Elihuu, a startup company whose slogan is “meet your manufacturer,” has met an investor – a group of University of Colorado-Boulder graduate students.

The students last week put $30,000 into Elihuu, an online software platform that connects product designers with manufacturers who can make their wares.

The students turned venture capitalists direct CU-Boulder’s Deming Center Venture Fund, which was launched by a donor in 1997 and is a program of the Leeds School of Business.

Selected from across campus to be part of the fund, the students manage everything from scouting new companies to vetting business plans, negotiating the terms of agreements, making final decisions on investments and supporting investees with ongoing resources and advice.

“I think it’s brilliant and that they’re doing all the right things,” said Dorian Ferlauto, founder and CEO of Elihuu, which is based in Denver and Oakland, California. “I really didn’t know that there is a university fund like this run by students. It’s very unique and I think it’s a great thing in this area where there are a lot of startups.”

The $30,000 investment will go toward development and expansion of the Elihuu tool, which Ferlauto says is similar to a matchmaking website except it’s for designers and manufacturers working to line up with the right business partners.

One appeal to the students as they carried out their research on the company is that Elihuu supports the cutting-edge “makers movement.” The makers movement, which is growing in popularity, is comprised of people like artisans, techies and inventors who create small-scale products on their own.

While investee companies benefit from seed money from the Deming Center Venture Fund, the student directors gain professional experience and insights that could give them an advantage as they pursue their own ventures.

“By going through the capital investment process and by being on the decision-making side, the students know what questions will be asked of them as entrepreneurs,” said Bret Fund, faculty director of the Deming Center Venture Fund and assistant professor of management and entrepreneurism. “They themselves will build better companies or be better able to do whatever they want when they move forward.”

Investments by the Deming Center Venture Fund typically are in technology startups. In addition to Elihuu, the fund’s portfolio currently includes Boulder-based Birdbox Inc., an online platform that organizes individuals’ social media content; Rapt Media Inc. in Boulder, formerly Flixmaster Inc., a cloud-based video editing and publishing tool; and Denver-based SpyderLynx, a mobile marketing and technology company.

Source: CU News