What is Rough Draft Ventures?
Rough Draft Ventures – or RDV, for short — is a student-run VC that invests in the best student founders from across the US. Powered by leading venture capital firm General Catalyst (GC), we help student founders get from first to final draft with a community, mentorship, education, and an early check. We strive to be students’ first backers and are committed to being partners in their entrepreneurial journeys.
Are you working on the next big thing? We back ambitious, bold, curious, and energetic teams with a strong bias to action and ability to follow through. We’re always on the lookout for bright student founders pursuing big ideas – email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to connect!
This year, RDV is excited to support student founders through non-dilutive grants. These founders are further supported through curated community events, network building, and strategic guidance for future rounds as they build up their relationships with our investors at General Catalyst and the broader startup and Venture Capital community.
What is RDV’s track record?
To-date, RDV has backed more than 220 companies founded by student entrepreneurs, some of which have gone on to raise more than $600M in follow-on capital.
Notable examples include Mark43, which has
raised multiple follow-on rounds from GC, and
Spring Health, RDV’s newest unicorn — led
by April Koh, the youngest woman ever to lead
a multibillion dollar starup!
RDV’s entrepreneurs and fellows have been named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30, selected to leading accelerators, like Y Combinator and the Thiel Fellowship, and hired at companies like Facebook, Roblox, and Uber.
*Past Track Record is not indicative of future success.
How is RDV connected to General Catalyst?
General Catalyst is a venture capital firm that invests in powerful, positive change that endures — for our entrepreneurs, our investors, our people, and society. We support founders with a long-term view who challenge the status quo, partnering with them from seed to growth stage and beyond to build companies that withstand the test of time.
With offices in San Francisco, Palo Alto, New York City, London, and Boston, the firm has helped support the growth of businesses such as: Airbnb, Deliveroo, Guild, Gusto, Hubspot, Illumio, Lemonade, Livongo, Oscar, Samsara, Snap, Stripe, and Warby Parker.
GC’s longstanding support of Rough Draft Ventures underscores its commitment to finding and backing outstanding founders from all walks and stages of life–to help build the next generation of market-leading and life-enhancing companies.
RDV represents General Catalyst’s continued commitment to responsible innovation across tech — in other words, tech with the potential for massive growth but also immense good.
Who are the RDV Venture Fellows?
Our Venture Fellows (VFs) are the core of the Rough Draft Ventures student network. Our VFs gain hands-on experience as an early-stage investor by taking charge of the entire early-stage investment process. In addition to sourcing deals and meeting with student founders every week, VFs meet bi-weekly with their pods to listen to pitches, engage in discussion, and make investment decisions.
They also learn about investing and entrepreneurship directly from mentors at General Catalyst, portfolio company founders, and other top investors and operators in tech.
Every year, we recruit Venture Fellows from campuses across the US and empower them to write checks in awesome student founders. Sound interesting? Come join the team!
See a full list of investments.
Blue Light Holdings
Where is RDV based?
While we are primarily based in Boston, NYC, and San Francisco, we have Venture Fellows all across the United States and support startups across campuses. Don’t hesitate to reach out!
However, please note that we currently only support companies that are incorporated as or planning to be incorporated as a Delaware C-Corporation. Contact us at email@example.com if you have any follow-up questions!
What does RDV focus on?
We’re a generalist firm! We’re industry-agnostic, and we all have different interests and specialties. Don’t hesitate to apply. Reach out to us to tell us about your idea – we’re always happy to chat!
What stage does RDV support?
Our goal is to be the earliest check for student founders, and to partner with them in their journey to build awesome companies. Even if you don’t have a company yet, we’re happy to chat about potential support.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Can I have a full overview of RDV’s Grant process?
Once you’ve submitted an application on our website, we’ll review it internally and get back to you within 48-72 hours.
If we believe that your idea is a potential fit for RDV, one of our fellows will reach out to you via email to set up an initial conversation.
Your next step would be two more meetings alongside further members of the RDV and GC Team.
After this conversation, we’ll review your company internally, and inform you of our decision.
How long does RDV take to decide?
Your time is valuable and we want to make sure to respect that! While we can’t promise that we’ll get back to you with a decision within a specific time frame, we can promise that we’ll be as speedy and efficient as possible. If there are any delays at any point, feel free to email Jonny or your point-of-contact to let us know.
In general, we strive to get back to you with next steps within 48-72 hours at any point throughout our process.
What is RDV’s check size?
This year, RDV is excited to support student founders through non-dilutive grants. These grants are meant to help founders get started working on their next big idea.
These founders are further supported through curated community events, network building, and strategic guidance for future rounds as they build up their relationships with our investors at General Catalyst and the broader startup and Venture Capital community.
How early does RDV support founders?
Our goal is to support you when you have as little as a rough draft — in fact, that’s where we got our name!
We want to help you get from first to final draft, and we’ll do that with our capital, suite of resources, community, and anything else we can do to support you.
We’d love to have a conversation with you, even if you only have an idea sketched on the back of a napkin. We’re here to support and empower you in whatever way we can.
Do I need to be a full-time student to apply?
Our focus is on companies and teams with at least one full-time student!
If you are on a gap year or recently graduated, we’re open to having a conversation with you!
Do I need a product or traction to apply?
Not necessarily! We want to help you even if you only have a ‘rough draft’.
Questions? Reach out to us and we can see if your company is the right fit.
Do I need a pitch deck to apply?
While a pitch deck is a great way to show us more about your company, it’s not necessary!
Do I need to be incorporated in the US to apply?
Yes! We only invest in US-based companies (incorporated as a C-Corp in Delaware), or companies that plan to be US-based companies, at the moment.