Tag: venture capital

This fall, Washington University students will have yet another way to get off campus and engage with local innovators: the InSITE Fellowship.

The INSITE Fellowship is a nationally renowned leadership program designed for full-time graduate students interested in entrepreneurship and venture capital. As a partner school, WashU joins a cohort of other top institutions: Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Columbia, NYU, UPenn, Georgetown and UC Berkeley.

In this three-semester program, students will have the opportunity to perform high-impact projects for local startups and venture capital firms. The fellowship also connects students with a nationwide network of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, through annual sponsored events, such as:

  • Free passes to South by Southwest (AirBnB even dontates housing for the INSITE Fellows in Austin, TX!)
  • A fireside chat with Fred Wilson, author of the popular AVC blog, and co-founder of Union Square Ventures, a NYC venture capital firm known for its investments in tech companies like Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, Zynga, and Kickstarter
  • INSITE Connect, a biannual conference where fellows present their projects

All full-time Business, Law and Engineering graduate students are welcome to apply. The deadline is THIS WEDNESDAY, 9/23 at 11:59 pm. APPLY NOW  

Please reach out to Jessica Stanko (stanko@wustl.edu) with any questions!

Clifford Holekamp, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Director of the Entrepreneurship Platform is also a partner in one of the newest venture capital funds in St. Louis, Cultivation Capital.

Cultivation capitalIn an article in Octane, the Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO) blog, Holekamp reflects on why successful entrepreneurs like himself and his partners make good investors and judges of new startups.

Pictured at left: Holekamp, Rick Holton, and Jim McKelvey, all partners in Cultivation Capital.

Read the article.

Today was quite a day. We received lectures from four different speakers along the famous Rothchild Boulevard, the heart of Tel Aviv’s financial district. First up today was Ron Gura, who currently works for Aleph VC. He described how he made the switch from being an entrepreneur to being at the on the other side of the negotiations in the role of a venture capitalist.

Guest Blogger: Zach is a sophomore WashU.

Then we heard from Ron Goldi who works for Ajillion which was bought by Crossrider. [Quick side-note: We talked to Goldi on the roof of the Crossrider building, which was simply gorgeous.] Goldi actually made the opposite switch from Gura: Goldi went from being a venture capitalist to an entrepreneur. Hearing from both of these businessmen back-to-back was interesting, as they each had their own reasons for switching jobs. They are perfectly content where they are now. But they both admitted that having been on the other side of the table really helps them now because they can think like the people they negotiate with. That is why it is beneficial to work both sides of the negotiation. What I took away was that this doesn’t just apply to the VC industry. To be successful in negotiations, you must know the perspective of each party involved. Once you have accomplished that, you will be able to achieve success.

After those two speakers, we met with Ran Achituv of Magma VC. Magma is a VC fund that focuses in on early stage tech companies, including Waze. In the funding spectrum, they are somewhere in between a micro-fund and a multi-stage generalist VC fund as they tend to spend between $100 million and $150 million for funding.

Afterwards, we were able to hear from the other side of the funding spectrum: a group of angels called Maverick Ventures. Maverick is basically the complete opposite of Magma. While Magma has probably invested in many startups, Maverick Ventures has only invested in six. They also aim to fund startups with somewhere between $1 million and $3 million, which is a huge difference from Magma, too. But the biggest difference I saw was the unique mindset Maverick had. They believed that while other VC’s may only find success in three out of ten startups, they wanted to be successful with all of their startups.

I have been hearing about different types of funders all throughout my time here, but now I finally was able to clearly differentiate them with these back-to-back presentations of competitors.

Now for our startup app we have been working on in class, we are able to clearly decide which type of funding we want to aim for.

On June 9, we went on our first company visit to Pitango, Israel’s leading venture capital fund. As we pulled up to the Corporate Park filled with beautiful office buildings and great restaurants, I thought I was in New York City. I immediately became even more excited than I was before and curious about what I was going to experience inside one of the buildings.

