Silicon Valley Venture Capital Trek

The week after spring break, myself and a few of my MBA peers were fortunate enough to go on the Silicon Valley Venture Capital Trek in various cities – San Francisco, Santa Clara, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and a couple others. As members of the student organization, Fisher Entrepreneurship Association (FEA), our goal is to learn about Entrepreneurship, Start-ups, Venture Capital (VC), and Investing through networking, events, and experiential opportunities. This was my first time on the trip, and it was by far one of my favorite MBA experiences so far. We met with Managing Directors, IPO Lawyers, Venture Capital Partners, and Founders & CEOs from various companies: Wilson, Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (WSGR), Google X, EY (Ernst & Young), DFJ (now Threshold Ventures), Prevedere Inc., and Aeris, and a couple others.

Listening to professionals in this space was eye-opening. There were so many questions myself and my peers had as young minds interested in learning how to get into the start-up space and understanding what type of professional experience and knowledge you need to be successful in it. Hearing success stories, failure stories, stories about the “grind” of this world, and honest perspectives about the start-up and venture capital industry gave many of us the ability to narrow in on what we would love to do professionally in this space. For me, after a few years working in tech and sports/entertainment, I would like to start my own company which will tie my passions together.

Most interesting things I heard during the trip:

  • Most of successful companies created their own market (ex: Facebook, Google, Intel, Cisco).
  • This idea of collaboration in tech is called “coopetition”.
  • Value = product-market fit / risk (execution).
  • NETWORKING is crucial!!
  • Get a mentor.
  • 3 parts to venture: 1) sourcing, 2) due diligence, 3) portfolio.
  • People who start a company aren’t always the ones to scale it.

What venture capital firms look for in entrepreneurs:

  1. How self-aware is this person?
  2. Are they able to recognize the fires and won’t ignore the problems?
  3. Do they recognize their own strengths and weaknesses?
  4. Are they persistent and do they have the mental endurance it takes to build and grow a company?

If you’d like to learn more about VC, start-ups, and entrepreneurship, below is a list of books and videos that were suggested to my classmates and I during our trip:

  • “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz
  • “The Art of the Start” by Guy Kawasaki
  • “The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company” by Steve Blank & Bob Dorf
  • “Straight Talk for Startups” by Randy Komisar and Jantoon Reigersman
  • “Venture Capitalists at Work: How VCs Identify and Build Billion-Dollar Successes” by Tarnang Shah and Shital Shah
  • “Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey Moore
  • “Something Ventured” – Netflix movie
  • “Secrets of Silicon Valley” – YouTube

Below is a list of people you should be familiar with – learn their stories as they either successfully built up billion-dollar companies or founded VC firms with highly invested portfolio companies in the Silicon Valley area:

  • Larry Ellison – Oracle
  • Marc Andreesen – Netscape
  • Andy Grove – Intel
  • Alan Shugart – Seagate Technology
  • Gordon Moore – Intel
  • John Chambers – Cisco
  • Steve Jobs – Apple, Pixar
  • Scott McNealy – Sun Microsystems
  • John Doerr – Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
  • Larry Sonsini – WSGR
  • Lewis Platt – Hewlett-Packard
  • James Clark – Netscape

A big thanks to Fisher College of Business, Professor Oglevee, Mr. Terranova, Mr. Coleman, and the MBA student leadership of FEA for making this trip happen and providing a wonderful growth experience.