Sustainable Venture Capital – World Champions

Out of the ashes of multiple defeats comes the phoenix of victory – 2013 Sustainable Venture Capital Competition World Champions!

The MBS team headed to North Carolina for the global final in hope but not necessarily in expectation. But we did it – beating off competition from Oxford, Stern, Ross, Duke and UNC to take the top prize.

It’s been a long journey which started in the pain of narrow defeat in the school VCIC contest. As promised in my blog post at the time, the hurt spurred us along. There was no way we would be beaten easily this time. We had to jump numerous hurdles to simply make it to the USA – persuading UNC to invite us, getting MBS to fund us and finally making sure we had prepared well enough before travelling to the big show.

SVCIC Champions

The SVCIC Champion Team – myself, Aditya, Satpreet, Monica & Jamie

For those of you who are looking for more insight, a series of articles I wrote for the MBS blogs site are reproduced below:

Blog #1 – Preparation

Four weeks to go before we depart for Manchester Business School’s inaugural entry into the Sustainable Venture Capital International Competition (SVCIC) and the preparation has begun in earnest.

MBS has long entered a team into the standard Venture Capital Competition where participants play the part of VC’s, picking a business plan to invest in (from a selection of four) and negotiating with an entrepreneur to buy a stake in the enterprise. SVCIC, however, adds a new dimension. Whilst you still look at which business will deliver the greatest return on investment you also now need to take into account the impact any investment will have on the external environment and question the sustainability of the business model.

Both of these contests fall outside the main core of the MBA programme. They do, however, provide some of the most intense learning moments of the course.  Analysing live business plans and taking decisions based on real evidence forces you to apply your classroom learning and challenges your thinking more than any textbooks or lectures can. The competitive format adds an additional frisson. You are competing against other teams (from your own school in the preliminary round and from the world’s top business schools in the final rounds) and the innate desire of “Type-A” MBA’s to finish number one inevitably creates an cutthroat battleground.

More to come from the team on our preparation but for now we’re tucked away to bone up our knowledge on the sustainability, cleantech and renewables industries.

Blog #2 – One day to go

Twenty four hours to go before it all kicks off in earnest and the adrenaline is now beginning to pump.

In one day’s time we will be receiving the live business plans for the sustainable venture capital international competition. We will then be expected to pick one of those plans to invest in and prepare our case before we fly out to North Carolina to deliver it.

We’ve tried to cover as many bases so we can be as prepared as possible for the plans’ arrival but there’s bound to be something that comes out of leftfield at us.

We’ve had sessions with sustainability professors to understand the latest trends in the sphere and how projects are evaluated for their long term impact. We’ve sat down with venture capitalists to try and burrow into their mindset and understand their investment criteria. Last, but no means least, we’ve also spent many hours together as a team making sure that everyone is clear about their roles so that no time is wasted once the contest begins.

We’ve split the tasks to suit everyone’s strengths. Monica is our sustainability expert so will handle the environmental and social evaluation of the proposals. Jamie comes from a finance background so is in charge of company valuation. Satpreet will look after the due diligence questions and Aditya is our researcher and will pull together the presentation. I will be responsible for co-ordination and writing the term sheet we need to submit (i.e. the terms and conditions we would need before we would invest in a company).

The clock continues to tick – wish us luck!

Blog #3 – Champions

World Champions!

I write this at Chicago O’ Hare airport, slumped in my seat, tired but still ecstatic after a four day blur that saw the Manchester Business School team win the 2013 global final of the Sustainable Venture Capital International Competition (SVCIC).

I still can’t believe we did it, beating top b-schools from the US and Europe to the prize. As the winners name was read out I stayed rooted to the spot, unable to believe what I’d just heard, whilst my team mates cavorted around like dizzy spring lambs, high on victory.

The process didn’t start well; we almost missed the flight due to chaos at Manchester airport and continued in a jet lagged blur until we reached the host school – UNC Kenen Flagler in North Carolina. There we had a brief chance to chat with the competing teams before hearing the business plan pitches from three sustainable/social entrepreneurs. We then had half an hour to confirm the questions we wanted to ask them before we were thrown into a due diligence session. The challenge there was to establish a good rapport with the entrepreneurs so they felt comfortable enough to answer our probing questions. All this with hawk-eyed judges sitting over our shoulder, assessing us on whether we were asking the right questions.

Finally, we had to present our investment recommendation to all the judges who then had a chance to grill us on our VC knowledge in an intense question and answer session.

You’ll hear more in due course about the ingredients for this momentous success but needless to say it involved teamwork, dynamism, hard graft and determination mixed with a dollop of luck.

I’ll say it again to make it seem more real: we did it. MBS 2013 SVCIC world champions!!!

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