The Entrepreneurship Fund was established Winter Quarter of 2012 to promote a spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation among the undergraduate student body at UC Davis. At The Entrepreneurship Fund, no idea is too small. We want to create an environment that drives students at UC Davis to explore the potential of their ideas, taking them from the whiteboard to a minimum viable product.
EFund aims to operate at two levels. First, it aims to cultivate an entrepreneurship culture within the campus community that gives students a platform to pitch their ideas, find co-founders, and get their ideas out. Second, it aims to develop an intensive program that provides students with the resources and mentorship to focus on creating an MVP.
The duration of the program will be roughly 10 weeks, cumulating to a demo day which participants will present and pitch their product. The program is modeled after the lean startup program and is broken down into five phases: Customer Discovery, Customer Acquisition, Product Development, Scale/Traction/Pivot, Pitch preparation. Each week will have a theme, activities, deliverables and a guest speaker, who is relevant to theme for that week. The theme will be relevant to the stage that each student’s startup should be in during the course of the program. Activities suggest team goals for that week. Deliverables will consist of documents, products or meetings, which will help evaluate the progress of each team potentially winning the grant. Each speaker can participate through an online communication platform. Every two weeks will be an accelerator dinner, a relaxed event in which every team can meet up, discuss their successes and problems, and have free food. It is preferred that the speaker for each dinner week is local and can come in person so teams can personally interact with the speaker and ask questions.
Each team is assigned a technical/business mentor by week three. The mentor can be an EFund advisor, faculty member, student entrepreneur or graduate/doctorate student. The mentor will be specific to each startup’s idea and will provide guidance and help to each team.
On Demo Day the presenters give a ten minute pitch and have five minutes of questions and answers following their presentations. Participant student startups will go through a selection-based process, in which they pitch their idea to a panel of judges. This panel will consist of the E-fund executive committee, the selection committee and may include UC Davis faculty.
The selection committee, which is made up of the EFund executive committee and various parties chosen at the board’s discretion, deliberate which applicants should receive awards. Historically, funds have either been split evenly between each round of recipients or allocated based on need.