On February 6th, Georgetown University sent a team of InSITE Fellows to Boulder, CO to compete in the semi-finals round of the Venture Capital Investment Competition aka VCIC. InSITE DC Fellows have a history of doing well at the competition, winning the Global Championship in 2013, led by team members and InSITE alumni Sara Zulkosky (MBA, 2014) and Sherief Khalil (MBA, 2013), who served as mentors to this year’s team.
Fellows Amir Kabir (MBA ’15), Coral Taylor (MBA ’16), Eric Ellsworth (MBA ’15), Jordan Edelman (MBA ’16), and their MBA colleague Ben Shopneck (MSB ’15) displayed their business acumen and skills in evaluating three start-ups. After some epic highs and a few learning experiences, the team prevailed over its competitors. The Fellows have now advanced to compete in the global finals to be held April 9th – 11th at UNC, Chapel Hill.
As background, VCIC is a business school competition that puts students in the role of a venture capital fund investing in early stage companies. Teams receive pitch decks from three entrepreneurs raising money for their respective companies. The contestants then enter a rapid-fire day of conducting primary interviews, conducting due diligence, creating valuations and defining investment terms. The students then pitch selected companies to “senior partners” in a VC firm (whose roles are played by actual VC investors) and then negotiate a deal with one of the entrepreneurs.
All 6 teams competing in Boulder received pitch decks for three companies: Notion, which sells a sensor for home automation; Simple Energy, which provides a digital platform to help utilities build customer engagement and reduce energy use; and Shinesty, a curated online marketplace for vintage fashion.
The Fellows agreed that their experience with InSITE gave them a edge in the competition. The Fellows were able to draw from they learned during an InSITE Crash Course on Term Sheet Negotiations and several Breakfast Series Meetings with serial entrepreneurs. More importantly, InSITE consulting projects helped Fellows deconstruct the hype of the pitches without losing sight of the entrepreneurs’ interests & goals.
Ultimately the competition came down to thoughtful diligence and strong relationship building. The team’s efforts to build rapport with entrepreneurs, funding partners and others in the competition demonstrated the Fellows’ ability to understand core soft skills that are essential to judicious VC investments. We celebrated our win (and prize money of $1500) with a day of skiing at Keystone, and are now reaching out to more VCs for training and advice in preparation for the upcoming finals.
Eric Ellsworth is a second-year MBA student at Georgetown and an InSITE Fellow. Prior to Georgetown, he worked at Roche Molecular Systems and Redpath Integrated Pathology.