24 hours on from the climax of the Manchester MBA’s Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) school heat and I’m still numb with fatigue and disappointment. Our team came within a gnat’s leg hair of snatching the prize. First place was tied with another team so it went to a judges vote. We were pipped to the title on a split decision.I can’t say that coming second and being named the entrepreneurs favourite team is any consolation. In fact it actually feels worse. It’s like losing the premier league title on goal difference. You’re haunted by those “what if’s” that may have cost you the big one. Better to be well beaten and sleep soundly in the knowledge that you weren’t in with a chance anyway. Not much can be done about that now though. All we can do is follow Fergie’s example and vow that it will never happen again.
The VCIC is all about walking a mile in the shoes of a venture capitalist, assessing investments and negotiating with entrepreneurs. A kind of Dragon’s Den for MBA’s. It all kicked off about two weeks ago with the school preliminary contest where thirteen teams were whittled down to five. That involved a couple of late nights evaluating a VC case study. We had to decide what the company was worth, how much we should invest and put together a term sheet with the clauses we wanted in the deal. Our Anglo-Sino-Indian team managed to put together a solid proposition and make it through to the school final with the chance to travel to London in March to represent MBS in the regional heat if we were to become the Manchester champions.
The school final replicates the regional and global contest format. It’s like the investment process on amphetamines. At 5:30pm on Thursday evening you are handed four business plans. You then work deep into the night deciding which one to invest and then doing as much of the valuation and term sheet as you can as there certainly won’t be enough time to do them the next day. Our team of four eventually got to bed at 5am so we could build up a sleep bank of three hours for the final push.
D-day kicks off the following morning with a presentation from each of the entrepreneurs on their business. No questions are allowed as you spend the following hour and a half in intensive due diligence sessions. You are expected to push them on any areas of concern you have about their firms and expose any hidden gremlins that may be lurking. You then have to make your final decision and hand in your term sheet and an investment hypothesis explaining why you invested in a particular company and not in the others.
There then follows a short chance to practice your negotiation strategy before you are summoned to the debating chamber to face the music. We were second up so our preparation was pretty scrambled. We then had fifteen minutes to negotiate a deal with our chosen entrepreneur before facing a severe grilling about our strategy from a panel of hostile judges.
When the final reckoning came in, late on Friday evening, we finished just short. So no glory for us, no showdown in London with the best in Europe and no car with the thin tyres. But we did get a hell of a lot of learning in a short space of time in what was certainly the most engaging and stimulating MBA experience so far.