Published: April 30, 2012

A graduate team from the University of Colorado Boulder won the 15th International Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC), the premiere graduate competition for venture capital and entrepreneurship.

Colorado Law student Mark Wiranowski, with MBA candidates Lindsey Jensen, Dane McDonald, Jeff Schreier, and Nick Wyman from CU-Boulder’s Leeds School of Business, advanced to the finals at the University of North Carolina campus after winning the West Regional in an international competition that included 50 regional events on four continents with more than 1,000 students competing.

Mark Wiranowski, a third-year JD candidate at Colorado Law, said the judges liked the team’s precision with legal aspects of the business term sheet.

“One of the things that differentiated us was that while this is a business competition with investors and companies, the terms of the deal are very much informed by law,” Wiranowski said.

Four of the five team members took the Venture Capital and Private Equity Law class co-taught by Professor Brad Bernthal and Jason Mendelson, managing director at Foundry Group.

“I can confidently say that the Venture Capital Law class gave our team a huge competitive advantage over other teams,” Wiranowski said.

A training ground for future venture capitalists, VCIC puts graduate students in the role of investors who review plans submitted by actual entrepreneurial companies seeking funding. Experienced venture capitalists judge the teams. The program culminates every April in Chapel Hill, North Carolina where the International Finals take place. The winning teams take home $10,000 in prize money.

This year, the CU-Boulder team beat Instituto de Estudios Superiores de la Empresa from Spain and Georgetown, second and third place winners, respectively.  Other finalists included teams from Berkeley, Cornell, Michigan, National University of Singapore, Oxford, Wake Forest, and Wharton. 

“The title reflects how advanced the students are at CU-Boulder. The students have tremendous passion for entrepreneurship. The title is well deserved,” Mendelson said.

Wiranowski said CU-Boulder’s emphasis on interdisciplinary engagement was beneficial in a business competition that also requires a legal lens.

“You really have to understand how the legal perspective fits into the business deal, and I think that is where we excel as a university,” said Wiranowski. “With the cross over, there are many business students in the venture capital law class and, likewise, law students take classes at the business school.”

Coming out on top in a competition against prestigious universities is the result of diligence and the support of phenomenal faculty at CU-Boulder.

“This victory builds on the amazing support of the VC/entrepreneurial community and the support of the Deming Center over many years of competition,” said Wiranowski.  “Our team learned a tremendous amount from our mentors who have experienced VCIC as competitors, judges, coaches, and presenting entrepreneurs.”