Venture Capital and Startups Learning Cohort

Now in its third year, the Venture Capital and Startup learning cohort connects an interdisciplinary group of graduate students interested in learning about the world of VC and startups in a casual environment. This is a great crash course for graduate students who are simply curious. Whether students are interested in researching the world of VCs and startups, forming their own or joining one, understanding the landscape and how the various sources of funding work to get a startup off the ground is essential. 

Led by Managing Directors of Fitz Gate Ventures, Jim Cohen '86 and Mark Poag '93, this series will meet for five sessions throughout the year. Invited guests including alumni working in startups or spinouts and professionals on campus who support the entrepreneurial ecosystem will be included in each session to connect graduate students to the opportunities available to them.. We encourage all graduates students in the cohort to participate in the Tiger Entrepreneurship Conference (TEC) hosted by the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council. TEC is held in a different city each year.

A graduate student in Anthropology who is researching VCs is happy he connected with the learning cohort last year, “Thank you for a fantastic event with Mark and Jim. Those nuts and bolts of VC are helpful grounding for me to have when my anthropology research on VC and the SF startup economy goes into full swing in a year.”

Sample Schedule

Join Managing Directors of Fitz Gate Ventures, Jim Cohen '86 and Mark Poag '93 for a series on Venture Capital and Startups specifically geared for graduate students. This will be a crash course for anyone who is curious!

  • Session 1: Venture Capital Overview - the lingo around venture capital and startups
  • Session 2: Sources of Capital and Finance Topics for Startups; Covid-19 and Venture Capital, Diversity and Venture Capital  part of the “Engage 2020: Innovation Conference”
  • Session 3: Brooks Powell '17, Chemistry major, Founder/CEO of Cheers
  • Session 4: Start-Up Finance: Valuation, Structure and Term Sheets for startups
  • Session 5: Pae Wu '02, ELC, IndieBio
  • Session 6: Transitioning from Grad School to Entrepreneur: Lessons Learned from Successful Founders."


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Venture Capital and Startup Participants and Speakers

Joseph Avery, GS, PSY
GradFUTURES Learning Cohort Participant

"I learned a lot, I met other students with similar interests, and I formed lasting relationships with experts in the respective fields."

Ken Igarza, GS, NEU

Ken Igarza is an NSF-GRFP fellow in Dr. Annegret Falkner's laboratory at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute (PNI), having previously studied and conducted research at Emory and Columbia University. At PNI, Ken studies how the brain generates drives that lead animals to seek social interactions and hopes to discover how these mechanisms go…

Brendan Phelan

Brendan Phelan currently serves as Director of Product Strategy at Fiserv (FISV), where he leads innovation and strategy for new merchant engagement solutions. Brendan joined Fiserv in March of 2021 when Fiserv acquired Radius8, a location-based targeting platform for retail which he co-founded in 2016. Before to co-founding Radius8, Brendan…

Mark Poag, '93
GradFUTURES Learning Cohort Facilitator

“Leading this venture capital cohort is so much fun since we’re teaching these grad students who are brilliant experts in their respective fields of study a topic with which most of them are not very familiar.  I’ve enjoyed getting to know many of them better and am excited about their innovative startup ideas.  Hopefully, once they are ready to raise outside capital, they’ll be a little better prepared after taking this class.” 

Abraham (Avi) Wolf, GS, CBE
GradFUTURES Learning Cohort Participant
The Venture Capital and Startups cohort "is a great way to quickly learn the core tenets of the funding ecosystem for entrepreneurs"
Kim Worthington, GS, HIS
GradFUTURES Learning Cohort Participant
"The GradFutures program unlocks a broad range of penetrating insights from graduate students as its appeal across disciplines and fields attracts faculty, campus administrators and alums committed to revealing the full potential of being part of the Princeton University community."