By: Stephen Babcock
As school begins this fall at Johns Hopkins University, A-Level Capital is looking to give student-run startups some money to grow.
The student-run venture fund, which was founded at the end of last school year, is looking to make its presence known on campus in the new school year. Instead of Ocean City, the team behind A-Level Capital posted up at The Beach on JHU’s Homewood Campus on Saturday to formally launch, and get the word out.
A-Level already has applications from nine student-run startups for funding, said cofounder Demilade Obayomi, a 2015 JHU grad who was back on campus after a summer interning at 500 Startups and starting a job with Goldman Sachs. Obayomi said they are reaching out to others in the JHU entrepreneurship network to consider A-Level Capital “as their first stop when they are ready to take on outside capital.”
Obayomi, cofounder Elizabeth Galbut — who moved to New York and cofounded female-focused investment firm SoGal Ventures since wrapping a dual master’s program at JHU’s Carey School of Business and MICA’s Design Leadership program — and others worked to raise money from investors this summer. They are set to begin writing checks to companies this fall. Galbut didn’t disclose how much due to SEC rules, but said the company is looking to make initial investments of up to $25,000, and fund 60-80 university-affiliated companies in five years. Some of A-Level’s early supporters include Dave McClure, a JHU alum who founded 500 Startups, and Blue Jay Syndicate Managing Partner Paul Grossinger.
The founders believe the money could help over the first 6-18 months of a company, the cofounders told us on graduation day in May.
Since Galbut and Obayomi both graduated last spring, much of the work of identifying startups and representing A-Level Capital on campus will be left to a team of 15 students.
With students working together to identify and grow the best startups, the idea is to grow the entrepreneurship community in the university as a whole. With the increased presence, the cofounders also hope there can be more interaction with the Baltimore tech scene beyond the Homewood campus.
“In addition to working with entrepreneurs from the JHU community, we want to bridge the gap between the student community and tech community in Baltimore,” Obayomi said.