This December I had the privilege of attending the 38th annual Venture Capital Institute in Atlanta. VCI has served over the years as the de facto starting point for VC’s young and old who want to very quickly broaden their network and hone their skills in our trade. Thanks to the generous support of the MVCA and MEDC, Michigan was extremely well represented with eight attendees – more than any other state.
Upon arriving we were immediately thrown into a speed networking event with folks from a variety of backgrounds – venture capital, economic development, banking, and corporate. It was a great mesh, really, considering our industry is touched by most all of those fields. The coursework consisted of case studies, ethics discussions, deal-making strategies, legal, and more. Guest speakers from around the country participated, including legendary billionaire VC Pitch Johnson (yes, his name is Pitch) who at age 80+ still pilots his own private jet from Palo Alto every year to contribute to the next generation of VC’s.
It became very apparent during day one that the aggressive schedule would not permit much free time to explore Atlanta and socialize. Against all odds, however, the Michigan crew led the charge one evening and dragged our classmates and now friends out to check on a local barbecue pit and try some true southern cocktails. It was great to get to know these attendees beyond a typical case study role.
On the flight home it reminded me a lot of my regular visits out to the Bay Area over the last four years. While always exhausted (maybe the red-eye flights contributed), I often thought how beneficial it was to be building these networks outside of the state. All eight of us came back armed with new ideas and connections that will benefit not only our careers but the strength of the overall innovation network in Michigan. It is truly amazing that we have such forward-thinking programs like the Venture Fellows and my experience at VCI reinforced my decision to participate. Thanks much for the great opportunity.