The Kauffman Fellows Program, established in 1995, seeks to develop the next generation of venture capital investors by providing them with the skills, the network, and an enhanced awareness of their life’s mission and legacy in order to accept the mantle of leadership in an uncertain world.
About the Program

The Kauffman Fellows Program, established in 1995, seeks to develop the next generation of venture capital investors by providing them with the skills, the network, and an enhanced awareness of their life’s mission and legacy in order to accept the mantle of leadership in an uncertain world.

Each Fellow is selected to engage in a personal journey and to engage at a deep level with their cohort to enhance their own and each others’ knowledge of themselves and their relationship to others. Fellows are invited to explore how greater self awareness can lead to serving entrepreneurs well, forging a successful career, and increasing their impact within their ecosystem and the world.

Kauffman Fellows embraces the values of Kansas City-native Ewing Marion Kauffman who embodied integrity, fairness, and philanthropy. Mr K saw entrepreneurship as the engine that drives vibrant ecosystems.

The two-year program is comprised of a structured curriculum presented in seven modules, 3.5 days each, held approximately every quarter. Each constantly evolving module explores an essential theme of innovation investing, such as seeing-picking-winning the deal, building a personal brand, fundraising, and best board practices. Classes are held in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, and other cities which have built innovative entrepreneurial ecosystems such as London and Los Angeles.

One or two global summits are held during the 2-year Program. Summits are a reunion of the entire Kauffman Fellows Network, held in locations with compelling innovation ecosystems, to introduce different cultures and approaches to venture investing. Past summits have convened in Israel, Kansas City, Singapore, Ireland, Brazil, China, Mexico, and Japan.

The people are truly the heart and soul of the fellowship.
Selection Criteria
Kauffman Fellows views each candidate holistically. We look for candidates who:
  • Possess Kauffman Fellows core values of integrity, resilience, humility, gratitude, intellectual curiosity.
  • Are open and engaged, vulnerable, authentic, empathetic, willing to listen to differing points of view and engage in respectful discourse.
  • Are willing to make a significant commitment.
    • We expect 100% participation.
    • This requires making arrangements at work and at home to be able to fully participate in every session, approximately 40 days over 2 years.
    • This commitment is essential to the bonding process, and to deriving maximum benefit for oneself and giving maximum benefit to one’s class.
    • We expect Fellows to prepare for modules by reading study materials in advance, and bringing well-articulated, specific personal and firm challenges to each module.
  • Have a minimum of 1 year of full-time investing experience; 2-5 years is preferable.
  • Are proficient in written and spoken English.
  • Are focused on having an outsized impact in their ecosystem and making a meaningful difference in the trajectory of the entrepreneurs they serve.
Additional criteria:
  • There are no specific educational requirements.
  • Venture capital investors will form the bulk of the class, but we purposefully design a class to include investors in a variety of fields such as private equity, family offices, accelerator funds, university funds, sovereign wealth funds, corporate venture, and angel networks.
  • If the candidate is the managing director of a first fund, we require a significant first close, preferably a final close.
Becoming a Fellow
Exceptional candidates will be offered acceptance into the Kauffman Fellows Program based on the strength of their nomination, application, recommendations, interviews, and due diligence.
Application to the Kauffman Fellows Program consists of several steps.
  • 01.
  • Candidates are nominated by Kauffman Fellows, Kauffman Fellow Mentors, Faculty, or Board members, or the candidate’s Managing Director. If such nominations are not attainable, the candidate may self-nominate.

  • 02.
  • All nominations are reviewed by the Admissions Committee. If a candidate’s nomination is accepted, they will be invited to complete an application. A complete application consists of submitting the online application, an application fee of $250, and two recommendations.

  • 03.
  • Candidates with strong applications are invited to participate in several interviews with Fellows and the KF executive team—in person, when possible, or via online video.

  • 04.
    Due Diligence
  • The KF team will contact members of the investing and entrepreneurial communities to round out our view of candidates.

  • 05.
    Final Call
  • A senior member of the KF Team will answer any questions you may have and will discuss your expectations, as well as ours, before you become a Fellow.

