The entrepreneurially minded Millennials—or Generation Go, as we’ve termed one of our 10 Trends for 2012—are more likely than their predecessors to seek alternatives to the “traditional” career path, both out of necessity (a languishing economy) and a distrust of corporations. But they face an uphill battle, especially with today’s sky-high student loan payments. Upstart, a pilot program recently launched by a team of ex-Googlers, is a Kickstarter-like idea positioned as a solution to the hurdles faced by new graduates.
Upstart lets graduates connect with a minimum of five financial backers, who act as investors in the “upstart”: They provide funds and sometimes mentorship as the participant pursues his or her goal—be it writing a novel or starting a tech firm—in return for a variable share of the next decade’s worth of annual income. (So far Upstart is open only to American citizens from a roster of five colleges.) Upstart explains, “It’s an investment in you, not your idea or your business”—instead of big employers giving promising grads their professional head start, today anyone can do so. —Nick Ayala