Dec 10, 2019

Tuck Students “Venture” to Boston

By Claire Dalman T’21 and Ross Klosterman T’20

In early November a group of Tuck students interested in venture capital and entrepreneurship traveled to Boston for a packed schedule of meetings with a variety of firms. In addition to networking, the goal of the trip was to expose students keen on entering venture or on a path to starting companies to the different models of venture capital—from early stage to growth, generalist to industry specific. We began with an evening of drinks, appetizers, and networking between students and Tuck alumni, graciously hosted at State Street Provisions by Liam Donohue T’95 and So-June Min T’95 from .406 Ventures.

Thanks to the initiative of Center for Private Equity and Venture Capital Executive Director, Jim Feuille D’79, who called everyone to attention from the dining booth seat, Brodie Stone T’20 and Ross Klosterman T’20 pitched their company, UnifiHealth, which is focusing on reimagining health benefits for small businesses. After an evening of socializing, we had a full Friday of scheduled stops at Bain Capital Ventures, Boston Millennia Partners, Charles River Ventures, Openview Venture Partners, Flare Capital, and Green D Ventures.

Jim Feuille D’79 (right) called everyone to attention from a dining booth seat giving Brodie Stone T’20 and Ross Klosterman T’20 (left) an opportuity to ptich their company, UnifiHealth, which is focusing on reimagining health benefits for small businesses.

Tuckies in attendance on this trek were a mix of first- and second-year students, each of whom brought a unique perspective to each meeting given the group’s diverse background experiences and varying areas of interest within the venture capital industry. This contributed to dynamic discussions with each of the firms we met. After an obligatory coffee stop, we kicked off our jam-packed day with a conversational dialogue at Bain Capital Ventures. We discussed the firm’s position within the industry, its industry focus on SaaS companies, and its diligence processes, but we also had the chance to discuss general trends in the greater VC industry. Getting candid insights from venture professionals into where VC is today, as well as where it is heading, was a fortunate reoccurrence at every stop we made.

Millennia Partners, a firm focused on growth equity in healthcare, pharma, medical devices, and life sciences was our next stop. At only our second meeting of the day, we learned important ways in which VC firms can differ from one another, both in terms of investment approach and industry focus. Millennia Partners shared an internship opportunity with the team that first year students would be eligible to apply for, adding value to this already widely insightful trip. Charles River Ventures, or CRV, was up next where we were provided with a generous lunch spread. Here, we had the opportunity to meet with Izhar Armony, a seasoned industry professional who is a four time "unicorn" investor and has been involved with four +$1bn IPOs.

Our afternoon visits kicked off at Openview, an expansionary stage software-focused fund. We were able to speak with two Tuckies that work at the firm—John McCullough T’10 and Caitlin Bolnick T’19—who described how Openview’s advisory in corporate development, pricing and packaging and executive networks, as well as other areas gives them a competitive advantage when sourcing deals. After re-elevating our caffeine levels, we continued to our next meeting with Flare Capital Partners. Flare invests in primarily early-stage healthcare technology. This was an especially exciting meeting for our entrepreneurs mentioned above given the interest level overlap. Finally, we concluded our busy day at Green D Ventures where we met with Laura Rippy D’89 and Lacey Johnson T’13. Green D Ventures invests in early-stage companies connected to Dartmouth and Tuck alums. Ending our nonstop day at a firm connected to Tuck was a welcome grounding in the ever-evolving world of venture capital.