LMU Wins First Place at Venture Capital Competition

An interdisciplinary team of finance, entrepreneurship and AIMS students won first place in the western regional Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) held at Utah Valley University. VCIC is the world’s largest venture capital competition with over 70 universities competing. The team advanced to the finals and beat BYU, who won the VCIC National Championship the last two years.

“VCIC is an incredible opportunity for our students to evaluate opportunities from the perspective of a venture capitalist,” said Professor Jason D’Mello, who coached the students. “Typically, collegiate competitions ask students to pitch their best ideas to a panel of judges. This competition is different. It gives students a true VC experience and challenges them to evaluate three real business opportunities pitched by actual entrepreneurs.”

LMU students playing the role of VCs included Dalal Hareth Bahareth, JD Busfield, Sofia Pedraza Bolivar, Christian Jackson, Evan Olsen and Jack Petersen. A month before the competition, Professor Mark Hattendorf assembled the team out of his “Entrepreneurial Finance” course. Both Hattendorf and D’Mello took the lead on coaching the students alongside three LA-based entrepreneurs – Jake Tannenbaum ’18 (Craftmix), Justin Wolske (Caseworx) and Sean Bellerby (Go Snow) – as well as VC alumni Bryson Ishii ’09, Daniel Gomez ’16 and Sean O’Neil ’10. All generously shared their time and resources to help the team through the due diligence process.

“This is a very tough competition in which students get real company business plans, conduct all sorts of analysis and then get scored on due diligence (interviewing real entrepreneurs), investment review committee meeting (why they want to invest in a certain company) and term sheet negotiation with entrepreneurs,” said Professor David Choi, director of the Fred Kiesner Center for Entrepreneurship.

“The students put in so many hours preparing for this competition and really demonstrated outstanding teamwork and collaboration,” added Dayle Smith, dean of the College of Business Administration. “It’s so great to see our students come together and apply their interdisciplinary skills in case analysis, negotiation and due diligence on investment opportunities. We could not be more proud of this team and we will be cheering them on in the finals!”

LMU will compete in the VCIC National Championship on March 28 at UNC Chapel Hill.