Our latest VC Catalyst program kicked off in May, bringing together a brand new group of investors looking to refine their investment theses, and develop their skills and investment toolkit. There’s a lot to pack into just a few weeks of teaching, and here, Program Director Rosh Ghadamian gives us an insight into how the first week of teaching went down.
Off the back of our own internal Demo Day last night, it’s the perfect time to pause and reflect on the first week of VC Catalyst and the learnings we’ve had to date not just from our expert practitioners but just as importantly from our new cohort. All 27 participants in our 2021 cohort came into the program a bundle of emotions, but will be collectively breathing a sigh of relief during this ‘slow’ week where they get the time to digest the learnings and turn their attention to drafting their individual investment theses.
Week 1 is always a whirlwind. Juggling babies, work, charity and board work and international time zones whilst doing an intensive executive education program is always a challenge, but it’s a testament to the resilience and diversity of our cohort that they navigated it so well. The week started off with a number of exercises designed to help build a collegial community of peers, and for them to learn something new about their colleagues. There were many highlights through this session, as we learned that amongst the cohort we had a South Korean reality TV star, many connections to the African continent, and most importantly a collective unbridled optimism and interest in startup investing.
Before long we were straight into the program led by Rachael Neumann (Working Theory Angels), Colin McLeod (Melbourne Entrepreneurial Centre) and Pedram Mokrian (Stanford), as we took a a journey through venture’s history, its place in the Australian ecosystem, its future and where each person focuses their energy. Getting an insight into different ecosystems and learning from the likes of Kate Cornick (Victoria), Peter Hyunh (South East Asia), Chris Hitchen (Europe) and Jules Miller (USA) is always a treat, and we heard from each about the ins and out of their local ecosystems. Perennial favourite Rayn Ong was a standout with his jocular manner!
Sprinkled throughout the program we give participants the chance to work in their learning pods, allowing them time to nut through difficult problems and learn from each other. One particular exercise that brought some passionate advocacy was in our investor ethics session, where we asked our investors to think about ‘what they would do’ in the face of difficult situations such as sexual harassment from a lead investor or a co-founder breakup. There’s no single way to navigate these scenarios, but our participants found that drawing from each other’s experience was key to learning how best to navigate some of these difficult issues and to wrestle with your role as an investor.
But of course this isn’t a purely theoretical course! To bring colour and reality to the topics we covered we invited many founders in for various exercises. This included a mock ‘first coffee’ meeting, where we dissected the roleplay between both investor and founder and other exercises where we overwhelmed participants with dealflow to help them gain an understanding of their own pipeline management.
And that’s just a few highlights of Week 1! Looking forward to another week of high octane learning and diving into the details and weeds of angel and venture investing for Week 2 next week!
Wade Institute of Entrepreneurship is a leading centre for entrepreneurial education. We deliver programs to accelerate learning, creation and connection.