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Why the Kauffman Fellows Program Is a Game Changer for ValorVC

This year, the Kauffman Fellows program selected me to join Class 23. Many investors apply for years to get in, and I was overjoyed to learn I was accepted into this influential program for connected venture capital investors. A lot of you have asked me why it matters, so I’m going to take a stab at answering that on a public level.

It all comes down to purpose. At Valor, our purpose is activating real-world innovation through financial discipline and entrepreneurial empowerment for returns-driven investors interested in transformational results. 

When you break that mouthful down, you see how much the Kauffman Fellows Network means to me personally and Valor as a firm.

You see, the Kauffman Fellowship is “one of the world’s premier innovation, leadership, and venture capital focused programs, offering an unrivaled environment of excellence, an exceptionally flourishing global network, and a highly captivating curriculum.” The network crosses 42 countries. Kauffman Fellows have raised $95 billion in the last 5 years. According to the Foundation,  “The ultimate goal is for each Fellow to develop skills and strategies to be an effective and visionary “Top 5%” investor.” It’s a group of experienced people sharing values around meaningful innovation, bar-setting financial discipline, pushing the bar on returns, and creating true transformational outcomes — all at once.

At Valor, we’re striving to be a top 1% investor–and this is the only investor network I’ve seen that unapologetically makes results part of the mission.

Valor Ventures and Kauffman Fellows Network Class 23

Kauffman Fellows CEO Jeff Harbach commented on this class that, “We have never seen so many incredibly strong candidates. The mission of Kauffman Fellows has always been to build a diverse cadre of leaders that best represent entrepreneurial ecosystems and society as a whole – the size and caliber of Class 23 reflects this.”

It’s going to take extraordinary. That’s the minimum bar.

With the challenges our world faces,  it will take extraordinary investors to serve the rising ranks of next-generation institutional investors and entrepreneurs. That’s another reason why I’m excited to be a part of Kauffman. With the acceleration of the experiences of almost 600 world class investors within reach, I intend to bring the best to the visionaries who invest in Valor and the innovators we back.

When it comes to our purpose, the Kauffman Fellows Network helps us serve the cornerstones of Valor’s purpose in the following ways (and many more).

  • Real-world innovation. With the Kauffman Fellows network as our “ear” in 42 countries, we can hear how different markets are addressing real issues faster in the real world. It gets us out of the Silicon Valley echo chamber, the Atlanta echo chamber, the Southeast echo chamber. You could argue that Kauffman Fellows Network of 600 active VC investors are actually “the echo chamber” proper, although the group is too humble to say that overtly.
  • Financial discipline. The Kauffman Fellows Network includes legendary investors and limited partners who are on the forefront of quality financial reporting and practice.  The LPs in the network shine a bright light on the voice of the customer in this industry which is too often enamored of its own voice. Their needs for reporting and financial transparency create an edge of constant innovation that’s empowering, enlightening and energizing.
  • Entrepreneurial empowerment. What types of venture investments power entrepreneurs best? How do we create more inclusive, active and optimal governance? How do we share the wealth more fairly with those who created value in the first place? These are living, breathing issues in the Kauffman Fellows Network. It is refreshing to walk into a room and share perspectives with a couple dozen leaders innovating on the investing frontier.
  • Returns-driven investors. The Kauffman Fellows Network knows it has an impact, and that impact is created through driving returns. I’m honored to be able to have regular, national return-and-impact conversations with some of the leading thinkers and doers thanks to the reach of this network.
  • Transformational results. No one in the Kauffman Fellows Network  is interested in doing things “a little bit better.” This makes every conversation unique because the status quo is unacceptable. The accountability and drive to make things great (not just good) sharpens my work at Valor. It also  increases my joy when I share our successes with a network that lives and breathes transformation.

    Curious about how all these learnings are shaking out? Join me at one of Valor’s upcoming events and let’s talk about it!