  • 06.
  • From the many excellent candidates interviewed, we will design a class of Fellows who will best contribute to each other’s learning and support individual and mutual goals and successes.


Dates and Deadlines

Mon, Sep, 10, 2018Application open for Class 24
Fri, Dec 14, 2018Deadline for Class 24 applications

NOTE: There is an advantage to applying by this date: 75 - 80% of the previous class was selected from this cohort.

Fri, Jan 18, 2019Candidates are notified by this date if they are selected to move forward to interview
Fri, Feb 1, 2019Interviews complete, barring any exceptional circumstances
Fri, Mar 1, 2019Candidates are notified of admission decision
June 2019Module 1 begins; date TBD

Candidates applying after the December 14 deadline will be considered on a rolling basis until the class is full. When the class is full, a notice will be posted on our website.

Fees and Scholarships

Tuition for the 2-year program is $80,000. Tuition covers all modules, educational materials, group activities at modules, as well as breakfasts and lunches. Transportation and lodging are not included. Tuition is non-refundable and non-transferrable.

Payment can be made by electronic bank wire transfer or check. Regrettably, we do not accept credit cards. Detailed payment information is included with the invoice Fellows receive upon acceptance to the program. Payment is due within 30 days of the invoice date, or upon receipt of the invoice if admission is within 60 days of the start of the Program.

Kauffman Fellows offers a limited number of partial scholarships for tuition. In addition, the Kauffman Foundation has sponsored four full-tuition Heartland Scholarships, of which two will be awarded to residents in the Kansas City metro area, and two will be awarded to residents in the 4-state heartland area (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska).

  • Frequently Asked Questions
Can I be nominated by someone who is not a Fellow?

Yes. Nominators within the Kauffman Fellows Network (Fellow, KF Mentor, Board Member) are familiar with the characteristics we seek in Fellows and have pre-existing, trusted relationships with our organization. However, the same criteria are applied to all nominations regardless of who the nominator is; 73% of the last class were nominated by members of the KF Network. 11% were nominated by their boss who was not part of the KF network.

Does opting for self-nomination put me at a disadvantage?

It does not put you at a disadvantage, but a nomination offers an opportunity for us to learn more about candidates from another person who knows you well. For reference, 16% of individuals now seated in Class 23 self-nominated.

Can I apply if I’m not in a traditional venture capital role?

Yes. We design classes to include a mix of different types of investors in different geographies, investing in different sectors.

Can I apply If I’m not based in Silicon Valley?

Yes. Kauffman Fellows hail from 46 different countries to date. Each Fellow is responsible for traveling to modules wherever they are held.

What is the time commitment for the 2-year Program?
  • - Structured classroom participation (7 modules x ~3.5 days = 24.5 days)
  • - Preparation for modules from study guides and articles (a few hours for each module)
  • - Summit participation (2 summits x 4 days = 8 days)
  • - Monthly 1-2 hour conference call with assigned 6-person peer forum (~4 days)
  • - Thought Leadership Project (varies)
  • - Travel time (varies)
What is the agenda of a typical module?

A typical module consists of 8-12 sessions over the course of 3.5 days. Each module begins with a class debrief, comprised of personal and professional updates shared with the group. There are 2 full days of curriculum-based classes, as well as a full day of joint sessions and interaction with the other current class. Fellows should expect to spend full days together with their class, often followed by evening social activities.

Where do the modules take place?

Modules take place in the San Francisco Bay Area and other cities that have built innovative entrepreneurial ecosystems. We have held modules in New York City biennially and have held modules in London and Shanghai.

Who are the faculty members?

Sessions are led by top investors, limited partners, entrepreneurs, university professors, global experts, and the Kauffman Fellows Team who share their insights and career experiences with currently enrolled Fellows.

Can you describe the onboarding process?

Prior to starting Module 1 in June 2019, new Fellows are asked to complete several tasks:

  • -Complete several self-assessment instruments
  • -Submit a brief biography and photo
  • -Select a Mentor
  • -Read the session guide to prepare for the first module
How many Fellows will be in the class?

Approximately 60.

Still have some questions? Feel free to drop us a line