Zoom has...clout?

Plus more COVID-19 startup resources and TikTok for music discovery

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!


What student founders should know

Image result for zoom logo

Out of nowhere, Zoom has clout - The videoconferencing service one only used for meetings in the tech world has now become the place where teens attend lectures, birthday parties, and blind dates. Read more here.

Softbank set to sell off major assets - Softbank, the operator of the $100 billion Vision Fund, is selling off shares in Alibaba and other portfolio companies to raise $41 billion to compensate for losses attributed to the coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.

Starsky’s last ride - Starsky Robotics, a maker of driverless trucks and the first company to have a  fully-unmanned truck drive on a live highway has shutdown. Read more here.


NEW - Running a startup during COVID-19

What does it take to lead a startup through the uncertainty of a global health emergency? 

In recent weeks, Dorm Room Fund has been working closely with our community as we all begin to navigate the volatility caused by COVID-19.

We urge everyone to put the health and safety of themselves, their teammates, their families and their communities first, and to follow the prevention guidelines of the CDC, WHO, and ISOS. No meeting or business opportunity is worth endangering your health or that of others. 

At the same time, every team has the ability to adapt, stay positive, and remain resilient in the face of external adversity. That’s why we’ll be sharing tips and best practices gathered from the DRF community and from our experience running teams across four cities that are designed to help founders keep their companies moving forward in the weeks to come.

DRF Resource Guide: Running a Startup in Uncertain Times - Recently, we’ve been working to provide founders with resources to help them navigate an uncertain economy. So, we’ve put together a list of resources from top VCs/operators that have built and run startups during periods of economic uncertainty. Read more here.

5 Steps to Make Remote Meetings Work - The DRF team spends a lot of time on video calls. Whether it’s our remote HQ team dialing in every day, or our investment teams meeting with founders, our crew knows a thing or two about remote meetings. Here’s some advice you can use to crush yours. Read more here.

The Remote VC Pitch Checklist - Under normal circumstances, pitching a VC is a high-stakes moment. Pitching remotely can be even more stressful. But it doesn’t have to be. Check out our Remote VC Pitch Checklist to ensure that a webcam doesn't get in the way of your fundraising goals. Read more here.


What we’re celebrating

Community companies

Friends and alumni

  • Female Founder Track participant Alice Ma launched Kindness for Corona, a platform to crowdsource asks and distribute donations to people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Check it out.


From the podcast studio

  • Ben Liue, Co-founder & CEO of TrialSpark - Ben discusses everything from his desire to play in the NBA to founding his company that is helping companies manage pharmaceutical clinical trials more effectively.

Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts!


From the blog

Creating Personal Supercomputers: Why We Funded Fractal - What if you could transform your desktop or mobile device into a supercomputer? Today, the founders of Fractal are building software to allow each person to own a single cloud computer which they can access from all of their local devices. Read more here.

Making Building Hardware Easier: Why We Funded Workbench - What if building hardware was as easy as building software? Workbench founders Prince Ghosh and Lucas Fridman are on a mission to do just that by creating powerful information management software for hardware startups. Read more here.

Take me to the blog


Additional reading and resources

DRF Office Hours - School’s out but DRF is in session. We’re here to take your calls and help you think through the next steps for your startup. Our partners are hosting virtual office hours all this week for student founders across the country. Sign up here!

NO TOUCHING! - Inspired by the CDC’s recommendations surrounding COVID-19, Do Not Touch Your Face is a tool that teaches you to avoid touching your face using your webcam. Check it out here.

Love is only one Zoom call away - Two Yale students believe that as the world moves towards practicing social distancing, our social lives don’t have to suffer. Whether you are looking for love or just interested in finding new friends, OKZoomer is here to connect you. Get started here.


Hot takes

Coming soon: YC at Sea

Remote next batch, remote islands the next. In response to the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, Y Combinator recently announced that following its online demo day for the Winter 2020 batch, some or all of the Summer 2020 batch may take place remotely. But what if I told you could build the world’s next billion-dollar startup while sipping a piña colada on the pool deck? Introducing YC at Sea, the world’s first nautical accelerator for vacationing disruptors. Gone are the days of picking up and moving to Silicon Valley after getting the phone call from Paul Graham. Instead, the whole startup-honing program will take place on the S.S. Product Market Fit, the finest ship west of the Mississippi. But don’t think that this is the Suite Life on Deck. While there will still be shuffleboard and limbo competitions after dinner, accepted founders are expected to be working around the clock to prepare for demo day, which will now take place underwater. Please remember to BYOSG (bring your own scuba gear.)

TikTok is the new platform for music discovery

Alright, we’ll admit it — we’ve discovered new music to listen to through TikTok. But we’re not alone. If you look on Spotify right now, you’ll see a slew of playlists comprised of songs that are popular on TikTok’s platform. And we’re not talking about meme playlists shared between a few Gen Z friends, these playlists have hundreds of thousands of followers. Check out TikTok Music 2020 - Best TikTok Songs & Tik Tok Hits (406k), tiktok songs that are stuck in my head (177k), and TikTok trending (163k) if you don’t believe us. But TikTok has done more than just give us a few new bops to secretly dance to between Zoom calls, it has helped several artists rise to the spotlight. The prime example is Lil Nas X, whose single, “Old Town Road” went viral on TikTok before topping the Billboard Hot 100 charts for 19 straight weeks. Rapper Arizona Zervas saw a similar rise to fame with his track “Roxanne,” whose virality on TikTok landed the 24-year-old a deal with Columbia Records. So the next time you’re looking to impress your friends with an up-and-coming artist they’ve haven’t heard of, maybe try TikTok instead of Spotify or Soundcloud.


Finding jobs/internships during COVID-19

This week, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we elected to share some special resources instead of our normal job postings. We understand that there have been layoffs, some summer internship programs have been canceled, and that many students’ schedules have changed this Spring, so we want to share some resources to help college students and others navigate this year’s job/internship hunt.

1575 remote jobs from 100+ companies - Brianne Kimmel tweeted out this spreadsheet of remote jobs ranging from software engineering to sales to design. Check it out here.

Intern From Home - Has COVID-19 given you more time this Spring than you expected? Create value and learn through virtual internships and jobs. Get started here!

Not sure about the status of an internship program? - Check gcreddy42’s repo on Github, which is aggregating info on and updating the statuses of internships programs at various companies across the country. Find it here.

Plus, here are a few more hot options we’ve seen this week: 


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 info@dormroomfund.com.

Apply