The university has approved $ 110,000 for Prospect Student Ventures (PSV), a student-run venture capital fund launched by Ayushi Sinha ’20, Kelvin Yu ’22, and Tinashe Handina ’21 that intends to raise funds in the summer of 2020 the to deliver hands from the university’s student entrepreneurs.
As the past president of the Princeton Entrepreneurship Club and co-founder of WellPower, a clean water startup, Sinha cited the “funding gap” in the university’s entrepreneurship community as the driving force behind PSV.
“We have brilliant ideas, projects and research from Princeton. Unfortunately, most of them never get past the ideas phase because they don’t have access to early-stage funding, ”said Sinha.
Because of Sinha’s experience in founding her startup, there is a “missed opportunity” at the university where founders spend many months raising capital.
“Of course, learning to be a good salesperson is really important, but our time would have been much better spent building [the product],” She said.
With the PSV, student founders have an additional option for financing without equity and without conditions – which means that the PSV does not acquire ownership of the startups it finances.
The mutual funds come from the office of Rodney Priestley, who was named Vice Dean of Innovation for the university in February.
“We are all incredibly grateful. Dr. Priestley has been an enthusiastic supporter of our team from day one, ”said Yu. “He was a lightning rod in setting up and incorporating the basement center.”
Priestley’s $ 110,000 office is said to cover investments for three years, with the PSV investment size for a startup being between $ 1,000 and $ 10,000. $ 138,000 in alumni donations must also be approved by the university.
In addition to helping founders, PSV’s dual aim is to provide students with educational experience and venture capital opportunities.
Since its inception, PSV has grown into a 32-strong venture group – one for which Handina was thrilled to highlight the diverse backgrounds, countries, majors and interests.
“We have members on every continent except Antarctica,” said Handina, an international student from Zimbabwe who is interested in startups in emerging markets.
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All investment decisions are made through a democratically weighted coordination process with the entire group. Older members will have more weight on their votes.
According to Sharam Hejazi, venture capital professor and advisor to PSV, venture capital companies need a thesis.
According to Yu, Handina and Sinha, the unofficial motto of the PSV is “bridging the gap” in the university’s financing options from point A to Z between the 1K idea phase and the early 100K rounds.
“It’s a good thesis,” said Hejazi. “In reality, it takes a venture fund 5 to 10 years to produce something. This goes beyond the scope of a four-year bachelor’s degree. So succession planning is critical to expanding that scope beyond the original members, and I think the team did a really good job of recruiting and planning for new teams. “