As a group, the participants in our Venture Capital Unlocked investor training program plan to invest over $600M in startups around the world. Several of them are already in talks with 500 Startups B15 companies after seeing them pitch at our most recent DemoDay.

The program, which is taught by 500 Startups in partnership with Stanford Center for Professional Development, ran from Feb 8 – 19th. It is a 2-week crash course on investing strategies, tools and tactics for investors who want to learn how Silicon Valley really operates.

The group of participants was an impressive bunch from all over the world, who over the course of two weeks shared notes, deals, laughs, and (perhaps too) many a cocktail.

VC Unlocked participants at B15 DemoDay

As to be expected from a 500 Startups program, the class included people of all ages, races and nationalities. 30% of the participants were women.  70% were international and most of the US participants came from non-SV geographies such as Miami, New York, Texas, Hawaii and even that 51st state otherwise known as Canada.

More than half the class are angel investors, about ⅓ work for a venture fund and ¼ work for a family office. We also had several participants who work for social impact funds or in government-related funds. All together, they plan to make about 1800 investments with the 600M in money raised ready to invest.

The participants’ experience in terms of number of VC and angel deals made per person spanned from zero to seventy-five deals, with an average of 8 deals made per person prior to starting the program.

Several of our B15 companies are already in serious discussions with angel investors and fund managers from the class. 

Participants look at Piper's product, a DIY minecraft computer, at Preview Day

Participants check out Piper’s DIY minecraft computer, at Preview Day

The program is designed to ensure a highly diverse mix of participants, so there is a lot of potential for partnership and new ideas among the class. Three of the main goals of the program are that participants:

1) Strengthen their investment theses with the help of Stanford faculty and 500 Startups partners

2) Develop their opportunity assessment skills using a decision-making framework and have in depth discussions on deals and associated risks

3) and of course, network with all that Silicon Valley has to offer.

We had a full agenda, and participants got the chance to hear from some of the world’s top VCs.

Most of the participants said they were drawn to the program because they were looking to add structure to their knowledge of venture capital and increase their confidence in making deals.

It seems their expectations were met as at the beginning of the program, about 50% of the class reported feeling not so confident about their investment theses. By the end of the program, 90% reported feeling confident or very confident about their theses, especially after presenting them in intimate small group sessions and getting valuable feedback from faculty and classmates on the final day of the program.

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Thesis presentations

As a class, they plan on making about 1800 investments over the next three years, and with a $600M budget, that’s some serious investing. To be successful, they will need their newly acquired skills, their network both in Silicon Valley and around the world, and a whole lotta luck.

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