VC University Mentorship Program

Mentoring Forward

Welcome to our Mentoring Forward series! We’re highlighting an incredible group of mentors and the positive impact the VC University Mentorship Program has had on VC University scholarship recipients. Since launching in 2020, the Mentorship Program has had four cohorts with a total of 121 new and early career VCs from historically underrepresented backgrounds, each who have been paired with one experienced VC mentor and one peer VC mentor. Thanks to these mentors, we are working together to create a more inclusive and diverse VC community.

Read more from Jeff Clavier of Uncork Capital, Heidi Roizen of Threshold Ventures, Faith Voinovich of Ohio Innovation Fund, Nick Washburn of Intel Capital and Jessica Yi of Norwest Venture Partners about their experiences as mentors and why this is an important program that they support.

The Economic Impact of Venture Capital: Evidence from Public Companies

Will Gornall & Ilya A. Strebulaev’s recently updated research article published in SSRN discusses the economic impact of venture capital with evidence from public markets.


Venture capital-backed companies account for 41% of total US market capitalization and 62% of US public companies’ R&D spending. Among public companies founded within the last fifty years, VC-backed companies account for half in number, three quarters by value, and more than 92% of R&D spending and patent value. The US did not spawn top public companies at a higher rate than other large, developed countries prior to 1970s ERISA reforms, but produced twice as many after it. Using those reforms as a natural experiment suggests that the US VC industry is causally responsible for the rise of one-fifth of the current largest 300 US public companies and that three-quarters of the largest US VC-backed companies would not have existed or achieved their current scale without an active VC industry.

VC University ONLINE September 2021 Scholarship Cohort

Welcome to the September 2021 Scholarship Cohort of VC University ONLINE!

We’re thrilled to welcome 45 aspiring and early-career investors to the September 2021 cohort of VC University ONLINE scholarship recipients!

VC University ONLINE, a highly-reviewed certificate program led by Venture Forward, NVCA, and Startup@BerkeleyLaw, democratizes access to quality education on venture capital. Participants learn the nuts and bolts of venture finance through self-paced lectures, interactive assessments, virtual office hours, webinars with faculty and industry experts, and interviews with leading venture capitalists.

The September 2021 cohort will serve 200+ participants. This marks the 8th sold-out program, which has now served more than 1,400+ participants and awarded 222 full scholarships.

The scholarship program supports the professional development of new and aspiring VCs from historically underrepresented backgrounds, through educational opportunity, mentorship, and more.

Venture Capital’s Role in Innovation-Driven Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth

Venture Capital's Role in Innovation-Driven Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth

Producing new insights and sharing third-party or academic research on the impact of venture capital is a key focus for Venture Forward in its mission to drive the narrative of VC and inform the public about the critical role the VC industry plays in the U.S. economy. Venture capital as an investment vehicle with active management is oftentimes misunderstood, and startups receiving VC funding can be mischaracterized with other segments of the economy. Research, like the one highlighted in this blog post, that quantifies and better explains the positive relationship between high-growth startups on economic growth is important to both VC investors and industry outsiders in understanding the broader impact of the venture industry beyond innovation and financial returns.

Innovation-driven entrepreneurship (IDE) is the principal driver of economic growth among all forms of entrepreneurship. Such is the finding of a growing body of academic literature which distinguishes between the contributions of self-employment, small and medium size enterprises, and technology- and innovation-driven startups to increases in gross domestic product (GDP). A new NBER working paper by Professors Botelho, Fehder, and Hochberg highlights this literature and the fact that a small subset of innovation-driven, high-growth startups are responsible for the bulk of the relationship between entrepreneurship and economic growth. That IDE startups have a principal role in this relationship has important implications for venture capital (VC) and the U.S. economy, since venture funding is the most prominent source of financing for IDE entrepreneurs.

IDE Startups Drive Entrepreneurial Economic Growth

Researchers have documented the contribution of the small business sector (where a small business is defined as an employer firm with fewer than 500 employees, per the research definition of the Small Business Administration) to U.S. GDP for decades. U.S. government estimates  place this contribution at 43.5% of GDP in 2014, down from 48.0% in 1998. Equally important is the contribution of small businesses to GDP growth, a critical factor in the rise of living standards, especially in nations with growing populations. The concepts of entrepreneurship and the introduction of new ideas into the economy are central to current understandings of economic growth.

