EVCA Newsletter: University Edition | April 2021
🐶 Hi! I’m Courtney (EVCA Board Member) and I’m an investor at Battery Ventures focused on early and growth-stage consumer internet & software investments. Previously, I was on the BizOps Team at LinkedIn, Strategy & Operations Team at AmazonFresh, and Venture Design Fellow at IDEO. In my free time, I can be found exploring the Bay Area with my rambunctious 90 lb, 9-month old German Shepherd Marlowe!
☕ Hi! I’m Prianka (EVCA Fellow) and I’m a third-year studying Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UC Berkeley. I’m a venture partner with Contrary and take part in other entrepreneurial communities on campus as well. Outside of that, I’m a runner and huge iced coffee drinker.
🍽️ Hi! I’m Caitlyn (EVCA Fellow) and I’m a third-year CS student at Columbia University’s Engineering School. When I’m not doing Zoom classes or leading initiatives for Columbia’s Data Product Initiative, I can be found exploring the newest boba place in K-town and writing reviews for my food blog.
Our vision is for the EVCA university newsletter to be a space where we highlight trends and news in the university entrepreneurship space, compile opportunities and resources, provide insights from members of EVCA, and ultimately build a community.
what’s hot🔥: NFTs
Anyone who’s been on Twitter in the last month has definitely heard about NFTs, or Non-Fungible Tokens. If you’ve spent time trying to understand what they are and how they work, you’re not alone!
What are NFTs? NFTs are unique digital assets represented by data and stored on blockchains (or digital ledgers). This differs from “fungible” tokens like cryptocurrencies, which can be traded or exchanged at equivalency.
What are some examples? Pretty much anything in the digital world can become an NFT - whether it’s more traditional items like artwork, or something we didn’t even anticipate becoming a store of value, like a Tweet (check out this one from Jack Dorsey!).
NFTs have also enabled several new ventures:
Zora is a “media registry protocol,” where creators can make money from their art, manage and enable their work to be built and shared, and more. On the platform, you can find everything from abstract animated pieces to unique music.
Rarible provides a software & interface to empower digital artists and creators to issue and sell custom crypto assets. Notably, the platform functions as both a marketplace for digital crypto assets, as well as a distributed network built on Ethereum (which enables trades without any middleman).
NBA Top Shot is an online marketplace selling video clips of game highlights. On the platform, scarcity makes these collectibles a hot find; only limited numbers of “packs” are sold every week, with some moments (like this LeBron James one) going for over $200K!
We asked investors in the crypto space for their thoughts on 1) the future of NFTs, and 2) the implications on physical asset ownership!👇🏼
Ian Lee (Managing Director, IDEO CoLab Ventures | Co-Founder, Syndicate):
“NFTs will enable all forms of internet media—images, videos, audio, text—to become internet-native digital assets, not controlled, owned, and monetized by centralized platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Google, but controlled, owned, and monetized by users on the internet. This will profoundly disrupt the traditional ways of monetizing internet content through advertising towards a new, ownership-based business model”
“Like how YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok created entirely new user-generated content and markets, so will NFTs. Traditional artwork and collectibles—physical and digital—will always be desirable, but it's the new-to-world NFT-enabled internet media, experiences, and markets that are small today that will be bigger than the traditional world of media, content, art, and collectibles tomorrow.”
Lauren Stephanian (Principal, Pantera Capital):
“... The creator tooling space as a whole has taken off and I view NFT issuance platforms and general NFT infrastructure as part of that. Right now, most buyers are crypto native, but there are many people looking to take NFTs mainstream by either: improving the overall user experience, like MakersPlace and Zora, or by innovating on the overall use case by giving NFTs a home, such as Alex Masmej’s Showtime...”
Kinjal Shah (Senior Associate, Blockchain Capital):
“The biggest unanswered question around NFTs today is - what happens after you have your NFT? I'm excited to see the evolution of NFT experiences, functionality and expansion into different media types. Whether it's showcasing NFTs, playing with them in-game, digital museums, taking them into VR / AR worlds or something we have yet to invent. As blockchains become more scalable, and easier to build on, we will see this aspect really develop.”
If you’re interested in learning more about NFTs, check out the Ethereum foundation’s guide to NFTs, this list of readings and resources from a16z, this Tweet thread from the Morning Brew, or this CB Insights piece about the current state of NFTs.
founder spotlight ✨👀
💡 the best advice for student founders, from student founders
Coming from the University of California, Berkeley, DeWaste is a startup aiming to reduce food waste in kitchens and dining institutions of all sizes. The startup uses two different devices, the DeWaste Kitchen and the DeWaste Excess, which both have computer vision capabilities, to help these institutions manage pre-and post-consumer waste.
We caught up with Paran Sonthalia, the co-founder and CEO, to talk about life as a college founder and his story with DeWaste. Here’s some of his thoughts 👇🏼
Take Advantage of Resources on Campus(!): “Scaling a company while in school definitely takes time. We started this as a hackathon project our first semester of college, and have been working hard on it since... Though being in school gives you access to incredibly valuable resources: world-class professors, talented potential co-founders, accelerators & programs, and lots of opportunities for equity-free funding like pitch competitions.”
