Venture Capital Initiative

Venture Capital Initiative - Courses - Core Electives

Core Electives

Darden offers a collection of courses designed to help students prepare for their venture capital journeys. During the first year, students engage with the core curriculum and learn the fundamentals of business through rich case study discussions. After completing the core curriculum, students have the opportunity to take core electives, experiential learning courses, and other related courses in venture capital. The Fall Venture Capital Learning Series is open to all students, regardless of where they are in their MBA journey. The Venture Capital Learning series is highly recommended for first-years interested in building their venture capital skillset and knowledge base prior to their summer internship interviews.

Core Elective Courses




    Rus Abuzov,  Assistant Professor of Business Administration

    Course Description

    Venture capital (VC) finance course focuses on the institutional side of early-stage investing. The goal of the class is to help managers make better investment and financing decisions in an entrepreneurial setting. The course covers the stages of a venture's life from raising startup financing to arranging an exit.  We discuss the sources of startup capital, the valuation of startup companies, and how to structure deal terms and exit opportunities. The course is designed to provide students with a comprehensive set of skills that allow them to analyze situations of high risk and uncertainty from the investor’s perspective.

    Valuation in Financial Markets is a prerequisite for this course.

    What Students Say


    "The course allowed me to explore different perspectives from what fundraising may look like for an entrepreneur to one of a VC partner looking at a potential investment. After taking it, I gained a much better understanding of the ins and outs of the venture capital landscape as well as the various mechanisms one could use to incentivize entrepreneurs and achieve better returns for investors."

    Kiana Feliciano
    MBA Class of 2024


    "The course helped me appreciate the multiple levers entrepreneurs and financiers can pull to mitigate the downside and participate in the upside. It wasn't just numbers - we dove into the human and contractual elements that can make or break a deal and propel or sink a venture."

    Carlos Saballos
    MBA Class of 2024





    will whitehurst

    "This was a fantastic course that effortlessly blended the quantitative modeling and qualitative strategy of venture capital. I left the course with a clear understanding of two key industry aspects: (i) The various vehicles a private investor can used depending on stage, risk tolerance, etc. (ii) The stakeholder alignment or conflict associated with each vehicle’s incentive structure."

    Will Whitehurst
    MBA Class of 2024




    Les Alexander, John Glynn Endowed Professor and Professor of Practice in Business Administration

    Course Description

    The Venture Capital Leadership course explores the role venture capital plays in the private capital ecosystem through in class conversations with industry leaders and case discussions. The course offers students the opportunity to examine current topics impacting the venture capital industry, learn about the various providers of start-up, seed, early, and late-stage capital, explore why limited partners allocate to this asset class, and evaluate the similarities and differences between venture capital and corporate venture capital. We will also discuss how venture capitalists engage with their portfolio companies, providing not only capital, but also assistance to help build successful businesses. Throughout the course we will consider themes such as how private capital investments are different from investing in the public capital markets, how to be selective when evaluating investment opportunities, and how venture capital impacts the economy.

    Course Objectives

    The Venture Capital Leadership course is designed to engage students in a conversation about the topics venture capital fund managers face as they seek to raise capital, make investments, manage investments, and return capital along with profits to their limited partners. The course will explore the private capital ecosystem and the role venture capital plays in providing capital to start-up, early and late-stage companies. More specifically, this course is designed to achieve the following objectives:

    • Explore the unique nature of private capital market investments in general and venture capital investments in particular
    • Develop an appreciation for the many different providers of capital to start-up, early, and late-stage businesses
    • Gain insight into the impact venture capital makes on the economy and society as well as discuss ways that venture capital could improve in these areas
    • Practice the evaluation of potential investment opportunities and how to select attractive investments
    • Understand the similarities and differences between venture capital and corporate venture capital
    • Learn ways venture capitalists can engage with and add value to portfolio companies
    • Understand the relationship between the fund managers and their limited partners as well as the reasons limited partners invest in venture capital funds and other alternative assets



    Elena Loutskina, Professor of Business Administration, Peter M. Grant II Bicentennial Foundation Chair in Business Administration and Academic Director of Richard A. Mayo Center for Asset Management

    Course Description

    This course explores a comprehensive set of financial situations that arise with the financing of private enterprises from startups to mature companies. The course begins with a brief module on limited partnerships to provide students with the necessary understanding of the practices and metrics of PE funds and their return expectations. From there the course examines the investment strategy, valuation, and opportunities of early stage (venture capital), middle market (growth equity, mezzanine financing), and late stage enterprises (buyouts). By design the course covers a range of enterprises to match the investment interests of PE investors. Each class helps students develop analytical tools and methods that can be used to reach better decisions about funding needs, valuation, return prospects, contract structuring and incentives to prepare for future professional roles in this industry.

    What Students Say


    "Darden’s PE course is legendary, and an absolute must take in our second year! The course highlights the intricacies of private markets and does an amazing job to introduce students to the core concepts and technical skills of PE finance. It was easily one of my favorite courses during my Darden experience and helped to grow my passion for this space."

    Kathleen Altice
    MBA Class of 2024


    "This course gave me a strong foundation for a career in private markets. The cases covered helped me understand a variety of situations that arise in private equity transactions, both conceptually and technically. I especially enjoyed the cases that led to discussions about the GP-LP relationship dynamics, the value of the platform, and the fund of funds model."

    Christie Carpenter
    MBA Class of 2024




    "The PE course was an eye-opening experience that exceeded all my expectations. Before taking this class, I had heard PE terms tossed around in financial discussions and seen them mentioned in articles like the Wall Street Journal. However, I never truly grasped the nuances of GP and LP roles or what went on behind the scenes. The professor and the course material provided invaluable insights, demystifying these concepts and giving me a comprehensive understanding of the dynamics between LP and GP relationships."

    Aanshi Jain
    MBA Class of 2024


    "The PE course was a great theoretical and technical introduction to the PE space. It is a “must take” for anyone interested in that ecosystem. The professor held us to a high standard of excellence, which ultimately brings out the best in students; my classmates and I were engaged, well-prepared, and eager to answer the call. Getting regular “reps” on financial modeling was also a huge value-add."

    Reid Spagna
    MBA Class of 2024




    "I can say with utmost confidence that this is one of the most insightful courses I took while at Darden. Prior to Darden, I had limited exposure to the intricacies of the private markets. Not only did the course deepen my passion for private investing, but it also bolstered my confidence in navigating the complexities of various strategies, funding requirements, contractual terms, and incentives commonly associated with private market investments."

    Joe Vance
    MBA Class of 2024