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Upstart Offers Dartmouth, Michigan Entrepreneurs Startup Funding

Upstart, a company founded this year by a former Google Inc. executive, is unveiling a crowdfunding service to help college graduates pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

With Upstart, graduates in just about any field can raise capital for a business in exchange for giving up a small share of their income over 10 years, reported on its Tech Deals blog. The idea is to give graduates a real shot at starting a company and not just take a traditional job to pay off student loans.

“I think it can be giant,” said Dave Girouard, the founder of Upstart and former vice president of applications at Google. “It’s a whole new form of risk capital.”

With Upstart, a student creates a profile that includes achievements and goals. The student then chooses the funding amount, and Upstart calculates the percent of income the student will have to share during repayment. There is no repayment in years when income is less than $30,000. Backers can commit funds in increments of $1,000. Mentoring and support are also provided.

The company will make its platform available in September to students and recent graduates of Arizona State University, Dartmouth College, Rhode Island School of Design, University of Michigan and University of Washington.

College graduates just need some help to get on the path to becoming a business owner, Girouard said.

“They want to kind of do their own thing but most of our economy is not geared to help that,” he said.

Upstart’s backers include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, New Enterprise Associates Inc., First Round Capital, CrunchFund and Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks.

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