NEW VENTURE CAPITAL PROGRAM EMPOWERS INVESTORS AND TRAINS STUDENTS
There’s a new go-to forum for investors looking to sharpen their skills in early-stage negotiations: Berkeley Law’s Venture Capital (VC) Deal Camp. The recurring four-day program raises the bar for VC executive education.
Deal Camp is a collaboration between Startup@ BerkeleyLaw, a fast-expanding initiative that supports students interested in the law surrounding entrepreneurship, and 500 Startups, a leading global VC fund and startup accelerator. Launched in October 2016 and planned for each October and February, Deal Camp helps investors improve their ability to define, negotiate, and execute early-stage investments.
The gatherings feature full-service insight: timely lectures from Berkeley faculty, a front-row view of 500 Startups Preview Day, and hands-on workshops about the nuts and bolts of investment decision-making.
“This is the most cutting-edge executive education program for the investment community,” says organizer Adam Sterling ’13, executive director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Business.
February’s event featured more than 30 investor participants who hailed from 14 countries and represented diverse sources of capital, including corporate, family, and VC funds.
“I was looking for a platform where I could take what I’ve learned through my experience in VC and apply a more academic approach,” says Zosia Ulatowski, principal at Cornerstone Venture Partners and a February Deal Camp participant. “A highlight for me was hearing the perspectives from the guest investors. I also loved the practical components of the course.”
The program starts at 500 Startups Preview Day in Mountain View, where attendees hear pitches from the accelerators’ current batch of company founders.
The remaining agenda is held primarily at Boalt Hall. February’s “campers” heard timely lectures that included Berkeley Law Professors Robert Bartlett on the art of valuation and Steven Davidoff Solomon on exit strategies and mergers and acquisitions.
Presenters also included UC Berkeley alum Christine Tsai, who co-founded 500 Startups, and Ellen Pao, a partner at Kapor Capital.
Interactive workshops foster eager participation on topics such as term sheets and capitalization tables. While many seasoned venture capitalists might not be able to reverse-engineer a cap table, Sterling says, “Our goal is to make our campers ‘cap table wizards.’”
After taking part in the pilot event last October, Blacktop Capital General Partner Ben Brasher sees his newly acquired skill set becoming invaluable.
“The sense of confidence I got from participating really reinforced the feeling that this is something I can take on and be successful at,” Brasher says.
“We see ourselves not just as leaders in business law, but in business generally,” Sterling explains. “The idea that these faculty members are at the forefront of educating and training the business community illustrates how, as I like to say, ‘Berkeley means business.’”