Business

The venture capitalist on campus

Hugo Van Vuuren (second from left) with Harvard’s Martin Camacho, Patrick Coats, and Brandon Liu.
Hugo Van Vuuren (second from left) with Harvard’s Martin Camacho, Patrick Coats, and Brandon Liu.Credit: Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

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With preppy good looks and a casual confidence, Hugo Van Vuuren moves effortlessly among the student body at Harvard University, buttonholing undergrads in the Yard or holding court in a Harvard Square coffee shop.

But Van Vuuren, 29, isn’t a student, nor faculty member. He’s a venture capitalist with office hours on campus.

From an outpost inside Harvard’s School of Engineering, Van Vuuren administers the Experiment Fund, a roughly $10 million investment pool backed by successful venture capitalists who are Harvard graduates themselves. The university allowed the alumni to open shop on campus as part of a broader campaign to promote entrepreneurship, and also to prevent another Mark Zuckerberg from dropping out of Harvard and starting a successful business elsewhere—as Zuckerberg did with Facebook nearly a decade ago.

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