New crowdfunding platform seeks to connect student entrepreneurs, alumni

UCBerkeleyUC Berkeley launched a new crowd-funding platform called AlumniFunder Wednesday that will give Berkeley student entrepreneurs a chance to capitalize on alumni connections to fund their projects.

The idea for AlumniFunder, a crowd-funding platform that intends to connect students and alumni, emerged when Google Ventures denied Georgetown graduate and AlumniFunder creator Stephen Ryan Meyer the venture capital funds his startup needed. Meyer immediately began to look to crowd funding as an alternative, but instead of looking for a platform, Meyer began to make one.

“I realized that if something like AlumniFunder existed, I would use it myself,” Meyer said. “So I might as well just build my own solution.”

For Meyer, AlumniFunder is about making use of the healthy ecosystem of alumni-student connections to drive student innovation.

“We have these very real social networks — your alumni network — and there is a certain bias within that affinity group, so you may be more willing to invest in their projects,” Meyer said.

Students and alumni register on the site either as “doers,” those seeking capital for projects, or “alumni,” those who wish to contribute to new enterprises. AlumniFunder has already rolled out beta launches in Georgetown and Princeton three weeks ago.

James Li, Georgetown senior and co-founder of student enterprise Encore, praised AlumniFunder for its unique advantage among crowd-funding platforms.

“I love AlumniFunder because it’s the only place where current students and alumni can come together in a sustained community to trade ideas, experience and financial support,” Li said.

AlumniFunder’s beta launch in UC Berkeley has already attracted interest among various student groups. In fact, enthusiasm for the platform sped up the launch.

“We were not planning to launch at Berkeley this soon, but when they reached (out) and asked us to speak, I asked our developers to speed up our schedule,” Meyer said. “I think I just talked to them three weeks ago, so it was very quick turnaround.”

UC Berkeley junior Jeremy Fiance, president of UC Berkeley’s Kairos Society, expressed enthusiasm for the site’s potential in future growth for UC Berkeley entrepreneurs.

“A platform like AlumniFunder has the potential to truly leverage the UC Berkeley community to (collaboratively) drive forward startup innovation,” Fiance said.

AlumniFunder also plans to co-invest in promising AlumniFunder projects this summer in order to draw revenue for the nascent site, Meyer said.

The crowdfunding platform shows no signs of slowing down: AlumniFunder will hop across the Bay to Stanford next Thursday. As momentum for the platform grows with every launch, AlumniFunder plans to have launched in 70 American universities by the end of 2013.

Contact Eoghan Hughes at ehughes@dailycal.org.

Source: Daily Californian – Eoghan Hughes

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