After class last Thursday, I headed over to the IPJ Theater to catch a glimpse of the much-anticipated Venture Vetting (V2) Competition. Out of twenty teams who submitted a business plan pitch deck, four were selected to be finalists. Tonight, they would present their business proposals to three angel investors for a chance to win a portion or all of the prize money – $15,000.
Students, alums, family members and visiting business leaders from the local community crowded into the IPJ Theater at 7 PM. The first pitch started right on time. Although their concept of a consulting firm is familiar territory, the two young entrepreneurs brought new life into their plan’s detail. Still undergraduates, they formed a deep friendship in the last few years living as roommates in the dormitory. Their trust and mutual understanding can be seen in the seamless flow of their presentation and their response to the angels’ questions.
The second team presented a novel business and product – Bottle Talk. Wineries will be able to use Bottle Talk to promote premium labels through their viral product recognition and information sharing phone app. Not only is their app functioning and demonstrated successfully, they had also received orders from wineries. The founder, another young undergrad student, also had an adviser and mentor in place. This mentor, a successful local businessman, added value to the team’s promising product. In short, they seem to have garnered all the ingredients for success and are ready to reap the reward of their sweat equity.
Two other teams also presented their ideas and plans, each with an impressive perspective. After some intensive questioning between the angels and the finalists on a one on one basis, we regrouped in the theater to hear the final judgment. Will there be a winner? We all wondered. The students and audience each picked their own favorites, but our opinions differed wildly. How does one compare values between four plans that each have merits and faults, but all represent the unique, diligent and heartfelt work from the teams that presented them?
I suppose that’s what differentiates the angels and us. As they gathered back on the stage, the angels outlined their reasons for why two ventures out of the four finalists had merits that warranted them “fundable”. Whether “it was low risk, stable revenue stream”, or “high risk, potential high reward”, or “having the right partner dynamics”, or “fit into a high growth area with lots of potential,” the winning teams had something extra to capture the attention of the investors. That something not only spoke to their financial growth potential, but also to the spirit which fueled the team or partnership.
Each team walked away with a prize, a light bulb and, I’m certain, a great story to tell for years to come.
Tina is a first year International MBA student. Before starting her IMBA, Tina worked as a Customer Architecture and Project Lead at Qualcomm.