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Students Pack Room for Panel on Venture Capitalism

When audience members at “Evening of Ventures” were asked if they hoped to become entrepreneurs, an overwhelming majority of the hands in the room shot up.

Friday’s sold-out event, hosted by Harvard College Venture Partners, consisted of two afternoon panel discussions, one on entrepreneurship and one on venture capitalism. Following the panels, students attended a dinner where they could interact with the panelists, many of whom are recent Harvard graduates.

Omar Hussain, an entrpreneurship panelist who founded software company Anchorsilk, discussed the wealth of opportunities open to students in the Boston area. He said that the multitude of college students is “the biggest resource that Boston offers.”

Panelists also emphasized the importance of advisers in any financial endeavor.

David Beisel, a partner at NextView Ventures who served on the venture capitalist panel, said that the experience such advisers provide is invaluable.

“We hit so many brick walls along the way that could have been avoided if we had been more proactive in finding mentors,” he said.

Many of the entrepreneurs encouraged students to seek out professional experience at small start-up companies.

In an email to The Crimson, Peter A. Boyce II ’13, a co-founder of Harvard College Venture Partners who helped organize the event, outlined ways in which students could gain skills and experience relevant to entrepreneurship and venture capitalism while at Harvard.

He recommended that students pursue opportunities through the Innovation Lab, Computer Science 50, and Engineering Sciences 21: “The Innovators’ Practice”.

Additionally, he advised interested students to seek out groups like Hack Harvard, Harvard College Venture Partners, the Harvard College Social Innovation Collaborative, and the Harvard Computer Society.

Grace G. Gee ’15 said that she felt that the young ages of most of the panelists made the event more helpful than previous conferences she had attended.

“The panelists were really genuine, and what they said was really applicable to where we as students are now,” she said.

Despite a harsh economic climate, Boyce was optimistic about the future of venture capital.

“One thing that hasn’t lost it’s appeal since the financial crisis is the desire to start businesses, solve real problems, and create value,” he wrote.

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