Guest blogger: Rachel is a sophomore at the University of Michigan.

ed Mlavsky_color


First, Dr. Ed Mlavsky, Chairman Emeritus and Founding Partner of Gemini Israel Ventures, spoke to us about the transition of Israel to a high-tech world. The organization of his presentation was timely and precise. Dr. Mlavsky described the days before the Internet to the present, in terms of investing in high-tech companies. He specifically noted that between 1999 and 2008 the Israeli Venture Capitalist Evolutionary process was in a time of “Survival of the Fittest.” This phenomenon occurs when too many funds are established, thus competition is inevitable between them. I found it interesting that the same term I learned about in high school science is applicable to business in the past and present. By 2012, the Israel Venture Capitalist Industry was in maturity.

Another important topic that Dr. Mlavsky thoroughly discussed was the American- Israeli culture gap and how it affects the industry. It is important to consider this dilemma when the firms debate hiring an American or Israeli CEO. After being in Israel for only a few days, the mentality of Israeli business is palpable. Dr. Mlavsky’s discussion was a great introduction to this summer’s adventures and educational experience.

ptangologoSimilarly, Rami, from Pitango, charismatically discussed his take on the industry, his personal experience and methods. Rami put the rather large terms we discussed in class into applicable advice that sparked my inspiration. One survival skill that specially stood out was the need to find your weapon. In other words, one needs to find what drives them in order to be successful. Over the next six weeks I am excited to explore this question further and hopefully will leave here knowing what my weapon is.

“We may be a VC firm, but we’re as scrappy as a startup.”

Colleen Liebig, my boss at St. Louis venture capital firm Cultivation Capital, told me this on the first day of my internship.  In the whirlwind two weeks that I have worked at Cultivation Capital, I have quickly gained an appreciation for what she meant. I’ve had the opportunity to get my hands dirty and, in the process, learn a great deal about venture capital and the world of startups. Here are four life lessons I’ve gleaned that can apply to any intern, entrepreneur, or worker:

  1. Stay On Your Toes

Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) are expected to have more than 20 different jobs in their lifetime. If my first two weeks at Cultivation Capital are any indication, that estimate seems low. In merely 14 days, I’ve researched recruitment software, conducted due diligence on potential investments, and helped generate attendance at an important event. Practice makes perfect, so never get complacent about learning and growing.

  1. Everything is a Negotiation

Interning at a VC firm has provided the opportunity to practice a piece of advice I received from basically all my business professors: everything is a negotiation. For example, try bargaining with a coworker to exchange your strawberries for a couple double-stuffed Oreos.  Also, be aware that software salesmen may initially resist lowering the cost of a recruitment software. Yet let their emails cool in your inbox for a week, and suddenly they have some killer end-of-quarter sales. Just like you shouldn’t only check out the first link on a Google search, you should always try to get the best deal for yourself and your company.

  1. Jargon Matters- Sometimes

“Detailed self-starter with a proven track record of leveraging innovative synergies to streamline processes.” This is the kind of LinkedIn summary that makes people laugh out loud. Everyone knows that certain buzz words convey nothing substantial. However, as with any culture, certain jargon does come in handy and I’ve received a crash course on industry vocabulary: KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), capital calls (requests for pledged money), and AgTech (agricultural technology). Speaking the language is not sufficient for success, but it is necessary.

  1. There’s Always Room for Improvement

One advantage startups have over established corporations is their ability to avoid bureaucracy and move quickly on openings. Sometimes opportunities present themselves that make perfect sense. I learned this during a meeting between Cultivation Capital and Jessica Stanko of the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship, WashU’s entrepreneurship hub. Surprisingly, there has been minimal communication between the two outfits. Moving forward, Cultivation and Skandalaris will collaborate much more closely to educate students about the thriving entrepreneurship scene in St. Louis. Both groups will also help connect students with startup companies: Cultivation always needs talented interns for their portfolio companies and the Skandalaris Center wants to help students discover their passion for startups. Never settle for the status quo, because there is always room for improvement.

The MBA Entrepreneurship Platform program invites recent alumni back to campus on a regular basis to share their experiences in all aspects of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Anton Gimmel, MBA’14, took part in a panel discussion recently. He pursued his MBA at Olin after working on Wall Street for 10 years in investment banking. He explains why in the video above.

After graduation, Anton joined Clayton-based RiverVest Venture Partners®. The firm focuses exclusively on innovations in life sciences and is one of the leading VC firms that invests in medical device and biotech companies. Established in 2000, RiverVest has $280+ million assets under management. It has funded 30 life science companies to date with 18 exits.