What would happen if schools invested in their students and their ideas instead of just charging them school fees? That’s what St Francis has done, and they just made $24 million this week because of it.
Barry, the father of St Francis high school student, Natalie Eggers, tells the story: “Almost exactly five years ago today, I came home from work and walked into my kitchen. My daughter Natalie and a few of her high school sophomore friends were sitting at the table. They were all absorbed in their phones and were laughing.
I felt compelled to ask…“What are you all doing?”
My daughter looked up at me and said: “Dad, have you seen this app? It’s called Snapchat.”
“No. What does it do?”
“You take pictures, send them to your friends, and they disappear in 10 seconds.”
“Hmmm. What kinds of pictures?”
“It’s like funny and goofy stuff between friends. It’s one of the most popular apps at school, along with Angry Birds and Instagram.”
I had heard of Angry Birds and Instagram…but not Snapchat.
“How often do you use it?” I asked.
“I used to send 5 or 6 a day. Now I get 30 a day!” Natalie said.
That’s how Barry Eggers, who runs VC firm Lightspeed Venture Partners, became the first to invest in Snapchat, when it was still being run from Evan Spiegel’s living room.
The high school was the second - investing $15,000 in the company along with Barry. On Snap’s Thursday IPO, the school sold 1.4 million of their 2.1 million shares at $17 each. The remaining 700,000 shares they hold is worth another $19 million.
St Francis High School set up their venture fund in 1990 to support student and parent related investments - 20 years before making the investment in Snapchat. They’ve made about 20 investments since then and School President Simon Chiu says he doesn’t know of any other school that has a venture fund like this.
Maybe after this, more schools will follow the example of St Francis, and invest in the trends their students spot and the companies they create.
Imagine a future where schools get funded not (just) from student fees up to graduation, but from investing in their best ideas and success after graduation…
“The future of the world is in my classroom today.” ~ Ivan Welton Fitzwater