Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Eli Zelkha

Adjunct Professor

Eli Zelkha teaches entrepreneurship, venture capital and strategy at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, Graduate School of Middlebury College. He also lectures on Scenario Planning and Uncertainty at Stanford University School of Engineering. He is currently General Partner at Concepto Ventures (London/Madrid).

Eli founded, developed, and sold several successful ventures including Euro-Profile/iProfile (sold to Virgo Capital ’08), Palo Alto Ventures (sold to 21st Century Venture Partners ’04), and Kandahar Designs (sold to InterLink, Ltd.) He has served as chief strategist and managing director at corporate venture funds at UB Networks, Tandem Computer, Compaq and Philips NV. Eli led the team that invented and initially developed Ambient Intelligence, a paradigm for human-centric electronic environments that are embedded, context aware, personalized, adaptive and anticipatory. The European Commission continues playing a crucial role in the development and funding of research in the field of Ambient Intelligence.

From early 2005 to February 2008, Eli was Founder and CEO of Global IT Profiles, the leading US and European IT business intelligence service, which he successfully sold to a Virgo Capital, private equity fund. Between 1998 to 2004, Eli was Founder and Managing Partner at Palo Alto Ventures, a venture firm, that coupled venture investments with a scenario based strategy practice. Eli spearheaded transformative strategy and new venture initiatives for  major corporate clients including Philips Electronics, as well as start up investments in companies such as TIVO. Eli successfully sold Palo Alto Ventures to 21st Century Venture Partners in 2004. Previously, Eli was Vice President of Strategy & New Ventures at .

From 1995 to 1997, Eli led efforts to develop Tandem’s turn around and re-positioning strategy as Vice President of Corporate Development. Over the course of his tenure, Tandem’s market capitalization increased from $850 million to the $4.3 billion valuation realized in the company’s acquisition by Compaq. Prior to Tandem, Eli led Corporate Strategy in the turn around of UB Networks, which sold to Newbridge Networks for $100 M.

Prior to attending business school, Eli founded and developed Kandahar Designs into Afghanistan’s largest soft goods exporter employing 1,000+ people.

He is a founding director of the Dutch Twinning venture capital network, and has served on the boards of Silicon Artists, Spain, Assurance Auto, and Assurance Habitation, France, PayPod, India, and NovaR&D and LiveWall, USA.


Venture capital, corporate strategy, art of failure, start-ups, entrepreneurship, mergers & acquisitions, technology.


Eli holds an MBA from Stanford School of Business ('85) and a BA from Colgate University. He speaks four languages (Arabic, Farsi, French, Dari).


He is the author of numerous published articles including, “The Copyright Question: Making the Net Safe and Profitable for Copyright Content” (PC Week) and “Exploring the Multi-medium” (Internet World), "From Devices to 'Ambient Intelligence'”, "Scenarios for the Future of Consumer Electronics", "The Future of TV" and "Imagining the Future of Digital Displays."

Course List

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

MBAG 8694 - Intl&Corp Venture Capital      

This course offers a practical, “real world” understanding of venture capital from both the entrepreneur's and the venture capitalist's perspective. It examines how VC investments are evaluated and structured, and explores strategies for attracting and negotiating venture investments. A key focus is on strategically driven, corporate venture investing and the potential tensions and divergence of interests between the entrepreneur and the corporate investor. We also examine alternative models for introducing venture capital funding mechanisms in various European & Asian countries. The course heavily leverages recent Silicon Valley deals, and involves direct student interaction with the actual entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and corporate executives driving these transactions. To emphasize the risky and volatile nature of venture work, we will examine a mix of dramatic success stories, horrific failures and deals where the outcome remains uncertain. The course is a two-day intensive seminar and uses a combination of guest speakers, case studies, discussions, and student presentations. The class is particularly appropriate for those with a strong interest in new ventures and considering careers as entrepreneurs, venture capitalists or corporate development executives.

Fall 2016 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop

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