There are case competitions — and then there is the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC). For a team of MBA students from Fisher, the event provided a unique opportunity to explore the unique aspects of venture capital.

While typical competitions have students pitching ideas to judges or investors, the VCIC puts students in the investors’ seats, and they evaluate actual pitches from real entrepreneurs. Fisher finished second overall at the event at Rice University. The team also took home the Entrepreneur’s Choice Award.

“We had 14 minutes to ask the entrepreneurs about their organization's values, sales and marketing strategy, growth plan and financial standing,” said Andrew Rizkallah, a first-year student in the Full-Time MBA program. “We also challenged them with risks we saw for their business. Given that venture capital is about ‘active money,’ we made sure to speak to our various backgrounds in consulting, international import/export, supply chain management and health care, so that each entrepreneur knew we were bringing skills and connections to the table which they could use for the future.”

2019 VCIC case competition
The team of MBA students that finished second at the VCIC. From left, Dean Anil Makhija, team members Adam Ziegel, Andrew Rizkallah, Jasmine Sharma, Brandon Dornier, Jordan Brown, Keely Croxton, co-director of the FTMBA program, and Walter Zinn, associate dean for graduate students and programs.

A win at the Refinery Ventures MBA Creative VC Competition in Cincinnati last year prompted the team to enter the VCIC event.

“VCIC provided all of us with a powerful opportunity to experience the reality of venture capital and its impact on an entrepreneur’s fortunes and dreams,” said Adam Ziegel, a second-year MBA student. “It was a reminder that the trade-offs that we debate in the classroom have far-ranging, real-world effects and need to be made diligently and humbly.”

Said first-year MBA student Brandon Dornier: “Hands-on learning opportunities like this one provide students with an opportunity to apply both I.Q. and E.Q. to accomplish a unified goal. This simple dynamic in proper balance is integral to business success, and its implementation distinguishes great leaders from good. At the VCIC, I appreciated the applied intellect, fluid team dynamics and presentation E.Q. required to win at the venture capital stage.”

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The VCIC, which connects more than 1,500 students, 150 venture capitalists and 100 entrepreneurs throughout more than 50 events around the world, was a valuable experience for Fisher’s team, even if careers in venture capital and start-ups aren’t necessarily in their futures.

“As breakthrough technology becomes ever more ubiquitous in today’s business environment, it’s critical for business students to understand how startups can turn these big ideas into profitable ventures and shape industry trends,” said first-year MBA student Jordan Brown. “The VCIC certainly helped us gain a substantial appreciation for the startup and venture capital industries, be it to the point of targeting these companies for employment or simply to recognize them as pivotal partners throughout our careers.”

“Clearly, our level of preparedness was largely attributable to what we learned in class and the beyond-the-classroom lessons by Professor (Dan) Oglevee, who helped us understand the ins and outs of venture capital.”

Jasmine SharmaFirst-year MBA student