Your Money: Upstart lets you invest in young entrepreneurs

Michael Olorunnisola (right) is an entrepreneur seeking to build an education start-up. Raymond Tran is helping him with the project.
Michael Olorunnisola (right) is an entrepreneur seeking to build an education start-up. Raymond Tran is helping him with the project.
Posted: December 25, 2013

Have you ever wanted to invest in a young person - invest in him or her as you would a stock or a bond? Basically, investing in the person's future value?

Now you can, via a website called Upstart.

Dave Girouard, Upstart's cofounder and CEO, was formerly president of Google Enterprise, and dreamed up the idea of backing young people financially.

Rather than invest in a company, Upstart backers invest in young people, like University of Pennsylvania 2012 graduate Michael Olorunnisola.

Olorunnisola and other students raise capital they need from individual backers to retire their student debt and get their start-up companies off the ground. In exchange, the new graduates share a small percentage of their personal income over five to 10 years with their backers.

Olorunnisola, for his part, is an entrepreneur seeking to build an education start-up that "aggregates the free resources of online education to streamline access for students and professors alike," he explained. "I plan on testing the product over the course of summer 2014, and launch in September 2014, for the next school year. I'm still working on the development, and plan to undergo testing in the spring and summer."

Student debt can be a career-limiting obstacle - especially for would-be entrepreneurs. For many, debt and day-to-day living expenses hold them back from pursuing their dreams.

Upstart investments works like this: Potential backers browse young people by school, area of study, or career interest, and read about their unique goals and backgrounds. To be funded, each Upstart must raise a minimum of $10,000.

Olorunnisola tapped Upstart to raise $10,500 to fund his education start-up, with long-term hopes of bringing those resources back to Nigeria, his homeland. He worked with student computer developers at Penn, and they fleshed out the initial stage of his website.

Other students and graduates of local colleges are involved with Upstart. Information about them can be found at: www.upstart.com.

If you want to invest for a real return, know where and how your money is being spent, and would feel good doing so, check out Upstart.


erinarvedlund@yahoo.com

646-797-0759

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