Joshua Bryce Newman epitomizes the light-speed nature people associate with the Net. The 20-year-old Yale University junior has already established and helped grow Sharkbyte Technology Consulting Inc., a financial software development firm. He's also mentored numerous start-up firms, and, at the moment, he's blazing yet another trail. Together with partners Bill Martin, 22, and Eric Ries, 21, Newman launched a new Palo Alto, California, start-up, Paradigm Blue, with a focus on providing venture funding to student entrepreneurs via the Studentech Venture Fund.
"Part of what we did [at Sharkbyte] was build dotcoms," says Newman, managing partner of Studentech. "People came with money and a business plan, and we did everything else. We came up with a strategy for the site and then did the structural design and technical implementation."
What Newman learned from those experiences was that these "people" were typically students with ideas but no money (sound familiar?). "Oftentimes, the student plans looked better than the plans with funding," he recalls. "It became clear that while students had the [leadership skills and good ideas], they didn't have connections to VCs." Enter Studentech. This $10 million fund plans to invest from $100,000 to $1 million in student high-tech businesses nationwide.
"Paradigm Blue is a symptom of a larger issue," speculates Newman. "There is a young entrepreneurial community springing up. More and more students who would have gone to the McKinseys or Morgan Stanleys are looking at starting up themselves. And there will be a lot of businesses like Paradigm Blue to service that industry."
When will Paradigm Blue declare success? Newman says there won't be a definitive moment when they can sit back and say "We've made it," but as soon as one of its portfolio companies goes public, merges or gets additional funding, Studentech's mission will be validated.