Entrepreneurs are commonly thought of as the conduits by which new ideas are introduced into the economy through new products and services. This idea goes at least as far back as Schumpeter in the 1940s, who characterized entrepreneurs as engaged in a process of “creative destruction,” displacing existing modes of production with more productive ones. Many researchers seized and built upon Schumpeter’s observations, creating an expansive body of theoretical literature focused on entrepreneurial discovery and economic growth which, in recent decades, has emphasized the importance of new firm entry for economic growth.

The importance placed by researchers on new firm entry gave birth to a belief that business dynamics (the process of firm entry, expansion, contraction, and exit) play a fundamental role in economic growth, with some studies showing that new firms disproportionately drive job growth. However, the growth rate of these new firm entrants exhibits positive skewness (i.e., the probability distribution has a “long” right tail with large outliers driving up the mean), hinting that a smaller subset of high-growth, innovation-driven businesses (IDE startups) is responsible for most of the relationship between entrepreneurship and economic growth (instead of new firms in general). This trend holds not only in the U.S., but also across many other developed countries, underscoring the importance of IDE-run businesses in developed economies compared to “traditional” business entrepreneurs who create new businesses but have little desire to grow, innovate, or bring new products to market.

The Critical Role of Venture Capital to IDE Startups

Access to capital is critical for all entrepreneurial endeavors. According to Professors Botelho, Fehder, and Hochberg, most IDE startups are financed through equity—specifically venture capital—given the high degree of uncertainty surrounding the market value of IDE startups whose main asset is commonly intangible, like intellectual property, and who are incapable of collateralizing loans due to a lack of tangible assets. The high-risk nature of funding IDE startups makes venture capital the most sensible form of financing, since successive rounds of VC financing are predicated upon the achievement of business-related milestones intended to ensure the startup is on a path to success while also reducing the riskiness of the venture. Most IDE ventures fail, and the staged format of venture financing allows VC investors to acquire information and judge the venture’s success over a meaningful period with the option of abandoning the venture entirely if sufficient progress is not made.

Although the provision of capital is paramount, VC investors provide much more than a system of financing well-suited to the uncertain nature of IDE startups. VC investors can also be quite active compared to other types of investors and frequently add value to their portfolio companies through the professionalization of startup teams, advising on time to product market, monitoring behavior, board involvement, improving company governance structures, and producing mutually beneficial relationships between portfolio companies and VCs’ networks. Recent research indicates that IDEs are cognizant of the nonpecuniary value-adding benefits of VC investors and are willing to accept tradeoffs to have access to a high value-adding VC. The performance differential between VC and non-VC backed companies attributed to added value services from VCs has been estimated to equal approximately 40%. And VCs with better networks have been found to add more value to their portfolio companies than VCs with weaker networks.

All this is to say that venture capital may play an even more important role in the fortunes of the macroeconomy than was previously thought. Standards of living only increase when the rate of GDP growth exceeds the rate of population growth. Small businesses, and new firms in particular, have long been thought to play a key role in economic growth. But recent research on the disproportionate role that IDE startups may have in this activity merits further investigation on the relationship between entrepreneurship and economic growth, the nature of IDE startups, and the conditions that best allow them to prosper. Given that venture capital is the most suitable form of financing for innovation-driven businesses, further analysis concerning the circumstances and environments that incentivize VC investment will be important to any subsequent research on how best to promote an economy driven by IDE startups.

Introducing the June 2021 Cohort of VC University Scholarship Recipients

The seventh sold-out cohort of VC University ONLINE begins June 1, 2021!

Serving approximately 200 participants per course, VC University is an educational certificate course, jointly operated by NVCAVenture Forward, and Startup@BerkeleyLaw. Participants learn the nuts and bolts of venture finance over the course of several weeks through self-paced lectures, interactive assessments, virtual office hours, monthly webinars with faculty and industry experts, and interviews with leading venture capitalists.

Thanks to the generous financial support of our sponsors, Venture Forward was able to offer 43 full scholarships to attend VC University ONLINE, to underrepresented, aspiring and early career VCs.

