UO announces RAINMaker Fund for student entrepreneurs

Gift from music entrepreneur and artist Paul Anthony Troiano will help kickstart careers of student entrepreneurs

Paul Anthony TroianoEUGENE, Ore. — (Nov. 13, 2014) — When Paul Anthony Troiano founded a music startup out of his University of Oregon dorm room in 1996, he discovered the university did not offer much in the way of formalized resources for young entrepreneurs.

“Learning how to build a business while going to school was a real challenge,” Troiano recalled. “As a student entrepreneur, resources, guidance and coaching were hard to find and you felt like the only available option was to go it alone.”

Despite the challenges, Troiano persevered and successfully built Rumblefish, a company that is now the world leader in music micro-licensing with more than 75 million songs licensed, serving major clients including YouTube, Google, Vimeo and Shutterstock. Along the way, as Troiano struggled to find resources as a student entrepreneur, one backer made a well-timed $5,000 investment in his company. That backer was Phil Romero, then dean of the Lundquist College of Business.

Now, 18 years later, Troiano, in turn, has “paid it forward,” committing more than $300,000 to establish a new award. Each year the RAINMaker Fund will provide up to five highly motivated UO student entrepreneurs with $5,000 in seed funding to help launch their companies, along with coaching, mentoring and other strategic resources.

“The RAINMaker Fund will offer promising students the resources they need to jump start their careers as entrepreneurs,” said Patrick Jones, associate vice president for research and innovation. “We are extremely grateful to Paul Anthony Troiano for his vision, and we look forward to growing this award with the help of other donors and assuring that the University of Oregon is a environment where student innovation is cultivated and encouraged to thrive.”

Designed to attract students to engage within the Eugene node of the Regional Accelerator & Innovation Network (Eugene RAIN), the RAINMaker Fund will begin accepting applications from promising UO student entrepreneurs in late November, with a deadline for submissions in early January 2015.

Applications will be open to all current UO students, including undergraduates who are juniors and above and graduate students in all disciplines. Students who have graduated from UO in the term immediately prior to the application deadline may also apply. Students in the School of Music and Dance are especially encouraged to apply. Application information can be found at research.uoregon.edu.

Troiano hopes the fund will quickly attract other donors who see the great benefits of supporting student innovation on campus.

“These aren't grants designed for students who are solely book smart, there are plenty of incentives to have a great GPA,” said Troiano, who continues to serve as president and CEO for Rumblefish, which was acquired this year by the private equity from Rizvi Traverse. “The RAINMaker Fund rewards and encourages student-entrepreneurs who demonstrate true entrepreneurial talent by proactively starting a business.”

“I encountered a lot of friction in my experience as a student-entrepreneur,” Troiano added. “I’d like the RAINMaker Fund to play a part in removing that friction, and I encourage other alumni to make additional contributions to the fund in order to magnify the impact for student-entrepreneurs.”

Troiano also was co-founder of the guitar pedal company Spaceman, the start-up accelerator Starve Ups and the TEDxPortland conference. He is an active player in the entrepreneurial and creative communities of the Pacific Northwest.

Media Contact: Lewis Taylor, 541-346-2816, lewist@uoregon.edu,

Note: The University of Oregon is equipped with an on-campus television studio with a point-of-origin Vyvx connection, which provides broadcast-quality video to networks worldwide via fiber optic network. In addition, there is video access to satellite uplink, and audio access to an ISDN codec for broadcast-quality radio interviews.