In the home stretch – Kauffman Venture Deals Course

I’m hooked on life long learning. These days just keeping my Salesforce Administration Certification and my PMP seem to take most of my time. Nonetheless, back in April I started an online-course based on the book – Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist. We’re in the final week.

Nine years ago, I mentioned having Brad Feld speak at one of my Entrepreneurship classes and introducing me to blogging. Years later, I’m still reading. I bought the first edition of Venture Deals the week it was published. OK I have all of his books; some might be autographed.

Does this make me a groupie?

Does this make me a groupie?


The Kauffman  course was a great way to dig deeper into the concepts of the Venture Deals book.

Each week the course had 5 to 15 short video lessons (2 to 15 minutes each) that all started and ended with a snippet of “I’m a VC” and now I can’t get this song out of my head.

I have taken many courses online, some for my MBA and some for fun (e.g. the Esri Spatial Analysis MOOC). The NovoEd platform seems to still have some details to work out. It’s good for peer to peer learning, but sometimes capriciously changed how many peer reviews one needed to submit to complete an assignment. The Esri course was on Udemy (with many assignments using ArcGIS Online) which seemed a bit more traditional – teacher to students – with some lesson specific forums.

Kauffman seems to offer this course regularly.

The good:

  • You will read the book and then apply what you’ve read.
  • The lecture snippets – generally 5 to 15 minutes on a single topic – do a great job summarizing what’s in the text. Video quality is good. Also, there is Q&A at the end of each snippet which is a strong value add.
  • You will build a term sheet (either from the VC’s or entrepreneur’s perspective) digging into every term. And, score, fantastic free tool to play with every term. Likely only relevant to US companies.
  • You will calculate capitalization tables and exit returns based on liquidation preferences, participation or not, number of rounds, investment values, IPO or other acquisition value, etc.  Some excel models were provided. These were fantastic.
  • You will sort through finding appropriate VCs for your company.
  • You will work through what terms in your term sheet are worth fighting for (err negotiating for). A detailed template was provided.
  • It’s great being able to see what every other person/team submitted.

The less good:

  • Most assignments are team projects (your mileage may vary); All team members are there for different reasons; so may be more or less committed than you are.
  • It’s all peer or self review.
  • In this iteration of the course, as least one answer key posted for a mathematical assignment had a calculation error that took a week for the TAs to update. Side note – this one was personal. I got this one wrong, but so did they. Correct answer was in the class forums (this last bit is a plus).
  • Difficulty is variable – some exercises are conceptual and relatively easy; some exercises come with templates and detailed instructions; some are definitely more graduate level requiring the diverse skills of a full team.
  • Peak difficulty hit on a 3 – day holiday weekend with most of the team not available. Our team leader was a rock star (that bit was good). Check course dates!
  • The I’m a VC song will be stuck in your head. You’ll find yourself humming it. Maybe that’s just me.