As many of you know, I teach a class at NYU called “Ready, FIRE!, Aim”. This year will be my fifth year teaching the class and, with luck, one day I’ll actually get the hang of it! I started this class with a two goals: to provide students with a better understanding of being an entrepreneur by actually starting a business and, rather than treat the study of entrepreneurship as an anthropology course, learn by hearing from the best entrepreneurs and investors in the country every class about the issues that they see and face today. (If you would like to see last year’s class materials, click here). This year, my teaching partner is Jason Finger, the founder of SeamlessWeb and an active angel investor in the city.
I’m really proud of this class. A large number of my students have joined start-ups and are making active contributions to the NYC entrepreneurial community. Others have started their own businesses: Trevor Owens with Lean Start-up Machine, Gauri Manglik with Fondu, Hursh Agrawal with Roundtable, Jake Siegal with Samplrs and others. Many of these students and recent grads are the future stars of tomorrow and I hope this class has played some role in what they will accomplish as individuals and as a group.
But this year, we are going to step it up a notch. In the past, I have donated my teaching salary to the university. This year, I am going to use it to start the Ready, FIRE! Aim Fund. This fund will be dedicated to being the pre-seed stage (I just made that stage up) investment vehicle for businesses formed in the Ready, FIRE! Aim class this semester. It’s not a lot of money, but it can buy a new entrepreneur a lot of Ramen Noodle packages. The money will burn a hole in my pocket – I will invest all of it in the business(es) that is(are) formed in the class this semester that Jason and I feel merit investment.
To qualify, the business must have:
1) A product/service or the clear development progress of a product
2) Market validation in the form or customers or in other ways
3) A committed team
In case you’re wondering, the millions upon millions of dollars gained from the profits of these future industry giants will go to fund an engineering scholarship program for inner city kids.
We will see what comes out of this – I’m excited for the coming semester!