Access to Venture Education Helps Access to Venture Capital

By: Bobby Franklin, the President of the National Venture Capital Association.

Growing a company from just an idea into the next big thing is not easy, and there is no degree or how-to manual that entrepreneurs and their venture capital investors can turn to for help. To be successful, entrepreneurs need strong networks with other bold company builders and risk-taking investors.  These innovation communities are essential and are similar in many ways to why some of the greatest jazz musicians and chefs are attracted to New Orleans. Because innovation is central to the economic health of cities and regions in the modern century economy, expanding access to the knowledge and experience that flow to the major innovation hubs is critical to creating broad and more inclusive economic growth.  This need to drive the economy of tomorrow is why VC University LIVE is being hosted in New Orleans on September 19-21 by the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) and the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Law, in partnership with the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University.

VC University LIVE is a new program that democratizes access to education on venture investment to emerging startup ecosystems across the country. The goals of the program are to shine a spotlight on the South’s startup ecosystem, create a forum to bring together industry leaders from the South and Silicon Valley to share experiences and best practices, and offer education from some of the best minds in venture capital to newer entrants of VC.

Joining me as speakers at VC University LIVE are top venture investors at firms like Andreessen Horowitz, Scale Venture Partners, and Revolution, as well as local entrepreneurs and investors who understand the importance of startups to New Orleans and the South. Through this program, attendees will walk away with new ideas on how to start and scale innovative local businesses, invest in startups across company lifecycles and sectors, and support the local ecosystem for continued robust growth. Those joining us from Silicon Valley will have the chance to see first-hand—if they have not already—the opportunity and the quality of entrepreneurs, investors, and talent the South has to offer.  It’s a win-win.

We do this because high-growth startups in the U.S. play a critical role in driving our country’s economy forward. Venture-backed companies have created life-changing and life-saving technologies that impact us daily and have created entirely new industries and millions of high-paying jobs across the country.

For example, 42% of all U.S. IPOs from 1974 to 2015 were venture-backed, and those companies represent 85% of R&D spend amongst that total pool of public companies. High-growth startups created about 3 million average net jobs annually between 1980 and 2010, accounting for approximately 50% of gross jobs created in the country. Furthermore, 42% of FDA-approved drugs originated from venture-backed companies in the past decade.

The opportunity in the region is clear. Since 2014, high-growth startups in the South have raised nearly $38 billion across 7,900 investments. From 2013 to 2018, the South saw an annual growth rate of nearly 10% in venture capital investment. Louisiana-based startups have raised $205 million across 112 investments since 2014. And what’s perhaps most compelling, and may not be widely known, is that there are more than 250 active VC investors in the South managing over $10 billion in capital to put to work in funding startups over the next few years.  We must build on this success.

We believe that by expanding access to education on venture capital, this will in turn help access to capital and lift the economic competitiveness of New Orleans and the South.

We’re very much looking forward to spending three days immersed with the startup community in New Orleans and industry leaders across the country to discuss ways for them to play a role in the next-generation of startups transforming innovation, our economy, and the world, some of which will no doubt hail from Louisiana.