We're obsessed with research and data. If you are a student anywhere in the world seriously interested in venture capital, angel investing, and/or entrepreneurship, please consider working with us on your research.

If you are highly qualified and your research is pertinent to our work, we can help provide you with research materials, guidance, introductions to interviewees and other experts, and access to unique data sets. If your research results are high quality, we’ll also help you publicize and potentially publish your final research paper. We have relationships with many of the leading finance media that have published our own research.

We prefer to work with graduate students (MBA/PhD/MS/etc.), but are open to truly exceptional ambitious undergraduates also.  We require that you are executing this research for a class or independent (for-credit) research.  We have a strong preference for team projects as opposed to individual projects. For example, in 2012 we partnered with a team of three Columbia MBAs from McKinsey and BCG to publish a study in the Journal of Private Equity and elsewhere on venture capital portfolio operations.

To learn more, contact us with: your proposed research topic(s); the full resumes of your team members; the course for which you are writing the paper; your professor’s name and website; timeline; and your targeted deliverable (length, format, detailed table of contents, etc.). 

We cannot respond to inquiries which do not provide all of the information we request above, and/or who do not meet our requirements.

We’ve listed below some of the research questions about which we’d like to learn more. We're particularly interested in working with you if you choose one of these topics for a research paper or field study. However, please do not consider this list exhaustive; we welcome your creative suggestions.

 

The Business of Investing

  • Research best practices of VCs and angel networks in executing Series A and Seed investments.  This is effectively the investor-side equivalent of the book Venture Deals.

  • Research the organizational structure of a portfolio-operations focused VC (such as ffVC) and its portfolio, vs. conglomerates, sole startups, and other organizational structures for large businesses promoting innovation.

  • Identify most pertinent metrics for investors to evaluate early-stage companies, and collect data on the normal range of such metrics.  Use to analyze their future needs, e.g., whom they should hire.  Leverage work of YouNoodle, StartupCompass, etc.

  • Analyze advantages/disadvantages of investing personally in early-stage tech companies, vs. investing in an early-stage fund.  Create checklist of criteria that could help guide decision-making around when to invest personally and when to invest in a fund.

  • Research in what situations a company should raise capital using online selective investor platforms (Gust.com, Angel.co, CapLinked, SecondMarket, etc.), vs. equity-based crowdfunding (when made legal), vs. traditional direct outreach?

  • Research diversification in early-stage investing vs. returns.  How much diversification is optimal?  What aspects are best to diversify in (sector, stage, geography?)

  • Research and publicize best practices in running venture studios/startup foundries, which are models in between an entrepreneur and a VC (e.g., Betaworks, Idealab).

  • Research and publicize best practices in managing a virtual file server (e.g., Dropbox, Box) for a diverse international team.

New York Venture Capital Industry

  • Execute an analysis of the leading New York-area angels, superangels, and early-stage VCs.  Evaluate number of deals, size of deals, future activity, assets under management, industries of interest, and returns. Create formal ranking.

  • Compare returns of NY vs. California vs. Boston venture capitalists.

  • Analyze contribution of the New York VC community to local job creation.

Entrepreneurship

  • Study characteristics of the most successful Entrepreneurs in Residence, and the attributes of successful EIR programs.

  • Research characteristics of successful angel-backed companies run by older entrepreneurs (50+).

  • A study of the value that acquiring access to someone else's patent can add to a startup in a range of sectors.

  • Research which functions are most logically outsourced in a startup, and which are best done in-house.  Identify best service providers.

Market Analysis

  • Write an investment thesis for areas in which a startup can disrupt asset management, one of the world's most lucrative and peculiar industries.   

  • Write an investment thesis and competitive analysis around the sectors that interest us.  Typically, the CEO of one of our portfolio companies would lead this, working closely with us.  The sectors in which we're currently invested are listed on our home page, and we're always assessing new companies in new sectors.  Typical deliverable from these studies is a map and evaluation of competitors, with a SWOT evaluation and analysis of potential investments and entrepreneurial opportunities.    

  • Write a generic guide to market mapping a new industry sector.  See this article for background.  We have not found a good book or even article on how to go about doing this.

  • Create a systematic approach for identifying industries ripe for disruption, and disruptive companies, using the ideas in Clayton Christenson's "Innovator's Dilemma" and its followup books.  E.g., look for hated companies (AT&T, cable companies); look for the largest private companies in a sector (which may be seeking to hide their profitability).

  • Analyze the most rapidly growing open-source tools/ecosystems in order to identify entrepreneurial opportunities in those spheres. Analyze opportunities that emerged from the growth of earlier ecosystems, e.g, Ruby --> Heroku.  Identify opportunities that emerge from the growth of HTML5.

  • Analyze the fastest-growing companies in every significant country, and then identify if we can create a comparable company in the US market.  This is the reverse of the 'geographic arbitrage' strategy used by many emerging market entrepreneurs copying US models that are successful.

  • Identify white space on market maps: Target sectors that are not yet transformed by the internet: finance, healthcare, energy, education, etc.

  • Identify the metrics that are appropriate for measuring the value of a firm's audience, using the network measurement paradigm developed in the book, The Virtual Handshake.  

Social Trends

  • Identify how, when, and why senior executives/time-pressed professionals are using social media, and business opportunities that emerge from the use of social media by this most influential demographic.