Blyth Fund Goes to Utah
Blogger: David Sacci
A cocktail reception at the University Private Equity Summit.
As a Bennett W. Schwartz scholar I had the opportunity to travel to the University Private Equity Summit in Salt Lake City, and I had a fantastic time. Over the course of the three-day conference I attended panel discussions featuring professionals from venture capital funds, private equity investors, tech-industry professionals and recently successful entrepreneurs.
The first day that I was there I sat in on a case study of the Pabst Brewing Company. The case was lead by Hal Heaton, an accomplished professor at Brigham Young University, and during the duration of the case Hal did an excellent job leading a discussion, which focused on the difficulties of valuing a firm when making a takeover bid for it. With his pointed questions and intelligent explanations, he led the conference to better understand the turbulent ownership history that the Pabst Brewing Company experienced during the 1970s and 80s.
And then there was Dave McClure. McClure is the founder and CEO of 500 Startups, which provides very early stage funding for startups, and he was easily the most prominent and outspoken professional at the conference. He is a self-proclaimed geek turned investor and spoke about the opportunities that he’s had to fund and coach startups. And he’s had some pretty significant successful startups come through his firm, chief among them Wildfire Interactive which is a digital marketing company that was bought up by Google this past summer. One of the other panelists at the conference described McClure’s investing strategy as, “If you have a pulse, Dave will write you a check.” He appeared to be genuinely enthusiastic about funding the initial capital needed to get a good idea off the ground. McClure sat on half of the panel discussion during the conference and was the keynote speaker at the dinner on the first evening, where he gave us a thorough overview of his firm and then lectured the diners on why we all need to learn to code.
The conference kicked the entrepreneurial part of my personality into overdrive and thankfully I hade the opportunity to network with a few of the conference speakers, who offered me some great one-on-one advice.