An investor, CEO, and reporter walk into a bar

Tips to build a product, questions to ask a co-founder, and more!

The Syllabus is Dorm Room Fund’s bi-weekly newsletter bringing you the latest news and startup resources for student founders, as well as portfolio updates and job opportunities from our community of companies. Oh, and of course some hot takes.

Did someone forward this to you? Sign up now to get The Syllabus in your inbox!

Keeping up: Here’s what’s on our radar

🥊 Tech vs media online - The story of Balaji Srinivasan, Steph Korey, Taylor Lorenz, venture capital, and Clubhouse could be more than a one-time Twitter war. Read more here.

🛒 Walmart’s jumping on the subscription train - They’re introducing ‘Walmart+’ which is set to be cheaper than Amazon Prime. Read more here.

👯‍♂️ What’s going on with TikTok? - The Trump administration is weighing a ban, India just implemented theirs, and Amazon “accidentally” asked employees to delete the app. Read more here.

💸 The TechCrunch List helps you filter down top investors - You can pick by location, stage and vertical to find the right fit for your company. Read more here.

🎬 Google’s prioritizing YouTube - It doesn’t matter if a video on a competing platform has more views or likes, a WSJ test shows that Google Video Search pushes the YouTube version to the front. Read more here.

🎉 What we’re celebrating

  • Kaoshi, a portfolio company working on enabling banks to offer financial services to immigrants, was recently featured on Founders Couch. Listen to the episode here.

  • Boston-based portfolio company Macro (formerly known as Marlo) just announced their $4.3M fundraise from General Catalyst and FirstMark on TechCrunch! Read more here and upvote them on Product Hunt.

  • DRF’s Christopher Gray was featured on the cover of the Apple App Store for his app Scholly, which helps students go to college.

  • We’re so excited that the Female Founder Track and Blueprint Project are both off to a great start this summer! We can’t wait to introduce more speakers and mentors, and immerse our amazing cohorts further into the DRF family.

What do you need to know about a potential co-founder?

Let’s face it: Picking a co-founder is a huge decision. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been working on your company, or how many people you’ve interviewed — searching for someone who’s smart and capable, but also a good match for you to work with is a struggle.

We surveyed founders and investors within the Dorm Room Fund network and beyond to learn more about what they look for in an ideal co-founder.

Read more here

Building a product: Cissy Chen on framing, product market fit and creating an MVP

In our first Female Founder Track Session, Cissy Chen — a product manager at Citizen, a safety app backed by Sequoia and 8VC — shared insider tips and best practices on product iteration. 

As a founder, it’s important to evaluate the need for, and effectiveness of your product at every stage in your journey. You may be starting out with a great idea, or you could have identified a huge problem which needs to be addressed. No matter where you are in the process, you have to commit to repeatedly building, iterating and testing your product. 

Read more here

Additional reading and resources

  • Sarah Tavel, a general partner at Benchmark, spoke about consumer and marketplace investing on The Investor’s Field Guide. Listen to the episode here.

  • A recently compiled public dataset has a comprehensive list of which VC firms have invested in Black-founded startups. Read more here.

  • Naithan Jones from a16z wrote a Medium post about inclusion, talking about his background and being an “outsider” in the industry. Read more here.

  • This article on “technical sympathy” is a great read for anyone searching for a technical co-founder. Read more here.

Job opportunities from the DRF network

We certainly couldn’t think of better places to work. But we suppose we *might* be a little biased…

Thanks for reading

If you liked our news stories, startup resources, and hot takes and aren’t already subscribed to our newsletter, sign up now to get The Syllabus in your inbox!

Working on something big? Apply to be considered for an investment from Dorm Room Fund. Know a student founder we should meet or have comments, questions, or suggestions for the newsletter? Send us an email at


Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash