There are college students who look for established opportunities and college students who decide to make their own. Let’s say for a moment you’re a student that does make his or her own opportunity mixed with a knack for everything entrepreneurial and decide to take your ideas to start a business. Under the typical circumstances, you probably don’t have the kind of money it takes to start your business, especially if the business involves tech.
The typical funding process usually involves established venture capital firms that, for the most part, would be skeptical of an idea from a college student. However, thanks to a new venture capital firm, this is a concept of the past.
The firm is Contrary Capital, a new kind of venture capital firm that wants to be the go-to fund for college and university startups, according to Jackson Feder, venture partner with Contrary.
The fund was the idea of a Northeastern University alum, Eric Tarczynski, who noticed the necessity to fill the gap between the low and high amount that funds would typically give to college students. Over the past two years, Tarczynski had been working on the back-end, getting the firm off the ground by acquiring funding from various notable benefactors such as Martin Eberhard (co-founder and former CEO of Tesla Motors), Daniel Macklin (co-founder of SoFi), Emmett Shear (co-founder and CEO of Twitch) and others, according to Feder. Additionally, Tarczynski was bringing on managing and venture partners, all of who are students or recent grads, according to Will Robbins, managing partner at Contrary and junior at the University of Illinois. The firm officially launched on September 18.
With a venture partner team of approximately 100 students across the United States, Contrary’s goal is to “back and empower the brightest university entrepreneurs… with a team of investors at more than 40 universities across the U.S.” according to Contrary’s website. The list of notable institutions includes Northeastern, Boston University, Dartmouth, Yale, Brown and many more reputable colleges and universities.
Robbins said that all the partners are always happy to chat. “The process is basically if the entrepreneur is working on something interesting, we’d love to see it,” he said. “So you can reach out to someone like Jackson or [Robbins] and just grab coffee and we’ll talk about your project and just see what you’re up to.”
With such an extensive network of schools, according to Robbins, the scale can be one of the company’s biggest challenges, “as students graduate and school ecosystems are always changing” as well as the needs of the companies. To combat this, Contrary allows each invested company to have full autonomy to see what is best process for their company as they know their school better and know how to utilize the institution’s resources in the best way possible. Then, through Contrary, companies will have a more extensive network in which to grow, Robbins said.
When asked about what the firm’s plans for Boston are, Feder replied that “currently we’re working on a couple of events with different organizations around Boston being that there is roughly six or seven schools that we’re representing in the area…promoting entrepreneurship and getting these schools together for a wide-spread Boston event to get students networking with each other.” Feder added that their first “kickoff” event is slated for sometime in November.
Robbins concluded that college and university entrepreneurial programs are exploding with the rise of the startup culture, and the amount of students looking to be a part of it is exciting for a company like Contrary.