Seven is considered a lucky number, but it’s just the latest number in a row for a John W. Altman Institute for Entrepreneurship Venture Capital Investment Competition team. In the Farmer School’s seventh consecutive trip to the U.S. Regional Finals of the VCIC, the FSB team took the top spot for the seventh consecutive time, beating teams from Carnegie Mellon, Florida, Georgia Tech, Penn State and Drexel to earn a spot in the global finals in late March.
The VCIC is an invitation-only, international competition with student venture capital teams from top business schools around the world. This year graduate and undergraduate venture teams from more than 120 universities around the world competed in twenty regional competitions.
This year’s team is comprised of Anna Thompson (Finance and Entrepreneurship), Ben Skapura (Information Systems & Analytics and Finance), Nick Corcoran (Finance), Abigail Van Drunen (Finance and Entrepreneurship), Jack Marks (Honors Marketing and Business Analytics), and Jamie Nguyen (Biology and Entrepreneurship).
Students that participate in the VCIC are required to complete the Department of Entrepreneurship's 10 week Venture Capital Immersion program that immerses them in venture capital concepts, terminology, and practices. The Venture Capital Immersion Program is led by Theresa Sedlack, Visiting Instructor of Entrepreneurship, and 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.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. From working with my team and Theresa to the opportunity to compete at UConn, this is an exceptional learning experience,” Corcoran said. “On a larger level, the entire process showed how much Miami alumni care about FSB and the students. Everyone we reached out to for industry or market expertise was willing to hop on the phone at the drop of a hat, truly cementing how special the FSB environment is.”
Unlike business plan competitions where students pitch their ideas to investors, in the VCIC, venture capital investment teams assume the identity of a venture firm. On the first day of the 3-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.
"Competing in VCIC, our team had an amazing opportunity to have hands-on experience with the work venture capitalists do. I'm incredibly proud of how our team worked together over the span of the competition,” Skapura said. “Despite being stuck in a room for several days, we were all able to keep it lighthearted and fun which only aided itself to the end result! The competition was challenging throughout and I learned an immense amount in a very short time."
“The VCIC competition requires a range of analytical skills, both specific to early stage investing and more broadly related to considering business ventures and their likely opportunities and challenges in the context of their respective industries. The 36-hour timeframe of the competition, from receipt of company materials to final presentations to judges, puts all aspects of analysis and interaction on a tremendously accelerated timeline,” Sedlack said. “The judges unanimously praised the depth of the team's knowledge across venture investing as well as industry nuances specific to the ventures they evaluated. Their analysis, responses and all aspects of their deliverables and interactions came from a place of deep understanding and authenticity. They worked together with deep respect for each other and exhibited a great team culture of results without losing sight of fun. I couldn't have been prouder of them and how they represented Miami University.”
The winning teams from the eight undergraduate regions will face off at the University of North Carolina beginning on March 31.