Putting their business savvy to the test, a team of MBA students from Brigham Young University won second place at the regional Venture Capital Investment Competition held at Santa Clara University last month. The BYU team took home $1,000 and finished just behind the University of Washington.
BYU’s team bested several others, including those from the University of San Francisco, the University of California, Irvine and the University of Southern California.
The competition, a complete departure from the traditional business tournament, turns students into investors and allows local entrepreneurs to pitch to them. From reading business plans to negotiating term sheets, teams gain practical experience as they work through the entire investment process. Teams are judged on their knowledge of the venture capitalist system, assessment of risk, communication and teamwork.
“With students acting as venture capitalists and engaging with entrepreneurs that are currently in the fundraising process, it gives the team the most realistic experience possible,” said Ian Ellis, a second-year MBA student from Laguna Niguel, Calif. “Entrepreneurs are faced with questions about their business, and they need to have ready answers — nothing is for show.”
This year’s BYU team included: second-year MBA students Ellis; Dan Mondragon, from Longmont, Colo.; Chris Bryant from Leesburg, Va.; Matt Peterson from South Jordan, Utah; and first-year MBA student Julie Nelson from Castro Valley, Calif. Professor Gary Williams was the faculty adviser.
“Our team had extremely good chemistry,” Nelson said. “We all came from varying backgrounds and were able to utilize our strengths to make our team the best it could be.”
Next year’s competition will again put the school’s venture capital program to the test, and the team believes BYU will rise to the challenge.
“This competition is extremely competitive every year, and the team is honored to have placed where we did among such strong competitors,” Ellis said. “We believe next year's team will be even stronger, and we always hope to represent BYU as well as possible.”
The Marriott School has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, public management, information systems and entrepreneurship. The school’s mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled in the Marriott School’s graduate and undergraduate programs.
For this and other Marriott School news releases, visit the online newsroom at marriottschoool.byu.edu/news.
Writer: Megan Bingham