Last week I spent a few days at the Brandeis International School of Business at the invitation of Professor Charles Reed. While on campus I gave three talks (in addition to embedding them here I have also made them available through Slideshare on my blog’s home page) about venture capital and entrepreneurship; two that were lectures in classes taught by Professor Reed and one that was part of the business school’s invited speaker series.
Because of its international orientation, the Brandeis business school provides a rather unique environment for talking about venture capital and entrepreneurship. The majority of its students come from foreign countries with little or no exposure to venture capital, but strong entrepreneurial roots. During its 10 years of operation the business school has produced 15 startups, several of which are doing quite well. One has to remember that Brandeis is a small school (it has a little over 2000 students) with no engineering or medical schools.
I gave the first talk (Download Lecutre 1) in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation undergraduate course. I wanted to accomplish two goals with this talk. First, I wanted to provide an introduction on how VCs work. I covered how VCs raise a new fund, how they create a pipeline of deals to consider investing (the so called “deal flow”), how they conduct due diligence in prospective investment opportunities, and how they participate in corporate boards in order to manage the investments they make. Second, as an ex-CEO of startups, I wanted to provide a framework around which to start thinking of the first 18 months of a startup’s life, a period which typically includes a couple of rounds of venture funding.
I gave the second talk (Download Lecture 2) in the Entrepreneurial Finance and Business Plans graduate course. My goal for this talk was to talk about the conclusions my Trident partners and I reached based on our work with our portfolio companies during the past 12, very difficult months. I spoke about how we managed our portfolio, including how we made difficult decisions when it became necessary. I then switched gears and talked about how to create a business plan and how to present to a venture investor, taking into account the stage of a company seeking funding. We went through a few real examples of business plans I have seen (and liked).
The final talk (Download Lecture 3 )was for a more general audience and provided my take on trends in the venture capital industry from both an investor’s perspective and an entrepreneur’s perspective.
All three talks generated lively discussion (and subsequent email interactions) with the students, something which I found very rewarding. I hadn’t taught since 1992 and forgot how energizing the experience can be (but in moderation). I look forward to returning to the Brandeis campus and work with these students in some of the business plans they are now in the process of writing.