SOURCE: Lightspeed Venture Partners

Lightspeed Venture Partners

June 30, 2015 09:00 ET

Lightspeed Venture Partners Fellowship Program Hits Stride With 200th Graduate

2015 Program Kicks Off to Help Entrepreneurs Move From Ideas to Execution; Alumni Include Founders of Pinterest, Crittercism, Push Technologies and WiFiSLAM

MENLO PARK, CA--(Marketwired - Jun 30, 2015) - Lightspeed Venture Partners, a leading Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm, today announced its 200th participant has graduated from the Lightspeed Venture Partners Summer Fellowship Program. The program, just starting its ninth year, supports entrepreneurship and innovation among highly motivated engineering and computer science students by providing teams the opportunity to pursue venture ideas, learn from experts, and fully experience the entrepreneurial life for a summer. Graduates have gone on to start 94 companies including Crittercism, inDinero, Lark, Pinterest, Pushpins (acquired by Ebates), Push Technologies (acquired by MobileIron) and WiFiSLAM (acquired by Apple).

Click to Tweet: Lightspeed Venture Partners Fellowship Program Hits Stride with 200th Graduate!

For the 2015 summer fellowship program starting this month, Lightspeed received more than 250 applications and accepted 10 teams that include between two and four people for a total of 30 new fellows. Lightspeed selected the fellows based on projects related to social applications, cloud computing, big data, mobile applications, sharing economy, the Internet of Things (IoT) and online education. Each team includes at least one graduate or undergraduate in engineering or computer science who was a full-time student during the 2014-2015 academic year.

"Too frequently, entrepreneurial-minded students nearing graduation take internships with established companies for financial reasons -- leaving nights and weekends as the only time to pursue their true passion and ideas," said John Vrionis, a partner and founder of the fellowship program at Lightspeed. "We offer a unique opportunity for these entrepreneurs to pursue their startup idea unfettered in an environment that facilitates focus and provides critical support that includes a stipend, mentors and outside lecturers for guidance, which is a rare luxury for anyone starting a business. What's most exciting about this program is we see these bright, young people learning advanced lessons in entrepreneurship by doing, by actually falling down and picking themselves up and experimenting. While not every company makes it, every entrepreneur finishes the fellowship equipped with valuable experience that puts them light-years ahead in their next endeavor."

Turning Ideas to Insights

The statistics for the 200 Lightspeed Fellowship alumni over the past eight years include:

  • 94 fellows (47%) that have already founded companies
  • 93 fellows (47%) that have been employed as a director, vice president or CEO since graduating from the program
  • The aggregate number of people employed by these entrepreneurs: 16,000+
  • The aggregate capital raised by these entrepreneurs: in excess of $1.8 Billion

These statistics are staggering compared to the national college graduate average. In a May 27, 2013 Forbes article, Elaine Pofeldt wrote that only 13 percent of adults were entrepreneurs although 43 percent claimed to have good ideas for businesses. Of those that did become founders, nearly 20 percent reported having to close their business because they could not find financing. Lightspeed fellows comparatively fare much better, with a whopping 47 percent of fellows founding companies within eight years of graduating from the program.

Click to Tweet: 47% of graduates from Lightspeed Venture Partners fellowship program, have founded their own companies @lightspeedvp

Do Unto Others....

Fellows are under no obligation to Lightspeed, and Lightspeed receives no equity as part of the program. The program's goal is to connect bright, energetic people at an early stage in their careers, with great resources, connections, guidance, and support their transition into professional entrepreneurs. Their only requirement is to attend ten weeks of the program and participate enthusiastically.

Lightspeed gives each team member $10,000 and each team $5,000 for discretionary use as well as space in the Lightspeed offices in Menlo Park, California. But much more valuable than the money is the in-depth expertise Lightspeed provides the teams. Lightspeed partners mentor each team through biweekly meetings and provide introductions to other experts as needed.

"Nothing better prepares you for building a company than actually building a company. And that is exactly what the Lightspeed fellow program helps you do," said David Kravitz, software engineer, early Snapchat employee and Lightspeed fellow. "What they offer is as good as it gets: indispensable advice at every turn from a mentor who genuinely cares, a strong sense of camaraderie with the other fellows, office space and funding. Lightspeed, unbelievably, asks for nothing in return -- other than your best work. It was unequivocally the best way I spent a college summer."

The Curriculum Counts
John Vrionis conducts a six-part Venture Series course throughout the summer, providing practical knowledge of the customer discovery process, getting product to market, hiring and compensation, venture capital economics, pitching investors, leadership and career advice. In addition, fellows hear insights and advice about the start-up experience from both angel investors and successful entrepreneurs. Each year fellows are anonymously surveyed about speakers for the program, and only speakers with the highest ratings are invited back for subsequent years. This year's speaker roster includes entrepreneurs who played key roles in Snapchat, Pushpins, Pinterest, Goodwin Procter LLP, DataStax and Google.

In addition to the speaker series, participants will complete projects and compete in exercises that will support the investment, sales and team building aspects of their business, all critical first steps for early-stage companies.

All of the entrepreneurial teams in the program are encouraged to share advice, connections and resources -- and this collaborative culture is one of the most unique elements of the program -- helping young executives build connections for life based around a life-changing experience and inculcating a culture and shared vision of positive coopetition, creativity and respect. Lightspeed begins taking applications for the 2016 program in December of 2015.

About Lightspeed Venture Partners

Lightspeed Venture Partners is an early stage venture capital firm focused on accelerating disruptive innovations and trends in the Enterprise and Consumer sectors. For over two decades, the Lightspeed partners have backed and helped build more than 200 companies globally, many of which have become market leaders. Lightspeed's strategy is to be the first or lead institutional investor in companies with high growth potential in markets capable of supporting the creation of large, valuable enterprises. The Firm currently manages over $3 billion of committed capital and is headquartered in Menlo Park with investment professionals in India, Israel and China with Lightspeed China Partners. Selected investments include: AppDynamics, Blue Nile, Brocade, DataStax, DoubleClick, eHealth, Fusion-io, GrubHub, The Honest Company, Informatica, MuleSoft, Nest, Nicira, Nimble Storage, Playdom, Riverbed Technology, Snapchat, Virsa Systems, Whisper and XtremeIO. More information can be found at

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