The Investors on Campus

Sumukh Setty ’21 of Green Line Ventures

Growing up in Silicon Valley, Sumukh Setty ’21 learned a lot about business from his father.

As his father drove him to school, Setty would listen as he took business calls in the car. “I was always a fly on the wall,” says Setty. A serial entrepreneur who had started a slew of companies, his father was constantly excited about new ideas, and he made a point to offer assistance to ventures in need.

“He helped a lot of companies. He is a big proponent of giving without any expectations of receiving anything in return,” says Setty. “I asked him what propelled him to help. He answered, ‘The more I can problem solve for other companies, the more I’ll be able to problem solve for myself.’ ”

In his Babson career, Setty has taken his father’s mindset to heart. As a former president of eTower, and with his involvement with not one but two investment firms (Rough Draft Ventures and Contrary Capital) focused on student ventures, he enjoys giving a boost to startups. “I like to help founders where I can and get them from A to B,” says Setty. “I do want to be an entrepreneur in the future, and I believe I will become a better entrepreneur by helping other entrepreneurs now. It helps me to understand what it takes to launch and scale a business.”

As he starts his senior year, Setty is now a founding partner of Green Line Ventures. A new student-run fund that launched in August, Green Line backs student startups from the institutions that make up the BOW Three College Collaboration: Babson, Olin, and Wellesley.

“We’re excited about what is to come and to put some money into some awesome companies,” says Setty.

To Accelerate a Company

The origins of Green Line Ventures can be traced to conversations Setty had with Tim Chae, general partner at 500 Startups, an early-stage venture firm headquartered in San Francisco. Chae was set to be a judge at ePitch, a $100,000 pitch competition that was part of Babson’s Centennial celebrations last year, and Setty was helping to organize the event.

In the weeks leading up to ePitch, the two got to talking. Chae had gone to Babson for two years, leaving in 2011 to pursue an entrepreneurial opportunity, but he never forgot about the impact the College had on him. “I went to Babson being hyper focused on entrepreneurship and tech,” says Chae, “and I promised myself I would give back to the College when I was in a position to be able to pay it forward.”

“I do want to be an entrepreneur in the future, and I believe I will become a better entrepreneur by helping other entrepreneurs now. It helps me to understand what it takes to launch and scale a business.”

Sumukh Setty ’21

The pair talked about the possibility of starting an investment fund for student entrepreneurs, and as other students expressed interest in becoming involved in such a venture, that conversation ultimately led to the creation of Green Line. Directly funded by 500 Startups, Green Line provides ventures with investments from $10,000 to $25,000. “For a company starting out, we think that is a good amount of money to get them to the next stage,” says Setty. “We can really accelerate a company with this capital.”

Building a Community

While Green Line Ventures has roots at Babson, it also supports student ventures from Wellesley and Olin. “We are so blessed to be in proximity to them,” says Setty. “Their students are super smart. They add a unique perspective. It seemed like a no brainer to include them.”

Setty is one of Green Line’s six founding partners, all of whom are BOW students. When evaluating student ventures, they pay close attention to the founders. “Ideas are a dime a dozen. Execution matters so much more,” says Setty. “We want to back an entrepreneur who can ride the pivots.”

Green Line is hoping to invest in a few student companies by year’s end. It also wants to go beyond investments and offer support to BOW startups in other ways, say by offering advice, making connections, or organizing a speaker series. “We don’t want to just fund companies,” says Setty. “We want to build a community.”

Chae envisions Green Line becoming a lasting resource for BOW entrepreneurs. “I’ve challenged the founding partners to leave a legacy that only grows stronger with each graduating class,” he says.

Posted in Community, Entrepreneurial Leadership

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