It is the host’s responsibility to raise the funding needed for prize money and food, approximately $2,000 in the U.S. or $3,500 in Europe (net $1,500 if you subtract the entry fee your school will not have to pay as a host). We are often asked what is the best strategy for fundraising. With 20 years and more than 100 regional finals events, we’ve seen everything! Some schools have recruited sponsors to host lavish dinners and give iPod Nanos to every participant. Others bootstrap with pizza and pretzels.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, we have learned a few fundraising lessons for VCIC events:
- Bootstrapping is appreciated. Nobody comes for the food or other fancy trappings that are often expected at typical MBA recruiting events. Your focus should be on getting great VCs and great startups.
- VCs are (usually) terrible sponsors. It is not in their DNA. They don’t have have recruiting or marketing budgets from which they can write big checks.
- Cobble it together, mostly internally. If you have a strong lead for a big sponsor, by all means chase it down. But most host schools report success cobbling together numerous smaller amounts, often from internal sources, who see the benefit of this prestigious event on campus.
These are generalizations and not rules! You’ll need to pick the right fundraising strategy for your school.
Of course, you can spend far more on catering, gifts and other items if you feel they will improve your event. We caution that you don’t allow yourself to get distracted; your focus should be on recruiting VCs and startups, and then running a tight ship.