I moved around a lot as a kid and lived in 3 continents before the age of 5. My first language is Chinese, and I learned English when I was 4. Instead of enrolling me in a bilingual school or an ESL program, my parents threw me into an english-only school. I didn’t say a word at school for an entire 6 months, but then one day 6 months later I started speaking fluent English and chatting so much that my teacher had to put me in time out.
Because of that I’ve always believed that diving in and immersing yourself is the best way to learn something. And that’s the way I’ve approached my career. I work in Venture Capital now, but I’ve never taken a finance class in my entire life. Before First Round, I built education products at General Assembly, but I had no previous PM experience. I don’t believe you need to complete prerequisites in order to be good at something, and that’s a big part of the reason why I love the work I do at Dorm Room Fund.
I’d argue that Dorm Room Fund is the best place in the entire world for a student to learn how to be an investor. That’s because we don’t teach students how to invest from a textbook or through mock case studies. Everything student partners work on is 100% real. They have real money to invest, fund real startups, and interface with real founders everyday. We don’t require previous investing experience in order to join the team. In fact, we look for students with varied backgrounds and skillsets, because we believe diversity of viewpoint enables better decision making.
You may wonder, how successful can students be at investing especially if they have no prior experience? Well, Dorm Room Fund’s been around for three years, and you can already see the impact this community has made in the startup and venture world. Dorm Room Fund alumni have joined top-flight VC firms and some have even started their own funds. Many others have started their own companies, or now lead teams at notable startups. Dorm Room Fund portfolio companies have made headlines and broken records. Lily is the largest pre-sale hardware product of all time and FiscalNote is has become the most effective solution for government affairs.
If I can play just a tiny role in giving students the opportunity to do this type of groundbreaking work, then I’ve succeeded.
Universities tend to be so traditional when it comes to students’ careers and futures. If you go to a top school, everyone seems to be shooting for the same consulting and finance gigs after graduation. But there’s an alternative, to be creative — and create your own dream gig. Dorm Room Fund is all about making students aware of all their options and giving students the chance and the tools to forge a more entrepreneurial path.
As I’ve gotten to know the students across the four geographic regions where we’re based— Boston, New York, Philly, and the Bay Area — I’ve realized there is an immense opportunity to build a national community that can not only help each other while they’re students but who can support each other for the entirety of their careers. Already, we’ve started getting everyone together more often — for summits and for alumni reunions, and are creating new ways to share knowledge to help more students learn from each other.
Next stop? Bringing what we’ve learned to even more campuses, and building the strongest, most diverse, and connected generation of entrepreneurs and investors yet.