Santa Clara University

Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship


The Perennial Gale of Creative Destruction

Marc van den Berg

by Marc van den Berg '83
CIE Advisory Board Member
General Partner, Technology Partners

Entrepreneurship can be broadly described as the practice of starting new business or organizations (or revitalizing mature organizations) generally in response to identified opportunities. This is often a difficult undertaking as a majority of new businesses fail. What makes entrepreneurship education distinctive is its focus on realization of opportunity, where management education is focused on the best way to operate existing hierarchies. The best ideas are ones that can be shared, flushed out and uplifted by a team or group aligned with the notion that the business at hand has a unique opportunity to succeed in today's or, perhaps more importantly, tomorrow's marketplace.

Others have described the entrepreneur as one who stirs the winds of the perennial gale of creative destruction. Companies today are not typically successful in disintermediating themselves and their beloved markets and business models. There are a few pockets around the globe today that have had a unique ability to foster this creativity and provide the framework that allows for destruction of the old and the growth of the new. One of those places is Silicon Valley.

Given Santa Clara University's unique presence in the valley, it is logical to assume that the entrepreneurial spirit exists in its populations. From defense to biotech to semiconductors to information technology, healthcare and now Cleantech, the valley has been at the global forefront of this perennial destructive storm. We thrive on it here-risk, reward, failure and success are considered a way of life. With a perfect combination of top notch educational institutions, available risk capital, executive talent and fantastic weather, we are in a position to continue this leadership well into the next century. Students in our universities have a unique opportunity to participate in this new business creation more so than other students around the globe. The willingness to take risk in our youth helps foster this endeavor. Yet minimization of risk (something we are quite familiar with in Venture Capital) is best practiced through collaborations with other entrepreneurs. One can find this type of collaboration in an educational, social or business atmosphere. Finding that atmosphere that combines all three of the aforementioned in one place, then so much the better.

This is suggestive of the student collaboration one can find in clubs and educational settings that foster the spirit, the tactical and operational planning for such endeavors. At SCU, the CIE and its affiliated clubs allow the entrepreneur to vet ideas, draft technical and human capital to their ideas and essentially lift them up, or in some cases, tear them down. Ideally, the interaction creates the lower risk business startup. Entrepreneurs are neither born nor made, they are developed. Risk is an endeavor best shared amongst others. Clubs and teams that form in the university setting have shown to become vital members of the business of the future. The valley has thousands of examples to point to for this successful roadmap.

The SCEO and its membership are perfect examples of this spirit being fostered in university life. Its interaction in the business community and its ability to bridge across the university's collective colleges is a prime example of the ability of the organization to promote the entrepreneur and to provide the motivating force for that perennial gale of creative destruction.

About Marc van den Berg

Marc is a Managing Director at Vantage Point Venture Partners in San Bruno, Ca. Prior to moving into venture capital Marc spent over 25 years in technology based startups serving in executive roles in both technical and business capacities. Most recently Mr. van den Berg spent 10 years in the Semiconductor capital equipment and materials business at both ATMI Inc. and Microbar Incorporated.

Previously he held executive technical and operations positions in the Environmental Capital Equipment business at Purus Incorporated, joining the company at its initiation and helping it grow through its Initial Public offering.

Early in his career he spent a decade developing advanced Excimer lasers as platforms for a broad array of industry applications at XMR Inc.

Marc’s educational background includes a BSEE from Santa Clara University in 1983. Marc joined Vantage Point Venture Partners in 2006 in support of the Clean Tech Investment team and focuses on investments in renewable energy, alternative fuels and advances in electrical efficiency. Investments range from very early stage startups to later stage growth capital. Marc serves on the boards of a few of Vantage Point’s portfolio companies and is active participant in the Clean Tech community.

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The Santa Clara Entrepreneurs Organization (SCEO) is here to get students to think outside the box and connect to give direction and help promote the concept of entrepreneurship regardless of major.

An established Business Student Association in the Leavey School of Business, we focus on advancing entrepreneurship with competitions, business endeavors and workshops.


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