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Team Wins 'Rigorous' Venture Capital Competition

After  a “rugged, rigorous competition,” judges in the Fourth Annual Glencoe Capital Venture Capital Investment Competition chose a winning team of GSB students based on their ability to “see the big picture on why you make an investment and why you don’t,” said David Evans, chairman, Glencoe Capital, LLC, which sponsored the event.

“At the end of the day it’s just usually two or three things that often are the most important in deciding success or failure,” Evans said, “and you have to be able to get out of the box and figure out what those are.”

The competition, held January 25 at Charles M. Harper Center, was cosponsored by the Entrepreneurship, Venture Capital & Private Equity Group and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship.

Evans and the panel of other judges from the venture capital industry awarded Skyline Ventures first place out of six competing GSB student teams. Skyline will now proceed to a regional competition at University of Colorado on February 9. Team members are Jason Brown, ’09, Bruno Cipriani, ’08, Jules Dessibourg, ’08, Steven Fausch, ’09, Una Pipic, ’08, and Miray Zaki, ’08.

“GSB keeps getting more and more impressive students,” said Scott Meadow, Clinical Professor of Entepreneurship, and partner, Edgewater Funds. Meadow will coach Skyline Ventures.

In the contest teams derived investment plans after studying and choosing from among real-life scenarios of an alternative energy technology, a social networking software company, a security software company, or a gene-based technology.

During the question and answer period with each of the prospective ventures, “we went in with three things we needed to figure out,” Brown said. The team wanted to know: What is going to make this business work? What is management like? What is the market size? The last question was important “because you can’t fix a market,” Brown said.

Skyline Ventures formulated an investment plan for backing the security software venture. One big reason: the $600 million market opportunity in 2008, Brown said when leading the team’s presentation.

A second reason was the company’s management team. “These guys are rock stars,” Brown told the panel of judges.

To mitigate risks, the team came up with a plan to invest in stages after milestones had been met.

Beside Evans, judges included:

Teams faced a battery of questions from the judges. “These were not cookie cutter questions,” Zaki said.

Before announcing the winner, Evans cited venture capital knowledge he said the panel of judges had conceived:

  1. Syndicate risk.
  2. Understand what can go wrong and how to deal with it.
  3. Ask what your money will do and why.
  4. Find out how much money is needed to achieve success.
  5. Ask the entrepreneur what the entrepreneur thinks the company is worth.
  6. Realize how the other side of the table will react to terms you propose.
  7. Broaden your thinking about strategy and what it takes to be successful.
  8. Use your time wisely. “What is key to know? What is of the essence?” Evans said.

– Mary Sue Penn