Two Days Prior to Event
5:00 p.m. – Receive Pitch Decks
You will receive business plans by email at 5pm in the host school’s time zone. Make sure you can receive large files by email. Some university email systems catch it as spam. You have less than two days to do a month’s worth of due diligence. It is imperative that your team has a strategy for handling this workload. During this time your team needs to:
- Read the materials supplied by the entrepreneurs
- Thoroughly research all the startups (do not dismiss a plan yet)
- Fully prepare for due diligence sessions, including a list of questions and strategy for each entrepreneur (see tips)
- Create deliverables templates based on possible investment scenarios, leaving plenty of room to adjust things as you learn more at the event.
- Don’t forget the rules — no help from anyone outside of your team.
Evening before Event
Recommended arrival time for traveling teams.
Day of Event
Most MBA events are on Fridays. Most undergraduate events are on Saturdays.
8:00 a.m. – Team Check-In
You’ll have a chance to check out the facilities, find your study room, connect to the host school’s Wi-Fi and generally get the lay of the land. Arrive on time and go to your study room to continue preparing for due diligence. Organizers will walk through the schedule and take questions. Coffee, bagels and pastries are usually served (check with host).
9:00 a.m. – Venture Pitches
Each startup has 10-12 minutes to pitch. No questions are allowed during the presentations. Slides are not distributed, other than whatever materials were emailed prior to the event. Take good notes and be prepared to ask specific questions during due diligence that follow up on assertions made by the founders.
10:00 a.m. – Due Diligence
After watching the presentations, each team will have 14-minutes with each entrepreneur. This session is your chance to get any information you need directly from the entrepreneur to make your decision. It is also the first opportunity you have to show off in front of judges, who will only get to score your performance with one entrepreneur (they can only be in one place at a time). Hence, your team needs to be on its game for all Q&A sessions. Think of these deals as having been referred to you by a respected colleague or a limited partner. Even if you know you cannot fund the deal, you will have to explain your decision thoughtfully.
Make sure you get the information you need. Don’t just run through a list of questions. The judges want to see that you know what information you need and that you are skilled at getting it. If a founder evades a question, be sure to follow up, but be cognizant of the need to build rapport, especially if you intend to put a term sheet down for this deal. Generally it is better if all teammates participate in the Q&A, though you should come with a strategy that fits your team. For example, if you have a teammate or two who are not great verbal communicators, you might introduce them as analysts who will be taking notes, or figure out some other way to explain the value they are bringing.
Questions to consider for due diligence:
- Who asks the questions? Are we all equally skilled at asking questions?
- Is there someone who should not ask questions? Who decides which questions to ask? Who decides when we move on to the next question or when we probe further for the information we are seeking?
- How do we handle talkative or reticent entrepreneurs?
- How do we create “rapport” with entrepreneurs?
- What is our technique for getting good answers, not just asking questions?
- Do we have a tone we’d like to take? Are we friendly? Enthused? Poker-faced? Rushed? Are we united in tone? Good cop, bad cop?
- How do we balance showing the judges what we know or getting information out of the entrepreneur?
- Do we pretend that we care about the answers even if we already know we would not invest in this entrepreneur?
- Should we express our interest or apathy in the deal?
- Should we try and negotiate preliminary deal terms during the session?
- Should we use the same strategy with all entrepreneurs or try different techniques?
1:00 p.m. – Written Deliverables
You only have a couple of hours to make strategic investment decisions and finalize deliverables (and eat lunch). The executive summary covers all deals: why you will or will not invest. Make sure it explains your investment decision. Be sure to prioritize bullets to make your analysis clear. Be aware that judges are under extreme time pressure, too, and if you over complicate things, even if it is brilliant, it may distract. You have up to three pages of appendices to further make your point (with graphs, charts, comparables or whatever). Teams are highly encouraged to use the supplied Team Deliverables Template. Judges will receive your deliverables as you enter the room for your Partner Meeting. Entrepreneurs should only see the Term Sheet Summary, and again, they get it right as you enter the room for negotiations.
1:30 p.m. – Partner Meetings
Each team sits down with the judging panel around a boardroom table. You have 15 minutes to explain your investment decision to the judges and demonstrate your VC abilities. Judges will have just received your written deliverables. This session simulates an investment committee partner meeting in which junior partners or associates bring in a deal. You have the floor for this 15 minute session, but you should expect to be interrupted.
3:45 Negotiations (top two teams only, MBA only)
You have 10 minutes to further demonstrate your VC abilities to the judges. You won’t be judged on getting to a deal, but you will be penalized if you are not truly negotiating, see Judging Criteria. Your entrepreneur will have just received a copy of your term sheet summary. There are many strategies for negotiating. This is something your team should practice with local entrepreneurs before you come to a regional finals.
4:45 p.m. – VC Round Robin
After winners are announced, each team gets one-on-one time with each judge. Many students say that this is the best part of the day. We recommend you avoid the temptation to ask “why didn’t we win” and use the discussion as an opportunity to build your network. Ask the VC which deal they would have chosen, how they would have structured the deal, what risks they saw in the deal, etc. If you find a judge who voted your team #1, spend extra time connecting and make sure to get a business card.
5:30 p.m. – Networking Event
Past participants strongly encourage you to take advantage of this networking session where you will connect with other students who share your interest in venture capital. For those of you who are highly motivated to pursue this career, these contacts you make at VCIC can be invaluable.
Morning after the Event
Recommended departure time for traveling teams.