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Marlon Nichols of St. Catherine, Jamaica, and Mount Vernon, N.Y., obtained a MBA in business administration
Why did you choose Cornell?
Because in venture capital, it is tremendously important to build a strong network, and Cornell has the largest alumni base in this area. Further, Cornell alumni are very active and have a reputation of being responsive to current students - I've found this to be true! Also, the Johnson School's curriculum is heavily based in experiential learning, and the opportunity to participate in BR Venture Fund (BRV), Johnson's student-run venture capital fund, was very appealing, because it involved working with real entrepreneurs, real investment dollars and real venture capital partners.
What are your plans for next year; where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I will join Intel's Accelerated Leadership Program in the Silicon Valley in their international venture capital investment division. In 10 years I plan to be the founder and managing partner of my own early stage venture capital firm.
After college, what did you do?
During the eight years between college graduation and graduate school, I worked as a relationship manager with the emerging startup software company Frictionless Commerce (FCI) in Cambridge, Mass., and was a member of a four-person group selected to launch the company's European operations. After FCI was acquired by another firm and after two years in London with FCI, I moved back to the United States. I then worked for the management-consulting firm Edgewater in New York City, eventually becoming principal strategist, where I led numerous digital transformation strategy initiatives for several Fortune 100 companies.
While at Cornell, what extracurricular activities or other accomplishments were important to you or you are most proud of?
As president and chief operating officer of BR Venture Fund, I led seven fund managers to more than double the number of associates (to about 60) that work with the fund, increase the number of potential investment opportunities that BRV reviews annually, establish formal relationships with venture capital firms and angel investors to increase the fund's reach and investment size, grow the presence of the fund throughout the Cornell community, and strengthen BRV's relationship with scientific advisers. The fund has reviewed about 70 startups as potential investment opportunities and has decided to invest in two. I am leading an effort to create a syndicate of major venture investors for one of the two aforementioned investment opportunities - a first for BRV. Also, as a Park Leadership fellow, I've benefited from a full tuition scholarship and undertaken a leadership initiative with the New Orleans-based startup business accelerator, The Idea Village, whose mission is to revitalize New Orleans' economy through entrepreneurship. I ultimately co-led a team of eight Johnson students to a first-place finish in the Idea Village's annual MBA competition for the level of impact that our team created for one of the Idea Village's portfolio companies. This led to my opportunity to address politicians, local and national media, and prominent business leaders at an event at politician James Carville's home. Additionally, three Johnson students received summer internships and one student was offered a job to lead operations for one of the portfolio companies. Since the competition, I have institutionalized Johnson's participation, strengthened the ties between Cornell and the Idea Village and am advising this year's team.