Venture Capital Club

Venture Capital Club

Google, Dell, and Napster are all related in that they were created while their respected founders were in college. Within the last 40 years, Harvard has produced two of the most influential technology companies of all time. Both Microsoft and Facebook have changed the way individuals connect with one another and perform tasks in their daily lives. Bill Gate’s Microsoft defined the technology of the elder generation, while Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook has defined, and is still defining, our generation.

The University of Virginia has many great academic clubs that students can join to pursue their business passions. Many of these clubs are partnered with the Commerce School and do a great job of offering experiences to students that few around the country have the chance to appreciate. While these clubs are great, if a student at this university has an idea for a startup company there are many obstacles before them, most predominantly raising money. There are ways that new entrepreneurs can confront this problem such as seeking assistance from venture capital firms, but this can be very difficult.

Given the success of Zuckerberg, Gates, and other previous students, Harvard has become the first university in the world to create its own venture capital fund, The Experiment Fund. This fund allows entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams, receive capital, and stay in school. The fund is open to anyone, including students at other universities. Entrepreneurs will pitch their idea or creation to the organization, and wait to hear if they will receive capital. Essentially, it is very similar to what the McIntire Investment Institute (MII) does, but instead of studying and investing in stocks, the organizations looks into new startup ventures.

In a few weeks Startup Weekend is coming to Charlottesville. This is an awesome opportunity for anyone interested in starting a new business to learn how to apply new technology and creative ideation to their dreams. I had the opportunity to participate in Startup Weekend this past summer while in New York City. Over the course of the weekend, entrepreneurs pitch web-based or smart phone application business ideas, join teams, and collaborate over the weekend to create the next great startup. Once the event begins, teams have 54 hours to prepare for their presentation to the judges on Sunday night. The judges are comprised of successful entrepreneurs, Startup Weekend’s representatives, and venture capitalists. The event gave me a firsthand look at the problems new companies encounter when getting off the ground and how to confront those issues.

If your team wins and the VCs are impressed, you may possibly receive seed money for your venture. My team built a web portal to allow entrepreneurs to navigate the legal complexity of starting a new venture. We ended up finishing in fourth out of the twenty companies that were ultimately selected to pitch on Sunday night. Our team was the smallest and had only one programmer, but I believe we were able to succeed because we had great teamwork and each individual was able to contribute valuable assets. Aside from my team, I met talented designers, computer programmers, business executives, and creative entrepreneurs, and still keep in contact with them regularly. I would recommend catching up on sleep before this weekend-long event, as it is very common for many teams to work all night long. I highly encourage anyone interested in starting a new venture or those with great talent in programming and designing to attend this event. Startup Weekend will be in Charlottesville March 23rd – 25th.

So for those of you interested in creating a new startup, I would highly recommend trying your luck with Harvard’s Experiment Fund or at Startup Weekend because you can get constructive feedback and seeing other good ideas may trigger better thoughts for your own ventures. If anyone else wants to try something different, I would really like to start a venture capital club similar to Harvard’s here at UVA. With the talented minds of the students, the professors, and the citizens in the Charlottesville community, I believe many great ideas could grow with funding from this club. If anyone else has an interest in pursuing the creation of a UVa Venture Club, please let me know.


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    Hello, my name is Matt Robertson. I love developing new skills, helping others and traveling around the world. I’m a very self-driven, competitive and tenacious individual. I graduated from the University of Virginia in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Economics. I now work as an Analyst within Morgan Stanley’s Institutional Equity Sales & Trading Division in New York City.

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    I desired a summer internship in 2013. Read about my accolades and attributes, and check out a video I made to help prospective employers get to know me better.

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