The Inaugural VC University LIVE is in the Midwest – Here’s Why

In January 2019, NVCA and Startup@BerkeleyLaw announced a new educational program with two components called VC University.

The main idea: The Midwest has seen robust growth in venture investment. VC University will help democratize access to education on venture finance in startup ecosystems across the country.

In January, NVCA and Startup@BerkeleyLaw announced a new educational program with two components called VC University, with the goal of democratizing access to education on venture finance in startup ecosystems across the country. The first component—an online certificate program—has gotten off to a successful start. The first cohort began on April 1 with almost 100 participants. Given the overwhelming demand, we’re also planning a second cohort to start on September 1, 2019.

The second component includes two in-person events in emerging ecosystems across the country, i.e., VC University LIVE. We’re hosting the inaugural VC University LIVE program with the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan on May 15-17 in Ann Arbor. See my February blog post for more details on the VC University program.

With the May 15-17 VC University LIVE program quickly approaching, I wanted to share additional details on why we picked Michigan and the Midwest for our first one, why you should attend, and what content and speakers to expect. We’re accepting applications until May 1, and the special inaugural tuition is $1,500. NVCA members, UC Berkeley alums, and University Michigan alums receive a 20% discount. Drop me a line at if you have any questions or would like to learn more!

VC University Logo

Why are we hosting the first one in Michigan & the Midwest?

At NVCA, we focus on startup activity across the country, even though investment dollars have been concentrated in California, New York, and Massachusetts, thanks to large rounds for unicorns in recent years. But the Midwest has seen robust growth in venture investment.

According to the NVCA 2019 Yearbook, the Midwest* (defined as the “Great Lakes” region in PitchBook’s data methodology) had 211 active VC investors in 2018 and more than $13 billion in venture capital assets under management at the end of 2018. What’s more, the annual growth rate (calculated as compound annual growth rate) of capital invested in Midwest* startups from 2013 to 2018 is 17%, and represents the region with the third highest growth rate over that time period after the West Coast (28%) and the Mid-Atlantic region (22%).

From 2018 through 1Q 2019, Midwest*-based startups raised $6.5 billion across 1,017 investments, according to the 1Q 2019 PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor.

Midwest* VC Deal Flow

Top 5 Midwest* Investors by VC Deals in Midwest* 2018-1Q 2019

Michigan is home to the largest investment and the largest exit in the region during that time period: Rivian’s $700 million investment in February 2019; and Duo Security’s $2.3 billion acquisition by Cisco Systems in October 2018. (And guess what? Duo co-founder Jon Oberheide is speaking at VC University LIVE!)

NVCA and Startup@BerkeleyLaw chose Michigan and the Midwest as the first stop of VC University LIVE for several reasons, primarily the burgeoning startup ecosystems in the region, strong academic institutions and talent pools, and the strategic location/proximity to a large part of the country’s population. These favorable trends, as well as the strong reputations of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and the Zell Lurie Institute’s Center for Venture Capital & Private Equity, sealed the deal!

Why should you attend VC University LIVE?

VC University LIVE is an opportunity to learn about cutting-edge issues in emerging venture finance and connect with local leaders in the Midwest and influencers from Silicon Valley. The target audience for VC University LIVE includes investors, entrepreneurs, attorneys, and anyone else interested in venture capital.

Some content is catered to professionals of all levels of experience, but the agenda also offers dual tracks: one for newer professionals on the mechanics of VC; and one for more seasoned industry professionals that covers advanced topics.

View the latest agenda here.

If you’re a Midwest-based professional, come network with peers across the country and learn best practices to strengthen your firm/portfolio companies. If you’re based outside the Midwest, use this opportunity to network with professionals in the region, learn more about the investment opportunity in the Midwest, and discuss important industry issues with your peers.

What content will be covered and who’s speaking?

View this document for the latest agenda and confirmed speakers. Some highlights include:

  • Welcome Keynote Fireside Chat with Jan Garfinkle, Arboretum Ventures & Scott Kupor, Andreessen Horowitz (note: this will also serve as the closing keynote for the Midwest Growth Capital Symposium, taking place May 14-15)
  • Current Trends in Venture Capital with Jon Lauckner, GM Ventures; Kate Mitchell, Scale Venture Partners; Sam Valenti, Valenti Capital; and Ashley Yesayan, Revolution
  • Finding Value (and Capital) in a Global Economy with Jon Oberhide, Duo Security
  • Venture Capital Terms and Processes led by Neil Dugal, Omidyar Network
  • Succession Planning led by Dixon Doll, Co-Founder and Partner Emeritus, DCM Ventures & General Partner, Impact Venture Capital; and Kate Mitchell, Scale Venture Partners
  • Funding the Venture Capital Firm: GP/LP Negotiations with Ryan Rathman, State of Michigan Department of Treasury, Bureau of Investments; and Chris Rizik, Renaissance Ventures
  • IT Deal Case Study with Don Hicks and Toby Brzoznowski, Founders, LLamasoft
  • Healthcare Deal Case Study with Jim Adox, Venture Investors; and Mike Blue, Histosonics
  • Cap Table Labs led by Amir Hassanabadi, AngelList; Scott James, DCVC; Dan Kidle, Arboretum Ventures; and Adam Sterling, UC Berkeley
  • Culture, Ethics, & Equity led by Ray Leach, JumpStart; and Candice Matthews Brackeen, Hillman Accelerator
  • LP Trends & Relationships led by Seyonne Kang, Greenspring Associates; and Ryan Rathman, State of Michigan Department of Treasury, Bureau of Investments
  • Public Policy Presentation led by Bobby Franklin and Justin Field of NVCA

Looking forward to seeing you in Ann Arbor on May 15-17!

Register for the event here


Thank you to Mary Nickson and David Brophy at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan for their leadership on this program. And a big thank you to VC University LIVE’s sponsors Gunderson Dettmer and Jaffe.

*For data references in this blog post, “Midwest” refers to states classified in the “Great Lakes” category in PitchBook’s methodology. States included in the PitchBook “Great Lakes” category are Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Executive Director, Venture Forward | Website | + posts

Maryam serves as Executive Director of Venture Forward, NVCA’s 501(c)(3) nonprofit supporting organization focused on shaping the future of venture capital.

Before transitioning to launch and lead Venture Forward, Maryam was the Senior Vice President of Industry Advancement at NVCA, where she led NVCA’s initiatives focused on advancing the venture industry – research and data, education, and diversity and inclusion, and incubated several Venture Forward initiatives.