Team Work Makes the Dream Work: “Balancing life as a full-time founder and student is tough, but one thing that makes it a lot easier is having a great team. At DeWaste, we were able to hire several interns who came back the next semester to head their respective teams and as we built out the team, we were able to prioritize work more efficiently and have people focus on where their talents lie.”
When Starting Out, Be Open to Alternative Sources of Capital: “One misconception about raising money is that you have to give away equity. We’ve raised exclusively through grants so far, including the YC Startup School grant and the Cal Hacks Fellowship.”
🏫 find out what’s going down in the entrepreneurial ecosystems at other campuses!
For this month’s mention, we’re spotlighting the entrepreneurship scene at Columbia University.
Almaworks Cohort XI Demo Day (April 9th) On April 9th, Almaworks hosted its Cohort XI Demo Day. From startups like Solipay, which seeks to be the next gen ethical consumer to business data marketplace to Olfactory NYC, which seeks to bring customers closer to the scent creation process, there were a multitude of fresh startup ideas as always. Demo Day is always a day to look forward to, and marks the culmination of the accelerator’s 8-week programming. Almaworks’ 70+ alum startups have collectively raised over $30M, and enrolled in programs including YCombinator and TechStars. Interested in connecting with any of the founders of the Almaworks Cohort XI? Connect at alma.works/demoday
Data Product Initiative (DPI) 2021 Spring Expo: April 11th marked the Spring 2021 Expo of the Columbia Data Product Initiative (DPI). DPI is a student tech incubator where students work on data-driven projects in teams of data scientists, frontend/backend developers, business implementation members, and project managers. From peer-to-peer course recommendations using crowd-sourced data to an intelligent hackathon team matching platform to a music transcription platform, there was no end to the variety of data-centric solutions students came up with.
plug yourself! 🤩
👀 are you a student founder or leader in your campus entrepreneurial scene? got a cool startup or entrepreneurship event you recently hosted?
We’re looking to spotlight student entrepreneurship on college campuses in upcoming newsletters. Feel free to plug your startup or student organization for a potential feature in the next EVCA university newsletter, as well as any suggestions for how the newsletter can be most helpful to you by clicking on the button below.
👌 get the latest scoop of curated entrepreneurship opportunities
Z Fellows (Summer 2021) - skip class or work for 1 week to fast-track your project alongside some of the most successful founders in their 20s and get $10,000 to spend however you’d like as early funding
Dorm Room Fund Female Founder Track (Summer 2021) - over the course of 6 evening sessions, learn about scaling MVPs, fundraising, and hiring from some of the most successful founders, investors, and operators and get one-on-one feedback from mentors - apply by May 11th
Fifty Years Fellowship (Summer 2021) - work closely with 50Y’s tight-knit team in San Francisco and touch every aspect of a venture capital firm - rolling basis
Visible Hands Fellowship (Fall 2021) - full-time fellowship opportunity to work alongside a talented and diverse cohort to find your co-founding team and build a startup from scratch - apply by May 7th
VC Platform Community Management Internship (12-month program with options for part-time/full-time) - help shape the future of the VC Platform Global community, a community for venture capital professionals to connect with and learn from each other - apply by April 30th
Engine Summer Platform Internship (Summer 2021) - help deliver high-value founder, network,and strategic programming, supporting portfolio founders in building world-changing companies
8VC Design Fellowship (Summer 2021) - immersive 3-month internship program that places undergraduates into the world’s most innovative startups as a design fellow
Fractal SWE Internship (Summer & Fall 2021) - open roles for full-stack, systems, and web backend engineering to build the world’s fastest web browser
.406 Ventures Fellowship (Fall 2021 - 2023) - represent .406 Ventures on campus & foster connections within venture capital (must have proven success as an entrepreneur and have 2 years left in school)
Acadian Ventures Internship (Summer 2021) - learn, grow, and gain hands-on venture investing experience across many roles, including sourcing & investing, brand & marketing, and firm building & support, in the inaugural Summer 2021 Acadian ventures internship program - apply by April 30th
Insight Partners Investment Analyst Program (Summer 2022) - receive training on how to best speak to entrepreneurs, different business models that are attractive to Insight, how deals are structured, and the lifecycle of a deal
Bessemer Fellowship (Summer 2022) - work in engineering, product, or data science within a venture-backed startup in the Bessemer portfolio (rising juniors only)
The Emerging Venture Capitalists Association (EVCA) was founded in 2017 as the primary community for the pre-partner venture capital investor. Our highly-curated membership of over 750 investors represents a diverse group of institutional, micro VCs, and corporate venture funds from across the United States. The community is organized on Slack, with 40+ channels dedicated toward discussing industry verticals, co-investment opportunities, career planning, community service, and personal interests.