Venture Capitalists' Road Trip Seeks Student Entrepreneurs-Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship - Carnegie Mellon University

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Venture Capitalists' Road Trip Seeks Student Entrepreneurs

A University of Michigan junior, Eric Hackenberger has a few ideas for businesses and apps he’d like to create. For about 15 minutes he — and more than two dozen other students during their individual appointments — sat down with a venture capitalist to talk about them.

A few students even showed off products they hope will become the next WhatsApp.

To seek out projects and entrepreneurs to invest in and talent to hire, principals at Drive Capital took a three-day road trip in a 42-foot RV to three schools: Ohio State University, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan. It held a casual, low-key event Wednesday in Ann Arbor at the university’s Creators Co-op, which just opened last year.

The tour is over, but the $250-million fund based in Columbus, Ohio, aims to keep an eye on the students and projects.

In many ways, the U-M stop illustrates how technology and entrepreneurial efforts are transforming the way college students are thinking about work after graduation. It also gives some insights into efforts to develop a stronger tech industry in the state, and how the university has tried to become more entrepreneurial and be a catalyst for economic development.

“We believe the Midwest is the best place to build a company today,” Robert Hatta, the talent partner with Drive Capital, said. “We want to discover the dorm-room start-ups. A lot of high-tech companies were started in dorm rooms.”

In addition, he said, the new fund also is looking for candidates to hire as interns and employees in tech companies that it has invested in so far: FarmLogs, Roadtrippers, CrossChx and Channel IQ.

They held one-on-one meetings, gave out swag — Drive Capital T-shirts and pajama bottoms — and packages of instant ramen noodles...Read more»

By: Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press