15.391 | Fall 2010 | Graduate

Early Stage Capital


Students will work in teams of 4 people on three discrete projects, which together comprise the negotiation grade. The negotiation grade is worth two-thirds of the final grade.

  1. Find a lawyer. (5% of negotiation grade) In this short, introductory exercise, teams will identify what kind of lawyer they want to hire for their new venture. Using practical resources, they will identify a shortlist of appropriate candidates.

Written work product: a short memo summarizing investigation process, and justifying selection.

  1. Lawyer strategy round. (25% of negotiation grade) Teams will assume the role of founders in a new firm and meet with practicing corporate lawyers at their offices. This simulation round is not an adversarial negotiation, but rather an exercise in using and managing professional service providers. Using a provided model term sheet, teams will work with their lawyers to formulate their legal and negotiating strategy for meeting with venture capitalists. Teams will meet at the lawyers’ offices.

Written work products: firm profile, term sheet, agenda and prioritized task list due pre-meeting; summary of remaining questions and/or conflicting information due post-meeting.

  1. VC negotiation round. (70% of negotiation grade) Armed with insight from their lawyer round, teams will meet in a head-to-head negotiation with a local venture capitalist. The premise for this simulation is that the team is negotiating the final provisions that remain open between the team and the VC on their first round of venture financing. Leading Boston VC firms will be participating in the rounds. Teams will meet at the VCs’ offices.

Note: To accommodate the professional participants’ schedule, the simulation rounds take place during the week, usually in the evening. You must be able to allocate ~2½ hours (including travel time) on 2 separate evenings.

Written work products: internal and external agendas due pre-meeting; summary of agreed terms due post-meeting. The strategic internal agenda is the major deliverable of the course and accounts for 70% of negotiation grade.

Intra-team evaluation. A very important piece of the team exercises. There will be an intra-team evaluation at the end of the course (you get to say who did the work).

1 Find a lawyer (PDF)
2 Lawyer strategy round


MIT/FIT fact pattern (PDF)

Term sheet (PDF)

3 VC negotiation round (PDF)
  Team evaluation (PDF)

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2010
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Activity Assignments
Written Assignments