Starting a VC fund at USC

Between finishing my dream internship and spending a semester in Milan, I can only think about one thing… the budding venture capital fund at USC.

This is a project I started about five months ago. A socially conscious, early-stage investment fund run by USC undergraduates. To be honest, it has been a daunting but incredible undertaking thus far, and we’ve made a lot of progress:

  • We formed a team of 12 students, with 11 graduating May 2013 or later (so we can see this project through)
  • We assembled a group of advisors, both inside and outside of USC
  • We are putting together a packet describing exactly what we are trying to do, including:
    • our definition of “socially conscious”
    • our investment profile (for-profit, early-stage companies near USC)
    • potential legal structure
    • timeline with key milestones and launch in Fall 2012
    • our strategy for maintaining organizational longevity
    • brief student bios
    • remaining questions and “asks” for administrators/donors/etc
  • We are conducting a mock due diligence process to demonstrate our ability to find companies that fit our investment profile

On a more personal note, though, it has been a thrilling experience. There is a long, long road ahead – we’ve barely scratched the surface of the work to be done, though I expect leaps and bounds of progress when the academic year starts again – but it’s been a while since I’ve been this excited about something.

Why? Because this is my ticket to living my dream right now.

Let’s be real. Where can a 20-year-old make early-stage investment decisions? Nowhere – the people making those decisions are seasoned entrepreneurs and industry experts, or at least people with a lot of money. But through USC and the Trojan Family, I can have a taste. And that prospect is tantalizing.

This is what I have always wanted to do. Early-stage investing is the business of empowering ideas. As an eternal optimist (which makes investing difficult), I love being surrounded by people who are trying to change the world. To me, socially conscious just means aspirational. People aspiring to make things better. I might not be the visionary, but I know finance and investing – and I want to use my talents to change the world too.

With all that in mind, I guess it should come as no surprise that a few months in Milan seem unimportant in comparison.

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