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General Catalyst launches student-run fund in Boston

Rough Draft Ventures will invest in student founded start-ups

Innovation series by Steven Loeb
December 12, 2012 | Comments
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Good ideas can come from, literally, anywhere. Some random person, who has no experience with ever founding a company, might just have the next big idea in his head. Or it could be some dorky college kid sitting in his Harvard dorm room who creates something that will completely change the world over the next decade.

Don’t think that venture capitalists have been unaware of the possibility of another Facebook coming from a random dorm room somewhere. A number of firms have set up funds to help students get their ideas off the ground.

The latest one to create such a fund is General Catalyst, which has debuted the new Rough Draft Ventures, a “student partnership that invests $5-25K into the most talented and driven student tech entrepreneurs in Boston.”

General Catalyst will not be involved in the day-to-day decisions made by the fund, and will not be making any investment decisions. The firm will simply provide general mentorship, networking, and other support to students.

The decisions on who to fund will be made by seven students who go to college in the Boston-area: Peter Boyce and Zachary Hamed from Harvard; Emma Tangoren from Boston University; Ryan Dawidjan from Babson; John Brennan from Tufts; and Edward Burnell and Delian Asparouhov from MIT.

The seven students will be working with General Catalyst’s Nitesh Banta and Bilal Zuberi. The list of advisors to the new fund include Neil Blumenthal and David Gilboa from Warby Parker; Kevin Colleran from Facebook; and Raymie Stata from Yahoo.

The idea behind Rough Draft is to help students who otherwise would not know where to find money to help fund their ideas.

“Boston students create amazing companies, like FB, DropBox, Hubspot, Stripe, and more. Boston students could be creating a billion dollar company every year. The next big company will be started with as little as $5K, but students don’t know where to go find that money. is a student partnership investing in smart college students building their ideas into products,” Rough Draft says.

In addition to providing financial investments, Rough Draft will also help mentor and advise students on to nurture their ideas. The fund is meant to “remove seemingly trivial barriers that prevent students from turning their ideas into products and companies.”

To be eligible for investment, founders simply have to be students who go to school in, or around, Boston. Rough Draft will be focusing its investments on hardware and software startuos, not medtech or cleantech ventures.

All funding comes in the form of a simple convertible loan, with a discount or a cap.

Other firms that have created similar funds are Dorm Room Fund, launched by First Round Capital, which acts much like Rough Draft in that First Round has no say in which companies are invested in. NEA has also started a fund to invest in student ideas, called The Experiment Fund.

See a video below of Rough Draft advisor Dharmesh Shah, of Hubspot, talking about what Rough Draft is all about:

General Catalyst and Rough Draft Ventures could not be reached for comment. This news was first reported on TechCrunch Wednesday.

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