Peter Boyce Rough Draft Ventures Peter Boyce
Startups founded by college students that turned into billion dollar companies is the tech industry’s dream. Think Dell, Google, Facebook …
Venture capitalists would like to prowl college campuses to find the projects that could be the next hit.
Unfortunately, given how many aspiring entrepreneurs there are at so many colleges, that’s pretty hard for them to do.
Enter Peter Boyce, a 25-year-old founder of a new kind of VC, Rough Draft Ventures.
Boyce started Rough Draft his senior year at Harvard (he graduated in 2013). It’s backed by one of the Boston area’s powerhouse VCs, General Catalyst Partners, and he’s officially part of the General Catalyst team, too, Boyce tells Business Insider.
College kids can pitch their startup ideas to the Rough Draft team composed of fellow students, who volunteer to vet the pitches and award funding.
They dish out small sums, up to $25,000, to help cover costs a poor student or their families can’t.
“Not everyone has a rich uncle,” Boyce jokes.
For instance, students might use it to buy a new computer, to hire a contract designer, to cover business travel expenses.
The idea is to help college kids “go from idea to products to seed and series A that are real ventures.”
“We do uncapped convertible notes, up to $25,000. This is most lightweight way to do it,” Boyce says, referring to a type of investment that doesn’t stipulate ownership of a percentage of the company at a particular valuation. Those terms get worked out at a later round of funding.
What it isn’t? A financing round that will get a young founder all stressed out.
“It’s not a crazy priced round and it’s not a commitment to drop out of school,” he says, referring to the pressure student founders often feel to work full time on the company once a VC funds them.
Often students use it to help them get their idea far enough along to get into an accelerator like Y Combinator, Boyce says.
Rough Draft originally focused just on colleges in Boston, but Boyce has recently expanded to New York and now spends his time flying between the two cities, hearing pitches.
So far, Rough Draft has “backed over 50 teams, who have gone on to over $130 million of follow-on capital,” Boyce says.
Some of the most successful ones include Beepi, an online marketplace for used cars. It’s raised almost $79 million.
Then there’s WorkFlow, the super popular iOS app. And Grove, hardware for growing veggies in your home designed by MIT students that raised over $300,000 on Kickstarter in a couple of days.
Boyce says he can’t think of a more rewarding career than helping young entrepreneurs with their dreams.
“This is what I was put here to do, meeting smart people and finding ways to help them,” he tells us.
“My mom is a horseback riding instructor. She never rode professionally herself, but she coaches some of the best in the world,” Boyce says. “That’s what I can do with founders, coach them.”