Goodera co-founder Richa Bajpai has launched Campus Fund, a new firm that will invest in student-led startups.
A first-of-its-kind initiative, Campus Fund will back 30 companies founded by students across IIMs, IITs and BITS, among others. The investment committee will also comprise students, and the average cheque size will be about Rs 50 lakh.
Globally, Dorm Room Fund and Creator Fund are examples of successful student venture models, although such a fund is new to the country. Campus Fund is backed by TaxiForSure co-founder Raghunandan G and redBus founder Phanindra Sama, among others.
“We are sector agnostic …but we are inclined towards technology-first startups, as we feel students have an advantage regarding the latest in tech. We are trying to reach student entrepreneurs across the country” said Bajpai.
Once a startup is sourced, it goes through three rounds of formal interaction with its team members, who evaluate the market size, uniqueness, defensibility, scalability, founder fit amongst others. Following that, the startup pitches to an investment committee and gets funded if it gets 60% affirmative votes.
Founders from any university in the country, from any stream of education, can reach out to Campus Fund. “We invest in start-ups led by current students and/or dropouts or graduates in the last three years,” she said.
After the deal, Campus Fund helps its portfolio with industry connections, mentorship, hiring, venture capital reach, which are necessary to build a business in its infancy.
A slew of top tech companies has been founded on campuses, including Grey Orange Robotics, Pixxel and Ather Energy. At the same time, most startups are founded by batchmates or friends from the same campus, including Flipkart, Ola and TaxiForSure.
“Currently, even though there are lots of students who are starting up from their hostel rooms, they are not able to realize their true potential because they falter at different levels and don’t have access to resources,” said Raghunandan. He added that “with good mentoring, direction and access to resources, these students can possibly do wonders for the ecosystem.”
Bajpai herself has been a student entrepreneur. She founded NextGen in 2009, during her final year of engineering, and co-founded CSR technology platform Goodera in early 2014. In June last year, Bajpai stepped down to go back to school in London and came across the concept of Dorm Room Fund.
“Apart from startups from IITs, IIMs, and BITS, we are seeing interesting startups from VIT, DU, Manipal, Bhartiya Vidyapeeth, Amrita University, MS Ramaiah, Dhirubhai Ambani CoE among others,” she said.