Support is not hard to find for those with simple ambition and an idea that’s profitable — call it Post-Missing-the-Boat-on-Backing-Mark-Zuckerberg Syndrome.
But for those whose enterprise would be less comparable with Facebook and more akin to the American Red Cross, finding endorsement at the ready may be less certain. That’s a niche the Associated Students of UC Davis Entrepreneurship Fund is filling.
The Entrepreneurship Fund was formed in 2012 as an effort to encourage local students to pursue innovation. The program devotes resources to business ventures, with the crux of their involvement being that it must fulfill a social good.
“Our slogan is ‘The Triple Bottom Line,’ so that’s revenue, profit and the impact it has on society,” said Andrew Kasbari, treasurer of student-run organization. “That being included in the program is important to us.
“It stimulates a little bit of an entrepreneurial culture at (UCD), and at the same time, it bridges that social aspect. There’s nothing really on campus that does that.”
The logistics are transparent, beginning with finances allocated through ASUCD, which shares $6,000 of its $10.7 million operating budget annually with the Entrepreneurship Fund.
The money is then disbursed to eligible applicants — chosen by the Entrepreneurship Fund’s committee — during its grant cycle. Being selected means receiving up to $1,500 and access to a 10-week program of mentoring and business advising.
One of the past recipients was Alex Ogloza, whose plan involved developing a T-shirt company. The business exemplified the goal of the fund by partnering with charities to design shirts that would raise awareness of certain issues, such as deforestation.
The most recent group of approved grantees is student Alex Lane, who is supporting a small family farm by using its products to make and market beef jerky.
Setting up an LLC, accounting and pitching to investors are some of the topics planned for discussion in The Startup Club. Interested students should contact Kasbari.
And as the program’s members search for the next batch of forward-thinking individuals, they’re seeking a more stable funding source for their grants.
“Considering the state of California’s education budget, and our dependence on that,” Kasbari said, “that’s one of the things we’re really trying to find.”
Having more funds would allow larger grants, and more of them.
To that end, the Entrepreneurship Fund is reaching out to the community and has begun an online donation website at gofundme.com/Efund.
“Whether it’s a lump sum or a consistent donation, anything helps,” Kasbari said. “We’ll need all we can get to continue expanding and promoting the entrepreneurship culture on campus.”
— Reach Brett Johnson at [email protected] or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett