VC Backed Alumni Ranking

Each year Pitchbook runs an analysis of which universities/colleges have the most VC backed alumni.  In theory, this should be a measure of the entrepreneurship heft of the given school.  Here is their just published report.  Highlights:

  1. Methodology:  Pitchbook tracked founders of companies that received a first round of venture funding between January 1, 2006 and August 18, 2017.  Large data base.
  2. Page 4:  Cornell ranks 6th for undergraduate programs for the number of VC backed entrepreneurs.
  3. Page 7:  Cornell ranks 6th for dollar volume of VC dollars raised.
  4. Page 9:  Cornell ranks 5th for female founders.
  5. Page 10:  Cornell ranks 14th for MBA programs.
  6. Page 11:  Cornell ranks 3rd for undergraduate founder unicorns (companies with over $1 billion in valuation)

Good reading.  Enjoy!

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Questions to Ask

Sometimes it is GREAT to have a playbook.  A coach loves a playbook.  A teacher loves a playbook.  A general contractor loves a playbook.

Well, for investors, a playbook is tricky because every investment is different.  No exceptions.  Never will all the key factors be the same:  founders, market, product, scalability, regulatory environment, IP protection, global market forces, etc.

Yet having some “standard” questions to ask when starting to learn about a team and a company is comforting.  So, yes, I am talking about “first meeting” questions.

Likewise, as a founder it is comforting to anticipate what those first meeting questions will be and good to have a general plan on how to answer them.

I read this morning a GREAT playbook on first meeting questions.  It is written from the angel investor perspective, but it is a wonderful resource for founders as well.

Here is it (thanks to Tim Ferriss and Jason Calacanis).

I do have one piece of advice for founders as they answer questions in an investor meeting:  be very open and honest and do not sound like a politician.  Answer the questions directly and thoughtfully.  If you have not quite figured something out, then say that.  No beating around the bush and no BS – that will only have the opposite reaction you are hoping to get.  My number one subjective factor when making an investment decision is trust.

Upstate NY’s Strongest Economy

A Buffalo-based business publication just published an article called “Which parts of Upstate New York have the strongest economies? (And which are trailing the pack?)”.  Here is a PDF of the article:  Upstate NY Strongest Economies.

I am obviously delighted with Ithaca’s ranking and proud to be part of this great and growing ecosystem.  Things are hustling and bustling here and startups are leading the way!

Woohoo!

Accelerate or Not Accelerate….That is the Question

Personally, I am a fan of accelerator programs.  There is a healthy debate on this topic, but I think that being intensely pushed by good mentors for 3 months or so can only improve the chances of success!

This morning I came across an interesting accelerator ranking.  A group of professors (from strong programs) created something called the Seed Accelerator Rankings Project. The lead is Yael Hochberg, who used to be at Cornell and is now at Rice.  Definitely research and stats oriented and produced.  You might enjoy taking a look, particularly as the presentation is very nonacademic!

I read about the project in Term Sheet, which is a great daily on VC.  You can subscribe here.

How to Start a Startup at Cornell

Cornell MBA student Mike Annunziata recently published a great article on starting a company at Cornell from the perspective of a student.  Mike has in fact started a company called Natural Cuts https://www.natural-cuts.com/, and no, it is not a hair cutting salon!

Mike hits the steps (getting started, course work, getting involved with entrepreneurship, taking ideas to market, and getting funded) and identifies which Cornell resources might be useful.

Here is Mike’s full article.

Hope you have a great weekend.