Monday, April 21, 2008

2008 Venture Capital Investment Competition

The Venture Capital Investment Competition ended this weekend at the University of North Carolina. It is a national event, and (if you’re at MIT) up to 20 teams taking part to represent their colleges at the regionals, and one team from each region advances to the finals. I was fortunate to be a judge at the regional VCIC held at MIT Sloan, which was won by Wharton in a group that faced very stiff competition. Wharton was unique in winning because while there were stronger teams with technical expertise in venture capital, the Wharton team showed uncanny operational expertise. From what I read about the Finals (which I did not have the bandwidth to attend), the Wharton team did well again, thinking outside the box, but was unable to win the competition - but they did get the Entrepreneur's Choice Award.

MIT Sloan won for the 2nd year in a row. I did not get a chance to see the MIT Sloan team in action (since they did not take part in the Boston regional so they would not have a home-team advantage). However, the strength of entrepreneurship and venture capital at MIT is clear. The winning team of Bob Meese, Sim Blaustein, Gaetan Bonhomme, Nikhil Garg and Eric Varma.

University of Washington and University of North Carolina placed 2nd and 3rd respectively.

We should certainly credit to the entrepreneurs, without whom there would be no competition. The entrepreneurs for once are in the drivers seat, though they are still potentially selling to the judges, who are mostly VCs. The VCIC finals had 20 VCs, so it was a great opportunity for the entrepreneurs. Its actually fun to see the VCs selling their firms to the entrepreneurs !

I noticed that Widetronix, a Cornell startup, showed up at the finals. Good for them to get on the road. Since ultimately this competition is good training for any entrepreneur (since they get to see the business from the other side), I hope it was worthwhile for all of them. The stats are certainly in favor of the entrepreneur. According to Patrick Vernon, who has been running this competition for years out of UNC, he sent a recent email that said: “As a former judge, you know the value of VCIC to presenting entrepreneurs, but did you know that 40% of the entrepreneurs selected to present at the Finals go on to raise an average of $9M in venture capital.”

To read more about VCIC click here.

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