Entrepreneurship, Venture Capital, and Startups Learning Cohort

A growing number of startups are emerging from universities and research institutes — young enterprises that are accelerating innovation and changing the game in social entrepreneurship and in every field imaginable. Increasingly, graduate students are the founders or co-founders behind these new businesses. At Princeton, there is a robust innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem that connects graduate students, postdocs, alums, faculty, venture capitalists, and industry. During the course of 8 weeks, this program serves as a “crash course” for understanding the world of entrepreneurship, VC funding and startups. You will learn about the lingo, the economics, the process, and the landscape—and meet members of the broader innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. You will also hear first-hand from graduate alum founders about their entrepreneurial journeys -- and all of the challenges and successes they had along the way. The cohort culminates with a group project where graduate students will work across disciplines to synthesize and apply their learnings.

Cohort sessions are led by Princeton alums Jim Cohen ’86 and Mark Poag ’93, general partners of Fitz Gate Ventures. Fitz Gate Ventures is an early stage, network-driven venture capital firm. The firm brings a unique strategic advantage to its portfolio companies by leveraging its proprietary “Friends of Fitz” network, comprised of hundreds of venture capitalists, startup founders, professors, and senior executives. Fitz Gate’s portfolio companies have been profiled in major media outlets such as the New York Times, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Forbes, Vogue, Bloomberg, and others. By participating in this cohort, you will see why the Venture Capital and Startups Learning Cohort has become one of GradFUTURES’ most popular offerings and why Jim and Mark were each awarded the Clio Award from the Princeton Grad School for the value this cohort has brought to Princeton graduate students over the years.

For the first time this year, the cohort will include two guest lectures taught by Christina Pellicane, Assistant Director of Innovation at Princeton and Lead Instructor, NSF I-Corps Northeast Hub.

Learning Objectives

Cohort Participants will learn:

  • The unique vocabulary of entrepreneurship, startups and venture capital
  • How to take an idea from the lab and begin the path towards forming a startup
  • Sources of capital for startups
  • Understanding equity in entrepreneurship and startups
  • Steps from startup formation to readiness to pursue outside funding
  • What to include in a fundraising pitchdeck and what investors look for in startups
  • How to evaluate a startup currently raising funds and what a startup should focus on to be successful.
K Igarza
"GradFUTURES was a unique reason that I chose to attend Princeton, knowing it would provide me with practical exposure to alternative careers to academia. I knew I had chosen right when I joined the inaugural Venture Capital Learning Cohort. At the learning sessions, I learned about entrepreneurship and venture capital from the founders of Fitz Gate Ventures, a firm that heavily invests in Princeton founders, becoming equipped to understand every day jargon in the startup world."

Ken Igarza, Graduate Student, NEU

Facilitators and Speakers

About GradFUTURES Learning Cohorts


GradFUTURES’ interdisciplinary learning cohorts build community among and between graduate students and reinforce each student’s graduate training while drawing on their content knowledge to inform the cohort’s investigation of the topic. As part of the cohort, students will read and discuss books, articles, and case studies. Learning cohorts typically also include at least one experiential component such as an immersive project, a site visit, conference presentation, or fellowship/internship opportunities. Interdisciplinary discussions, reflection, synthesis, community building, and immersive experiences are integral components of each learning cohort experience.