Programs & Funds

Zell Early Stage Fund

The Zell Early-Stage Fund is a venture capital and pre-venture capital investment fund operated by Ross BBA students under the supervision of the Fund's Faculty Managing Director. The Fund is modeled on ZLI's famous Wolverine Venture Fund and the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund. The Fund invests real money in real deals in real companies.

The Fund is a capstone course that awards 3 credits in the Winter terms of your junior and senior years. Fund members are selected at the beginning of their Junior year via a rigorous application process. They are expected to serve on the Fund during both Fall and Winter semesters, for two years. As Juniors, Fund members are like associates. In their Senior year, students are like partners and mentors. The Fund is a big commitment and will require much of your time. As it is a course for credit, it should be held at the same level of priority as your education. It is one of the most serious and distinctive courses at any business school.

For entrepreneurs seeking an investment, please contact us at: zesfcontact@umich.edu. We typically invest in early-stage companies in the technology, healthcare, and energy sectors, but welcome compelling opportunities outside these areas as well.

For BBA sophomores interested in joining, please see below for more information.​

Who can join?

We seek BBA sophomores with an interest in investing and entrepreneurship. You are eligible to join as long as you are able to commit to two years with the Fund, and are not studying abroad during a school term. We do NOT expect you to have prior experience in venture capital, but experiences in entrepreneurship and investing will help you convey your interest in the Fund.

What do fund members do?

As a member of the Zell Early Stage Fund, you will learn about early-stage investing through practice. You will learn how to analyze early-stage companies, markets, business models, financial models and exits. You will learn about deal terms, about how professional investors make decisions under uncertainty, and how investors and entrepreneurs deal with high levels of risk. You will decide whether to invest real money in actual early-stage funding rounds alongside other professional investors. You will have support from a board of advisers that includes entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and other early-stage investors.

You will learn skills and get hands-on practice that will serve you well wherever marketing, financial or business model analyses are important tasks, and anywhere uncertainty and risk are important. Students who go into consulting, investment banking, equity analysis, or a startup, early-stage, or entrepreneurial company will draw on their Fund skills and experience immediately. You will have something to offer employers or partners that is distinctive - few undergraduates anywhere will have anything like it.

What are you looking for?

We know you are smart and accomplished. If you weren't, you wouldn't be our BBAs. We have the difficult task of selecting a small number of you from a large group of high achievers, so we are looking for something distinctive and relevant. (It would be distinctive if you can play the clarinet while riding a unicycle blind-folded, but it's not all that relevant to the Fund.)

You do not need venture capital, investing, finance, or startup experience. We will teach you about early-stage investing. We do expect most Fund members to have participated in significant activities that demonstrate their interest in early-stage companies or early-stage investing. You must have completed all the sophomore-required BBA courses prior to applying for the Fund.

The Fund will meet as a class on Wednesdays, from 5:30pm - 7:30 pm. The Fund is a for-credit course. Attendance at every class meeting is mandatory.

You also will work in deal teams. When a deal team is working on a potential investment, the team will meet often and at odd hours to get the due diligence done. That is how transactional practice and investing works in the real world and that is how it will work at the Fund. Deal team meetings are mandatory.

Joining the Fund is a big commitment. It is not merely another activity to dress up your resume. With the Fund being a class and major time commitment, we ask if applying to make this your priority. It can be extremely difficult to manage other extracurriculars and our organization at the same time.  We take our ZLI Funds so seriously that a member who fails to put in sufficient effort can be removed from their Fund at any time at the discretion of their Fund's Faculty Managing Director.

We are looking for BBAs who:

  • Have produced high academic achievement so far at UM
  • Have a lot of energy and stamina (with something in their record that demonstrates their energy and stamina)
  • Will have a high level of commitment to the Fund
  • Work well on teams
  • Are mature in their judgment and conduct (You will deal with real-world investors and entrepreneurs)
  • Have demonstrated strong analytic and communications skills (Analytic skills can be quantitative or qualitative)
  • Are the best of the leaders and best. If that's you, we welcome your application.
How can I join?

