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).
Venture capital, corporate strategy, art of failure, start-ups, entrepreneurship, mergers & acquisitions, technology.
Courses offered in the past four years.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
MBAG 8647 - Art of Failure
Success, the high altar of our culture. Failure, the dungeon of our culture. But our success culture is in deep and fundamental conflict with entrepreneurship, innovation, risk-taking, learning and, inextricably, failure. Success without failure is simply …. luck. Innovation is a double helix built with creativity, risky exploration, testing assumptions, sweat, failures, learning, retrenchment, re-creation, re-exploration, re-learning, mutation, and eventual victory. Failure is not the opposite of success, but its compliment.
This course overturns the common knowledge of failure and success, and proposes that failure has to be embraced as an essential platform for innovation and success. The course examines the frequently contradictory views of failure in the Silicon Valley and venture capital arenas. We will also hear, first-hand, the failure/success stories from Silicon Valley executives and venture capitalists, as well as venture leaders operating in developing countries. We will examine the state-of-the-art entrepreneurial methods for embracing failure such as Y Combinator, Fast Failure and Failure Tolerant Leadership.
The course will review the academic literature on failure, discussing its causes and prescriptions for prevention. In particular, we will look at the engineering view of failure, including the FMEA approach (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis) and the possible application of this approach to the business world. We will also examine and discuss cross-cultural views of failure and risk-taking.
We will examine how the pace of competitive knowledge offered through modern communication technologies, has caused some of the old, classical methods of planning and managing business risk to be supplanted by more agile methods which incorporate frequent, real-world, testing of scenarios and assumptions – and explicitly incorporating knowledge from “failures.”
We will examine current research on the psychology of failure. Students will participate in diagnostic tests to help them understand their own unique patterns and proclivities to fail. They will also examine their own resilience and paths to recovery and renewal.
Spring 2014 - MIIS, Spring 2015 - MIIS
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 2013 - MIIS, Fall 2014 - MIIS, Fall 2015 - MIIS
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."