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Xfund, a Harvard-affiliated venture capital firm, recently unveiled three recipients of $100,000 grants, aimed to help founders develop their companies and choose non-traditional career paths.
The winners of Xfund’s inaugural “Xperiment Stake” competition are startup teams from Harvard College and Business School. They include Ream, a subscription platform for authors; YouShift, a platform for hospital shift scheduling; and a not-yet-named early-stage supply chain startup.
YouShift, founded by Mar Grech ’25, Jota J. Chamorro ’25, Adolfo Roquero ’22-’23, and visiting student Lucia Vives, is a startup that streamlines medical providers’ on-call scheduling through an online platform.
“We basically designed this platform that is able to create a schedule that works for the hospital. So that means all the hospital needs and also the doctor’s preferences, like personal preferences, so that doctors can also choose when they work,” Grech said.
Ream, founded by Michael P. Evans ’24-’25, is a subscription platform for fiction authors to unleash their creative talents and provide an online dialogue for authors and readers to engage with each other.
With Ream, readers pay a monthly subscription from as little as $3 to hundreds of dollars to support authors, according to Evans.
“A lot of authors will post bonus content in the platform that isn’t available anywhere else. They’ll post their books here before they’re available elsewhere. So the idea is just to create an amazing experience for your super fans, and they support authors monthly on the platform,” Evans said. “People love it. And authors have done really well.”
Madhav Datt, whose project is the final recipient of the Xperiment Stake, is currently an MBA student at the Business School and a master’s student in Engineering Sciences. His pitch focused on supply chain risk management.
“I think one of the things that the Xperiment Stake does incredibly well is that they make this a very real opportunity,” Datt said.
Xfund co-founder and Managing General Partner Patrick S. Chung ’96 said the venture capital firm is committed to being a “for-profit commercial venture firm” with a “double bottom line mission to be educative as well.”
In 2020, Xfund announced that it had raised a $120 million fund. The firm has deep ties to Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences as well as on-campus student organizations, such as Harvard Student Agencies.
Chung, a former Crimson Editorial chair, said he believes the Xperiment Stake can serve as a “counterweight” to corporate job recruiting, making it more possible for students to “swim against the tide” by receiving guaranteed financial support to start a company.
“Teams of founders can apply to us, and if we love what they’re doing, we will give them an actual term sheet — a signed term sheet — that is just as concrete as their signed offer letter from their summer job,” Chung said.
“The genesis behind the Xperiment Stake is to give people an actual real choice and hopefully to encourage them to do the thing that they were really meant to do, the thing that they wanted to do,” he added.
With a concrete term sheet and offer, Datt said the stake provided him with the “faith to take the leap” and reinforced the “conviction” he had in the potential impacts of his product.
Xfund aimed to recognize the persistence and initiative of the founders in the selection process for the Xperiment Stake, Chung said.
“It wasn’t just they were talking. They were doing. It wasn’t just an idea. It was actually a thing that existed today and what they want is help to make this thing real enough that it will counterbalance their choice when they graduate,” he said.
Chung said Xfund aims to tap into the entrepreneurial potential of students who would otherwise pursue more traditional post-college careers.
“For every Microsoft that was produced here, for every Facebook that came off this campus, I think there have been dozens of founders who were just as good, probably even better than Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, etc. But they just felt like they couldn’t afford to start their companies,” Chung said.
—Staff writer Tiffani A. Mezitis can be reached at email@example.com.
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