Jeff Bussgang, general partner at Flybridge Capital Partners, just announced he will be managing a new fund in Boston called The Graduate Syndicate. The fund totals $2.5 million dollars, and the capital will be used in $100,000 increments to invest in seed and pre-seed ventures founded by recent Harvard graduates.
Bussgang has been teaching at Harvard Business School for about six years now, in which time he’s seen hundreds of student ventures. He told BostInno, “At Flybridge, we joked that if I were an angel investor, I would have written a check to these seed, pre-seed student ventures myself… Now, we’ve decided to do exactly that, but in a form of a syndicate.”
According to Bussgang, there are approximately 20 limited partners, who are either HBS professors or Harvard alumni. For example, Mark Roberge, a professor at HBS and former CRO at HubSpot, and Tushara Canekeratne, founder/CEO of Nadastra who previously co-founded Virtusa, are among The Graduate Syndicate’s investors.
“Flybridge is the anchor investor in the fund. I’m the manager of the fund,” Bussgang said. “All of the investment decisions are made by me independently, so I can make quick decisions like an angel would… And we’re only investing in HBS graduates, not current students, because of the school’s conflict of interest policy.”Additionally, advisors in the syndicate include Harvard alumni Jenny Fleiss, co-founder of Rent the Runway; Pat Pettit and Rob Biederman, co-founders of Catalant (formerly Hourly Nerd); Scott Crouch, co-founder of Mark43; and Amy Jain and Daniella Yacobovsky, co-founders of BaubleBar. They will be serving as mentors to founders in The Graduate Syndicate’s portfolio.
The Graduate Syndicate’s first fund closed in June and since then, they’ve quietly made eight investments. Those investments included local startups Baroo and Getaway.
Lindsay Hyde, co-founder/CEO of Baroo, explained that she first met Bussgang while attending HBS. She said, “We met when I was doing work on Baroo at the Innovation Lab. In my second year, I took his class Launching Technology Ventures. I used those lessons over and over again when starting Baroo… All of those fundamentals I learned from him.”
The Graduate Syndicate, which participated in Baroo’s recent $2.25 million seed round, was appealing to Hyde because of its blend of financial and human capital. She told us, “When Jeff approached me to be involved, I noticed the other key factor about The Graduate Syndicate was not just the capital, but also the access to advisors,” Hyde said. “It’s pulled together seasoned entrepreneurs and seasoned investors who said, ‘Yes, we will give our time and expertise to this team, too.’”
Through the fund, investments will be made in Harvard alumni companies that fall within Flybridge’s wheelhouse. Bussgang said, “We’re trying to invest in things we have a point of view on, similar areas Flybridge invests like tech, internet and mobile… We want to stand behind the absolute best entrepreneurs before they’re ready for that institutional round.”