Venture Capital Textbook

Resources for Instructors

Venture Capital Strategy is an approachable but disciplined textbook developed in the classroom over 15 years. The text has been incorporated into entrepreneurial finance and PE/VC courses, offering an overview of the VC industry, an introduction to VC math and a due diligence framework. If you are considering using VC Strategy in your class, we have resources for you:

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What are educators saying?

“I switched my undergraduate and MBA entrepreneurial finance courses to Patrick Vernon’s Venture Capital Strategy after trying out other books that were either too simplified (not practically helpful in the real world of fundraising) or too technical (written in legalese, not the plain English required to really grasp the issues one needs to negotiate.) The text is easy to read and peppered with relevant real life examples, and it’s accompanied by practice exercises for the important math calculations. In addition to the clear explanations of quantitative concepts, Vernon provides one of the most concise, compelling walkthroughs I’ve seen of the essential components of competitive positioning and value proposition. A close reading of VCS will give even the first-time entrepreneur the tools they need to effectively seek and structure a financing round. The book is also excellent background for those outside the venture capital world who want to understand the reality of how VC firms actually work and are compensated.”
Laura Roden, San Jose State University

“Providing exposure to venture investing is really hard. There are a lot of moving parts and some of the material can be quite dry.  I love Venture Capital Strategy because it weaves together a narrative around concepts and helps students move from one area of analysis to another in an enjoyable manner.  Several of my students have specifically noted that the readings from this book were some of the most fun and informative of the class!”
Theresa Sedlack, Miami University 

Proposal: Textbook for New Entrepreneurial Strategy Elective

With the explosion of entrepreneurship offerings in higher education also comes the opportunity to expand our entrepreneurial course offerings. Venture Capital Strategy is a new kind of elective, with students exploring entrepreneurial strategy by playing the role of venture capital analysts.

From the author:

“I wrote the textbook Venture Capital Strategy concurrently while teaching (and constantly evolving and developing) a strategy course at UNC Kenan-Flagler, where we have other electives covering the financial aspects of venture capital. My course was originally titled ‘Business Plan Analysis.’ After a few years (and the obsolescence of business plans!) the title evolved into ‘Opportunity Analysis’ and ultimately, as I finished the book, ‘Entrepreneurial Strategy: How to Think Like a Venture Capitalist.’ The core of the course is the students playing the role of investors looking at startups holistically as investment opportunities, with due diligence that includes meeting founders. The course is a complement to our other elective offerings, including entrepreneurial finance and private equity.”

-Patrick Vernon, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, UNC Kenan-Flagler

Excerpt from Syllabus

This strategy course looks at entrepreneurship through the lens of venture capital using a combination of lectures, guest speakers and startup pitches. Students will be immersed in an extended experiential learning exercise in which you will play the role of an associate in a venture capital firm evaluating investment opportunities (startups) by performing preliminary “due diligence,” the process VCs utilize to decide whether to invest in a startup.

The first half of the course is an overview of the venture capital industry with a deep dive into the complexities of venture capitalists’ jobs, including fundraising, investing, growing and exiting. With that context in mind, students will learn a due diligence framework called VC Razor for assessing the feasibility of startup investments.

In the second half of the course, we dive more deeply into several startups as our live case studies. Students form investment teams to perform due diligence and write an analysis of each visiting startup from the perspective of analysts in a VC firm. Actual entrepreneurs come to class to deliver startup pitches as they would to real venture capital firms. Students will immerse themselves in the industry, perform online research and also have the opportunity to ask each founder confidential strategic questions in class.

It should be stressed that this is a strategy course, not a finance course, and should be of value to any student exploring entrepreneurship. The class will equip students with tools to assess whether they should start or join a startup at any time in their careers. This decision is analogous to a VC’s decision to invest in a startup. After all, the founders are also the first investors.

Click on images below for screenshots of some resources.

VC Strategy Texbook Contents Part I
VC Strategy Syllabus
2nd Course Lecture