Upstart is a company that makes it possible for users to raise money for entrepreneurial projects. The people that raise the money pay lenders back with a percentage of their income for 10 years. The company has raised $5.9 million in Series A funding led by First Round Capital. Other investors in this round include Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures, Collaborative Fund, Eric Schmidt (Google executive chairman), Marc Benioff (Salesforce.com CEO), and Scott Banister (IronPort co-founder). Kiva co-founder Jessica Jackley and former Nebraska governor Bob Kerrey have also joined Upstart as advisors.
Some of the potential projects featured on the homepage of Upstart include a Michigan graduate that wants to build a home and office energy usage monitoring system. Another student that graduated from Pratt University is working on a novel. Upstart provides funding and mentorship for the people that they back. So far 83 “upstart” and 135 backer profiles have been published on the website with 555 unique funding offers – totaling about $1.03 million.
Dave Girouard, the founder of Upstart, said that he was pleased that the people that are being backed are fairly diverse and is not heavily tech-centric. The next challenge is to find ways for backers to interact with the people that they have funded and provide mentorship when it is appropriate. Some of the backers are already starting to receive money back. He said that there has been “100 percent compliance on repayment thus far.”