The Johns Hopkins Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) was held on Nov 21 at the Carey Business School and was organized by the Innovation Factory and the Johns Hopkins Private Equity and Venture Capital Club. A strong turnout featured a total of 8 Venture Capital Student (VCS) teams (5 members each), 6 Startups and 7 Judges.
VCIC is the world’s largest venture capital competition among top graduate students from 70+ prestigious business schools from all around the world. Unlike most competitions in which student-entrepreneurs pitch to VCs, in this competition, the graduate students are the VCs.
Each school hosts an internal competition that is the first step on a potentially long road. The victorious team from each internal competition goes on to compete in one of 12 regional finals. The winning team from each regional competition then goes on to compete for the national title. Finally, the national winner competes against graduate programs all across the globe for the final title of VCIC Champion.
In 2014, the Johns Hopkins University team entered the Mid-Atlantic regional final and won The Entrepreneur’s Choice award.
This year’s competition attracted participation from an eclectic mix of graduate students from the Carey Business School programs such as the Global MBA, Flexible MBA, Masters of Science (Finance & Marketing), and the MBA/MA program in Design Leadership. In addition, there were Ph.D. candidates from the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the School of Medicine.
Five of the 6 startups invited to pitch at the competition were founded by Hopkins alumni and students. The JHU-affiliated startups were Barkly, Edessa, Visable, Supercook, and PathoVax. The sixth startup invited to pitch was Farm Table.
The distinguished panel of judges included:
- Ali Afshar, PhD Candidate, Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering and VCIC Alumnus
- David Greenwald, Director, Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures
- Elizabeth Galbut, Founding Partner, A-Level Capital and SoGal Ventures
- Jim Liew, Assistant Professor, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School
- Sean McElroy, Director of Membership & Partnerships, Betamore
- Seth Shuldiner, Investment Analyst, Maryland Venture Fund
- Matt Zuga, Founder, HighCape Partners
The morning started with the startup’s Founders and CEOs pitching their company to VCS teams and judges. The VCS teams had received the startup’s pitch decks and financial information before the event and this session provided an opportunity for the teams to hear directly from the startups.
Following the startup pitches, the VCS teams moved into the next phase of due diligence where they did a deep dive into the company’s business plan in order to gain a better understanding of the company’s fundamentals, growth opportunities, the motivations and capabilities of the founding team to execute on their business plan.
After the due diligence session with all the startups, the VCS teams had to decide on the startup that they were interested to invest in and prepare a term sheet detailing their investment thesis and deal structure.
At the Partners Meeting, the VCS teams pitched their investment thesis and discussed their due diligence findings on the companies. This discussion included an intensive and sometimes heated debate between the Partners (played by the Judges) and the VCS teams on the pros and cons of the company, the investment risks and risk mitigation plans, the appropriate deal structure and types of securities (the proposed mix of debt and equity), valuation and potential exit opportunities.
Two VCS teams – Charm City Capital and Impetus – were selected to engage in the final negotiations with their startup of choice. The final negotiations were held in front of all VCIC participants and highlighted how deal negotiations could potentially unfold in the VC world. In the end, Charm City Capital successfully closed a deal with Barkly while Impetus closed a deal with Supercook.
For the final judging process, the VCS teams were evaluated based on their attention to detail in their due diligence, their level of preparedness, understanding of the venture capital investment process, individual abilities and teamwork capabilities as well as their ability to defend their investment thesis.
Finally, after an intense round of discussions between the judges, the winner was determined: Charm City Capital, which was made up of Ankita Das (Hopkins Biotech Network), Franz Henggeler (Flexible MBA), Michael Raphael (GMBA), Rajat Parashar (GMBA) and Steve Rice (GMBA). This team will be representing Johns Hopkins University to compete in the VCIC Regional Finals on Jan 29, 2016 at Georgetown University.
The VCIC was a huge success and this could not have been done without the strong support from the faculty and staff of the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. Special thanks goes to the amazing teams at the Carey Student Services, Operations, Marketing, the Carey Student Government Association and student volunteers for their unwavering help and continued support.
Going forward, the Innovation Factory and the Johns Hopkins Private Equity and Venture Capital Club would continue to organize more educational and networking activities for the Hopkins Community to raise awareness of the industry, encourage entrepreneurship and serve as a platform for Hopkins startups looking to understand the fundraising process better and help them to raise capital to fuel their expansion.