As a first year student at the Smith School, you are bombarded with exciting and challenging opportunities, many of which occur outside of the classroom. I knew that I had an interest in entrepreneurship, and someday wished to start my own company. So when the opportunity presented itself to compete in the initial rounds of the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC), I had to embrace it. It turned out to be the most interesting and exciting experience of my first semester at business school.
VCIC is a global competition where MBA students from top schools around the world play the role of venture capitalists (VCs) and evaluate real startup companies. Teams advance from their school to regionals and ultimately nationals, where one business school is named the winner. More than 1,000 students, 150 venture capitalists and 100 entrepreneurs will participate throughout the competition.
I formed a team with four other first-year classmates, all with limited experience valuating companies. In essence, we had a lot to learn. But over the course of two internal rounds of competition at the Smith School, our team became well-versed in valuation, term sheets and the venture capital language and process.
After moving on from the first round of competition, we were ready for the second internal round. On a Wednesday night, we received two presentations prepared by real startups in the Washington, DC area and conducted extensive research to decide which company to invest in. By late Thursday, we had prepared a valuation and term sheet. On early Friday morning, the founders of the two startups came to Smith, presented their companies, and held a Q&A with each team. We then provided our term sheet to the founder of our selected company, and negotiated a deal in front of judges consisting of actual VCs. Following the negotiations, the judges hit us with hard questions forcing us to defend our valuation and term sheet. After a long day of competition, the winners were announced at a networking reception.
Although we didn’t come in first and get to represent Smith at regionals, we felt very accomplished and even more excited to compete for first place next year. We learned so much and made great connections with the founder of the company we valuated, which led us to taking a trip to their offices to learn more about working at a startup. The VCIC competition represents the type of opportunities that make business school so valuable and memorable.