Student Investment of Time Yields Results

February 2018

A student venture team led by Entrepreneurship department members Tim Holcomb and Mary Dieglio competed in the U.S. Central Region round of the 2018 Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC), at Michigan State University … and won... just like last year. The central region competition included student venture teams from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Northwestern University Kellogg School of Business, University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business, University of Michigan Ross School of Business and Michigan State University Eli Broad School of Business.

Unlike business plan competitions where students pitch their ideas to investors, in the VCIC, student venture teams assume the identity of a venture firm. On the first day of the three-day competition, each student venture team receives a profile of the firm’s venture fund (size, age, investment stage, targeted industries/markets, number and size of previous investments, etc.), and business plans for three seed stage companies. Teams are given 36 hours to conduct due diligence on the companies, their founders, and the market and prepare a term sheet for an investment in one of the companies. On the final day of the competition, teams evaluate pitches made by each company and participate in a one-on-one Q&A with the founder(s), after which teams have two hours to finalize their investment decision. Each team defends its investment recommendation to a panel of current venture capital investors who assess each team’s investment decision and logic and then negotiate final terms with the founders of the selected company.

Judge Chris Rizik, CEO & Fund Manager of the Renaissance Venture Capital Fund, noted, “The Farmer School of Business team was extremely impressive. They immediately got to the heart of the issues, asked excellent questions, and, in a high pressure, time-constrained situation, presented well-supported conclusions. They excelled in a challenging competition. All of the judges were impressed with both their preparation and their presence.”

Faculty advisor/coach, Tim Holcomb described his approach, “To prepare our team, we designed an eight-week Venture Capital Immersion program to immerse students in venture capital concepts and practices. The immersion program introduces students to the venture capital model, firm thesis and management structure, fund logic, funding rounds and stages (e.g. Seed, Series A, etc.), due diligence process, quantitative and qualitative deal analytics and valuation strategy, term and conditions, negotiating tactics, venture debt financing, equity crowdfunding, and the general implications of taking on outside funding (e.g., dilution and cap tables, board composition, follow-on funding, and so on). The program includes guest lecturers, panelists, and speakers from venture investment firms and commercial banks from Cincinnati, Chicago, Minneapolis, Detroit, Houston, New York City, and San Francisco, including investors from Queen City Angels, CincyTech, H Ventures, Mercury Fund, River Cities Capital Funds, FTV Capital, Hyde Park Venture Partners, Arthur Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), Square 1 Bank, and SaaS Capital.”

Faculty nominate students from across campus to participate in the program. Eleven undergraduate students from were chosen to participate and form a student venture team to compete in the 2018 VCIC. Five students, Jack Ackerman (Senior; Major: Venture Finance and Interdisciplinary Studies), Max Davis (Junior; Major: Finance and Business Analytics), Jack Condon (Senior; Major: Finance and Entrepreneurship), Stephanie Domijan (Senior; Major: Mechanical Engineering) and Dan Pfeil (Senior; Major: Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Entrepreneurship) formed the competition team with analytical support provided by Manolo Galang (Senior; Major: Finance), Joshua Gibbs (Junior; Major: Finance with a minor in Business Analytics), Noah Larson (Junior; Major: Finance with a minor in Entrepreneurship), Kat Mena (Sophomore; Major: Finance and Entrepreneurship), Laura Mena (Sophomore; Major: Marketing and Entrepreneurship) and Noah Slade (Junior; Major: Finance).

With the regional victory, the team will compete in the finals round of the international competition, which will be held at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on March 22-24, against the winners of the other four regional competitions. FSB alum, Charlie Mires ’82, Director at CIB Marine Bancshares, Inc. immediately stepped up and has donated funds to cover the team’s expenses for the trip.