New Partnership To Invest in Student Tech Projects

Peter A. Boyce ’13 and Zachary M. Hamed ’14 officially launched a partnership to invest in student tech entrepreneurs Thursday. The organization, named Rough Draft Ventures, will invest $5,000 to $25,000 in student tech projects in Boston, according to its website.

“My goal at the end of the day is to help students launch cool stuff,” said Boyce, who said he conceived the idea at the beginning of this year. “What I wanted to see was something that was flexible and fast, and would provide student startups with accessible funding, mentors, and feedback.”

Boyce said that the group, which he and Hamed co-founded with students from five other Boston colleges, has lined up ten mentors in the Boston area already, including Matt Lauzon, founder of a Boston-based jewelry startup Gemvara. Many of the mentors will attend Harvard’s Hack Week to provide guidance to participants, Boyce said.

General Catalyst, a venture capital firm that specializes in early stage investments, has committed to backing Rough Draft Ventures financially.

“General Catalyst has been super invaluable in giving us an uncapped note for setting this up,” Boyce said.

The new organization is not the first group devoted to funding student entrepreneurship at Harvard. This past January, a group of Harvard affiliates launched the Experiment Fund, a venture capital fund that targets student startups.

Boyce sought to distinguish Rough Draft Ventures from the Experiment Fund, citing the difference in investment size. The Experiment Fund invests six figure sums in a few projects every year, while Rough Draft Ventures aims to be broader in scope, Boyce said.

“The difference between us and the Experiment Fund is that they lack the student perspective,” Boyce said. “They are doing larger investments. I’m much more excited about helping students that have no idea what’s going on and just want to get their ideas off the ground.”

The financing provided by Rough Draft Ventures will come in the form of loans with no cap on potential funding levels. The group will not provide funds beyond the initial investment, but will help students locate new investment sources.

“At the end of the day, there should be a very quick process to let students know whether what they are working on is worth investing in,” said Boyce. “Students have got to know there is a funding source out there for them. Have amazing students start amazing things. Period.”

—Staff writer C.C. Gong can be reached at xigong@college.harvard.edu.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: Dec. 17

An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported based on a statement by Rough Draft Ventures co-founder Peter A. Boyce ’13 that Dustin A. Moskovitz, co-founder of Facebook, is a mentor for Boyce’s new investment partnership. Moskovitz is not in fact affiliated with the organization.

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