Dorm Room Fund returns to campus with new $10.4 million fund – TechCrunch
dorm funda venture capital operation launched to invest in student-led startups, raised a new fund of $10.4 million, according to SEC filings. The filing marks Dorm Room Fund’s largest to date, and its first that appears to include investors beyond First Round Capital, the company that first launched the student-focused operation in 2012. The filing with the SEC indicates that fundraising is still ongoing. Both companies declined to comment.
Dorm Room Fund’s original vision was tied to First Round Capital’s bet that seed investments could be led by students, for students. In 2012, First Round Capital allocated a portion of its assets under management — a capital pool of $3 million — to the management of a group of students. Today, Dorm Room Fund continues to invest only in companies where at least one member of the founding team is a student or recent graduate.
Dorm Room Fund has made 326 investments to date, in startups such as Brooklinen and Snackpass – as well as venture capital firm Harlem Capital Partners. On its website, the operation says it writes $40,000 SAFE notes in the startups it backs — and has teams in New York, San Francisco, Boston and Philadelphia.
Although the operation is largely focused on the United States, we have some signals that its check-writing focus may expand: Dorm Room Fund’s latest investment, by Crunchbasewas part of a pre-seed round for Alima, a Mexico City-based company that wants to make product sourcing easier for businesses.
For Dorm Room Fund, which had been noticeably quieter in its investment activity in recent years, new capital could give its student-focused operations a boost. As the investment world as a whole becomes more competitive, investors are incentivized to find talent earlier and earlier, either through internal accelerators, non-dilutive programs or, in this case, a microfund specifically dedicated to aspiring entrepreneurs.
The strategy may seem particularly relevant today, but there is precedent. Similar to Dorm Room Fund, General Catalyst launched Rough Draft Ventures as a game to gain more access to student networks. Contrary Capital, another student-focused venture capital firm, recently announced a $20 million fund – its second investment vehicle to date. In 2019, First Round took another step in favor of young talent: it supported the Graduate Fund, a pre-seed fund that targets recent graduates of undergraduate or master’s programs but operates independently.
Dorm Room Fund seems to be gearing up for something of a refresh. In 2018, the team launched a CRM for founders raising a funding round, but a year later company CEO Rei Wang left to launch The Grand, a learning platform and development to help people navigate change. That same year, the team hired Molly Fowler, who previously worked in politics and urban planning, to be the new chief executive. He also brought on Chauncey Hamilton as its first COO, who was previously chief of staff to first-round partner Rob Hayes, who then left to join XYZ Venture Capital after just over a year. . Still, with new management, Dorm Room Fund seemed to convince a group of LPs that its longstanding goal deserved new capital.