The words are “Silicon Valley” and “entrepreneur” are more than synonymous; they’re practically interchangeable. As the entrepreneurial spirit spreads beyond the office buildings of downtown Palo Alto, the search for investors has fallen on more than just startup founders with visions of grandeur.
For students who have their own ambitions and projects but are still enrolled in school, meeting with investors and securing capital is a daunting and mostly unrealistic goal.
Fortunately for the student entrepreneurs of the Silicon Valley area, a Palo Alto High School club that meets in MAC 204 on Fridays at lunch offers a viable option for finding the funds to make their ideas possible.
The original Happy Day Microfunds (HDMF) club was founded by William Kim at Mission San Jose High School in 2011 to help fund student entrepreneurs in the community. At San Jose, Kim funded several businesses that eventually became successful. The goal of the Palo Alto branch is to create an environment at Paly where students will be encouraged to start their own businesses. To help these students, the club first raises money through fundraisers and donations from sponsors.
Then, with the approval of the Associated Student Body (ASB) and an extensive review by the Happy Day Microfunds board, the funds are distributed to members within the Paly community. HDMF Club helps student entrepreneurs by monitoring their progress and ensuring their business have sufficient resources for success.
“Our club helps support student entrepreneurs in our school community through having fund raisers. The revenue that these entrepreneurs [generate] would later on pay back the micro-loans, and extra money would be donated to social causes in our community or to fund other students,” said co-president Nicholas Zhao.
“For the members of the club, we host fund raiser events [that] allow students the opportunity to learn how venture capitalists work and work with entrepreneur club at school to give exposure to students in the entrepreneurial process.”
A great advantage for the club is actually being located in Silicon Valley. Each meeting focuses on preparing or finding a new fund raiser event and discussing student candidates who may be elligble for appropriate financial support.
“Outside of meetings, members communicate with different students who might have entrepreneurial ideas and would be interested in cooperating with us,” Zhao said. “We also plan on having tours at local [venture capital] firms and gain exposure to that career path. We hope to [expand] in the area so that different schools can work together. We want to give all the bright students of the Silicon Valley a chance to grow their ideas.”