How do investors financing early stage and growing companies make investment decisions, determine valuations, negotiate terms with entrepreneurs, manage multiple rounds of financing, assist their portfolio company’s grow, harvest their winners through sale or IPO, and operate their own firms? How should entrepreneurs develop their financing plans and select their financial partners? What should entrepreneurs know about how financiers decide which ventures to support? How do these processes differ for e-commerce companies versus consumer businesses versus biotech start-ups versus other technology-based enterprises, and in the U.S. compared to European, African or Asian ventures? This course addresses these questions and many more.
Coursework is organized around the activities and challenges faced by venture investors in the U.S. and internationally. Students should expect to complete the course with an understanding of the processes employed by those making the risk-reward determinations to invest in new and fast-growing ventures. This course provides a framework for analysis and evaluation of these topics, and has proven beneficial to those pursuing careers in venture capital, investment management, entrepreneurship, and innovation.
Course material includes case studies and business plans, with classes featuring a combination of lectures, student interactions, and numerous guest speakers who are active practitioners and/or entrepreneurs. Class participation is essential to a successful course with students expected to contribute to the discussion each week. Several classes require short written submissions, and/or financial analyses.
Course Requirements (Grade Weightings)
* Class participation (quality, not quantity) and homework submissions (50%)
* 4-5 page mid-term individual paper evaluating the risks and potential rewards of an early stage investment (25%)
* 10-15 page final paper; groups of 2-3 students; topic selected by students consistent with the broad themes of the course. All work must be original and not completed in conjunction with other projects or papers. (25%)
Jeffrey Harris was a Columbia Business School faculty member from 2005 to 2016.