The Love Award for Excellence in Business Leadership provided the senior with an opportunity to pursue a research project focusing on the role venture capital networks play in determining a startup’s success.
As a recipient of the Love Award for Excellence in Business Leadership, senior Matt Snow combined his fascination with the world of venture capital with an undergraduate research experience.
Established by a gift from The Martha and Spencer Love Foundation, the Love Award for Excellence in Business Leadership honors and provides a student in the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business with $12,000 to complete an independent research project on a business-related topic.
Snow’s project, “The Role of Venture Capital Networks in Startup Success,” focuses on the importance of venture capital networks in determining the success of a startup, as well as how the “fear of missing out” affects the decision to invest.
“My initial idea was to analyze the overvaluation of startup companies on the private market as investors push harder and harder to create ‘unicorn’ companies and skip their due diligence, all while attracting other investors to do the same, and ballooning the valuations of companies that sometimes don’t have revenue or a clear vision,” Snow said.
Snow decided to also look at venture capital networks after a managing director of a venture capital fund encouraged Snow to let the data guide his findings rather than his opinions.
Adam Aiken, assistant professor of finance, mentored Snow throughout the research process. “Dr. Aiken has given countless amounts of time to help me with data collection, data analysis and interview question formation,” Snow said. “I am extremely grateful to have had Dr. Aiken as my mentor.”
Snow obtained data on American venture capital firm investments in the past two decades, and conducted an analysis using Excel, R and Python.
“Being able to collect this data, create Excel files this large without messing up, and analyze the data with Dr. Aiken has increased my employability and my confidence in doing analytical work,” Snow said. “I’m considering careers in both finance and consulting, and this type of research work applies well to both.”
Snow’s research also involved reading several books, including “Angel” by Jason Calacanis and “Masters of Private Equity and Venture Capital” by Robert Finkel, and interviewing venture capitalists and angel investors on the importance of networks.
While participating in the Elon in San Francisco summer program, Snow interned with the startup company NatureBox, and attended several conferences where he heard speeches by Matthew Siegler from Google Ventures, Ted Schlein from KPCB, and many other venture capitalists.
Snow’s research is not complete yet, but one thing has become clear to him. “The angels and venture capitalists nearly unanimously argue that networks are absolutely vital to successful deal flow and vetting in venture investment.”
The biggest takeaway from Snow’s research experience is to “always shoot for the stars.” “It would have been so easy for me to say, ‘I’ll never beat out the other people applying for this award,’ and then not even submit an application,” Snow explained. “All throughout the application process there were times when I doubted myself, but none of that matters. You cannot let your doubts hold you back.”
Snow’s advice for students contemplating pursuing undergraduate research: “The biggest decision is whether you have time to commit to doing a good report, otherwise you are wasting your mentor’s and other people’s time. To commit to this project, I simplified my schedule and committed to the few clubs I found most important and the research. You would be surprised how capable you are of fitting in research if you can budget your time. Start a project early, meet with your mentor weekly if possible, and you can do some great work. At the end of the day, when you look back, it is awesome to see what you accomplished doing research in undergrad.”
Snow plans to present his research at Elon’s Student Undergraduate Research Forum.
About Matt Snow ‘18
Hometown: Hudson, Massachusetts
Majors: Finance and Entrepreneurship
- Business Fellows
- Innovation Fellows (Stanford)
- Sigma Phi Epsilon
- Limelight Records
- NC Student Legislature
- Elon Politics Forum
- VP of Residential Learning Community – Sigma Phi Epsilon
- Boys & Girls Club (Sigma Phi Epsilon)
- Safe Rides
- The Village Project – Music Instructor
- Elon ODK Leadership Award 2015
- LSB Honor Roll for Social Responsibility (Multiple semesters)
- 1 Place Georgetown MHBSC Competition
- 3 Place HanesBrands Champion Analytics Competition
- 4 Place Dalhousie Ethics in Action Competition
- NC Student Legislature Speaker of the Year Award 2015
Study Abroad/Study USA
- WT 2015: Business Environment U.A.E.: Dubai & Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. (Business Fellows)
- WT 2016: Innovation in America: San Francisco, CA
- WT 2017: Baseball and Tourism Industry of the Dominican Republic
- Summer 2017: Elon in San Francisco
- WT 2018: WWII In Europe – Daily Life in a Time of War: Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany, France
- Avidia Bank – Business Intern (Hudson, Mass.)
- Discovery Capital – Hedge Fund Intern (Norwalk, Conn.)
- NatureBox – Startup Intern (Redwood City, Ca.)