Demystifying the VC Bootcamp: When students take the lead
Our students never lack creativity! At HEC Paris, we teach them how to become problem solvers but also disruptors. Amine Athamena checks all the boxes. He created in just a couple of months a whole bootcamp entitled ‘Demystifying the VC’ to help his fellow classmates get a real grasp of the Venture Capital (VC) industry. We interviewed Amine, the project leader of this Bootcamp, to find out more about this mind-blowing initiative.
Amine first shared with us his own definition of the VC industry: “Venture Capitalists help entrepreneurs, startups or companies with a strong technology develop more quickly through risky investments. To make it short, VCs take the risks banks will not.”
Who are you Amine, and would you describe yourself as a boundary pusher?
I would rather qualify myself as a very determined and passionate person. I was originally a high-level sportsman student - a soccer player more precisely - and had the chance to grow along the best players in a very challenging and benevolent environment. When I had to stop, I transposed all the energy I had to an entrepreneurial project. However, I felt like I was lacking knowledge and decided to go back to school. This led me to graduate in Economics and Management from the University of Paris-Dauphine and the University College London, where I learned a lot about Finance and discovered the VC world, especially during my last year in London. And here I am today, studying a Master in Management at HEC Paris! And actually, my first interaction with the school dates back from 2021 when I participated to the HEC Design Sprint 2021, a hackathon organized by the HEC Paris Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center.
What led you to launch this VC bootcamp?
When I went back to school , I soon realized that the VC world was a very opaque and selective industry, and that few options were available to go deeper into the subject. I tried myself to raise funds in the past but it didn’t go through. My interest in the VC Industry kept growing, and when I started my program at HEC Paris, I thought it would be interesting to help students, no matter their background, to fully understand the VC ecosystem. This way, they would be equipped for future job interviews and create a strong network.
I put the idea on paper and together with four other classmates - Elodie Ben, Minh Phi Dao, Melchior Beneton, Rayan Ballout, Fabio Somer and Giulia Zanetello - and with the support of the HEC Paris Alternative Investments Society, we decided to launch the bootcamp. It all went very fast and by mid-January we welcomed our very first promotion!
Can you tell us more about the ‘Demystifying the VC bootcamp’?
The idea was to create a bootcamp to democratize the VC profession. We designed a two-month learning path made of 12 masterclasses with high-level experts in Capital Ventures. Each investor was in charge of a specific theme such as Data & Ops, Valuation & Strategy or Internationalization of VC & Web 3. This way, we made sure we covered all the topics related to the VC roles and subjects related to the VC ecosystem.
In the end, we managed to gather a great panel of investors including Earlybird Venture Capital, Partec, BPI France, Team Adventure - Xavier Niel’s VC - Rothschild & Co, Allianz... We purposely chose a variety of speakers so that students could discover different professions and different types of supported startups - from early stage ones (seeds) to scaled up ones.
How did you and your team design and deliver the bootcamp in such a short period of time?
It was a bit of a challenge but a very exciting one! We mostly designed the bootcamp from mid-November to mid-December, and launched it in January. Attracting the very first one investor to participate in the bootcamp was by far the biggest challenge but we knew that as soon as we would have secured one name, the other investors would follow. We went through an intensive period of outreach on LinkedIn, and through the HEC Paris Alumni network, which ultimately paid off.
I must confess that I relied on the ‘Fake it till you make it’ tip, which consisted here in telling the VCs that we already had other important VCs onboard to encourage them to join the project. It eventually worked out, and the first VC to agree to participate was BPI France.
From there, it went very smoothly. As more and more VCs joined the bootcamp, we divided the work between the team members. Each one of us was in charge of organizing three sessions, meaning sending invites and reminders, managing the technical aspects of online sessions, etc.
How did students respond to this initiative?
Very positively! We received more than 150 applications! We wanted to bring together a very inclusive group of people. In total, we selected 25 people - 70% were HEC Paris students and 30% were MBA participants - based on their resume and motivation to ensure deep connections, nurture interactions and create the best experience ever. Half of the participants were women and we had students coming from various countries (French, German, British, etc.).
Their positive feedback coupled with the investors enthusiasm to participate again made it clear that we have reached our goal, and that the bootcamp was genuinely constructive. It even turned out to be a game changer for some of them: out of the 12 investors involved, three of them recruited students who attended the bootcamp!
Is there a second session in the pipe?
Given the success of this first edition, we are considering keeping on with the bootcamp and enrich it every year. Our ultimate goal is for the bootcamp to become part of the HEC Paris curriculum as an academy, a specialization or a challenge.
If we manage to reach this goal, I would have fulfilled my personal wish, which is to both keep on democratizing the knowledge around Venture Capitalists and to allow more people to join this thrilling ecosystem! With this bootcamp, I also wish to give the students a message of hope and optimism: even if the Venture Capital world is a very selective one, anyone can make it provided they give themselves the means.
One last word to share with us?
I am grateful to all those who made our first VC Bootcamp session a resounding success. Through the collaboration of investors, students, organizers, schools, and the ecosystem, we were able to achieve our mission of unlocking the potential of students to enter the Venture Capital industry.
If you want to get more insights on the competitiveness of the French Tech ecosystem from a panel of successful entrepreneurs, VCs and leaders of the ecosystem, join us on April 12th at 6pm for the Future of French Tech Panel. We will be hosting market leaders including Cedric O (former Secretary of State for the Digital Economy), Alexandre Prot (founder & CEO of Qonto), Pia D’Iribarne (founder & Managing Partner of New Wave), Ning Li (founder of Typology and Made).