Ex-Google exec’s new Kickstarter-esque venture starts at RISDAugust 9th, 2012 at 1:04 pm by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site
Upstart, an organization that debuted Wednesday, describes itself as “a new approach to funding and mentorship.” It lets recent college graduates raise money online for whatever they want to do next, in exchange for “a small share” of their future incomes. Reuters calls it “part social network, part crowdfunding service in the style of Kickstarter.”
The Rhode Island School of Design in Providence is one of five schools where Upstart is launching next month, along with Arizona State University, Dartmouth College, the University of Michigan and the University of Washington. (A disclaimer on its website notes: “Upstart is neither affiliated with nor endorsed by Rhode Island School of Design.”)
“There’s this overwhelming desire to not follow the traditional path of bolting yourself to a desk and climbing the corporate ladder,” Upstart founder and CEO Dave Girouard, who led Google’s online apps division for eight years, told Reuters. (Or, as Upstart’s website puts it: “The startup is you.” ) He’s raised $1.75 million in seed funding to get Upstart started up.
While the model is different, the philosophy behind Upstart sounds similar to the one behind Venture for America, which also launched in Providence this year – an effort to provide debt-burdened new graduates with an alternative to the corporate path that, their founders hope, will also give the sputtering U.S. economy a shot in the arm.
TechCrunch explained why RISD made the first cut:
I’m hearing complaints from investors and entrepreneurs that it’s too easy to start a company nowadays, leading to startups that aren’t driven by big ideas. … Girouard says that may be true in Silicon Valley, where graduates of Stanford and other schools have access to “a lot more options and capital,” but he says the area is just “a very narrow slice of the country.”
Upstart should help fund a much broader range of efforts than just your run-of-the-mill tech startups. For example, Girouard notes that one of the schools participating in the pilot program is the Rhode Island School of Design, where graduates might want to start their own small design shops rather than going to work for someone else.
VentureBeat adds that a recently completed trial of the Upstart model involved seven students who were mostly tech-oriented, so Upstart decided to pilot at RISD “in a concerted effort to reach more creative types.”