The Zell Lurie Institute’s four student-led venture investment funds teach students to be intelligent risk takers, equip them with strong analytical skills and require them to make real-dollar investments in early-stage companies. The funds augment the wide array of Zell Lurie programs and differentiate the entrepreneurial experience at the Ross School. They also prepare students for careers in entrepreneurship and other fields in ways most business schools are unable to do, according to Zell Lurie Associate Director Erik Gordon.
“Most students enter Ross with the idea that risk is bad ─ a danger to avoid,” explains Gordon, who is director of the $7 million Wolverine Venture Fund and the new venture fund for BBA students, launching this fall. “In the funds, we show them that intelligent risk taking is not only good ─ it is crucial. Risk is the foundation of progress that leads to the most impactful opportunities to change the world.” Students learn the nuts and bolts of venture investing and assume full responsibility for due diligence and investment decisions. “They learn to conduct industrial-strength analysis that is useful in the real world,” Gordon says. “Then they are forced to make real decisions ─ not just take hypothetical stances in a classroom ─ on investing the fund’s money in the face of the uncertainty that accompanies big opportunities.” Gordon and fund advisors drawn from venture finance and entrepreneurial business stand by to help, but only as needed.
“After working on the funds, students leave Ross ready to do great and difficult things,” he says. “Whether they start companies or go into venture capital, investment banking or consulting, they can be superstars because they are equipped to outwork and outthink the competition.”