New program honors memory of legendary startup investor David Morgenthaler

Starting this fall semester, JumpStart and the Morgenthaler family, with Case Western Reserve University trustee and venture capitalist Bob Pavey, will honor the memory of legendary startup investor David Morgenthaler by introducing the Morgenthaler-Pavey Startup Competition for Case Western Reserve students and recent alumni.

The competition takes the novel approach of placing students on both sides of the financing process. Students will hone their venture capital skills, making initial evaluations of startup ventures as judges. Meanwhile, founding teams with at least one current or recent Case Western Reserve alumni (graduates within the last five years) are eligible to compete.

“We want a competition that creates new, viable high-potential companies coming out of Case Western Reserve University, and we want to train students to invest in these companies,” said Scott Shane, the A. Malachi Mixon III Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies and an economics professor at the Weatherhead School of Management, who is directing the new program.

Lead backers are JumpStart Inc., a nationally recognized Cleveland nonprofit that supports and invests in Ohio-based tech startups, and Pavey, managing partner of Pavey Investments in Cleveland and Silicon Valley, California, and partner emeritus at Cleveland-based Morgenthaler Ventures.

Photo of David Morgenthaler

David Morgenthaler

Morgenthaler, who died in 2016, was widely considered a pioneer and icon of the American venture capital industry. He was president, chairman or director of more than 30 companies, and considered among the earliest venture capitalists, backing such emerging tech businesses as Apple and Nextel. His Morgenthaler Ventures has raised more than $3 billion and helped more than 325 startups.

“Dave and I have always believed institutions can enhance their students’ academic and life experience by adding something new,” Pavey said. “We have taken a similar approach at a number of universities around the country, where we were alums, and I am excited that we have an opportunity to do it at home here at CWRU in Cleveland, too. This would have made Dave very happy.”

“Dave was always asking me how JumpStart could play a more significant role in accelerating entrepreneurship at CWRU,” JumpStart CEO Ray Leach said. “That is why we’re so excited about the opportunity to partner with Bob Pavey and our long-time partner, the Ohio Third Frontier, to create an entrepreneurial competition that will have a lasting impact at CWRU for many years to come.”

The competition

Venture teams, each composed of at least one Case Western Reserve student or recent alumnus, will submit presentations for their business concepts to Shane’s Entrepreneurial Finance class by the end of October.

The class will evaluate the ventures and select the top six to present at a demo day competition to a panel of venture capitalists at Sears think[box], the university’s 50,000-square-foot innovation and entrepreneurship center, in March each year. (The first is scheduled March 15.)

The judges will select three winners for financial prizes provided by JumpStart. First place is $25,000, second is $15,000 and third is $10,000 to support the ventures.

All six finalists will be mentored by JumpStart and connected by the nonprofit to capital, talent and other business development resources in Northeast Ohio.