Erkin Oksel




United Kingdom




Jan 2015 - Sep 2016

By Erkin Oksel

Pure wisdom coming from a wealth of experience

In this blog, I need to start with a confession. I am worried to make injustice as this is my second blog and first one was about China module and this one is about Silicon Valley/Entrepreneurial Finance module. There might be comments that may create the impression that one was superior to the other but, hands on heart, I have no such aim as both of them were simply amazing. To give you an analogy, it was like enjoying a fantastic dinner followed by the best dessert possible (which one is food, which one is dessert is your judgment). Both of them leaving amazing traces of taste that you wouldn’t want to forget ever.

Just like any other module, we were provided pre-course readings for this module too. I browsed through various reading materials and thought “this time, I will get caught on the mayhem of not able to comprehend even if I push hard”.

The module delivery was very unusual and excellent. It was co-taught by Tim Jenkinson and Allen Morgan. Either one of those gentlemen was more than capable to teach the course themselves but what they did instead is, Tim gave the underlying theoretical and historical background supported by his academic analysis followed by Allen explaining how it REALLY works. I found it simply fascinating to watch those two gentlemen delivering even some conflicting views with an amazing harmony (guess everyone considering an executive program is well aware, academic teaching and practical world does differ time to time). But having that construct allowed them to explain how and why the practical world come into existence in the way it is.

Every day started with Allen and Tim giving more secrets (I mean it!!!) on how entrepreneurial finance market works followed by an amazing industry expert coming and talking about real life experiences. The type of people visiting were the people that you see day in day out on WSJ or FT and the way talks were managed was simply tremendous. What was being shared were not personal thoughts or speculations but PURE WISDOM coming from wealth of experience that was delivered in the most sincere and genuine way possible. Allen was creating direct links between the life experiences shared and the module subjects. We managed to understand the purist logic behind billion dollar deals and the traps that one should be vary of. Another important aspect is the comfort\trust that Allen and Tim created during those discussions.

The whole experience was more like watching a very well rehearsed fantastic play(the type of plays that audience is brought in). The subjects that I thought to be almost impossible to comprehend were given as simple, straight forward. Now, I understand why VC firms are looking for individuals who are experienced as either past entrepreneurs or VC professionals. It is very difficult to understand those subjects from written materials, you have to engage in Q&A to understand how things work. In my view, an experience that can be achieved in years in SV ecosystem was simply poured into our brains within a week time.

While we were involved in our entrepreneurship project, we were given basic guidance on how to approach the idea, team etc… but I always felt some critical bit missing. Was not able to articulate it till this module.

I now know:

  • Why Silicon Valley is the centre of world innovation?
  • Why SV ecosystem supports the entrepreneurs it supports?
  • What is the difference between an Angel investor, VC and a Bank?
  • What is a good VC-Entrepreneur match vs bad match?
  • What(valuation, legal terms, targets) is worth discussing, negotiating? what should be left to time to iron out?
  • Where does luck ends and good planning starts?
  • What should and what shouldn’t entrepreneur be worried about?
  • Can I live in Silicon Valley?

This module was another validator that the investment (time and money) was well worth it. It simply opened our minds to unchartered territory. It is one thing “to know what you need and follow the dream and totally another thing to find out things you may dream about and learn the most practical way to follow them”. Not all of us are gifted to envision about unthought of:).

One suggestion I have to prospective students of the module is, stay close to the area were the lectures are thought and go for early morning runs with Tim in Stanford Campus. This, I believe, will immerse you not only to technical aspects of the module but give a glimpse of life style that Silicon Valley may offer.”

Silicon Valley Module 2016

Me and Professor Tim Jenkinson during the Silicon Valley module

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