Upstart Aims to Crowdfund Entrepreneurial College Grads

Upstart, a new company started by a former Google executive, is unveiling a crowdfunding service to help college graduates pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

By using Upstart, graduates in just about any field can raise capital for their business in exchange for giving up a small share of their income over 10 years. The idea is to give graduates a real shot at starting a company and not just take a traditional job to pay off student loans.

“I think it can be giant, ” said Dave Girouard, the founder of Upstart and former vice president of apps at Google. “It’s a whole new form of risk capital.”

With Upstart, a student creates a profile that includes achievements and goals. The student then chooses the funding amount, and Upstart calculates the percent of income the student will have to share during repayment. There is no repayment in years when income is less than $30,000. Backers can commit funds in increments of $1,000. Mentoring and support are also provided.

The company will make its platform available to students and recent graduates in September at Arizona State University, Dartmouth College, Rhode Island School of Design, University of Michigan and University of Washington.

College graduates just need some help to get on the path to becoming a business owner, Girouard said.

“They want to kind of do their own thing but most of our economy is not geared to help that,” he said.

Upstart itself has an impressive lineup of backers. They include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, New Enterprise Associates, First Round Capital, Crunchfund and Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks.

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