Dorm Room Fund wants to invest in startups outside Philadelphia - Technical.ly Philly

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Mar. 22, 2016 8:03 am

Dorm Room Fund wants to invest in startups outside Philadelphia

The student-run venture firm (with backing from First Round Capital) just made its first investment in a Carnegie Mellon startup.

Some Dorm Roomers under a First Round mantra.

(Courtesy photo)

The Philly Dorm Room Fund, First Round Capital’s student-run investment firm, is increasingly looking outside Philadelphia for promising startups.

The team, which has historically focused on Penn and Drexel, just made its first investment in a Carnegie Mellon startup: water purification company Rorus. It’s not the first time the Dorm Room Fund has invested outside of Philly, though — the fund invested in a Duke startup in 2014 — but the Rorus investment marks a concerted effort to look outside the city.

The Philly team is one of four local Dorm Room Fund arms, including the Bay Area, New York and Boston. The fund hit 100 investments earlier this year and First Round invested $2 million for Dorm Room’s second fund. Starting this year, investments are no longer capped at $20,000, Dorm Room Fund’s Nilesh Kavthekar said.

The Philly Dorm Room Fund’s Josh Lee, a Penn undergrad who was a designer on Dorm Room Fund company Prayas Analytics, found Rorus at a Carnegie Mellon hackathon, Dorm Room Fund marketing manager David Ongchoco told us. (Full disclosure, Ongchoco has written for us before.) Lee’s actually heading back to Carnegie Mellon this week to scout out more startups.

They’re also looking further south, to Washington, D.C., and the Research Triangle area. (Shoutout to sister sites Technical.ly DC, Delaware and Baltimore.)

“We feel like we’re already able to cover most of the startups here [in Philly], and have more than enough partners to start expanding our reach and find the best student-founded companies,” Onchchoco wrote in an email.

It would be cool to see some startups from local non-Penn/Drexel colleges like Temple, Philadelphia University and La Salle get funded, too.

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Juliana Reyes

Juliana Reyes became Technical.ly's associate editor after reporting on the Philadelphia tech scene for four years. She's co-president of the Asian American Journalists Association Philadelphia chapter and a two-time Philadelphia News Award winner for "Community Reporting of the Year." The Bryn Mawr College grad lives in West Philly, likes her food spicy and wears jumpsuits often.

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