The Venture Capital Industry
Another important trend is the increasing sophistication of the entrepreneur. This has fueled healthy new competition and differentiation in the industry, as start-ups expect more than just capital from investors. Looking at the ecosystem, everyone, from corporations to universities to governments, wants to be positioned in the technology commercialization game. These organizations see it as a matter of necessity: corporations for “open” R&D as an engine of growth, universities to better harvest IP and build up talent, and governments to spur job growth, tax income, and economic vitality. Many of these entities have established beach-head Silicon Valley offices, to better collaborate and contribute to the start-up flow.
Within this context, however, we have experienced continued strong demand for Kauffman Fellowships from venture firms—investing across the IT, LS, and CleanTech sectors. Established firms and emerging managers alike seem to recognize that it is wise to invest in the human capital of the business—especially in times of transition and opportunity.
If there is a constant to the story of innovation, it is that it comes from unexpected places and in unexpected ways, but innovation most assuredly keeps on coming. Wise investors, while responding to new constraints and conditions, have remained active as they patrol for opportunities to invest and collaborate with entrepreneurs.
The Kauffman Fellows Program
The program’s mission is “To identify, network and develop future global leaders of the venture capital industry.” We accomplish that objective by seeking out the most promising candidates from around the world, matching them with leading venture firms, and providing a career-long platform of leadership development and industry best practices. New Fellows complete an intense and interactive two-year structured leadership and learning program that is organized into seven modules. Upon graduation, they become members of the Kauffman Fellows Society. The strong bonds formed within and between classes during these first two years serve as the foundation for the program’s long-term success. Because trust and awareness have been built up, Fellows are able to call on one another to share opportunities, insights, and resources – better serving entrepreneurs and the startup enterprise.
The program is governed by a board of directors and staff with a passion for entrepreneurship, deep venture capital expertise, and a strong history with the program. More information can be found on the staff and Board of Directors pages.
Benefits of the Kauffman Fellows Program for venture capital firms include:
- Access to a heavily screened, pre-qualified exceptional talent pool,
- Infrastructure necessary to accelerate the learning and development of new venture professionals,
- Access to an instant, incomparable global network that adds to, and therefore broadens and deepens, the firm’s network and deal flow, and
- Learning and networking by Kauffman Fellows that can be shared and leveraged across the entire firm.
Learning and Professional Development
The faculty and staff of the Kauffman Fellows Program seek to bolster the strengths of each Kauffman Fellow across these two dimensions. On the first front: by surrounding each new fellow with an established, committed network of practitioners who apprentice them through teaching, demonstration, and encouragement. On the second front: by delving into human dynamic issues that drive individual and group behaviors and perceptions. By sharpening their awareness and competence, Kauffman Fellows learn to be highly effective in establishing rapport, building consensus, and working through conflict – whether with a management team, a board, or in their own partnerships.
- Assessing Opportunities in Biosimilars
- A VC Perspective on Cloud Computing
- Kauffman Fellows Venture Corps
- Trends in Technology and Science Commercialization
- The Cost of Early-Stage Investment Failures
Since 2010, Fellows have had the opportunity to publish their field projects in the Kauffman Fellows Report.
While the Fellows’ final session is known as “graduation,” it is actually just the beginning of their lifelong fellowship. The graduation ceremony marks the Fellow’s cross-over from a structured learning environment to their membership in the worldwide Kauffman Fellows Society. As a member of the Society, each Fellow continues to learn and grow, participating in industry focus groups, and taking part in ongoing technical training and peer-to-peer learning.
- Industry retention of Kauffman Fellows is high. In contrast to industry averages, where only half of those who join VC firms stay in the industry, nearly 80% of all Kaufffman Fellows have remained in venture capital.
- For all Fellows who have remained in the venture capital industry for at least a year since graduating from the program, success rates are also high. More than half are partners or general partners in their firms.
- Twenty Kauffman Fellows have founded their own firms and closed their first funds.
The Application Process
The work experience prerequisite is important because it allows the candidate to draw upon their own practical, real-world lessons, and insights. Internships and time applied in pursuit of a graduate degree or PhD are generally not tallied toward the work experience prerequisite. However, if you feel strongly that your academic work is relevant and appropriate, we would like to learn more and understand why.
Kauffman Fellows bring a rich assortment of expertise and achievements yet also share common characteristics and experiences. A candidate may be light in some areas, but compensate through exceptional strength in other areas. Some of the traits of Kauffman Fellows are as follows:
- A bias toward entrepreneurs
- Deep scientific, technology, or business domain expertise
- Demonstrated leadership strengths
- An aspiration to contribute to the building of companies, either as a venture investor or as a startup leader
- An appetite for risk, ambiguity, and unstructured environments
- Humility, empathy, a sense of service, and unquestioned integrity
|Who should apply||Applicants looking to enter the venture capital industry||Applicants already working at a venture capital firm|
|Official university transcripts||✓||✓|
|Personal statements (approx. 3 pages)||✓||✓|
|Statement of Interest||To be completed by venture firm and proposed mentor|
|Professional references||3 written references||2 written references from someone outside your firm and one phone reference from within your firm|
References should be from people who know the applicant in a professional, working context, such as an employer or graduate school advisor.
The Selection Process
Finalists securing a position with a investment firm may then join the next Fellows class with the support of their employing firm.
Affiliate candidates are, by definition, already employed with an investment firm. These candidates go through an equally rigorous application and interview process to determine those that will be included in the Fellows class. While there is a superset of candidates who will be qualified to serve as a Kauffman Fellow, each class is selected to create the optimum learning community, with diversity in education, experience, and industry background, as well as size, type, and geography of firms.