24-year-old VC raises $6 million for UC Berkeley startups

Jeremy Fiance wants investors to pay more attention to UC Berkeley.

Across the bay in Silicon Valley, startups dreamed up in Stanford dorm rooms seem to get all the hype — and the cash. Other top schools, such as Harvard and MIT, also have their own funds.

Now, thanks to a 24-year-old Berkeley alum, so do the Cal Bears. In a blog post Monday, Fiance announced the birth of The House Fund, a $6 million fund dedicated to investing in UC Berkeley-rooted startups in their earliest stages. Fiance has invested in six startups so far, including drone camera maker Lily Robotics, sports news platform Instant eSports, smart stethoscope company Eko Devices, and online grading platform Gradescope.

TechCrunch reported the fund Monday morning.

In his blog post, Fiance wrote he was inspired to take action after becoming fed up by the dearth of funding at Berkeley.

“One thing continued to dishearten me — and then it started to piss me off — the enormous number of brilliant students on campus who were discouraged from pursuing their big ideas because of the perceived lack of opportunity or resources,” he wrote.

Fiance wrote he started working on projects to support Berkeley entrepreneurs to make sure no student or alumni could use a lack of resources as an excuse for not pursuing an idea. He arrived at UC Berkeley as an entrepreneur himself, and initially struggled to find a network of other like-minded students. So Fiance helped form the Kairos Society Berkeley for entrepreneurs. He followed that up with the Free Ventures accelerator, which gave small amounts of capital to entrepreneurs with big ideas. But some startups needed more money to get off the ground, Fiance found. So he reached out to Dorm Room Fund (a student-run venture fund backed by First Round Capital), brought the fund to Berkeley, and took part in investing $120,000 in six startups.

Fiance went on to work at CrunchFund after graduation — where he continued to invest in Berkeley startups — before launching The House Fund.

“The House Fund is built by and for Berkeley founders,” Fiance wrote. “We’re doubling down on our belief in Berkeley by contributing a significant portion of our returns and resources back into the ecosystem.”

Image: Jeremy Fiance’s LinkedIn page

 

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