History of InSITE
The InSITE Fellowship was founded in New York City in 1999 by a group of Columbia and NYU students with a singular goal: create a real-world, hands-on experience for graduate students passionate about startups, technology and venture capital. These students recognized that full immersion in this world would require more than joining a school club – it would necessitate developing real world skills and building meaningful relationships with entrepreneurs and venture investors.
Through self-organizing and creating an actual offering to startups preparing for investment, InSITE Fellows gained immediate exposure to an industry that is not traditionally well served in an academic setting yet maturing very quickly.
In pursuit of this immersion, InSITE has developed distinctive programming that seamlessly combines entrepreneurship and venture capital training as part of a single experience – not as two separate tracks, which is the more traditional academic approach. The rationale is simple: The best early stage investors understand entrepreneurs and their needs, and entrepreneurs that understand what investors are looking for typically raise more capital. Because of this it is far more efficient and effective to combine the two, and InSITE is the only program in the nation approaching venture capital and entrepreneurship training and mentoring in this way.
The resulting ecosystem InSITE fosters is filling a need and creating value across the community:
- Fellows learn what it takes to prepare a company for funding. Over the course of each semester, Fellows work with founders, or on their own business ideas to identify challenges the businesses may face and work to overcome them.
- Early stage Companies benefit from experienced graduate talent (typically with significant pre-graduate school industry experience) helping them refine their businesses and products, in their effort to raise capital. This also allows Fellows to view investment opportunities through the eyes of an early stage venture investor.
- Investors benefit from a pre-vetted pool of companies who are prepared to raise capital. They also benefit from an engaged pipeline of highly qualified students who are a pool of future venture capital associates, founder and technical talent.
In the last 15 years, over 500 Fellows have graduated from InSITE armed with this unique dual perspective and far better equipped for whichever career they choose to pursue. InSITE has experienced extensive praise from the university, venture and entrepreneurial community at large. To date, InSITE Fellows have helped startups raise over $300MM and boast an impressive list of alumni Fellows and companies. In the words of Fred Wilson, Managing Partner of Union Square Ventures, “This program was way ahead of its time … and a leader in commingling students with the startup community.”
InSITE provides local and national programming led by renowned and respected industry experts. To supplement their academic curriculum, Fellows learn from their direct experience working with companies as well as partaking in a robust calendar of national events. Over the course of each semester, interdisciplinary teams of students prepare companies for investment and growth culminating in InSITE Connect, our pitch/demo day at the end of the semester. InSITE’s strong national network of alumni and advisors offers Fellows a high level of interaction with thought leaders across the country, both virtually and face to face. The hundreds of Fellows that have graduated from the program stay actively engaged as InSITE alumni, contributing to a long roster of success stories across the nation. Above all, InSITE values getting Fellows “out of the building” to bridge theory and practice. We are proud that InSITE campuses have gained a reputation in the startup community for “walking the walk.”
InSITE is committed to its student driven mission. Virtually all programming that InSITE offers is developed to fill and unmet need of the Fellows themselves. As an example, over the past two years, there has been an increased demand to understand more about Product Management. After failing to find adequate existing resources to meet this need, InSITE worked with our alumni and advisors, who are now Product Managers at firms like Google, Twitter and Ideo to develop unique semester-long Product Manager Class, sponsored by RRE, designed to produce great product managers with the skills to succeed immediately in the marketplace.
While InSITE is intentionally non-academic, we recognize that Fellows are students first and we do not ask the universities to change any of their programming. We integrate our offering with their own and work off of a traditional academic calendar to ensure participation and reduce conflicts.
InSITE Fellowship programs are located in New York, Boston, Silicon Valley and Washington, DC. Although the Fellowship did not initially plan to expand beyond New York, word quickly spread that the organization was filling a large unmet need on campus. As a result over the past several years InSITE has branched out to other cities to support passionate talented students dedicated to entrepreneurship and venture capital. Our track record of successful “scale” has engendered support and awareness amongst top universities as well as those heavily engaged with the entrepreneurial community around the nation like Steve Blank and Jeff Jordan.