Whither Venture Capital– A Constructive Perspective from the Kauffman Fellows Program

images-2There is plenty of ink flowing with speculation on the future of the venture capital industry.  Phil Wickham, CEO of the Kauffman Fellows Program, has a constructive perspective on this topic, which he expressed in his CEO recap in the Kauffman Fellows Program eBulletin that was published on June 2.

Below, I’ve quoted his key observations from the newsletter, with which I agree:

“… I [have] found two camps regarding venture capital: the majority believes venture is the answer to all our needs (mostly entrepreneurs) and the minority seems to think that the entire industry couldn’t fall of the edge of a cliff fast enough (mostly policy and academia). I have to say that the whole thing alarmed me, since we so strongly believe that the answer is nuanced and solidly in the middle of these two extremes. The CVE’s [Center for Venture Education] DNA is that of an “entrepreneur-first” organization, growing out of the culture and values of Mr. K [Ewing Marion Kauffman] and his Marion Labs team that put together and operated the Kauffman Foundation.

Since our full independence from the [Ewing Marion Kauffman]Foundation in 2001, our focus has been to anticipate as much as possible the evolution of the entrepreneur’s needs and opportunities, since we are management’s primary service provider. As a result, we have included the unique expertise of tech transfer funds, angel groups, corporate venture funds, international government seed funds and even foundation investors in the Kauffman Fellows Program as we strive to build a curriculum with maximum value for our customers.

… We’ve concluded a few simple things. First, that entrepreneurial capital is about enabling scale, and the value we deliver as an industry is much the same at any stage or in any environment. Second, that the CVE’s intellectual capital built up over the past 15 years is broadly applicable across all forms of entrepreneurial capital. Third, within that body of knowledge, our evolving expertise in leadership and managing the human dynamic has far more long-term impact than anything else we do. Finally, we are starting to discover that there is a much broader opportunity to spread this leadership know-how to all of the players in the eco-system: university researchers, entrepreneurs, LPs, government policy experts and service providers. We think that if – across the globe – each positional player can come to understand their own and each other’s roles and put their collaborative talents and energies behind the entrepreneur’s imagination, the world will be a better place for our children to inherit.”

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