Student-run retail analytics startup nabs $20,000 from Dorm Room Fund

August 15, 2014 | Philadelphia Business Journal by Lauren Hertzler

On Wednesday, I wrote that First Round Capital’s Dorm Room Fund in Philadelphia was getting ready to announce some more investments.

News broke Thursday that Prayas Analytics, a startup run by two seniors at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, received $20,000 in funding from the student-run venture firm.

Prayas Analytics is an analytics company that provides brick-and-mortar retailers with store operations-focused data. Basically, its technology monitors what is happening in stores (how long customers are standing in line, for instance) by analyzing surveillance video footage, which then prompts the formation of statistical models. The models can be used to better store operations and customer experience.

Prayas Analytics’ co-founder Pranshu Maheshwari said the startup recently completed its pilot with a Fortune 200 company, which isn’t being identified. The company has also agreed to continue to work with Prayas Analytics longer term, he said.

Maheshwari, whom I chatted with Friday by phone (he’s in India visiting with family), told me he and his work partner Yash Kothari have been using the $20,000 to help pay for developing the technology and other resources.

Backed by investment firm First Round Capital, Dorm Room Fund invests in student-run companies. It recently had its first exit companyFirefly– in June.

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First Round’s Student-Run Dorm Room Fund Has Backed 20 Startups; Adds Entrepreneur ‘RAs’ As Advisors

September 5, 2013 | Tech Crunch by Leena Rao

First Round Capital has made a big bet on students sourcing and making investments at colleges around the U.S. with its Dorm Room Fund. the idea behind the Dorm Room Fund is that if students are motivated enough and smart enough to start a company while in college, then they are capable to run a venture fund, and back the next big ideas. First Round originally launched the fund in Philadelphia and expanded the initiative to New York and San Francisco (and soon Boston). Today, the Dorm Room Fund has made 20 investments in startups, and the firm is announcing the addition of 60-plus mentors.

For background, each city;s fund is around $500,000. Students from colleges in the city apply to be part of the investment team, and then the chosen students source investments and make decisions unilaterally to invest in startup ideas. As students graduate, more will be added. On average each investment is around $20,000, and is structured as an uncapped-convertible note.

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