Think of the California university most closely tied to entrepreneurship and Stanford immediately leaps to mind, or maybe the University of California at Berkeley.
Michael Silton is looking to add UCLA to that list, and he’s come up with a unique way of funding that effort.
The executive director of the UCLA Venture Capital Fund, Silton, 47, comes to his position with plenty of entrepreneurial experience under his belt. He started his first company in his 20s—and failed—but followed that up with Rainmaker Systems, an enterprise software company he took public on the Nasdaq.
“Then I moved onto what I’m doing now, which is giving back,” he told me.
As a successful entrepreneur, he could have given back to his alma mater by donating a bunch of money to UCLA.
Instead, he chose to donate his time as a mentor and backer to young companies started by UCLA students, alumni and professors as part of the UCLA Venture Fund.
But he didn’t just do that. He figured out a way some of those young entrepreneurs can give back to the university’s entrepreneur-nurturing effort, themselves.
Silton, though, knew that young entrepreneurs have neither money nor time. What they do have is stock in their nascent companies, which, under his program, they donate to the university. When their companies are either sold or go public, the university gets some of the benefit of the event-like a VC or an early employee would.
“We really look at it as kind of the circle of entrepreneurship,” Silton said.
But it’s not Silton alone. The program puts startup founders from UCLA together with experienced entrepreneurs and venture capitalists for mentoring and connections.