Venture Capital Initiative

Venture Capital Initiative - Courses


Darden offers a collection of courses designed for you to take during your venture capital journey.

Core Courses


    This course explores the leadership aspects of the venture capital industry through deep structured conversations with industry practitioners. The courses focuses on the professional world of venture capitalists and how venture capitalists work with entrepreneurs to create substantial, enduring ventures. It also explores how venture capital firms are formed, funded and managed. In the conversation with professional venture capitalists, students explore three core topics: the role VC firms play in formation of early stage companies, the aspect of venture capitalists work with limited partners and entrepreneurs, and the recent developments and dynamic of the VC industry.


    John GlynnJohn W. Glynn, MacAvoy Professor of Business Administration







    This course explores a comprehensive set of financial situations that arise with the financing of private enterprises from startups to mature companies. It focuses on the investment phase of the private equity cycle and examines the investment strategy, valuation and structure of ventures in their formative stages prior to becoming public companies. Novices and experienced students will find different aspects of the course of interest to them as they examine a range of situations from early stage (venture capital) to late stage (mezzanine financing and buyouts) deals.

    The course provides perspective on how the maturity of an organization influences the nature and structure of financing and valuation. Issues related to the measurement of returns in private equity funds, valuing enterprises at different stages of development and structuring deals using various forms of financing are covered, as well as the analytical methods to better measure performance and value enterprises. 

    Students will examine how each party’s view of the value of the enterprise forms a basis for negotiation upon which the percentage of equity participation and the terms of the contract are determined, as well as how the pricing and terms depend not only the deal itself but also upon prevailing market conditions. As private equity firms are either rapidly growing or changing organizations, students will learn that there must be sufficient flexibility and appropriate incentives built into the current round of capital-raising and the contract terms to carry the firm through its next stage of development.


    Elena LoutskinaElena Loutskina, Professor of Business Administration, Peter M. Grant II Bicentennial Foundation Chair in Business Administration




Experiential Courses


    This is an applied course that exposes students to the full cycle of the seed-fund investment decision process. Students work closely with UVA Seed Fund investing partners conducting due diligence of startups, structuring deal terms and pitching to the fund investment committee. In this year-long course, students get an opportunity to interact with a large number of founders, startups and investment professionals.


    Bob CreedenRobert J. Creeden, Managing Partner of UVA Seed Fund, Executive Director of UVA Licensing and Ventures Group,





    Elena LoutskinaElena Loutskina, Professor of Business Administration, Peter M. Grant II Bicentennial Foundation Chair in Business Administration




    What Students Say:

    Patt Eagan (Class of 2022): 

    "It is no secret that the world of venture capital is notoriously difficult to break into. This extends not only to full time offers but internship and fellowship opportunities as well. The Due Diligence in Seed Funds course is an incredibly unique opportunity to gain practical (and resume marketable!) VC associate experience with a seasoned venture investor in an engaging and immersive year-long Darden academic environment. Among other things, I loved the opportunity to step beyond classroom simulations and theories and take on real-world responsibility playing a critical role in the investment decisions of the UVA Seed Fund. Simply put, this class has made me a better VC thinker and practitioner, brought me much closer to the vibrant UVA startup ecosystem, and I am confident I will look back on the experience as an important foundation for my venture/entrepreneurship-focused career. It should also be noted that this class is a ton of fun too, not to mention an experience that adds a completely different color to the already stellar Darden experience. 10/10 would recommend."


    Vincent Mendola (Class of 2022):

    "Due Diligence in Seeds Funds was among the most valuable classes I took at Darden. The hands-on experience offered by the course would be impossible to replicate in a typical classroom. Like many students, I chose Darden because I wanted to put in real work and get as much out of that as possible. No class better rewards consistent effort. Beyond providing an outstanding introduction to the venture capital industry, the variety of potential investments I saw, from biotech to soft drinks, opened my eyes to numerous sectors with which I previously had little knowledge. Bob Creeden’s decades of experience shine through, providing insights that more recent industry professionals would not be able to share. Due Diligence in Seed Funds was a highlight of my Darden experience."


    This course is an applied entrepreneurship class for serious founders. It helps startup founders test, build and accelerate their venture leveraging two-week milestone sprints, mentors and effectuation fundamentals. The course is led by serial entrepreneur and startup investor Damon DeVito. 

    This semester-long course shepherds student-founders through the step-by-step development of their own ventures. From customer mapping to strategy to supply chain to financial projections, the course allow student-founders to formalize their approach to different aspects of their business, present these ideas to classmates and industry professional, receive feedback, and ultimately grow. The final exam is a pitch competition to actual VCs. Prior ventures developed in the class include Brandefy (The Brandery), Tall Order, Gamebytes (formerly Fad Mania - YC S19), Perc Coffee Roasters, Nowe Ski and Flourish (formerly Nutritional Freedom). 

    The course is application-based to ensure small and collegial environment for student-founders.


    Damon DeVitoDamon DeVito, angel investor, entrepreneur, startup advisor, Venture Partner at Varsity Financial Group, mentor at UVA’s incubator, and Techstars All-Star Mentor designating top 1%, owner of The Club at Glenmore.




    What Participants Say:

    Meg Greenhalgh Pryde (MBA '18), Founder & CEO of Brandefy:

    "Venture Velocity helped take Brandefy from an idea to a venture-backable company. Choices you make early on have incredible influence on your path. Damon’s class is so much more than a class. It creates real, measurable progress for a venture; that means a lot of us who come in with ideas, come out with future venture-backable companies. It’s all about prioritizing the right thing at the right time; keeping each other on track; & learning how to take the first steps."

