E&I Club hosts “Introduction to Search Funds” with Pacific Lake Partner Coley Andrews

Lately, we’ve heard whispers around the halls and in the cafeteria from students curious about what a search fund is and how to get involved. To shed light on this increasingly popular role, E&I Club was thrilled to host Coley Andrews, Co-Founder and Managing Member of Pacific Lake Partners, for a September 28th lunchtime event.

Coley walked the students through the economics of search funds, what it means to lead a fund, and how to get started.

All in all it was an incredibly informative event and one that got many wheels turning in the minds of our second year students. We can’t wait to see who pursues this new model!

Thank you again to Pacific Lake Partners for supporting the MIT Sloan E&I Club community!


E&I Club Visits Techstars Boston

On September 18th, 20 members of the MIT Sloan E&I Club visited the Boston offices of Techstars for a private tour of the office and discussion with Eveline Buchatskiy, Boston Techstars Managing Director.

In addition to learning about the Techstars program and the incredible impact it’s made on the local Boston startup ecosystem, we also had the privilege of hearing from the founders of two companies who had recently graduated from the summer 2015 class: Yegor Anchishkin (CEO and Founder, CartFresh) and Adam Blake (Co-Founder & COO, ThriveHive).

Yegor and Adam offered terrific advice for those eager to learn more about the MIT and local Boston startup community. First and foremost, it’s important to get involved and to stay proactive about attending events across the city. We were also thrilled to learn that Adam was the Co-President of the MIT Sloan E&I Club (MBA, 2011) a few years back. So inspiring to see club alumni making waves in the startup space!

Thank you again to Techstars for hosting the E&I Club!


-Alessandra Henderson (Co-President)

Silicon Valley Pitch Trek’s last stop: General Catalyst

Our last stop of the Trek was an icing on the cake. We felt very welcomed by Hemant Taneja (Managing Director), Katja Gagen (Vice President of Marketing), Steve Herrod (Managing Director), Prateek Alsi (Principal) and the whole General Catalyst team who received us on a happy hour.

Day 2 - GC HHDay 2 - GC HH2

Before the party started, nonetheless, we had entrepreneurs pitching, as well as Hemant Taneja, Prateek Alsi and Steve Herrod sharing a few thoughts about the “VC market” and the GC philosophy. They mentioned that VCs usually invest either in an ecosystem (of domain), or in great people and what moves them. The latter is more of their style. The GC team is very attentive to what caused the “genesis” of the companies. “We look for authentic stories,” noted Hemant Taneja.

And, as “it all comes down to people,” we will finish this year’s Silicon Valley Pitch Trek series of posts with what the GC team looks for in entrepreneurs:

– He/she is prepared to make hard decisions

– He/she has the complicity of the team

– He/she is resilient and has a good attitude

– He/she has a complementary team

Thank you very much to the General Catalyst team for having us in this last stop. It was helpful and fun! We hope to see you again next year!

Day 2 - GC

Written by Ana Avelar and Alessandra Henderson, Silicon Valley Pitch Trek team members

MIT Sloan entrepreneurs meet with Greylock Partners

In our last day of the Silicon Valley Pitch Trek we met with Jerry Chen (Partner) and Sarah Guo (Associate) at Greylock Partners. It was a short, but very productive meeting. Both offered keen, smart feedback to our entrepreneurs.

Jerry Chen shared with the entrepreneurs what signals to investors that the startup might be an interesting investment. A few of those factors are who are the board members, investors, founders, and who is the startup attracting from the market to be a team member.

If you are pitching to Greylock Partners, keep in mind that numbers matter. Sarah Guo, helped entrepreneurs understand different approaches to calculate their potential market and costs. According to her, one of the main questions to be answered is: “is the market big enough”? Another relevant piece of advice Sara Guo gave them was about evaluating the market’s current value chain: “who and what is your solution replacing”?

A Silicon Valley Pitch Track would not be complete without Greylock Partners. Thank you very much, Jerry Chen and Sarah Guo for hosting our entrepreneurs in this year’s edition.

