Contrary Capital, a decentralized, university focused venture capital fund, recently opened its nationwide network of investors and founders to the Washington University start-up scene and plans to launch Monday, Sept. 18.
Backed by the co-founders of multiple multi-billion dollar companies, including Tesla, Twitch and SoFi, Contrary Capital is focusing on investing in university entrepreneurs at institutions across the U.S. and chose Washington University among them.
The fund started around a year and a half ago when Eric Tarczynski, founder of Contrary Capital, noticed there were not many options for students who wanted to start companies while still completing undergraduate studies. He attempted to change this by taking a road trip to multiple universities to find students interested in startups and educating them on how to evaluate a start-up.
“[I] noticed there was a gap in the fund ecosystem for students who wanted to begin start-ups,” Tarczynski said. “For people who wanted to start a company at school, there weren’t many options.”
Eventually, Tarczynski began to hire college students and trained them to act as investors right on their campus.
Now an organization of 100 investors across 55 universities in the nation, Contrary Capital has provided support to college students across the nation by connecting them to a wider venture capital network.
Will Robbins, a junior studying computer science at University of Illinois, explains the organization as a type of symbiotic relationship between students at various schools.
“For example, if some founder at Wash. U. starts a health care tech company, he may know a lot about medicine and how the healthcare industry is structured, whereas someone connected to a University of Illinois investor may have a lot of experience in technology,” Robbins said. “You can connect those two people together and use Contrary in network to recruit people to work for those startups.”
Some students believe that Contrary Capital will function as a great resource to those who need additional support for their business. In addition to fostering a network for entrepreneurs, the capital fund will provide anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000 to help a student begin their start-up.
Two Washington University students, junior Noah Adelstein and sophomore Colin Parsons, were recently chosen to represent the University community with Contrary Capital due to their experiences previously working with start-ups.
Adelstein discussed the uniqueness of this opportunity, expressing his enthusiasm over being able to participate in venture capital work while still being in school.
“Being part of Contrary has provided me with a unique opportunity to do venture capital work as an undergraduate where I can actually help source investments and learn about the process,” Adelstein said. “The network of student investors within Contrary is another unique feature. There are awesome students from colleges all over the country that are part of Contrary, and I actually got to meet a handful of them this summer in San Francisco.”
Adelstein is not alone; Robbins discussed that the desire to run a startup is increasing amongst undergraduate students and has become an alternate postgraduate career option for many following college.
“Starting a company is almost like the third option, besides getting a job or going to grad school,” Robbins said.