Building a Business: Entrepreneurial Finance – Financing Start-ups


Said Business School
Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Professor Thomas Hellmann is a member of the faculty at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, where he is the Academic Director of the Entrepreneurship Centre. His areas of expertise are entrepreneurship, venture capital, innovation, contract theory, strategic management and public policy. 

Thomas is a leading international expert on entrepreneurial finance and high-growth entrepreneurship. His research explains how venture capitalists finance entrepreneurs. It studies the strategies used by entrepreneurs to gather resources for high-growth ventures. His research emphasises the interplay between financial resources, strategic objectives, and the sometimes complex governance of entrepreneurial ventures. It also examines how legal rules affect the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and how governments play a role in fostering entrepreneurship.

Thomas has collaborated with Professor Stelios Kavadias of Cambridge Judge Business School in producing a report on the challenges facing financing scale-ups. Thomas and the Oxford research team assessed the current state of the UK financing ecosystem for scale-up companies, with Cambridge examining the role of management and skills, and their findings are set to contribute to the debate on the future of business growth in this country. The report was released on 25 April by Barclays titled Scale-up UK: Growing Businesses, Growing our Economy.

Thomas provides an insight into into 'The very first mistake most startup founders make' with Noam Wasserman.

Thomas’ vision for teaching entrepreneurship is to give students a profound understanding of the entrepreneurial process, with a seamless integration of conceptual foundations and practical applicable tools. He has developed courses in the areas of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial finance for undergraduates, masters, MBAs and executives; and he has taught classes in a wide variety of places, including Stanford Graduate School of Business, Harvard Business School, Wharton, UBC, and the Indian School of Business. He is passionate about teaching entrepreneurship not only to business students, but more broadly to students across the entire university. He believes in bringing together students from all walks of life, and encouraging them to think outside the box.

Thomas is the academic director of theEntrepreneurship Centre.  He is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). He is the founding organiser of the NBER Entrepreneurship Research Boot Camp, which provides an intensive learning experience for PhD students who work at the research frontiers of entrepreneurship economics and entrepreneurial finance.  He is also a member of the Strategic Research Initiative (SRI).

Prior to joining Oxford University, Thomas was the B.I. Ghert Family Foundation Professor in Finance and Policy at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia. He was also the Director of the W. Maurice Young Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Research Centre. Prior to that, Thomas was an Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, where he was deeply immersed in researching Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. He also held visiting positions at Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, the Hoover Institution, INSEAD, the University of New South Wales, and the University of Auckland.  He holds a BA in Mathematical Economics from the London School of Economics. His PhD in Economics at Stanford University was under the supervision of Professor Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel Laureate 2001). He is fluent in English, German and French.

Thomas recommends the best books on entrepreneurship and explains what entrepreneurs can learn from them.

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