The excitement of Silicon Valley, with its start-ups and entrepreneurs looking for their big break, and investors searching for the most innovative new ideas, was in the air at IMD in Lausanne last week.

IMD’s Alumni Community for Entrepreneurship held its first Venture Capital Deal Camp. The daylong program was organized to bring entrepreneurs and investors together as well as to give an overview of the nuts and bolts of deal-making for investors and lawyers who want to improve their ability to define, negotiate, and execute early-stage investments.

Creating something from nothing

Jim Pulcrano, entrepreneurship expert at IMD, set the scene by describing the event’s participants as 36% investors and 36% entrepreneurs with the remaining group being interested in becoming active in one of the two areas. He also gave some staggering figures about all of the deal-making going on in Switzerland and defined entrepreneurs as “Those who pursue opportunities without regard to the resources at hand” and those who “create something from nothing”.

Gregory LaBlanc, Adam Sterling, and Robert Bartlett from University of California, Berkeley as well as Neil Dugal from 500 Startups were on hand to provide their expertise over the course of the day.

The morning kicked off with Adam Sterling giving an overview of the nuts and bolts of deal-making. Other sessions led by the speakers from Berkeley and 500 start-ups were focused on the benefits of venture capital, relevant terms and processes, the economics of early stage financing, and the art of valuation. The day wrapped up with a practical exercise, ‘term sheet Olympics,’ and networking.

Switzerland: innovation hub

The event at IMD was based on similar but longer program that Gregory LeBlanc, Adam Sterling and Robert Barlett run at Berkeley in the heart of Silicon Valley. They said that among the reasons they were interested in bringing a version of a Venture Capital Deal Camp to Switzerland was because of the country’s reputation as a hub for innovative engineering, finance, science and life sciences as well as its companies with sizable resources dedicated to research and development. In addition: “Some of our most entrepreneurial alumni are Swiss,” said Adam Sterling

“IMD has always done a lot in the world of entrepreneurship and innovation. Entrepreneurship has been a core part of our EMBA program for over 20 years, to give one example. But there is a demand from our corporate clients to do even more in that area. This event was organized to look at all aspects of entrepreneurship and where IMD can be more active. We carefully picked the participants to include experienced entrepreneurs and investors, but also those who want to learn more about getting these subject. We found that there was a strong overlap in these groups of IMD alumni,” said Jim Pulcrano.  

Frederic Falise, member of Go Beyond investment said: “It was a great experience. It was very interesting for me as an investor and as an entrepreneur. There was great value in the cases and the speakers. It was more than worthwhile”.

“The learning was above and beyond what you could get elsewhere” said Michelle de Piante, investment strategist at VI Partners. “It was also an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas and to network.”

Renewed focus on entrepreneurship

The Venture Capital Deal Camp is part of a growing number of initiatives focused on entrepreneurship at IMD.

In recent months, IMD’s Alumni Community for Entrepreneurship has been growing fast.

The group holds monthly start-up investment events, which also bring together investors and entrepreneurs. The events are consistently full and the feedback from the community shows that there is a lot of excitement.

According to Johan Govea, IMD’s alumni office is an ecosystem which encourages alumni to create initiatives like the entrepreneurship community, which he says will only continue to expand, notably to cities and regions where there are strong IMD alumni presences like Zurich, Singapore and others.

The innovative atmosphere of Lausanne has also been a factor in IMD’s renewed entrepreneurial focus, said Johan. The Lausanne region is a global hub for innovation in healthcare and life sciences. In addition, the Lausanne based EPFL research and technology university based there is an epicentre for start-ups, new technology and innovation.

IMD also recently launched a joint program with EPFL called TransformTECH, which inspires new business opportunities through cutting edge technology.

Find out more about IMD’s Alumni Community for Entrepreneurship.