Written by Ana Avelar and Alessandra Henderson, Silicon Valley Pitch Trek team members

MIT Sloan entrepreneurs meet with KPCB

The next stop on our last day of Silicon Valley Pitch Trek 2014 edition was at KPCB. We want to say a big thank you to Creighton Hicks (Partner), Anjney Midha (Partner), Andy Chen (Director), Cindy Cheng (Digital Team), Aviv Gilboa (University Relations) and team for such a warm welcome. In the most supportive Silicon Valley style, to every MIT student pitching, there was at least one contact that they could introduce him or her to.

KPCB is organized in three verticals: Digital (consumer and enterprise), Life Sciences and GreenTech. The team who received us was mostly engaged with Digital. As trends observed, they indicated to be interested in IoT and crypto currency related startups. Moreover, KPCB shared the word about their Fellow Program, which should open applications in a couple of months for Summer interns to work in their portfolio companies. Keep posted, Sloanies!

Besides the introductions to relevant contacts, KPCB’s team gave feedback to our entrepreneurs regarding the construction of the pitch. A selection of such were:

Clear go-to-market strategy: “what customers and segments will you target first”?

Adoption: state how you imagine the adoption of your product will be.

Exit or funding benchmark: whenever possible, show startups that exited your field of action, or competitors that received funding.

Competitive analysis: compare your features versus competitors’ to make your differentiators clear.

Customers’ pain-points: be clear about what are the pain-points you are solving to the customers.

Day 2 - KPCB

Thank you again KPCB for taking the time for hosting us, and for sharing valuable feedback and contacts with our entrepreneurs!

Written by Ana Avelar and Alessandra Henderson, Silicon Valley Pitch Trek team members

MIT Sloan E&I club meets with Scale VP

Moving on to our second day of the Silicon Valley Pitch Trek this week, we were received by the market legends Rory O’Driscoll (Partner), Ariel Tseitlin (Partner) and Alex Niehenkex (Principal) at Scale Venture Partners, one of the most experienced VCs in the market. The Scale VP team gave valuable feedback to our entrepreneurs, as well as engaged in an interesting conversation about later stage investments.

As the name Scale VP suggests, the team is focused in investing in startups that have already found their product-market fit, and are over the “does this even work?” phase. Most of Scale VP’s initial capital investment range from $5M to $25M, and are on “early in revenue stage” startups that generate between $200K and $70M in revenue. For those interested understanding the role of VCs at this stage, Rory, Ariel and Alex shared that “80% is about the decision of where to put your chips, 20% is about managing the investment.” The four main activities are financing (e.g. picking the right deals), talent management (e.g. hiring), strategic direction support, and exit. They did have impressive 37 exits since 2000.

Additionally, the Scale VP team shared with our entrepreneurs how startups can be more effective in funding at earlier stages: “It is important to find out who are the Angels and VCs that have the best fit for your startup.” They exemplified that it is important to understand the position of the Angels and VCs regarding stage of startup, kinds of deals, industry, and regular parameters of negotiation used by them.

Day 2 - ScaleVP

Thank you very much Rory O’Driscoll, Ariel Tseitlin and Alex Niehenkex for meeting with the Sloan E&I Club for our annual trek! It was a remarkable experience for us.

Written by Ana Avelar and Alessandra Henderson, Silicon Valley Pitch Trek team members

Bessemer Venture Partners Hears Pitches from MIT Entrepreneurs

On Tuesday, Oct.14, we continued our annual Silicon Valley Pitch Trek, where ten startups are selected from a pitch contest and taken to Silicon Valley to pitch to the top firms and get real, live feedback from potential investors and learn more about the different investment philosophies of these firms. With 100 years of investing experience, Bessemer was a highly desired location for our top five selected entrepreneurs. The team at Bessemer, Sunil James & Sunil Nagaraj, or the Sunils as we called them- were gracious hosts and provided valuable feedback and advice for these MIT start-ups.

bessemer 1

Although it was the last VC firm our group visited on the trip, Bessemer was definitely not the least. Their experience with seed, early stage, and expansion companies across the globe, helped our Pitch Trek team gain great insight into variable investment opportunities, and helped our founders create a well-rounded picture for their business.

A big thank you to the Bessemer team for their hospitality, time, and insight. We look forward to seeing you next year!