Leeds Graduate Students Win Third Place at Largest Global Venture Capital Investment Competition
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What’s the biggest concern employers and students have about recent college graduates? Experience. While most students spend their time learning concepts in the classroom, not everyone has the chance to test their skills and prove what they’ve learned in the 'real world.' Each year, the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at the Leeds School of Business sends graduate students to the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) for just that reason: the opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience.
The VCIC is the world's largest venture capital competition with over 70 college and university student teams competing. Teams are given the pitch decks of three real startups and are tasked with choosing where to invest a hypothetical 100 million dollars. Adopting the mindset of a venture capitalist, the team uses valuation methods, negotiation and due diligence to make their decision and present it to a panel of judges.
This year, the VCIC team proved they could apply their skills in a pressure situation; they placed first in the VCIC Central Regional competition and third at the VCIC Globals.
Richey Hansen (MBA'23), co-captain of the team, described the judging process:
“You try to prepare for what they may ask you, but you can also recognize where you aren’t super confident in a particular valuation for a company. It's all about preparing as best as you can and knowing how you might respond. You hope that you can think on the fly in the room.”
The team consisted of eight Leeds graduate students and Wolf Law students at the University of Colorado Boulder, including Henry Coote, Tim Okita, Dave Jeffers, Josh Moore, Max Denker, Richey Hansen, Megan Decker, and Duncan Hutchins. They hailed from a diverse mix of fields including healthcare, law and finance, with one team member dubbed the “Rocket Scientist” due to his background in aerospace engineering. What they had in common, said co-captain Denker (MBA'23), was their motivation and academic acumen. “Everyone is very intelligent and interested in venture capital startups and that sort of ecosystem,” he said.
Inside the Competition
The 2023 VCIC Global Competition was hosted by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. When the CU Boulder team arrived, they went straight to their Airbnb where they received the pitch decks of three startup companies. Given the intensity of the work within tight time constraints, the team planned out every moment of their allotted time, including 30-minute coffee breaks and workouts to keep their minds sharp. When they made their case to the judges and the three startup founders, they demonstrated an ability to deliver under pressure and secured one of the highest finishes in ten years for CU Boulder.
The Mentors Behind the Wins
The VCIC team had a lot of support. With the help of their mentors Kirsten Suddath, Jason Mendelson, Blair Simpson, and James Dudley, they learned the ins and outs of the competition and were able to effectively apply their knowledge. Leeds community members were also a huge help to the team’s success, as well as Betsy Klein and Erick Mueller from the Deming Center.
"[Our advisors] truly care. They want to make sure not only that we do well in the competition, but that we know the content," said Denker.
Want to be a Part of the Team?
The Deming Center is considering the creation of an undergraduate VCIC team next year. If you are interested in either the MBA VCIC team or championing the undergraduate VCIC team, email email@example.com.