Penn students are attending the Forbes' Under 30 Summit, a four-day convention that brings together 7,000 entrepreneurs from around the world to learn, exchange ideas and network.
Some Penn students are going as part of their work for Rough Draft Ventures, the student program of venture capital firm General Catalyst, that supports entrepreneurship at the university level. The company has backed more than 90 startups founded by student entrepreneurs.
Rough Draft has backed multiple companies created by Penn students, such as SolutionLoft, which is producing a library of reusable code, and Burrow, which sells an easy-to-ship sofa that is delivered in small boxes.
Much of the venture capital work Rough Draft does is carried out by students from a variety of colleges along the East Coast, including Penn.
“I help find exciting companies on Penn’s campus to bring to Rough Draft to potentially fund,” said Wharton graduate student Adina Davis, a member of Rough Draft’s New York student team.
“You basically act like a mini [venture capital firm],” Wharton senior Dillon Chen, another member of Rough Draft’s New York student team, explained. “You find companies, you meet with those companies and decide to invest and then the third activity is helping support companies you’ve already invested in.”
“We’ll all sit down and we’ll all talk about the company after they present, and make a decision based on that,” Chen said.
For the second year in a row, Rough Draft is partnering with Forbes and Sound Ventures, a venture capital firm founded in part by Ashton Kutcher, to create a competition for entrepreneurs at the summit. This $500,000 Change the World Competition recognizes a single startup, and is open to all entrepreneurs under 30. Four companies will pitch their business plans onstage to a panel of judges that includes Ashton Kutcher, Guy Oseary and the CEO of Forbes among others.
Through their work, Rough Draft’s student fellows from Penn have introduced the competition to a variety of student companies, spreading the word and driving up interest.
“Their role also has been to help us get the word out across their campuses. We’ve been able to work with our Rough Draft Venture fellows to get many, many kinds of student entrepreneurs to apply to the competition,” Peter Boyce II, co-founder of Rough Draft, said.
Disclosure: Randall Lane, the editor of Forbes magazine and the founder of the Under 30 Summit, is a member of The Daily Pennsylvanian Board of Directors.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Adina Davis and Dillon Chen worked with professional investors to choose which companies receive funding.
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