Back to school! A time of new classes, new notebooks, new friendships and… new funds?! Here at Dorm Room Fund, we’re *just a teeny bit* excited to spill a very big secret we’ve been quietly working on for some time now: our first independent fund—and just in time to kick off our student investment partner search.
After nine years under the First Round Capital roof, DRF has gone independent, and is proud to announce Dorm Room Fund IV: an oversubscribed $12.5 million fund backed by some of the best names in the industry—Midas List winners, venture funds, founders, institutional capital, and even a university endowment. With more capital, more supporters at the table, and a wider network of investors, founders, and advisors, DRF is leveling up our game for our founders, our student partners, our alumni, and everyone who calls themselves #DRF4Life.
Why a bigger fund? Let’s remember 2012, when we started DRF. Carly Rae was dominating the charts with “Call Me Maybe.” The 50 Shades series was flying off the shelves. People were dancing “Gangnam Style,” for crying out loud.
And student investing was not a thing. In fact, our original signature $20k check was a radical concept.
Thankfully, a lot has changed since then. There’s more capital and VC know-how on campus than ever before. Scout funds and pitch competitions abound. Founders have options. In many ways, Dorm Room Fund launched a movement. So we’re stepping up our game to stay on top: we’re doubling our check size, bringing new VC rockstars into the fold, and applying a decade’s worth of experience to help today’s student investors and founders master the venture landscape—even if it’s their first time building and fundraising.
The best part? We’ve got a few open spots on the squad. We’re looking for a few students to join our elite student investing teams. Staying true to our roots, DRF’s student partners are the decision-makers and magic behind DRF—a killer mix of VC nerds, future founders, startup obsessives, creatives, designers, and everyone in between. And we’ve protected DRF’s special sauce in our new fund: unlike so many “scout” programs, we actually let our student investors make investment decisions, and we get the best founders and the best investing talent as a result. DRF alumni have gone on to be successful founders (we see you, Dandy, Alloy Automation, and Science.io), tech operators at top startups and FAANG giants, and investors at funds like Sequoia, a16z, First Round, Accel, Bessemer, Paradigm, Variant, and more. Want to hang with us? Learn more and apply here.
So who’s behind this new fund?
DRF’s new limited partners (LPs) include: Ann Miura Ko & the Floodgate gang, Chris Dixon and Marc Andreessen, Underscore VC, Quiet Capital, Plexo Capital, Insight’s 2020 Vision Fund, BoxGroup, SignalFire, Hunter Walk, Charles Hudson, Susan Lyne, Garry Tan, Howard Morgan, Soraya Darabi, Pejman Nozad, Elias Torres, Ross Fubini, and 20+ DRF alumni, alongside the First Round gang, our day one pals, and several other founders, funds, and investors. Silicon Valley Bank is joining the ranks as DRF’s official Startup Partner, bringing the heat for DRF founders in terms of resources, support, and industry connections.
Molly Fowler, a former operator at technology companies and political campaigns, has transitioned from her role as the CEO of Dorm Room Fund at First Round Capital to become the founding General Partner of the new independent DRF. Having trained with Bill Trenchard before leaving First Round, Molly is leading Dorm Room Fund into its next phase alongside DRF’s new Operations Principal Caroline Toch (formerly of the recent unicorn, Chief). Molly joined First Round Capital and Dorm Room Fund in 2019.
Why is this a big deal?
This new fund didn’t happen by accident: we were able to bring our new investors around the table thanks to a killer decade of growth thanks in no small part to DRF’s amazing community of founders. We’ve backed hundreds of student-founded companies who are reinventing industries and have raised $4B+ in follow-on capital from some of the best funds in the world. DRF community companies span verticals and strategies including breakouts like Veho, Snackpass, Shield AI, Athelas, RapidSOS, and FiscalNote (NYSE: NOTE). Our 250+ alumni have reshaped the venture industry—they’re venture partners, founders, Google PMs, and GPs of their own funds.
Meanwhile, we’re confident that we’re fishing in the right pond: over $3T+ worth of companies have been started on campus in the last few decades, a number we only expect to grow exponentially over the coming years. Even in today’s economy, students are starting companies in record numbers, often outside of the tried-and-true pathways of entrepreneurship centers and traditional VC. And no one is better positioned than DRF to find and support those trailblazers. While $12.5M might not seem like a huge fund, it’s a six-times larger fund for DRF, and gives us the capital we need to execute on DRF’s evergreen investing strategy: backing the best student entrepreneurs.
Who is Dorm Room Fund anyway?
If you’re here, you probably already know. But just in case: In 2012, Josh Kopelman, the founder of First Round Capital, had a spicy idea. What if First Round brought together a group of all-star aspiring VCs and startup operators—who happened to be students—and asked them to seek out the best student founders building the next wave of great companies? They’d know better than the suits which of their friends, classmates, teammates, and lab partners were stealthily building the next incredible thing, and who was just trying out #FounderLife.
Thus, Dorm Room Fund was born. With just half a dozen students and half a million dollars, DRF started on Penn’s campus with an eye toward finding the next Facebook, Microsoft, or Google. What started as an experiment has grown into a force: three funds, 300+ investments, 250+ alumni, and billions in follow-on capital later, DRF is now a national organization investing in the best student founders on campus today. And our oversubscribed, bigger, badder fund is 10xing what is possible.