Embracing the Venture Mindset

A Path to Successful Investing

Alumni Ventures
6 min readJun 10, 2024

Michael Collins is Founder, CEO, and Board Chair of Alumni Ventures, America’s largest venture capital firm for individual accredited investors. Mike founded AV in 2014 and served as Managing Partner of the firm’s first alumni fund, Green D Ventures (for the Dartmouth community). Green D is now one of 40+ AV foundational and focused funds. Under Mike’s leadership, AV has raised $1.3+ billion from 10,000+ investors and backed 1,300+ portfolio companies. Mike holds an undergraduate degree in Engineering Science from Dartmouth and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

As the CEO of Alumni Ventures, America’s largest venture capital firm for individual investors, I’ve seen firsthand the impact that VC can have on businesses and the portfolios of accredited investors. The essence of that impact is powerfully captured in The Venture Mindset, a recent bestseller by Stanford Professor Ilya Strebulaev and tech executive Alex Dang. The duo brings a great mix of academic insight and rigor, plus boots-on-the-ground, been-there entrepreneurship. For anyone considering venturing into this asset class — or building a nimble business — it’s an insightful must-read.

Sign up for our webinar to hear directly from Professor Strebulaev. He’s a widely published academic, distinguished teacher, and engaging speaker.

Webinar: How to Make Smarter Bets and Achieve Extraordinary Growth

Thursday, June 20, 12:00 PM ET / 9:00 AM PT

Unlock the transformative playbook outlined in The Venture Mindset through a conversation with author Ilya Strebulaev. As the founder of the Venture Capital Initiative and a Professor of Private Equity and Finance at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, Strebulaev is the foremost academic expert on venture capital. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of the world’s leading finance and private equity experts.

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The Power of the Venture Mindset

The Venture Mindset delves into VCs’ unique approach to identify and capitalize on opportunities. This isn’t just about financial acumen; it’s about a fundamental shift in evaluating and viewing uncertainty, innovation, and growth. The authors argue that adopting this VC mindset — which prizes risk, disagreement, and agility — can lead to more informed, successful investment decisions and entrepreneurial growth. That idea deeply resonates with us at Alumni Ventures as a company that aims to democratize access to quality venture deals and thrives on innovation as the bedrock of our business.

Why Venture Capital Matters

Venture capital is a high-risk, high-reward asset class that offers the potential for significant returns through startup investments. The authors spotlight companies like Amazon, Google, OpenAI, Salesforce, and Netflix to illustrate the transformative potential of VC-backed ventures.

The authors cite their research that VCs helped launch one-fifth of the 300 largest public companies in the U.S. today. Further, they estimate that “three-quarters of the largest U.S. companies founded in the past 50 years would not have existed or achieved their scale without VC support.” These companies redefine industries and create immense value for their early investors.

Navigating Uncertainty with Confidence

One of the most compelling aspects of The Venture Mindset is its emphasis on navigating uncertainty. Steady incremental growth used to be a winning formula for corporations. But In today’s rapidly changing world, adapting and pivoting is more crucial than ever.

The book provides practical lessons on identifying emerging trends and making informed decisions amid ambiguity. For investors, this means having the tools to evaluate high-risk, high-reward opportunities with a level of confidence and insight that is often exclusive to professional VCs.

Encouraging Innovation and Embracing Failure

A key takeaway from the book is the importance of fostering innovation and being willing to fail. As the authors point out, VCs expect a very high failure rate from the startups they back — up to 80%. It’s the home runs that matter — the investments that will more than make up for all the other base runs and failures.

Traditional corporate environments often stifle creativity due to a fear of failure, but as Strebulaev and Dang illustrate, failure is an integral part of the VC process. It’s through these failures that VCs learn, adapt, and ultimately succeed. For individual investors, understanding this principle can lead to a more resilient and opportunistic approach to investing, where the focus is on long-term gains rather than short-term setbacks.

The Role of Alumni Ventures

At Alumni Ventures, we are deeply aligned with Strebulaev and Dang’s principles. We devote many resources to educating our investors about the VC mindset. However, we recognize that for an individual investor to create a thoroughly diligenced portfolio of 20+ companies isn’t feasible for many. Our investors benefit from a diversified portfolio managed by AV with the rigor and strategic insight of our investing professionals.

Learn More About AV’s Foundation Fund

  • Portfolio of ~20–30 investments diversified by stage, sector, geography, and lead investor. Deployed over 12–18 months.
  • Investments sourced by our entire team of ~40 full-time venture investment professionals
  • Co-investing alongside other established venture firms
  • Portfolio constructed algorithmically with oversight from the Office of the CIO, with 20% reserved for follow-ons
  • Includes access to deal Syndications and engagement opportunities with other investors
  • Part of Alumni Ventures, America’s Largest Venture Firm for Individuals and a “Top 20 Venture Firm” (CB Insights)

Max Accredited Investor Limit: 249

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Conclusion: A Must-Read for Aspiring Investors

The Venture Mindset is more than just a good read; it’s a roadmap for navigating the complex and rewarding world of venture capital. This book provides invaluable insights for individual accredited investors looking to diversify their portfolios and capitalize on the potential of early-stage companies. By embracing the venture mindset, we can all learn to think like VCs and potentially witness some of those memorable home runs.

Alumni Ventures offers accredited individuals access to professional-grade venture capital, a key asset class missing from the portfolios of many sophisticated investors. Since 2014, AV has raised $1.3+ billion from 10,000+ investors and backed 1,300+ unique portfolio companies. AV is a top 20 venture firm in North America according to CB Insights, as well as the #1 most active venture firm in the U.S., and #3 most active in the world, according to PitchBook’s 2022 and 2023 rankings. AV has won awards from Inc. Magazine, Fast Company, Benzinga, and the US FinTech Awards.

This communication is from Alumni Ventures, a for-profit venture capital company that is not affiliated with or endorsed by any school. It is not personalized advice, and AV only provides advice to its client funds. This communication is neither an offer to sell, nor a solicitation of an offer to purchase, any security. Such offers are made only pursuant to the formal offering documents for the fund(s) concerned, and describe significant risks and other material information that should be carefully considered before investing. For additional information, please see here.

This communication includes forward-looking statements, generally consisting of any statement pertaining to any issue other than historical fact, including without limitation predictions, financial projections, the anticipated results of the execution of any plan or strategy, the expectation or belief of the speaker, or other events or circumstances to exist in the future. Forward-looking statements are not representations of actual fact, depend on certain assumptions that may not be realized, and are not guaranteed to occur. Any forward-looking statements included in this communication speak only as of the date of the communication. AV and its affiliates disclaim any obligation to update, amend, or alter such forward-looking statements, whether due to subsequent events, new information, or otherwise.

Alumni Ventures is America’s largest VC firm for individual investors based on the combination of total capital raised, number of investments, and number of investors of leading VC firms as reported by PitchBook and other publicly available information reviewed by AV.

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Alumni Ventures

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