‘Crowdfunding’ company Upstart looks to universities to connect students, pros


“We send a very large proportion of our students to very large corporations and a small portion to small companies,” he said.

Girouard thinks using university loyalty is a handy way to encourage mentors and investors to support new business leaders. He says investors will be more likely to feel a connection to entrepreneurs from their alma mater.

“We want to find an affinity vector,” Girouard said.

So far he’s limiting the company’s services to five universities, saying he doesn’t want to overextend its resources. The other schools are Arizona State University, Dartmouth College, Rhode Island School of Design, and the University of Michigan.

“[We’d] rather really focus and make sure to get it right,” he said.

Upstart, which has nine employees, will earn revenue off each deal. Investors can pledge a certain amount and will be charged only if the startup’s targeted funding level is reached through the investments of other financiers.

Upstart then will receive 3 percent of that amount for its services.

So far, it has raised $1.75 million from its own list of investors, which includes Google Ventures and Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.

“This is a unique opportunity to change the financial model for education and career development,” Cuban said in a statement.

(c) 2012, The Seattle Times. Visit The Seattle Times online at www.seattletimes.com. Distributed by MCT Information Services.