EP 1: The Genesis (and Ripple Effect) of Alumni Ventures Group
Mike Collins | Founder and CEO of Alumni Ventures Group
How one Dartmouth grad is enlisting alumni to change everything you know about Venture Capital for investors, entrepreneurs, and young professionals. (Listen)
Welcome to the inaugural episode of the Founders and Funders podcast by Alumni Ventures Group (AVG). This is a forum where we discuss how entrepreneurs and investors work together to build great new companies.
Mike Collins, CEO and Founder of AVG, shares how he came up with the idea to start the business and how it is unlocking venture capital for people eager to invest in promising young companies. He also explains how AVG unexpectedly created an entirely new career option for graduates who previously could not figure out how to break into the world of VC.
Introducing Mike Collins and His Alumni Ventures
Over the past 30 years, Mike Collins has been involved in nearly every aspect of venturing from angel investing and venture capital to new product launches and business incubation. As the founder of AVG, Mike heads a company that creates and manages venture capital funds, offering accredited investors a smart, simple way to invest in a key asset class that has until now largely been inaccessible for individuals. AVG offers a variety of diversified and focused funds and is currently one of the most active venture firms in the world.
Mike holds an undergraduate degree in Engineering Science from Dartmouth and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is also the founder and Managing Partner Emeritas of Green D Ventures, a VC fund for Dartmouth Alums that is also AVG’s first, and most established, alumni fund.
As Mike points out, “Entrepreneurship is a very unusual career. It’s typically some kind of cross-section of a person’s passion, expertise, and things they’re really good at.” But there is no traditional career path to becoming an entrepreneur, and becoming a venture capitalist is even more challenging. Mike found his way to becoming both—and marrying the two quite successfully. In fact, his entrepreneurial venture firm, Alumni Ventures Group, is disrupting the traditional VC industry.
Three Takeaways from This Podcast
Though he has launched and sold several businesses, Mike considers AVG to be the crown jewel of his career. In addition to sharing how he developed AVG and why he believes this business is about more than just helping successful people increase their wealth, Mike explains the following about this new venture:
1. Founders and Funders have fascinating stories
Mike and his team meet with hundreds of entrepreneurs and professional investors on a monthly basis. Those fascinating people are doing amazing things. One of the reasons Mike wanted to produce this podcast is to give AVG an opportunity to share these stories with alumni investors and community members who have expressed an interest in going behind the scenes. He believes the the business community at-large will also enjoy the podcasts because people always seems eager to learn from the experiences of others.
2. AVG is a necessary disruption
Through research and reflection on his career experiences, Mike identified the problem that venture capital is a difficult asset class for individuals to access. He believed that more people would get involved with VC if they could do so in a smart, simple way. The ripple effect of creating more VC opportunities for investors is that AVG is hiring people to support the new environment. This shake-up to the VC world is both giving investors access to deals that they previously could not reach and creating a completely new career path to venture investing.
3. Affinity groups do better together
At the genesis of AVG, Mike felt that like-minded people could do better as a group than they could do individually in the VC asset class. As a Dartmouth grad living not too far from Hanover, he realized that many alma maters create naturally diverse yet strong affinity groups. He started Green D Ventures, a fund that enables Dartmouth alums to invest in the ventures of fellow Dartmouth alums, to test this theory. (The fund is private, for-profit, and not affiliated with Dartmouth College.) In November 2017, Green D Fund 4 wrapped its fundraising, exceeding all expectations and becoming the most successful and fast fund raise at that time for parent company Alumni Ventures Group.
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Founders and Funders is a podcast where we discuss how entrepreneurs and investors work together to build great new companies. Our guests, many of whom are connected with AVG as entrepreneurs, investors, managing partners, fellows and more, are invited here to talk about the journey of building companies from incubation to early stage investing and beyond.
If you want to follow more fascinating stories and insights from the entrepreneurs and investors who are part of the Alumni Ventures Group community, then subscribe to Founders and Funders on iTunes, Founders and Funders on Android, Stitcher, and other popular podcast channels.
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