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New US website lets 'crowd' fund college grad startups
by Staff Writers
San Francisco (AFP) Aug 8, 2012


A former Google executive on Wednesday opened an online venue where college graduates with dreams of starting companies can be matched with investors and mentors.

Recent and soon-to-be graduates are invited to pitch entrepreneurial ideas at Upstart.com, which one-time Google Enterprise president Dave Girouard created as way for young people to launch businesses with "crowd funding."

"Through one lens, it looks like a way for aspiring twenty-somethings to raise capital and find mentors that can help them pursue their dreams," Girouard said in a blog post.

"Through another, it looks like a whole new flavor of risk capital, waiting to fuel the next generation of entrepreneurs our economy so desperately needs."

Girouard said he sees Upstart as a lifeline for college graduates who feel compelled by student debt or lack of confidence to seek "treadmill" jobs at existing firms instead of pursuing visions for new companies.

"For some very practical reasons, they decide to take a safer path instead of jumping in with two feet on what they really want to do," Girouard said.

"We have a surplus of bright young people who want to carve their own way - to take a risk, start something new, and make a difference," he said.

"In most cases, they're yet to be weighed down by the obligations that curtail risk-taking later in life -- spouses, kids, mortgages, health, etc."

Upstart lets graduates pitch their prospects and ideas online, where users can invest in exchange for a small percentage of their income over 10 years.

"While it will take us some time to make Upstart broadly available across the United States (and beyond), we're seeing great signs at this early stage that the world needs this," Girouard said.

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