"How I Raised My First $50,000"
Yesterday we had the incredible opportunity to listen to a panel organized by the Princeton Alumni Entrepreneurs Fund (AEF). AEF is an early stage venture fund that invests up to $100,000 of matching funds in startups founded by early career Princeton alumni. The panel was titled "How I Raised My First $50,000" and the panelists included Allan Amico '13, Adam Hardej '17, and Vaidhy Murti '15, each of whom have started and are working on their own startups.
As some background, Allan studied at history and in investment banking and private equity before teaming up with Vaidhy Murti and starting DonorUP in January 2018. DonorUP is a mobile platform that helps individuals of any budget discover, cultivate, and manage their unique philanthropic identity. We connect donors with nonprofit organizations based on the background and interest of the donor and allow that individual to more seamlessly manage all of their philanthropic activity (including Princeton donations!) in one place. We are creating a marketplace / social network for philanthropic activity.
Adam studied economics and started what is now Roomie at Princeton in 2016 (we know it colloquially as Tiger beds!). They rent high-quality mattresses and frames to college students with moving included and rental periods based around the academic calendar. They also sell mattresses by using the rental service network as a customer acquisition tool.
Last but not least, Vaidhy graduated from Princeton in 2015 with a degree in Computer Science. As a sophomore, he founded Friendsy, an app that facilitates connections between college students. Friendsy went on to find success, growing to over 300,000 users and making 3 million matches between students. He raised close to $1 million in venture capital funding.
The talk was an incredible opportunity to hear stories from former students with whom we share so much in common. The subject material of their advice ranged from how to chat with investors to how early stage companies are given valuations (you guessed it, there isn't really an exact science to it). Each of them shared their (sometimes ironic and funny) stories about how the first checks were written, what their biggest risks were, and also, what their biggest rewards have been. This talk for many of the PSIP interns highlighted and underscored what makes this program so great. For students with an interest in entrepreneurship, there is nothing more rewarding than listening to people who have similar stories as your own. The advice was priceless, and PSIP is thankful that AEF came to New York to give us this experience.