The MBA Fund is a new venture fund focused on entrepreneurs from HBS, Stanford GSB and Wharton. It launched in September, 2018, founded by Josh Hoffman-Senn (MBA ‘19), Sieva Kozinsky (Wharton, MBA ‘20), Hiro Tien (Stanford GSB, MBA/MS ‘20) and Hansae Catlett (Stanford GSB, MBA/MPP ‘19).
Why did you launch this fund?
Josh: We simply wanted to support founders and add-value to our respective communities. After spending almost a year getting to know entrepreneurs and investors across the MBA ecosystem, we saw an opportunity to support founders with mentorship and funding that helps accelerate their companies through the seed stage.
Sieva: The eagerness of successful alumni to not just mentor but also to invest in the next wave of founders from their programs really impressed us. Because of this, we decided to raise primarily from alumni and designed a unique fund model that brings LPs to the forefront as mentors instead of keeping them hidden in the shadows.
How does your fund differ from the typical VC model?
Josh: Our model is geared towards building community and solving MBA-specific problems. For example, our LPs include notable alumni entrepreneurs, angels and VCs who are deeply committed to mentoring MBA founders.
Sieva: Furthermore, we’ve built a network of Campus Venture Partners who develop deep relationships with entrepreneurs on each campus and in their alumni communities. This not only identifies the most committed entrepreneurs, but also takes pressure off founders who receive investments from peers and mentorship from our world-class LPs.
Josh: Also note that this is not an official vehicle of these schools, but rather a collection of private investors and operators who have come together to support the MBA ecosystem.
What’s your team dynamic like?
Josh: Because we are spread out geographically across the three schools, we communicate daily and follow a well-defined decision making processes. We each bring a different perspective to the table having founded venture-backed companies, invested personally, and worked in VC.
Hansae: That’s true, but most important is the fund’s broader community of entrepreneurs, LPs and Campus Venture Partners who foster lasting connections by working closely together.
Why invest in MBAs?
Josh: Having seen first-hand what these communities can do, we want to add value to the ecosystem and help founders jump start their ventures. Of course, we also took a deep look at the data — the track records of various entrepreneurial hubs – and found that entrepreneurs from HBS, Stanford and Wharton consistently produce outsized returns. These three MBA programs also produce the highest number of successful female founders relative to other schools.
Hiro: While examining some of this data and observing our peers, we noticed that MBAs seem to have an edge in certain situations. MBAs come to school with a variety of different backgrounds (finance, insurance, marketing, retail…etc), so they are uniquely positioned to run big businesses across many industries Also, since barriers to launching internet companies have fallen drastically in recent years, MBAs have seen success ushering traditionally offline industries through their digital transformations. A recent Forbes article about us highlights these and other situations where MBAs tend to produce hit companies.
Josh: Our primary objective at this point is to grow our community. We’re expanding our network of Campus Venture Partners, investing in promising entrepreneurs, and providing mentorship opportunity for our LPs.
If you’re interested in getting involved, feel free to email [email protected].
Josh Hoffman-Senn (MBA ’19) previously co-founded Causemo (venture-backed), Venuefly and Lesson Squad. He has worked with several VC firms and is retained by startups to assist with go-to-market and fundraising activities. In his free time, Josh likes to jam with friends on piano or guitar.