Kauffman fellows: venture deals

The Kauffman fellows is an venture capital network/training/interest group. Their mission statement reads:

“Fostering a worldwide network of diverse venture capitalists, leaders, and innovators through education and inspiration since 1995”

To my understanding, their main activity is the Kauffman Fellows program for people in the venture investing industry. You can check out the Alumni here and the participating firms here. It includes people from Google Ventures and Sequoia. A medium post on the reasons for joining the program here.

Now, what they also do is running an online course in what I believe is the second year. The is called, like the book, Venture Deals and is also run by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson, partners at the Foundry Group and in fact the authors of Venture Deals.

Here is my brief review from half the course.Half the course, — not because it is bad — but for the reasons below.

Content

The content is excellent, largely oriented along the Venture Deals book which is extremely good as well. The content takes the form of video discussions plus pointing out the relevant chapters. The framework of the book (which I am not reviewing here) is also extremely good. The breakdown of control vs. pricing issues for example gives an extremely good framework for understanding what matters where and why.

Tasks / Group work

The core difference between a book and a course like that is of course that this course includes task and group work. Participants cooperate online and form a virtual start up and go through the relevant exercise. First thing: the participants come from interesting backgrounds, not surprising perhaps given you have to be aware of the course.

The course work itself is very applied, so designing a start up, researching relevant investors and then going through the effects of different rounds of funding and how that relates to the dilution of the founders. I did not go much further than this — so I cannot comment.

Overall

That brings my short review to the end. I did not conclude the course because I had read the book prior and have done two deals where I though about the control/pricing issues before. Admittedly, these deals have not moved to large follow on rounds or exit events yet, so my knowledge of the later stake is limited. So, albeit there something new to learn I did not proceed — mostly because thinking through these issues is much more relevant with something at stake (then I will be sure to consult the book and maybe to the later stage exercises) so that it felt more appropriate focussing my time on getting the deals and where I work to that stage rather than theoretically thinking this through. But of course, being aware of the effects of pricing on diluation and control was a useful exercise.

Since the course is free, I highly recommend everybody with a strong interest in how venture equity financing works and with 3–4hours per week do it. I would not do it with less time or dedication to not disappoint your team mates.