Demo Day gives Rutgers students opportunity to showcase their startup companies
In order to further product development and entrepreneurship among Rutgers undergraduates, several Rutgers graduate students working in conjunction with Ramenworks created Demo Day, an opportunity to showcase Rutgers student-focused venture fund and community.
Ramenworks, the New York City-based student-focused venture fund and community, focuses its attention on middle market cities with limited access to capital, said Ryan Toa, a Rutgers Business School sophomore and Ramenworks student partner. They set out to bring themselves to the level of successful institutions with entrepreneurial labs like New York University.
The current model for business students tends to eliminate the need for startup companies and streamlines them into a corporate culture. With the help from his company they have been able to reintroduce the need for these businesses and develop professional presentations to showcase for investors at their Demo Day, Toa said.
“As a student venture partner, my job is to make sure that I understand these startups, that I work with them and make sure they know what they’re doing come Demo Day. This is game time, it’s their big coming-out party so we want to make sure they’re ready,” he said.
Demo Day was a group-funded event that came together over eight weeks and turned out over 150 attendees, validating members that their idea was gaining momentum, Toa said. Sourcing startups have been an immense opportunity for the group and has helped further their work experience by creating new internship opportunities.
Ramenworks works in conjunction with all startups based in middle market cities, said Patryk Fusiarz, a Rutgers—Newark graduate student and founder of Ramenworks. An open-minded approach has grantem them the accessibility to all up-and-coming startups from campuses and cities that are traditionally ignored, capturing a piece of the market that other funds miss out on.
“Our program is open to anyone that has at least one student based out of Rutgers. As long as you have a startup company and are interested in entrepreneurship, you’re a valid candidate,” Toa said.
It is all about customer value proposition, Toa said. In order to achieve success in entrepreneurship, one must have the will not to give up. If one person shuts an individual down, they simply move onto the next until they get the answer they are looking for.
Fusiarz said this is the largest event they have ever hosted.
"Coming out of late fall last year,
Fusiarz reached out to Toa last fall in hope that they would find recurring success through Rutgers-based startups. In order to prove they could provide student entrepreneurship new opportunities, Fusiarz quickly assembled a team of five partners in various leadership positions throughout campus, he said.
“Since March of last year we’ve been building case studies to show new members that the campuses we’re on have the potential for success and that we’re receiving help from other entrepreneurial businesses to support these startups,” Fusiarz said.
Having four startups present at Demo Day has further encouraged the team to seek out more Rutgers-based organizations. The partnerships and funding they have received over the last few years allowed them to continue developing events like Demo Day and establish a social presence on campus, he said.
The group constantly looks to make new connections and partner with different companies, and they encourage that students do the same if they wish to find success in their startup, he said.
"Be abrasive," Fusiarz said. "Many founders ask us to connect them with our mentors and investors, but why don't they go out and get them themselves? If you need a mentor or investor or you want to work in startups or venture capital, then just go to the many firms in NYC and ask someone for 15 minutes of their time."
He said that they are looking to work with people that are not afraid to go and ask. You do not need permission.
“It’s reassuring to know we’ve received support, but as good as I want to feel, I know we can go so much further," he said. "At the end of the day, we want to grow into investing on our own rather than connecting people and (we) won’t be happy until we get there."
Editor's Note: This article has been updated to include information from Patryk Fusiarz, the founder of Ramenworks.
Christian Zapata is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.