David B. Lerner

Dave Lerner, 3x Entrepreneur, Angel Investor, Host of Venture Studio
Entrepreneur, Angel Investor, Director of Columbia University Venture Lab, Blogger, Community Organizer, Golfer-in-Exile.

Heard it from the Horses' Mouth: What Venture Capitalists Like and Don’t Like to See when Doing University Spinoffs

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This is part of my ongoing series on University Entrepreneurship.

The annual University Startups Conference put on by NCET was held in Washington DC last week and was well attended by investors and university personnel alike.  Through the course of multiple panels and discussions, a good cross-section of venture investors from very reputable firms weighed-in candidly on both what they like to see and what they don’t like to see when they try to spin-out companies from university tech transfer offices.  Many colorful stories were exchanged to say the least.

Here are some quick bullets straight from the proverbial horses’ mouth that may be of help.

 VC’s like to see:

·       Platform technologies

·       Great faculty “stars”, great scientists, great science

·       Rich entrepreneurial culture and community throughout the university

·       A "go-to person" at the tech transfer office with entrepreneurial experience

·       A tech transfer office that’s “all about throughput” and getting deals done quickly

·       Deal terms that are flexible because "business models change over time"

VC’s do not like to see:

·       Slow-moving offices that take too long to get a deal done

·       "Mismatches" in terms of respective legal counsel (turn-around time, skill, expertise)

·       “Greedy” tech transfer offices with onerous deal terms

·       "Big egos" at the tech transfer office that get in the way of deals

·       Business plans. VC's prefer to have a short summary and decide for themselves


For Part 22 in this Series, click here

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Good morning,
thanks for sharing the feedback with us.

It looks like we have another pendulum swing: 5 years ago, in Europe at least, VC's wanted to see "products" not "platforms". So, so much for our own philosophies

I am surprised about the Business Plan point that is being brought up. I had in mind that the difficult process of going through the exercise of drafting a business plan was a must in order for the team to understand the customer benefits that they propose.

This said I agree with Pr Roosevelt "it's not the plan that matters, it's the planning process"

We have additional info on our web site on the subject, concerning the key issues that make a proposal fly or die when reviewed by BDs and VC. Have a look: http://www.forotech.ch

Best regards.

Excellent David, again. VC's, specilly, want to see teams, and usually find egos. Xavier

Thanks for the comments and the link Jean-Louis. On the matter of business plans, I think it in large part is a matter of taste, just like so many other things...

gracias Xavier. indeed!

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