UO student entrepreneurs can receive $5,000 to build their startups

Thanks to the generosity of a University of Oregon alumnus, student entrepreneurs at the UO can receive some extra help to build their companies and launch their careers.

All current UO graduate students and undergraduates (juniors and above) in all disciplines can apply for $5,000 awards from the new RAINMaker Student Entrepreneur Seed Grants fund. Grants will support up to five UO student-led and owned entrepreneurial start-up businesses as they seek to refine and launch their concepts as new companies. The application deadline is Jan. 16, 2015.

The award is made possible by Paul Anthony Troiano, who founded the successful music startup Rumblefish out of his UO dorm room in 1996. At the time, he discovered the UO did not offer much in the way of formalized resources for young entrepreneurs.

“Learning how to build a business while going to school was a real challenge,” Troiano recalled. “As a student entrepreneur, resources, guidance and coaching were hard to find and you felt like the only available option was to go it alone.”

Thanks to a well-timed investment of $5,000 from Phil Romero, then dean of the Lundquist College of Business, Troiano was not entirely alone. Romero’s early investment gave Troiano the spark he needed to launch his company, which has since grown into the world leader in music micro-licensing with more than 75 million songs licensed and major clients including YouTube, Google, Vimeo, and Shutterstock.
The RAINMaker award is Troiano’s way of paying forward the good fortune that he experienced. He has committed more than $300,000 to establish the fund and hopes other entrepreneurs will line up to cultivate student innovation and encourage new ideas to thrive on campus. Each year the RAINMaker Fund will provide seed funding to help students launch their companies, along with coaching, mentoring and other strategic resources.

RAINMaker funds may be used for a variety of activities related to testing prototypes and building a business concept. Expenses could include:

  • Paying for the creation of prototype designs
  • Supporting participation in the RAIN Eugene Accelerator and related local entrepreneurship activities, including supporting the individual/team for a period of time
  • Paying for needed infrastructure (e.g., websites, renting co-working space)
  • Conducting other activities needed to bring the idea closer to implementation

Think your team might be interested? Apply today.