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Josh Kopelman on Funding the Next Wave of Start-Ups

With his Dorm Room Fund, the serial entrepreneur is putting more cash in the hands of college start-ups--and that's a good thing.

By his sophomore year of college, Josh Kopelman was a full-fledged entrepreneur. Not that his alma mater--the University of Pennsylvania--understood him. 

"When I graduated they sent around this form," said the First Round Capital partner during his talk at the Venture Forward Conference in New York City Tuesday. "The only box I could check at the time was unemployed. There was no entrepreneur box."

Needless to say, times have changed and Kopelman is helping the next generation fulfill their start-up ambitions. His Dorm Room Fund, launched last September, helps students start companies. It started with $500,000 in Philadelphia, expanded to New York and San Francisco, and now has plans to open in Boston later this fall. 

"While the cost to start a company has come way down, funding sources for these dorm room entrepreneurs haven't really changed," Kopelman said. "If you want to stay in school and start a company, the sources of capital have not changed from 25 years ago when I started my first company, even though the industry's completely changed."

Dorm Room Fund also lets college students find and vet would-be companies seeking funding. Taking advantage of these networks makes sense, he said: "Who knows the students on campus better than anyone? It's other students."

In fact, just two months after launching last year, students drummed up $20,000 for Firefly, a company started by University of Pennsylvania students, which creates screen sharing software, according to Mashable

Last updated: Jun 19, 2013


Julie Strickland covers start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurial endeavors of all kinds for Inc. Her work has been published in Brooklyn Based and City Limits in New York, the Free Times in Columbia, SC, Real Travel Magazine in London, and Daegu Pockets in South Korea. She lives in New York City.

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