In 2012, first round Capital, a Philadelphia VC ﬁrm, put $500,000 into a fund for students to invest in startups. Dorm Room Fund has since expanded to colleges in two more cities. Its 15 investments, mostly $10,000 to $20,000, include screen-sharing software Fireﬂy and online used-car retailer ZenKars. We spoke to First Round partner Phin Barnes.
Where did the idea originate? “First, college students can create incredible companies. Second, the best VC funds are run like startups, so we should ﬁnd students who want to build a VC startup.” How do you choose your committees of students? “We have an open application for anyone from undergrads in liberal arts to people getting their PhD in biology. And as they graduate they select their replacements.” How do they ﬁnd their investment opportunities? “They tap their personal networks. They work to deeply understand problems and meet incredibly smart people.”