Raising Capital at Purdue

Through competitions, accelerators, grants, and venture funds.

Anuraag Yachamaneni
Draft · 7 min read

Introduction

Raising money for your startup can be one of the toughest part of being a founder. However, Purdue has a wealth of resources that you can use when you are ready to acquire the capital needed to fuel your company’s growth. You can raise funding from various competitions, accelerators, and organizations on Purdue’s campus. In addition, there are also a large variety of student-focused venture funds that are investing in startups of all stages nationally. This guide outlines all the different resources that you have at your disposal when you are ready to raise your first round of funding.

🏆 Purdue Competitions

Competitions are a great way to raise money campus, especially for companies still trying to figure out their product, because they are not based on the stage of your company, instead they are based on your business model and how well you can pitch your company. Additionally, the awards for these competitions are usually in the form of equity-free grants, hence if you win you won’t need to give up equity for funding.

Burton D. Morgan Business Model Competition
This Burton D. Morgan Business Model Competition is multi-stage business pitch competition that focuses on helping students build a viable business model for their startup idea. Building up to the competition, there are a variety of workshops that help interested participants figure out who their customers are and what their business model is. The competition is hosted annually during the spring semester.

Check size: $2.5k to $25k

Schurz Innovation Challenge
This pitch competition is run by the Purdue Foundry with the support of Schurz Communications Inc, a nationwide communications company headquartered in Mishawaka, Indiana. The competition is focused on testing the creativity of Purdue students, specifically in the domain of media technology.

Check size: $500 to $5k

Blue Sky Pitch Competition
This competition is a join initiative between Purdue and Notre Dame that is run by Blue Sky Venture Capital. Each year, the competition takes four startups from each school and has them pitch in-front of a panel of judges, usually prominent venture capitalists, for over $30k in prize money.

Check size: $1k to $15k

🚀 Purdue Accelerators

Accelerators are another great way to raise money on campus as they provide you with not only funding, but also other resources and mentorship that help you grow your company more quickly. They are great at helping companies figure out their customers, business model, strategy, and more. One caveat is that the funding that you receive from an accelerator can be contingent on completing certain milestones, hence you need to be ready for a certain level of commitment before participating in one.

The Boiler
The longest running and most successful initiative of The Anvil, The Boiler is back for our fifth year enabling student startups in the Purdue community. The Boiler is a 12 week pre-seed accelerator with a mission of taking early stage startups from Purdue students and giving them the resources they need to succeed and generate revenue. Past winners have gone on to raise millions in follow on capital, have been accepted in accelerators such as YC, and have been Forbes 30 under 30 award recipients.

Check size: 1k-2k

Firestarter
The Firestarter program is a six week program program run by Purdue Foundry to help Purdue entrepreneurs take an idea and build a business around it. Through the program, you will develop a clear message about your product, find your market, analyze/select customers, build a go-to market strategy, and build a business model. It is the perfect first step to turning your idea into a real company.

Check size: N/A

Purdue I-Corps
The National Innovation Corps ( I-Corps™) program is designed to prepare scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and to accelerate the transfer of cutting-edge, NSF-funded research into commercial success. Through extensive customer engagement, teams are able to validate potential applications of their technology. The curriculum is an immersive 7-week program designed to avoid building a product that no one wants; the number one reason startups fail.

Check size: $50k

💰 Purdue Grants/Venture Funds

Venture capital and grants are the two of the most popular ways that companies receive their funding. Purdue has a wide variety of organizations that provide different levels of funding at each stages for a company. Before you try to raise money from any of the following organizations, you should be ready with both an elevator pitch and a pitch deck.

The Anvil
The Anvil is a student run, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire and empower the entrepreneurs of Purdue University and the Greater Lafayette, Indiana, community by providing co-working for founders and startups as well as mentorship, programming and resources. The Anvil provides $500 equity-free microgrants to student founders who are part of their network.

Check size: $500

Purdue Ventures
Purdue Ventures is a set of three different venture funds created under the direction and oversight of Purdue Foundry. Listed out below, they focus on companies in various industries and stages.

  1. Ag-Celerator: focused on funding and launching companies in agriculture.
  2. Foundry Investment Fund: this is a life-sciences focused fund that was formed as a non-profit partnership between the Purdue Research Foundation (PRF) and Cook Medical.
  3. Purdue Angels: a formal network of angel investors who are interested in investing in Purdue affiliated startups. This network is managed by John Hanak, Managing Director of Purdue Ventures

Check size: Varies

Elevate Ventures
Elevate Ventures is one of the premier venture funds located in the state of Indiana. They work with startups of all stages and are focused on both developing and funding companies. The organization also has a variety of partnerships with the Purdue Foundry and the Purdue Research Foundation for investing in startups that come out of Purdue. To date, they have funded over 250 Indiana-based startups and manage over $500 million dollars in venture assets.

Check size: $5k to $4 mil (based on company stage)

🏫 Nationwide Student Focused Venture Funds

The next group of people that are outlined are the three biggest student run venture capital firms in the country. These organizations usually invest at the pre-seed stage, often times with check sizes ranging from $20k to $100k. These funds are made for student founders and are run by student venture capitalists. In addition to funding, they also provide a variety of different resources to help you and your company succeed.

By raising money from these organizations, you will also join an amazing network for student founders who have gone on to raise hundreds of millions of dollars of capital and built some amazing companies.

Dorm Room Fund
Dorm Room Fund is the strongest community of entrepreneurial students in the nation. Built by students and powered by First Round, they provide founders with a strong network of investors, world-class mentors, and a $20,000 check.

Check size: $20k

Rough Draft Ventures
Powered by General Catalyst, Rough Draft Ventures is a student team that helps university students in their journey from creating ‘rough drafts’ to startup companies by investing at the earliest stage. They support student-led teams with up to $25K in funding, and provide access to a community of peers, experienced mentors, alumni and investors to help take their startups to the next level.

Check size: $25k

Contrary Capital
Contrary Capital is a decentralized, university-focused venture capital fund, empowering the brightest university entrepreneurs everywhere. The venture capital firm passionately believe that the next generation’s most successful companies will continue to emerge from universities — only this time, more than ever before.

Check size: $50k — $200k

1517 Fund
1517 supports teams with grant, pre-seed, and seed funding for technology startups. Our focus is on makers, hackers, and scientists interested in working outside tracked institutions because we believe that the path geared towards higher education is not for all. We motivate people to work on what they’re passionate about, to learn by doing, and to create new technologies. They also provide $1k grant for free to student founders.

Check size: $1k — $500k

Thiel Fellowship
Founded by technology entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel in 2011, the Thiel Fellowship is a two-year program for young people who want to build new things. Thiel Fellows skip or stop out of college to receive a $100,000 grant and support from the Thiel Foundation’s network of founders, investors, and scientists.

Check size: $100k

Conclusion

Overall, there are quite a few mechanism to raise money for your startup at Purdue. You can compete in competitions, take part in an accelerator, or pitch directly to a venture fund. Each funding vehicle brings something different to the table and will provide you with an abundance of resources that will help your company grown and succeed.


The Anvil is a student run, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire and empower the entrepreneurs of Purdue University and the Greater Lafayette, Indiana community.

We provide a space for students interested in creating their own companies to meet other like minded peers and exchange ideas with one another, while providing events and resources for the student-run ventures getting their start in West Lafayette.