In early October, nine first-year students participated in Tuck’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Center for Private Equity and Venture Capital Ecosystem Deep Dive, a content-and career-focused program in the Bay Area exploring entrepreneurship and venture capital. Visiting ten VC funds and venture-backed companies over the course of two days, this program was an incredible opportunity for students to learn about the relationship between early-stage investors and entrepreneurs – the kind of opportunity Tuck provides with its close-knit community. The company visits ranged from learning how a leading biotech VC is using genetic modifiers to identify new treatment options, to participating with the CEO of a VR startup in a live demonstration of his company’s newest product.
Many students come to Tuck with a precise idea of where they would like to work after graduating. However, a significant number of Tuckies embark on their MBA journey with the objective of finding the type of company they would like to work for and build the skillset they will need to be successful there. The Ecosystem Deep Dive was a perfect opportunity for both categories. Several participants signed up for the program because they had already launched a start-up, or had a venture idea, and wanted to receive advice from successful founders. Others had a broad notion that they would like to work in technology, but without knowing precisely at which type of company. By meeting investors and start-ups at all growth stages – from seed to late-stage – and in various sectors, such as virtual reality, music and online banking, participants were able to get a glimpse of what it would be like to work for each of them, and pinpoint which ones might suit them best and fulfill their career aspirations.
The learning didn’t stop there. A highlight of the Ecosystem Deep Dive was the opportunity for students to ask questions – without any filters – to successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. At Homebrew, a seed-stage VC fund, students learned about the skills needed to become a seed investor after working several years in an operational role at a technology company. At Chime, a Series D online bank, students had the privilege of sitting down with the two cofounders, who explained how despite the company’s exponential growth, its beginnings hadn’t always been easy. Finally, the founder of Feed.fm, a SaaS audio platform, shared insights on fundraising and managing a company’s cash flows. Overall, students were painted a full picture of the Bay Area Ecosystem, from raising capital, to growing a company, and becoming an investor who will support the next generation of start-ups.
The Ecosystem Deep Dive was led by Eileen O’Toole, assistant director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, and Jim Feuille, executive director of the Center for Private Equity and Venture Capital. The expansive resources and connections of these two Tuck Centers across the entrepreneurship ecosystem made this trip possible. The companies that students visited during this program included: Maze Therapeutics, Third Rock Ventures, Volta Charging, Crushroom, High Fidelity, Chime, Feed.FM, Silicon Valley Bank, HomeBrew, and Norwest Ventures.