Dartmouth Hosts VCIC Regional Competition

Founders, VCs and future investors gathered over the weekend for the Northeast Regional Venture Capital Investment Competition.

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Six teams of students gathered virtually on Saturday to participate in the Northeast Regional Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) competition, hosted by Dartmouth. The event was organized by the Magnuson Center and the Tuck School of Business. 

The VCIC event gives student teams the opportunity to be venture capitalists for a day. Teams listen to pitches from real startups, conduct due diligence, write a term sheet and executive summary, and participate in partner meetings. They are evaluated by real-world venture capitalists. 

“It’s pretty impressive how good these undergrads are,” Jim Feuille  D’79, event organizer and the executive director of the Center for Private Equity and Venture Capital at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, told the judges. “You’re going to be shocked that they’re 19 and 20 years old.”

Sam Crombie D’23, a member of the Magnuson Student Leadership Board, helped organize the event.

“VCIC is a great introduction into venture capital for undergraduates, and the competition is both an informative and exciting experience,” he said. 

VCIC Northeast Regional Results

On Saturday, a team of undergrads from Miami University Ohio placed first for the second year in a row. 

“There’s a lot more that goes into the VC world than people expect,” said Alexa Bolena, speaking on behalf of her team. The competition is a chance to learn about the inner workings of venture capital investment, and also work closely with a team of entrepreneurial-minded students, she said. 

“You learn a ton and grow as a professional and a team.”

The team from Miami University Ohio will go on to participate in the VCIC Global Finals, held in person at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill on April 8-9. 

A team from the University of Connecticut placed second; while a team from Amherst College received the Entrepreneurs’ Choice award, given to the favorite team of the participating founders. 

Teams from the University of Pittsburgh, the United States Air Force Academy and James Madison University also participated. 

“I hope it’s a great learning experience for everyone and everyone got a learning opportunity out of it,” said Feuille. 

Dartmouth MBA and undergraduate teams, led by Feuille, competed at the New England Regional competition, hosted in January at Boston University. Both the graduate and undergrad teams placed first in their divisions and will be competing in the VCIC Global Finals. 

Evaluating Real Startups

The teams participating in the VCIC competition gathered information on three real-world startups, mirroring the process that the companies are going through as they seek VC investment. AskFora, founded by Omer Trajman, is a networking company that allows independent contractors to connect with job leads from their existing social media contacts. VisionIQ, founded by Kenny To, aims to improve patient outcomes by harnessing artificial intelligence in pathology. Bookclubs, founded by Anna Ford, is a networking and community-building platform for book clubs and book enthusiasts. 

Bookclubs was voted the most VC-backable startup by the participating teams. Student investors were impressed with Ford’s strong knowledge of her users. They saw a strong product market fit, with the potential for advertising from both publishers and adjacent consumer brands. 

Participating in the competition benefitted Ford as well. 

“This is great practice for me,” she said. “I have several pitches next week so the timing couldn’t be more perfect.”

She said that the students represented the passionate and informed investors that every founder is looking for.

“You guys were awesome, and I was so impressed with your preparation,” she said, adding that the competition was similar to her real experiences interacting with investors.

“It is a two way street and I’m in this now,” she said.

That’s exactly why Crombie enjoys participating in VCIC. Facilitating the events that Dartmouth hosts helps ensure that there’s interest from future generations of Dartmouth students, he said. 

“I find it very exciting to have the opportunity to interact with such a diverse group of individuals — operators, investors, and others,” he said.