Attention college graduates! Has the job market got you down? Have reading job boards and sending out resumes got you down to your last nerve? Are those college loans about to come due? Do you wish there was a way to ditch the job search, and pursue your true passion? Well, maybe you just might be an Upstart.
What’s an Upstart? Launched in April, 2012, Upstart is an innovative crowdfunding platform that connects wannabe entrepreneurs in virtually any field with potential investors. Think of it was a Kickstart for smarties. Along with helping to connect the financial dots, Upstart matches their ‘upstarts’ with seasoned mentors. These veteran business pros provide ‘upstarts’ with invaluable experience and counsel, helping to navigate through the pitfalls and problems that face start up businesses.
Upstart is the brainchild of Dave Girouard and his team of ex-Googlers. As the former president of Google Enterprise, Girouard knows a thing or two about launching new business ventures -- he spearheaded Google’s cloud apps business for 8 years. Girouard and his team are committed to the idea that recent college graduates should be given the opportunity to grow their own businesses.
"We want to give young people access to capital and mentorship at a time in their lives when pursuing a passion and taking informed risk makes sense,” Girouard says. “And we're really proud of the team we've put together to make it happen."
And in order to ‘make it happen,’ Girouard is has assembled an impressive roster of investors, not the least of whom is, owner of the Dallas Mavericks.
"This is a unique opportunity to change the financial model for education and career development,” Cuban says. “I'm excited to be part of it."
Upstart’s founders are banking on the fact that they are launching at a critically important time, when innovation and entrepreneurship are seen as two of the key elements in turning the U.S. economy around. The first Upstart group of entrepreneurs were selected from a handful of colleges, but as of September 1, the platform will be extended to include students and recent grads from Arizona State University, Dartmouth College, Rhode Island School of Design, University of Michigan, and University of Washington. Ultimately, the Upstart team projects making the platform available on a much broader scale.
"By giving more students another nudge toward their dreams, in the long run, the platform could have ripple effects,” says the associate dean of entrepreneurial programs at the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering. “You have to follow your passion because you're more successful when you do. Very often things you're passionate about are, in the long run, things that have more impact in this world."
At least two-thirds of today’s college students graduate with at least $23,000 in education-related debts, and for these grads, the route of entrepreneurship can seem too risky. And in recent years, the availability of start-up capital for new business ventures has been greatly reduced. Upstart offers a safety net, providing the financial and mentoring support to turn passion into profits.
"Success to the team at Upstart would be the creation of one million incremental new businesses in the coming decade,” says Girouard. “By providing a platform designed to eliminate obstacles to entrepreneurship, we want to help a generation of upstarts that create jobs, rather than take them.”