires more students to start companies,” CeCe Cheng, director of the Dorm Room Fund, said. “We realize when you’re a full time student that money can be really hard to raise and the first six months of having a startup idea is not the time to drop out of school to start a business.”

The Dorm Room Fund provides students with $20,000 to use in building a company. Start-ups with at least one full time student as a founder are eligible for funding.

Students can apply through the Dorm Room Fund website or by contacting the investors directly. The founders of the startup will then have a preliminary meeting with the investors and, if the startup is something that they see potential in, the founders will be invited to present their idea to the entire investment team.

“The investment team is made up entirely of students and they look at the products, the team, the markets, the same things that any investment team looks for in a potential client,” Cheng said. “However we definitely put an emphasis on the founders themselves, since these are pre-launch, pre-revenue companies and we want to choose strong entrepreneurs.”

The Dorm Room Fund aims to put their money where it is really needed, investing in companies where the $20,000 will be the deciding factor in their success or failure.

In addition to the money, founders are provided with access to the extensive network of resources that the Dorm Room Fund has to offer including mentors with experience in building start-ups, service providers, and other student entrepreneurs across the country. Even if the start-up fails, these connections can prove to be a valuable resource.

The Dorm Room Fund will be an addition to the numerous resources available for entrepreneurial students at Northeastern (such as the Entrepreneur’s Club, IDEA and Center for Entrepreneurship Education) as well as in the greater Boston area.

“I think that it is a really great opportunity for students,” junior entrepreneurship major and president of the Northeastern Entrepreneurs Club, Casey Hogan, said. “The interest in and number of student start-ups is on the rise so it makes sense that the number of resources for students are on the rise too.”