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


    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.


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







    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.

    Valuation in Financial Markets is a prerequisite for this course.


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





    Rus AbuzovRus Abuzov,  Assistant Professor of 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. The course enrollments are small (10-12 students) and is based on application process that is administered twice a year (early August for the fall semester, and early January for the Spring semester)


    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."


    Creating a venture can be a lonely undertaking, leaving the Entrepreneur asking, “What to do Next?” We’re going to turn venturing into a team sport and support each other as each student team builds their ventures towards viability as a side gig or a full time work. We will use the class to further develop entrepreneurial fundamentals like partnering, customer sales, and managing your affordable loss. The cadence is two-week sprints alternating customized milestones and work on deliverables common to the class which will contribute directly to your venture. We draw extensively on Saras Sarasvathy’ s Effectuation theory methodology to guide action and ensure that progress doesn’t stall even if the end point is a decision to move on from the venture at the end of the class.


    Jim Zuffoletti, Adjunct Faculty

Related Courses


    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.


    Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition (ETA) is a growing career path for EMBA graduates and experienced individuals looking to become CEO of their own company by purchasing an existing business using third-party capital. This course provides students with an introduction to the process of searching for a company, valuing a small business, structuring a deal, negotiating with a seller, completing due diligence, obtaining debt and equity financing, and closing the transaction to become the CEO of their own business. We will review the differences between a funded and a self-funded search, practice how to assess positive characteristics and risks of a company and learn how to utilize various forms of financing to purchase a small business. Through case and other readings, classroom discussions, and conversations with guest speakers who are current or former searchers, or are professionals engaged in the industry, students will explore the many aspects of searching for and acquiring a company. The assigned homework and final project will allow students to experience preparing many of the documents necessary to conduct a search and complete the purchase of a business.


    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 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.


    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™.


    This course provides students with exposure to practical matters faced by operators of smaller enterprises. Whether starting or acquiring a small enterprise, entrepreneurs will be better prepared having been introduced to real-world topics such as relationships with key service vendors (banking, legal, accounting), commercial leasing terms, employee benefit programs, state and local public policy, government procurement, commercial insurance, commercial security interests, credit policies, and financial and operational control systems– from the vantage of the smaller enterprise where choices are often limited as compared to the options available to larger enterprises.


    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 Applied Security Analysis, Corporate Financing, Corporate Financial Restructuring, Corporate Financial Strategies, Hot Topics in Finance, Investments, Managerial Finance, and Valuation in Financial Markets


    Related courses include Software Design, and Digital Product Management


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

    Global Economies and Markets

    Related courses include Business-Government Relations, China in the World Economy, Global Industry Economics, Growth & Business in Emerging Markets, and India in the World Economy