Magnuson, Tuck Host Venture Capital Investment Competition,including an Address From President of Y-Combinator, Geoff Ralston '82

The programming, running from Thursday, February 25th, 2021 through Saturday, February 27th, 2021, is beneficial for students interested in venture capital, but also those who are founders.

While discussions about entrepreneurship and innovation often focus on the founders of companies, there’s a whole complementary side to the ecosystem: the venture capitalists who are willing to invest in early-stage companies and give them access to the capital needed to bring them to fruition.

This weekend, the Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship and the Center for Private Equity and Venture Capital at Tuck School of Business are partnering for a series of events focused on venture capital. The happenings are centered around the northeast regional virtual tournament of the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC), an annual competition held around the world at which students can become venture capitalist for a day, making investment decisions on real startups, executing due diligence, and negotiating deals with real entrepreneurs.

Dartmouth’s undergrad and graduate-level VCIC team competed at Boston University last month, where the MBA team took first place and the undergrad team placed second. While competing is important, hosting a VCIC event is also significant.

“This opportunity allows us to spread our image as an entrepreneurial university,” says Matt Kenney 21, chair of the Magnuson Student Leadership Board, who helped bring the VCIC event to campus.

Jim Feuille D‘79, executive director of the Center for Private Equity and Venture Capital at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth has hosted previous VCIC events at Tuck. He points out that during a VCIC competition, teams don’t get to see how other teams perform, so hosting the event — and being allowed to see six other teams in action — gives students an important opportunity.

“To see and reflect upon what those teams did well and what they did poorly, our teams can learn from that,” Feuillesays.

Students observing the event can watch entrepreneurs pitch their ideas and answer questions from investors, who are often grilling them pretty hard.

“Its a snapshot into the world of VC,” Feuille says.

The event is valuable not only to students interested in VC, but those that are founders as well.

“Both founders and investors need to learn what it takes to build a successful company that survives the test of time, and founders and investors alike very frequently ‘cross over the edge,’ transitioning from investing to founding, or vice versa,” says Kenney.

For the first time, the VCIC event will incorporate a keynote address. The event, which takes place Thursday evening from 7-8 p.m. features Geoff Ralston, D'82, president of Y Combinator.

“By hosting a keynote speaker event, we provide our VCIC competitors, judges, and startups with an exciting celebration to kick things off and allow other Dartmouth alumni and students to participate in the event,” Kenney says.

As the president of a leading accelerator, Ralston has a perspective that is valuable for an array of students.

“We believe that Geoff can teach students what it takes to build a successful company and what it takes to pick one,” Kenney says. “Uniquely, we also think that Geoff can speak to the less-frequently touched upon topic: once you get your company off the ground, how do you weather the test of time and continue to grow it? Finally, we think Geoff can provide insight on how to form a valuable bond between investor and founder.”

On Friday, the graduate level VCIC competition, hosted by Tuck, will kick off. The undergrad competition, hosted by the Magnuson Center, will start on Saturday. Both events are judged by a panel of Dartmouth staff and alums with experience in venture capital and entrepreneurship.

Although the VCIC competition will take place virtually, Kenney says that hosting the event is important for solidifying Hanover’s reputation as a hub of not only innovation, but also investment.

“As an entrepreneurial organization, we often feature stories from founders and place an emphasis on putting on events and experiences that allow students to learn how to become an entrepreneur,” Kenney says. “The simple reality, though, is that not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. Many individuals are extremely excited by the entrepreneurial world and all it has to offer but want to contribute to that world as an investor, rather than as a founder.”

Now, thanks to the close connection between the Magnuson Center and the Center for Private Equity and Venture Capital at Tuck, students have more opportunities than ever to learn about investment. Undergraduates can enroll in the Early Stage Venture Capital Workshop, lead by Feuille (the next workshop will take place in the fall term). Students can also join the newly-formed Dartmouth Private Equity and Venture Capital Student Club.

While the keynote address with Ralston is open to the Dartmouth community (register here), there is limited availability for viewing the VCIC competition. If you are interested in observing, email Sarah Morgan, program manager for experiential learning at the Magnuson Center at sarah.i.morgan@dartmouth.edu.