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Through the Kellogg School’s <i>Venture Lab</i>, students are paired with venture capital firms to work on a real-world project over the course of a quarter.

Kellogg students at work

A wise investment

For Matt McCall ’91, a partner at New World Ventures, sponsoring the Kellogg School’s <i>Venture Lab</i> has been a ‘win-win’

8/12/2010 - True to its commitment to experiential learning, the Kellogg School currently offers more than 17 experiential courses — each of which are catered to specific careers in business and designed to synthesize classroom learning with actual business situations.

Matt McCall
"What is nice about [Venture Lab] is that you can find a student with expertise in a range of areas — from domain experts in Internet services to someone who knows clean process engineering," said Matt McCall, a partner at New World Ventures.
Those students seeking a career in the venture capital industry can gain hands-on experience through Venture Lab, a course launched in 2008 through the Heizer Center for Private Equity and Venture Capital. Taught by Yael Hochberg, assistant professor of finance, Venture Lab pairs individual students with sponsoring venture capital firms to complete a timely project over the course of a quarter.

One of the Kellogg School’s regular sponsors is New World Ventures, an Evanston-based venture capital firm that invests in privately held technology and telecommunications companies on behalf of the Pritzker family. The firm has also offered several summer internships to Kellogg students.

Matthew McCall ’91, a partner at New World Ventures, talks about the benefits of the Venture Lab sponsorship, remembers an “ingenious” summer intern, and explains why Kellogg students are always ready to “hit the ground running.”

Q: What inspired New World Ventures to participate in Venture Lab?

A: In the venture industry, you may be doing infrastructure today and biodiesel tomorrow; the landscape is continually changing. What is nice about [Venture Lab] is that you can find a student with expertise in a range of areas — from domain experts in Internet services to someone who knows clean process engineering.

Because the average Kellogg student has six to seven years of work experience, we aren’t talking about people who worked for a year or two as a bag carrier. These are people who had real responsibilities in domain expertise in companies before they came to Kellogg — so they hit the ground running.

Q: Can you provide an example of a business problem that a Kellogg student helped solve?

When we were looking at the clean-tech space, we encountered a fairly thorny diligence issue we were trying to get our arms around. The company we were looking at was building a biodiesel plant — so [the problem involved] a mixture of science, new cutting-edge technology and process engineering.

One of the Venture Lab students working for us had spent the last several years working in the petroleum industry, in the process-manufacturing world. [To address our problem,] he evaluated the economics of a plant, did feasibility studies and researched feedstock supplies in India. He did an incredible job of laying it all out, and that led to him working for a portfolio company in our backyard. So it was a nice win-win. He did an incredible job for us, and helped us advance the ball here in a very meaningful way.

Q: Can you tell us about a Kellogg intern who made a meaningful contribution to your firm?

A: This one might go down in Hall of Fame. We had a summer intern who had worked in the Valley for technology companies. He had a great network, so if we wanted to find someone at Amazon, he had friends he could just call up. He was probably one of most ingenious students I’ve ever met.

We were trying to figure out trends in the industry for our funds-to-funds business. He somehow created a database of the individual returns of 1400 individual funds, including every major fund in the Valley. I’ve never seen a database like this in my life. In one summer, he was basically able to capture every venture firm ever created and increased our database by 14 times.

Going into the next quarter, that database allowed us to decide where to take our funds-to-funds business. Without that data, we would have had a very unstructured discussion.

Interested in sponsoring an experiential learning course at the Kellogg School? Contact Michele Rogers, assistant dean of Experiential Learning, for more information.