Redwood City's UpStart: Don't Let Your Startup Dreams Die

Upstart, founded by former Google exec Dave Girouard, helps build startups.

For Dave Girouard, there is nothing sadder than a talented underclassman giving up on his or her dreams of founding a startup, in favor of taking a "safe" job with a guaranteed paycheck that will help pay off loan debt.

That's why he founded Upstart in Redwood City - in order to seek out those college dreamers with awesome startup ideas, and help them get their companies off the ground.

Girouard recently told the San Francisco Chronicle the idea came from a chapter in his own life - he had to take on massive debt in order to get his undergrad and graduate degrees from Dartmouth. So, when he was finally finished with school, he felt obligated to take the highest-paying job he could get, in order to pay off his loans.

But, once the loans were paid off, he quit in favor of a job he loved.

Since then, Girouard has worked for the likes of Apple and Google - where, he says, every day, he saw talented, would-be startup founders giving up on their dream companies in order to take a job that paid the bills.

Girouard said, it's not just a matter of good ideas going to waste, it's also a sad thing for the economy, which can really use the boost in job creation that a new small business can bring.

He added, most people don't realize a promising startup can get off the ground with as little as $30,000 - enough to rent a small office space, buy some computers and other equipment, and hire some help. Therefore, Upstart seeks to find those missed opportunities and find them the seed money they need.

Upstart, located in Redwood City, now has eight employees and works to match promising upperclassmen from schools like Stanford, UC-Berkeley, Harvard, Yale, NYU, the Rhode Island School of Design, Dartmouth and the University of Michigan, and other "pilot schools."

Essentially, Upstart matches a promising entrepreneur with an investor or venture capitalist who will provide a certain amount of startup capital, up to $50,000, in return for a guaranteed percentage of the grad's income - regardless of where it comes from - over the next 10 years.

Upstart makes its dough by taking 3 percent of the investor's initial investment, as well as a one-time, 1.5-percent "service fee" if the effort is a success and the investor recoups his or her investment.

Learn more about Upstart at www.upstart.com.


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