Vinay Gupta lives and breathes entrepreneurship and venture investing. Over the span of his 30-year career, the serial entrepreneur has launched five venture-backed technology companies and has invested angel and venture capital in multiple start-ups to accelerate their development and growth. Currently, Gupta is the founder and CEO of Janeeva Inc., an outsourcing relationship management software company based in Ann Arbor, and he participates as an active investor in Menlo Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture fund. He also serves as a board member of many early-stage companies in Southeast Michigan.
At the Ross School, where Gupta teaches the course Managing the Growth of New Ventures, he brings this deep-seated experience in starting, growing and selling start-ups into the classroom to expose graduate students to a different way of thinking. “Most MBAs have worked at big companies, where they mainly have focused on execution,” Gupta explains. “My role is to make them think like entrepreneurs. I present them with situations that encourage discussion about strategy, financing, hiring and culture in a five- or 10-person start-up.”
During the winter term, Gupta regularly invites the most successful entrepreneurs in the state to drop by his class to talk about the trials and triumphs they have encountered in launching and growing their own companies. Nearly all the founders and CEOs who share their experiences have achieved company exits and valuations ranging from $100 million to more than $2 billion. Among the entrepreneurial luminaries in Gupta’s closely knit network are: Bob Paul, the former president and CEO of Compuware Corp., which was sold to Thoma Bravo for $2.5 billion in 2014, and Jennifer Baird, the former CEO of Accuri Cytometers, which was acquired in 2011 by Becton Dickinson and Co. for $205 million. “As entrepreneurs, we’ve all been there and done that, so our conversation in class comes from a shared understanding of the challenges faced by start-ups,” Gupta says.