Partners Reflect on Experiment Fund's First Year

Eliza S Hale

Hugo Van Vuuren ‘07, introduces the Experiment Fund, a seed-stage investment fund started in 2012 by Harvard alumni, on Wednesday afternoon. Entrepreneurs who recieved money from the Eperiment Fund spoke about their progress.

The Experiment Fund, the Harvard-affiliated seed-stage investment fund launched January of 2012, held its inaugural Experimenter Assembly in Kirkland Junior Common Room on Wednesday afternoon. During the public event, partners of the fund reflected on the organization’s first year of operations and celebrated its considerable progress thus far.

The fund has invested in start-ups such as Tivli, an online TV streaming company founded by Harvard College alumni, and Zumper, an online apartment rental platform founded by Harvard Business School alumni.

In an interview before the event, W. Hugo Van Vuuren ’07, a former Crimson editorial and business editor and current partner of the fund, said that the Fund seeks to establish lasting infrastructure to nurture innovation at Harvard and the surrounding community. The leaders of the fund, he said, are “passionate about catalyzing student ideas.”

Van Vuuren and fellow partner Patrick S. Chung ’96, a former Crimson editorial chair, emphasized that the fund seeks to integrate itself into the Harvard community, drawing on the talents of students, faculty, and venture capitalists across generations.

During the Assembly, Chung presented computer science lecturer David J. Malan ’99 with the first annual Experimenter Award, recognizing his innovative work in education. Malan, teaches the popular introductory class Computer Science 50: “Introduction to Computer Science I” as well as CS50x, a massive open online course modeled after CS50 that was launched last fall.


In an interview with The Crimson after the event, Malan emphasized the importance of online education in supplementing traditional pedagogical methods.

“I think the trend towards online courses is just an opportunity to factor out of a traditional classroom material that was probably never best suited for a lecture format, particularly complex material,” he said.

Peter A. Boyce ’13, who attended the event, said he was impressed by the fund.

“I think it represents students, venture capitalists, and professors all coming together to support technology and entrepreneurship,” he said. “I think it’s been phenomenal to see all the work that the Experiment Fund has done in just a year’s time.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: April 26, 2013

An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the Experiment Fund partner who presented the first annual Experimenter Award to computer science lecturer David J. Malan ’99. In fact, Patrick S. Chung ‘96, not W. Hugo Van Vuuren ’07, presented the award. In addition, an earlier version of the photo accompanying this story misidentified its subject. In fact, W. Hugo Van Vuuren ’07, not James W. Breyer, is pictured introducing the Experiment Fund.