Prabhdeep Singh, a doctoral student in computer science at Arizona State University, is hoping to start his own software business. He has enough experience to know it’s not easy.
He tried to start a company when he was studying for a master’s degree at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, but the enterprise didn’t work out because venture capitalists wanted too much control of the company.
Now as a student at ASU, Singh will get a second chance. He is planning to apply for a grant under a new program to be announced today that will encourage students to start their own businesses.
"It will make it easier to get started," he said. "Otherwise the time would be stretched out. If we receive a grant we will get started right away."
If the venture is successful, Singh plans to keep the company in Arizona, not take it to his home in India.
"Arizona has helped me a lot," said the 25-year-old would-be entrepreneur. "I would like to give something back."
Singh’s proposed software company is the type of venture the university hopes to nourish under the new Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative.
It is named for Orin Edson, a luxury boat mogul who is giving $5.4 million today to the ASU Foundation to launch the program.
The gift will form an endowment that will fund annual awards to students across the university who want to start their own businesses — from high-tech forprofit startups to not-forprofit public sector ventures.
The endowment will provide $200,000 annually for student-inspired projects, with awards each year expected to range between $5,000 and $20,000 each for 10 to 15 new ventures.
The money, which is open to any ASU student, can be used to build prototypes, conduct feasibility studies, hire consultants, or fund anything else the students believe they need to be successful. It does not have to be repaid.
Part of the Edson gift will be used to refurbish space at the Brickyard complex in downtown Tempe, where office space with workstations and a conference room will be available to house eight of the venture teams.
"The generosity of Orin Edson will not only help these students pursue their dreams, but it will also help ASU by providing real world experiences to our students, and it will help Arizona by leading to new companies with roots in the Valley," ASU President Michael Crow said.
"ASU’s great leadership with a little help from our initiative should help create some great new businesses," Edson said.
Edson started his own company in his garage, turning an interest in boats into the successful Bayliner Marine Corp. in Everett, Wash., the largest maker of pleasure and luxury boats. He sold his interest in Bayliner to Brunswick Corp. in 1986.