The start of Nathan Sharp’s story sounds familiar: In 2012, he found himself graduating from Dartmouth College with an MBA and $100,000 in student debt. But rather than take whatever job would help him make his monthly payments, the entrepreneurial-minded Sharp took $50,000 from backers using a start-up called Upstart — and agreed that in return he would give his investors a portion of his future income.
Think of Upstart as Kickstarter (the online funding platform) meets the government’s Income Based Repayment program, which caps loan payments at 15% of discretionary income. Founded by Google‘s former head of enterprise, Dave Girouard, Upstart is the latest initiative aimed at getting young people to strike out on their own before the responsibilities that come with a family and a mortgage set in. “They’re at a good time in their lives to take risks,” Girouard said. “But a lot of times, even when students have something interesting they’d like to do, they say ‘I’m going to accept this job…’ and its usually for very pragmatic reasons.”