Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Part fund, part accelerator to invest $35M in student start-ups


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: May 22nd, 2019

A new start-up investment firm is raising $35 million to help college students and recent drop outs take their inventions to the marketplace.

Contrary Capital aims to invest between $50,000 and $200,000 in each start-up it adds to its portfolio. In addition to the funding, the firm will offer portfolio companies support through a summer accelerator program.

“We really care about the founders building a great company who don’t have the proverbial rich uncle,” says Eric Tarczynski, head of Contrary Capital and an experienced start-up founder. “We thought, ‘What if there was a fund that could democratize access to both world-class capital and mentorship, and really increase the probability of success for bright university-based founders wherever they are?’”

Backed by major investors including Tesla co-founder Martin Eberhard and Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman, Contrary Capital has more than 100 “venture partners,” or entrepreneurial students at dozens of college campuses that make up the firm’s start-up pipeline. The colleges include UC-Berkeley, MIT and Stanford, but are not comprised solely of big innovation hubs.

“We wanted to have more come from the 40 to 50 schools across the U.S. that have comparable if not better tech curriculums but are underserviced,” says Tarczynski. “The only difference between Stanford and these other universities is just the volume. The caliber is just as high.”

Contrary’s portfolio includes Memora Health, a developer of productivity software for clinics; Arc, a 3D-printing company focused on rocket engines; and Deal Engine, a platform for facilitating corporate travel.

“We are one giant talent scout with all these different nodes across the country,” says Tarczynski. “I’ve spent every waking moment of my life the last eight years living and breathing entrepreneurship…. It’s pretty clear to me who is an exceptional university-based founder and who is just caught up in the hype.”

Source: TechCrunch

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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