Eric Tarczynski spent two years traveling around the country to put together a team of about 100 students at 50 campuses.
That team is integral to his new venture capital fund, Contrary Capital.
The idea behind the early-stage fund, launched last month, is to cover the gap between university entrepreneurial programs and the seed fund money that helps a fledgling company take a prototype to market.
The students receive a tiny equity stake in the companies backed by Contrary Capital.
The team includes people like Martin Arreola, who immersed himself in the startup scene at the University of California at San Diego, including organizing a hackathon for student entrepreneurs.
Contrary Capital’s first two investments include UC San Diego startup Additive Rocket Corp.
Founded in 2015 by recent graduates Andy Kieatiwong and Kyle Adriany, Additive Rocket has developed technology to design and manufacture rocket engines using 3-D printers.
“We have consistently been able to reduce the weight by at least 50 percent, and that is everything in aerospace,” Adriany said. “Our big value add is … with 3-D printing that we can make each one custom to the exact mission.”
Tarczynski, 25, declined to say how big a bet his fund made on Additive Rocket, but overall it looks to invest $50,000 to $200,000 in the startups.
Forbes reported that Contrary Capital’s first fund is expected to be in the $5 million to $7 million range.
The goal, Tarczynski said, is to fund 15 to 25 campus startups a year, with Contrary Capital typically taking a 2.5 to 10 percent ownership stake based on the amount invested.
In addition to Additive Rocket, Contrary Capital also has invested in Cortex Health out of Brigham Young University, which developed a software platform to manage follow-up patient visits.
“The most successful tech companies of the past 20 years were started at universities across the U.S.,” said Tarczynski, a New Jersey native. “The next generation will continue to emerge from universities.”