Related Courses


    The primary objective of the course is to allow students to walk a few steps in the shoes of an entrepreneur while learning how expert entrepreneurs build new ventures that endure. Cases, guest lecturers, and students’ project work will allow them to explore financial, legal, interpersonal, and personal challenges likely to be encountered by the independent entrepreneur. This course draws from cognitive science-based research on how expert entrepreneurs think, decide, and act while starting new ventures. Key issues addressed will include risk perception and management, formulation of innovative stakeholder relationships, and the creation of new markets through new ventures. As part of the course, students will be required to come up with a venture idea and take the initial steps in actually starting it. The course is recommended for those interested in initiating a personal venture at some point in their lives working with or consulting for an early stage entrepreneurial team or seeking entry into Darden’s Progressive Incubator™.


    Technology and finance have never been more fused together as they are today. FinTech is now the fastest growing area of VC investment. A plethora of innovations have mushroomed in this space, yet not all of them have achieved lasting success. How to tell truly disruptive innovations from fads? What are the promises and perils of "tech-ing" up finance? How do FinTech startups unbundle and rebundle value chains? What are the implications of financial disintermediation for businesses, consumers, and regulators? This course will catch you up with the latest trends in FinTech. More importantly, it will give you the toolset to cut through the fog and dissect the economics behind various FinTech innovations. The course is particularly valuable for those who are interested in careers in tech, finance, and entrepreneurship.


    This course will cover the rapidly-expanding world of impact investing, focusing on the fundamentals underlying investment strategies for funds (and, to a lesser extent, companies) seeking to both create profit and generate social or environmental impact.  Through a combination of in-class and project learning, students will explore what qualifies as an “impact investment,” gain exposure to the fundamentals of the impact investment process, and evaluate various financial structures that unify rather than balance impact and investing.  The class will cover a wide set of investment vehicles: public equity, private debt, and private equity/venture capital, public-private partnerships, microfinance institutions.


    This course focuses on the process of acquisition of a business entity. Students will be shown the tools they need and the process to follow to successfully acquire a business of their own. Among the major topics covered will be the search process, assessing and valuing the business, financing consideration, negotiating, and closing the deal. The course may be of interest to MBA students who are interested in leveraged buyouts, investment banking, venture capital and other related careers.


    This course provides participants with experience in the analysis and resolution of financial issues in the context of the smaller enterprise that has no or, at best, limited access to the public capital markets. The course material seldom will deal with high-tech enterprises that are purchased with the intent of rapid resale. On the contrary, it deals with companies operating in the mundane, real world of the typical small enterprise owner who needs sales to meet the payroll, wisely uses limited capital resources, carefully raises new funds and must plan for the ultimate transfer of the business to new owners. The latter problem is unique to the small, privately held business. In addition to considering typical issues of asset management, including acquisitions and dispositions, the course will cover topics such as working-capital management, selecting funding sources and structuring loans, project finance, creating liquidity, and transferring the business to the next generation or selling it. The tools required for this course were introduced in First Year “Financial Management and Policies.” The emphasis will be on applying those tools in the small-enterprise context.


    This course is designed to provide students with a practical understanding of the merger and acquisition marketplace, addressing such topics as why companies grow through acquisitions, how acquisition or merger candidates are analyzed strategically and valued financially, and ultimately, whether and how mergers and acquisitions create value for stakeholders. Takeovers and mergers are a daily fact of life, have evolved into a critical part of every CEO’s strategic toolbox, and will most likely affect every person who enters the corporate world at some point in their career. Whether a student chooses to be a senior corporate manager, an M&A practitioner, or merely an informed armchair observer, the course is intended to provide the analytical framework to evaluate an acquisition from a strategic, financial, structural, tactical, legal and ethical perspective. Students will apply learned content to real business situations, including the opportunity to develop, create and present an acquisition proposal to an actual corporate client during the class.


    Disruptive innovations often challenge the boundaries of not only the possible, but also the policy landscape if not the law itself. Why did a wedding video posted to YouTube set off a legal battle over user generated content? Did early social networking sites fail because they weren’t “social,” or was the web simply not quite ready yet? How could the team that won the nobel prize for CRISPR not also be awarded the patent on the invention? What does Sputnik have to do with Find my Friends?

    Through a mix of case studies, corporate documents, online media, and workshops, this course provides a deeper dive into: (1) the industries we now call "Tech," (2) the policy landscape—institutions, laws, etc.—that both influences and is influenced by technology innovation, as well as (3) the business and cultural challenges at this intersection of technology and policy.


    In addition to the primary courses and experiential learning offerings, there is a multitude of courses at Darden that support and further students’ venture capital journeys. A sample is below, and please refer to the specific course pages or Academic Areas for the most up-to-date information and details.


    Related courses include Valuation in Financial Markets, Managerial Finance, Global Capital Markets, Corporate Financial Policies, Derivative Securities, Investments, Hot Topics in Finance, Corporate Financing, Impact & ESG Investing, Applied Security Analysis, Mergers & Acquisitions, and Corporate Financial Restructuring.


    Related courses include Starting New Ventures, Acquisition of Closely-Held Enterprises, Technology Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Policy, Software Design, and Software Development.


    Related courses include Strategic Corporate Governance, Strategic Thinking, Competitive Dynamics, and Strategy in the Digital Age.

    Global Economies and Markets

    Related courses include China in the World Economy, Business-Government Relations, India in the World Economy, Global Industry Economics, Growth & Business in Emerging Markets, and Artificial Intelligence & the Future of Work.