Foundation Capital’s Young Entrepreneur Program Lets Students Become VCs

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We sat down Foundation Capital General Partner Paul Holland and one of participants in the firm’s Young Entrepreneurs Program, which offers MBA hopefuls and graduate students an opportunity to essentially act as a VC. We were lucky to meet Theresa Johnson, a fourth-year PhD candidate in the Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford.

The program allows students the opportunity to identify promising startups, then pitch Foundation Capital on why the firm should invest. The students are basically Foundation Capital’s eyes and ears on campuses across the country. This year’s class includes 10 students from Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard and Columbia.

The Young Entrepreneurs Program offers MBA hopefuls and graduate students an opportunity to gain significant experience identifying promising startups, pitching ventures, providing analysis of the opportunities and building impactful relationships. The students, in turn, are essentially Foundation Capital’s eyes and ears on campuses across the country out to spot new, promising ideas from other students. This year’s class includes 10 students from programs ranging from Haas and Stanford’s GSB to Harvard and Columbia.

Johnson, as you can see from our interview above, is impressive to say the least. Not only is she studying to receive her doctorate in aeronautical engineering, but she is researching Space Environment and Satellite Systems, focusing on harnessing energy from space plasmas to power and control satellites. She also has an eye for innovation in technology at the startup level and has been actively helping the firm in sourcing new deals.

Foundation Capital’s program is an interesting take on both identifying promising talent at universities as well as finding interesting ideas that are being developed at academic institutions. It seems like these days, every VC firm is connecting with universities in some way. First Round has its Dorm Room Fund, Kleiner Perkins’ has its Engineering Fellows program, and General Catalyst supports Roughdraft.VC.