The Colorado School of Mines and Venture Capital

On my drive toward Boulder today, we passed by a little blue stone sign that read, in the faintest font: “THE COLORADO SCHOOL OF MINES.” Rich in natural resources, Colorado needed its own central hub to deal with the supply and demand of mined materials. Established back in 1874, it is now consistently ranked in the Top 50 Colleges and Universities in the United States. I’m sure there’s a rich, detailed history as to why these earlier pioneers created this particular school, but I’ll offer another, more pedestrian rationale — they needed it, desperately, and who else would have done it?

While driving, I was reminded of what True Ventures does with its portfolio: “True University.” The firms rounds up its founders and executives and handcrafts a two-day symposium at UC-Berkeley to create a dedicated space for their family members to meet each other, learn from experts, and recharge their intellectual batteries. Beyond this, I don’t know much about what they do — I’m not a part of True or know what happened there, though I’ve gathered it was a great time. You can read more about it here.

This is a very savvy move by True Ventures. In an industry where many players are struggling to articulate what their value-added services really are, this is a terrific example of how venture capitalists can not just create value, but potentially tremendous value. While many venture capital firms bring on PR professionals as partners, or allocate a large spend on bigger PR firms, or try to create and pump up their brand, “True University” is a terrific example of the right kind of thing to do, where everyone wins. Founders and executives get a break, but get to network and learn in a closed, structured environment. True gets to reconnect with its family, face to face. The curriculum is handcrafted to touch on tactical issues companies face on a daily basis. The founders and executives, in turn, get a chance to catch up with their investors, tell them what they’re seeing on the ground, the places where business opportunities or new founders may emerge. Just as the early Colorado settlers were interested in mining the Earth’s minerals in the most efficient manner, new “schools” and curricula such as these help mine new ideas for the web, cloud, and mobile. Out of necessity, and the reality that no one else would do it, True decides to build it themselves. A tip of the hat…