Zombie Good Times

The Sequoia Capital "RIP Good Times" presentation is about a year and a half old.

In the past few weeks:

  • Quora - which most of you have probably never heard of - raised $11M at a $84M valuation.
  • FourSquare is rumored to have gotten a $100M offer from Yahoo! with less <1M users.
  • Groupon supposedly raised another round of capital at a $1.2B valuation.

These are all great companies, but - based on nothing but an uninformed hunch - these valuations seem awfully frothy to me.  Perhaps the good times have risen from the dead...

KFBS Student-Run Private Equity Fund

I recently joined up to help start a student-run private equity fund at Kenan-Flagler. It's a pretty cool gig and certainly worth writing about.

We think we're one of the first - if not the first - funds of this type in the nation, at least in terms of our stated goal of delivering a significant return to our investors. (In other words, this isn't a creative way to raise funds for the school.)

The team has four 2nd year MBA students, four 1st year MBA students, and will recruit 2 undergrad analysts over the next few weeks. We made our first investment in January in TransEnterix Inc., a medical device startup company in the Research Triangle that recently closed $20 million in financing. In the future, I'll focus my efforts on sourcing and evaluating early-stage technology deals.

Aside from the first investment, evaluating a handful of other opportunities, and trying to get our act together in general, we've done nothing but try to raise more money. We already have $1MM in the bank and hope to raise another $2MM by the end of May. Talk about a trial by fire. The people I've pitched haven't pulled any punches or done us any "it's for the students" favors, which has made for an extremely educating experience.

We don't have a website yet, but here's a press release and an article from The Times of London. I'll post more as we continue to pick up some steam.

Prime Time Week

This is a seriously prime time week for me.

On Friday, I'll participate in the Finals Match Day for the Carolina Venture Fellows program. Essentially, I'm competing for the opportunity to interview and possibly land a summer internship at a local venture capital firm.

Match Day is a bit of a cattle call. VCs from several local firms will be on campus and herded into a room. The finalists - there are 10 of us - will each get 5 minutes to give a pitch to the room. No notes, no slides, no handouts. While some are worried about the rules of the pitch, I think that they actually play in my favor...

After the song and dance, the VCs rank whom they wish to interview and we rank the firms with which we wish to interview. Once the matchmaking magic happens, there are 4 15-minute interview slots lined up back-to-back. Kinda like speed dating for an internship, right? (Obviously, one would arrange for subsequent interviews if all goes well on Match Day. )

I feel like I have a pretty good shot. I've already met VCs at my 3 targeted firms and feel like I'm differentiated enough from the other (very qualified and very smart) finalists such that I'll be able to make a pretty compelling case to the firms that focus on early-stage technology investments.

Immediately after I'm done with the Venture Fellows process, I'll hit the road for Day 2 of the Darden Innovation Challenge in Charlottesville, VA. My team has prepared marketing concepts that we'll pitch to executives from American Express and Hilton. I like what we've got and think that we stand a reasonable chance at taking down the $20K prize.

(I broke my snare drum this weekend, so I need the money...)

Word on the street is that Google is sponsoring the event after party. Should be cool to hang out with some real, live Googlers.

To top it off, I have a Macroeconomics mid-term and Marketing case brief due this week as well...a handful of lunch meetings...and an IM basketball game...and the Heels' season opener.

As much as I tend to whine to Kelly about being busy, I hope that I can continue to make forthcoming weeks just as action-packed.