Student entrepreneurs looking for funding for their start-up businesses can get help from ASUCD’s Entrepreneurship Fund (E-Fund), which was created last Winter quarter.
The program, which has two selection periods throughout the year, grants up to $1,500 to winning students to develop their business ideas. A selection committee is responsible for reading applications and choosing the winners while a student-run advising committee helps students develop their projects.
The program was founded by Kate Lin, senior environmental policy analysis and planning major and current chair of E-Fund, and Phillip Chu, a fourth-year economics major and last year’s chairperson. E-Fund became an official organization on campus during Winter quarter 2012 and announced the first round of students that would receive funding the following spring.
Part of the program is that the proposed business ideas should aim to solve a social problem or benefit the greater society.
Lin said that applicants have to have a business idea that contributes to some kind of social good, but must also be able to define what they think that means on their own.
Although students can certainly look to outside sources to fund their business endeavors, this program is special in that it allows students to be able to support their peers, according to Emre Titizer, a fourth-year managerial economics major and member of the E-Fund advising committee.
“It’s an undergraduate version of a business startup, where the idea is [that] somebody has a business idea and we provide them some monetary support through ASUCD funding. So it’s actually students funding students’ ideas,” Titizer said.
Past winning ideas have included the development of a phone app that allows you to keep track of your class schedule, as well as events on campus. Another idea that received funding is a T-shirt company that chooses a social issue, creates a design incorporating the issue and then sells the shirts with a portion of proceeds going directly to charity.
Ben Trinh, junior sociology and statistics major and E-Fund director of business development, said that E-Fund is helpful on campus in that it also teaches about business, which UC Davis has no formal major for.
“I think E-Fund is important because it brings an aspect that UC Davis lacks. Since we don’t have a business major, E-Fund makes up for that,” Trinh said.
Organizers said that the program is not specifically intended for students who are studying to become entrepreneurs.
“We really want to reach out to engineers, computer scientists, people who are usually never thinking about being entrepreneurs but they have such unique knowledge because of their fields. Davis is an interesting place to have this, because the students that we’re helping aren’t business students,” Lin added.
The program also caters to those who have no plans of applying for funds. According to Mike Li, second year economics and food science major and a member of the E-Fund advising board, it fosters business ideas within students.
“It encourages students to think about business. I’ve talked to people that didn’t know that E-Fund existed and when they found out that there was E-Fund, they all of a sudden started thinking about business ideas,” Li said.
The next application cycle will begin February 2013. To learn more, visit the E-Fund Facebook page.
SASHA COTTERELL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.