Upstart funds promising student startups — and not just in tech

From GigaOM:

Former Google exec David Girouard’s Upstart wants to match promising, not-necessarily-techie college entrepreneurs with backers and mentors. The goal is to fuel the creation of a new generation of startups that would otherwise never see the light of day.

A college grad with a computer science degree from a brand-name school typically has little trouble snagging a good job and perhaps even launching a startup — even in this tough economy. But there’s an untapped reservoir of creative talent in college– people that could build next-generation startups — that is getting lost in the shuffle.

That’s a resource that Upstart hopes to nurture by finding private funding and experienced mentors for young talent, says Upstart founder David Girouard, an ex-Google exec.

The goal is to enable people close to graduating who have good ideas for a startup to actually pursue them instead of taking a job that’s less inspiring but necessary to pay back the school loan debt loads that many students shoulder. (The average school loan debt for a graduating senior is just over $23,000 last year.)

“At Google we hired hundreds of great young people who couldn’t put together $30,000 to buy a car if their life depended on it without going into credit card debt,” Girouard told me in a recent interview. This funding can be used to pay for office space, staffing, the cost of living — whatever they need.

On Wednesday, Upstart will formally announce the program and introduce seven students funded under its pilot program along with 13 backers including Andy Palmer, a serial database entrepreneur and Frank Moss, professor at the MIT Media Lab, managing partner of Strategic Software Ventures, LLC, and a former exec at IBM and other tech companies.

Read more at GigaOM

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