If you are a BBA sophomore who is not studying abroad next year, please reach out to us at ZESFstudents@umich.edu if you are interested in joining. We will update this page with a more detailed timeline in a few weeks

Who is on the current team?

Senior Associates

Ben Rathi
Ben Rathi is a senior pursuing a dual degree in business and computer science. He has significant experience working with startups, and founded a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Blueprints For Pangaea, that has sent over 50,000 pounds of unused medical supplies overseas. In the past, he has worked as a software product management intern with a focus on machine learning. Last summer, he interned at McKinsey & Company, and hopes to pursue a career in venture capital and entrepreneurship upon graduation.

Adam Levine

Adam Levine is a senior in the Ross School of Business studying Strategy and Technology Operations, with a minor in Statistics from Boxborough, MA. This past summer, Adam worked at Deloitte in their Strategy & Operations Consulting practice, where he is returning to work after graduation full-time.

Meredith Breach

Meredith is a senior in the Ross School of Business hailing from Rogers, Arkansas. She is concentrating in Finance and receiving a minor in Complex Systems. In Summer 2016, she worked for Citi in New York in the M&A group of their investment banking division. Following graduation, Meredith will be joining Vista Equity Partners as an Analyst.

Jing Jing Ma

Jing Jing is a senior in the Ross School of Business from New York, NY. She is concentrating in Finance. In Summer 2016, she worked for the Raine Group in New York in investment banking advisory and private equity. Following graduation, Jing Jing will be returning to Raine as an Analyst.

Arjun Bakre

Arjun is a senior in the Ross School of Business from South Brunswick, New Jersey. He is concentrating in Finance and Accounting. This past summer, he worked for Evercore as a summer analyst in the firm’s M&A practice. Following graduation, he will be returning to Evercore as a full-time analyst.

Sonia Shekar

Sonia is a senior in the Ross School of Business from Potomac, Maryland. She is concentrating in Strategy and receiving a minor in Applied Statistics. This past summer, she worked in management consulting at The Keystone Group in Chicago, IL.

Ryan Finn

Ryan is a senior in the Ross School of Business from Farmington Hills, Michigan. He is concentrating in finance with a minor in Economics. This past summer he worked as a Summer Business Analyst for McKinsey & Company in Chicago, Illinois, and will be returning following graduation.

Alice Wang

Alice is a senior in Ross School of Business from Ann Arbor, MI. She is concentrating in finance and accounting with a minor in Economics. In Summer 2016, she worked for Barclays in New York in investment banking in the esoteric structured finance group.

Cindy Yu

Cindy is a senior in the Ross School of Business from Franklin, MI. She is concentrating in Finance and Accounting. This past summer, she worked for PJT Partners in New York in their Strategic Advisory group and will be returning full time following graduation.
 

Junior Associates

Matt Kim

Matt is a Junior BBA from Potomac, MD, and is concentrating in Finance. In the Summer of 2016, Matt worked at UBS Financial Services as an Investment Management Summer Analyst in Troy, MI. On campus Matt is involved with the Phi Chi Theta Professional Business Fraternity, Wolverine Capital Investments, and the University of Michigan Solar Car Team.

Chris Speier

Chris is a Junior in the Ross School of Business concentrating in Finance and Accounting. He is originally from Okemos, MI. In the summer of 2016, Chris interned in New York with Apollo Global Management in the firm’s real estate private equity group.

Ryan Tish

Ryan is a junior in the Ross School of Business with concentrations in Finance and Accounting. He his originally from Northville, Michigan. This past summer Ryan interned for Trematon Capital Investments in Cape Town, South Africa. On campus Ryan is involved with APEX Trading Group, Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity, and Accelerate CS.

Jake Sliman

A native of Dryden, MI, Jake is a junior pursuing a BBA from the Ross School of Business and a BA in political science from the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. This past summer, Jake worked as a Procurement Intern for General Dynamics Land Systems in Sterling Heights, MI. On campus Jake is involved with Moneythink, Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, and Motley Crew service group.