SOURCE: Upstart

August 08, 2012 09:00 ET

Announcing Upstart -- a New Approach to Funding and Mentorship

Crowdfunding Platform Helps Talented College Grads Do What They Were Meant to Do

PALO ALTO, CA--(Marketwire - Aug 8, 2012) - Upstart, a company formed by a team of ex-Googlers, today announced a limited pilot of its new crowdfunding platform. Upstart brings a new twist to crowdfunding by allowing college grads and would-be entrepreneurs in virtually any field to raise capital in exchange for a small share of their income over a 10 year period. The company was founded by Dave Girouard, former president of Google Enterprise, who led Google's cloud apps business for 8 years.

Since its April inception, Upstart has completed an initial pilot in which students from 5 universities were backed by a dozen successful entrepreneurs. Beginning in September, the company will expand by making its platform available to students and recent grads from Arizona State University, Dartmouth College, Rhode Island School of Design, University of Michigan, and University of Washington.

Upstart is funded by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, NEA, Google Ventures, First Round Capital, Crunchfund, and Dallas Maverick's owner Mark Cuban.

Why Upstart?
Upstart was founded to help people do what they were meant to do. Many talented college grads take jobs they're not excited about, rather than following their true passions. Whether constrained by debt or just comforted by traditional career options, too many students take the perceived "safe path." Upstart aims to provide a modest amount of risk capital -- where repayment is tied to the student's future success -- paired with guidance and support from experienced backers, to help grads pursue less traditional and more inspiring careers.

While there is broad recognition that the U.S. needs more entrepreneurship and innovation to fuel the economy, a few trends conspire to constrain the best and brightest from choosing this less predictable path. The rising cost of higher education has left two thirds of recent U.S. college graduates saddled with an average of $23,000 in debt. In addition, the last several years have seen a significant reduction in access to capital in support of new business formation. And many would-be entrepreneurs, particularly outside the hotspots of Silicon Valley and Cambridge, lack for connections with experienced and successful mentors who can help guide their journey.

Quotes: 

  • Dave Girouard, founder and CEO
    "We want to give young people access to capital and mentorship at a time in their lives when pursuing a passion and taking informed risk makes sense. And we're really proud of the team we've put together to make it happen."

    "Success to the team at Upstart would be the creation of one million incremental new businesses in the coming decade. By providing a platform designed to eliminate obstacles to entrepreneurship, we want to help a generation of upstarts that create jobs, rather than take them."

  • Mark Cuban, owner, Dallas Mavericks
    "This is a unique opportunity to change the financial model for education and career development. I'm excited to be part of it."

  • Andy Palmer, backer and founding BOD member of Upstart
    "I specialize in accelerating the foundation and growth of early-stage, mission-driven companies, and I am thrilled to be part of Upstart. There is no better time to take professional risks than when you are in your 20s. Upstart is the vehicle that can help get you there."

  • Thomas Zurbuchen, associate dean for entrepreneurial programs at the College of Engineering, University of Michigan
    "By giving more students another nudge toward their dreams, in the long run, the platform could have ripple effects. You have to follow your passion because you're more successful when you do. Very often things you're passionate about are, in the long run, things that have more impact in this world."

  • Nathan Sharp, Upstart pilot class
    "Without the Upstart option, I would have had to defer my startup plans for 2-3 years. But those are also the same 2-3 years when I am best suited to take on all the risks of entrepreneurship."

About Upstart
Launched by a team of ex-Googlers, Upstart is a crowdfunding platform that allows college grads to raise capital in exchange for a small share of their future income. Upstart provides a modest amount of capital as well as mentorship to help grads do what they were meant to do. For more information, please visit www.upstart.com.

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