We were up at the crack of dawn on Thursday for a breakfast talk hosted by Rod Fergusson, managing director of Panorama Capital (a West coast venture capital fund). Rod spoke very frankly about the life of a VC and what he sees going on in the industry. His talk emphasized the importance of a STEM background, and in particular, the advantage this skill set can provide in getting jobs in the venture capital space.
We headed back into the city to meet with Darren Weingard, the General Counsel of Luxe, which is a valet parking company operating in 6 cities across the United States. Darren is a Northwestern Law graduate and has worked for Yahoo, Airbnb and several other firms before accepting the GC position at Luxe. He spoke candidly about career decisions and not settling until you find something you truly enjoy, and also shared interesting stories about his previous employers.
Lunch was spent enjoying a panel focused on early-stage start-up businesses at Covo, a shared workspace for entrepreneurs in San Francisco. Emily Baum, the founder and CEO of Keyrious (a creative businesses geared towards giving surprises to friends and loved ones), hosted the panel. After having spent time at a number of start-ups that were further along, it was nice to hear from founders that were still grappling with all of the typical issues faced by businesses that haven’t yet raised significant capital (e.g. making payroll, growing, marketing, etc.).
We finished the day at Uber, where we were hosted by a Northwestern Law alum Frank Tenente, who is Senior Legal Counsel, Transactions. It was exciting to see the open workspace culture of Uber, and to learn about such an innovative company. This talk seemed particular timely seeing as we spent quite a bit of time in Ubers getting from meeting to meeting! We had a jam-packed day!
We concluded our trip on Friday morning with a visit to one of the pre-eminent start-up “accelerators” in the country – YCombinator. Jonathan Levy, the General Counsel at Y Combinator, discussed the characteristics they typically look for in founders that they accept in the program. In particular, he suggested that they wanted folks that were passionate about their company, and not simply being in a start-up or at a “cool” accelerator. YCombinator seems like an amazing program, and a very exclusive one as well — they accept something like 2% of the companies that apply.
The Entrepreneurship Team Project was truly a mind-expanding experience. It was a special opportunity to interact with such a diverse group of entrepreneurs, investors and other participants in the world of start-ups. We really appreciated the chance to network with some very experienced people on both the tech side and the law side. As we graduate soon, and are thinking about what comes next, the EnTP was a fantastic opportunity to get insight into the atmosphere and culture of some interesting companies, and to think about where we all might like to work.
Thanks so much to our super awesome professors – Esther Barron, Darren Green, and Steve Reed – who put in a lot of hard work and leveraged their many contacts to make this trip so special.