In the fall of 2016, Eric Tarczynski, a 25-year-old Northeastern University graduate, started a road trip to visit 55 of the country’s top research universities with the goal of building a network and recruiting students for a unique venture capital firm. By the end of his road trip, Tarczynski had created a network of 100 students from 55 schools, consisting of the most connected students on each campus for entrepreneurship.
This network of student investors across the country then formed the backbone of Contrary Capital, a company that was publicly launched last week. Contrary Capital is a decentralized, university-focused venture capital fund backed by the founders of Tesla, SoFi, MuleSoft and Twitch.
Contrary Capital’s vision revolves around identifying potential campus entrepreneurs and providing them with the right resources they need to thrive. This includes between $50,000 and $200,000 of funding, access to Contrary Capital’s nationwide network of student investors and connections with the top tech entrepreneurs and venture capital firms in the world.
Indra Sofian and Wesley Samples, both well-known campus entrepreneurs, are Tech’s student investors.
“The Contrary partners at Georgia Tech are responsible for doing two main things: sourcing and being a part of entrepreneurial communities,” Samples said. “For sourcing, we meet with three to four student founders each month to share information about Contrary with them while learning about their companies. It is our responsibility to be a key member of startup communities so that we can source these deals.”
Will Robbins, Contrary’s chief of staff, spoke about how a gap had developed between smaller university grant type funding and big league venture capital funding and how Contrary Capital’s model aims to mitigate that divide and bring true venture capital seed funding to campus entrepreneurs.
“Over the past five years, there’s been an explosion of entrepreneurship at universities across the U.S.,” Robbins said. “Yet, we believe nobody is doing anything about it. Some of the most successful companies in the world like Google, Facebook, Dropbox, Snapchat and Paypal were founded by college students at universities. At Contrary, we’re building the first venture capital fund focused solely on backing the brightest individuals and most bleeding-edge technologies coming out of universities.”
Sofian and Samples believe that Contrary’s powerful tools can support the great student entrepreneurs on campus and help build the student entrepreneur community at Tech.
“There’s a growing student entrepreneur community here at Georgia Tech that’s been in development for the last several years,” Sofian said. “A lot of students who start companies here are often first-time founders — they’ve never started a business before. For the best entrepreneurs on campus, we’ll fund their companies between $50,000 and $200,000 and help them raise their next round of funding.”