Two Boston University students were appointed Monday to the Dorm Room Fund Boston, a student-run venture company which provides support for young entrepreneurs and developers, to help student leaders at BU and other Boston area schools commercialize their startups and applications.
“We’re students that invest in other students,” said College of Engineering junior Kanav Dhir, one of the two BU students recently appointed to the Dorm Room Fund. “We’re not the typical VC [venture company] — we don’t treat ourselves that way. We’re very peer-to-peer connection.”
The Dorm Room Fund, comprised of Dhir, ENG junior Alexandrea Mellen and eight other college students, provides student entrepreneurs with funding through venture firm First Round Capital.
“My job is to look and find people at BU and at other schools as well who have a passion, who have a drive, who really want to pursue some type of realistic startup and help them with that,” Mellen said. “I see a lot of students around campus who have ideas, but they don’t really know how to pursue them any further.”
At the Dorm Room Fund, Mellen said she and her peers will offer students advice and guidance on their projects to bring their apps and ideas to market.
“A lot of times in engineering classes, I talk to people and they’re like, ‘I just want to work at someone else’s company when I get out of school,’” Mellen said. “Which there’s nothing wrong with, but at the same time it’s really exciting to see the few who want to really take ownership of a business and actually run it themselves and have that drive.”
School of Management senior Esteban Da Cruz, president of BU’s Entrepreneurship Club, said he anticipated collaborating with the Dorm Room Fund next year to build the entrepreneurship community at BU and offer advice and funding to student-run startups. Cruz also said Dhir and Mellen were well qualified to work at the Dorm Room Fund.
“The most important thing is how motivated they are,” he said. “Both of them are some of the people I’ve encountered who really know the most how to get things done. They set something in their minds, and they do it.”
Dhir and Mellen have experience working together through BU’s Entrepreneurship Club, and both founded programs promoting collaboration between entrepreneurs and app developers at BU.
Earlier this year, Dhir hosted the first BU Startup Fair, which drew more than 350 students and 25 startups to the Photonics Center to workshop their ideas. Mellen created MakeBU, a weekly Hackathon meeting in which app developers across campus come together to discuss their projects.
“We have both sides of it,” Mellen said. “I’ve got the kids who are just making apps and not sure if they want to do business, and then Dhir’s looking really at the people who have startups and want people to come in and work for them. We have a good balance there.”
Mellen has developed three mobile applications currently available on the Apple App Store, and Dhir has been working with ByteLight, a startup initially launched by BU students, since his freshman year.
Dhir said though he and Mellen would be mentoring and investing in startups throughout Boston, the duo will be able to focus specifically on strengthening the entrepreneurship community at BU through the Dorm Room Fund.
“Both of us having the same circles and more technical aspects helps us try to bounce ideas off each other about which companies are coming out of BU or which students are working on cool projects that we can approach,” he said. “There’s a sense of building and pushing entrepreneurship in this initiative, and Alexandrea and I being there really helps our potential to find interesting companies.”