In this blog post, Venture Forward provides more details about the program, and highlights the 43 talented scholarship recipients who were competitively selected to participate in the  June 2021 cohort.

Article: Why Institutional Investors Should Double Down on VC

In this article, Why Institutional Investors Should Double Down on VC, Dan Malven of 4490 Ventures summarizes the findings of a working paper, “Has Persistence Persisted in Private Equity? Evidence from Buyout and Venture Capital Funds,” researched and written by Robert S. Harris, Tim Jenkinson, Steven N. Kaplan & Ruediger Stucke, and published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).


The paper, published in November 2020, contradicts the conventional wisdom that only a small handful of marquee VC managers are worthy of investment by institutional investors.

Instead, using a data source that was previously unavailable to researchers, the researchers found that VC firms’ outperformance is much more broadly distributed than previously understood. The decades-long belief has been that only top-quartile VC funds outperform public equities, but the data show that half of all VC fund managers outperform the public markets, and are therefore worthy of institutional investment.

The State of U.S. Early-Stage Venture: 1Q21

This time last year, the venture industry was upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most startups had trouble raising funds, even on investor-friendly terms. But by 3Q20, early-stage venture showed, and Q4 saw the industry come roaring back to have its in terms of markups.

In “The State of U.S. Early-Stage Venture: 1Q21,” AngelList Venture and Silicon Valley Bank report that that 2020 momentum has carried over, and outline the data and trends that have particularly marked the first quarter of 2021.

2021 Trends in Entrepreneurship Report

The Trends in Entrepreneurship Report brings together expertise and data from academia, industry and policymakers to highlight relevant topics facing entrepreneurs and investors today.

Our aim is for this information to guide leaders in their decision-making, as well as to highlight gaps in research and policy for leaders in academia and government.


The 2021 report, produced by the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise and the UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Entrepreneurship Center, explores the following:

    • Initially, we explore the state of startups, small businesses and investments after a year – and global pandemic – have passed.
    • Then we dive into one of the hottest areas today: health innovation. We highlight trends related to
      COVID-19, as well as other relevant topics, such as how AI and machine learning are impacting innovations in health.
    • After that deep dive, we zoom out to explore broader trends related to investment structures, the impact of
      economic recovery funds distributed by the government, and other capital formation specific to entrepreneurs and small businesses. One of the major highlights is the disparity in funding as it relates to support for underrepresented groups in entrepreneurship.
    • We then take on the theme of diversity, equity and inclusion in entrepreneurship, highlighting some of the
      massive experimentation of the past several years to create more inclusive ecosystems through case studies and models, with a hope to inspire action and research related to these topics.
    • We conclude by examining factors inside organizations related to teams and talent, and how those elements play into the ongoing success of organizations.

Report: Why New Black Venture Capital Will Generate Outsized Returns and Help Close the Racial Wealth Gap

Why New Black Venture Capital Will Generate Outsized Returns and Help Close the Racial Wealth Gap” – a new report by Culture Shift Labs.


About Culture Shift Labs:
Culture Shift Labs (CSL) is a diversity and innovation consultancy that provides services under three pillars: Advising, Strategy, and Activation. Since 2006, we have been a recognized leader in integrating social and financial returns in ways that improve businesses and society. Our Knowledge + Network Formula powers those outcomes in tangible ways


2020 VC Human Capital Survey

What does the venture capital (VC) industry workforce look like in terms of demographics? What is the current state of VC diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)? The VC Human Capital Survey, powered by Deloitte, National Venture Capital Association, and Venture Forward, answers these and other questions for VC firms seeking to expand the diversity of both their teams and portfolios.

The third edition of our VC Human Capital Survey assesses the state of the US VC industry workforce, with a special focus on DEI. Results from this edition were benchmarked against findings from the first and second editions, which were originally conducted in 2016 and 2018. Conducted in 2020, this third edition requested firm demographic information (e.g., investment stage focus) and demographic information for each employee (e.g., gender and race). Additionally, firms were asked to provide information regarding their talent management practices and DEI programs.

While there have been other industry assessments of VC diversity, this survey provides a more holistic perspective. We gathered data from VC firms of all types and sizes, examined DEI for a variety of groups across all types of positions, and assessed firm talent management strategies. (Learn more.)