Dorm Fund provides capital for student startups

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Jennifer Walter, Science & Technology Reporter

In an effort to make Marquette more entrepreneurial, the Dorm Fund was implemented to give students a head start with getting their businesses off the ground.

The fund is a collaborative effort between the Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship, the College of Business Administration and the Office of Research and Innovation.

A student associate team was created last spring to hear pitches and choose which startups to fund. The panel is made up of six volunteers from a variety of fields. It plans to give out grants from $1,000 to $5,000.

“We’re so excited at the growth in entrepreneurship and hope to encourage it across majors here at Marquette,” said Cait Freschi, junior in the College of Business Administration and panel member, in an email.

“It allows students to have the financial freedom and stability without any strings attached,” said Megan Carver, the Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship Associate Director.

The fund focuses on helping early ventures. Some of the ideas are starting to come together as business models while others may be well-developed and in need of a jumpstart.

“We want to hear as many (pitches) as possible,” Tyler Sucharzewski, a junior in the College of Business Administration and panel member, said. “We’re not just here to hear the pitches. We’re also here to help out.”

Though the fund is a way to receive money for a venture, it can also connect students to Marquette’s Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship for help with developing their startup ideas.

“We try to work with the students to get them to the point where they’re ready for ‘the ask’ when they pitch,” Freschi said.

If their idea doesn’t succeed, student’s don’t have to pay the fund back.

“Most ventures fail – it’s just a fact,” Sucharzewski said. “But we want to encourage them to keep going and to not be afraid of the failure.”

Successful ventures can move on to look for larger funding, such as the Marquette Enterprise Seed or the Strategic Innovation Fund, depending on what the startup is focused on.

“Being a student is actually a really great thing because of all the grants that they can get,” Carver said.

Students from all majors can submit a business model to apply for funding. Applications are being accepted on a rolling deadline starting Nov. 16.