MBA students compete in semi-finals for the Venture Capital Investment Competition

On February 28, 2020, a group of Cal State East Bay MBA students from our One-Year Intensive MBA and Executive MBA with a concentration in Global Innovation programs competed at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth in the semi-finals for the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC), a training ground for future venture capitalists. Cal State East Bay students competed against Cornell, Yale, Boston University, Carnegie Mellon, and University of Rochester. 

A perspective from Dr. Glen Taylor – Director, One-Year Intensive MBA and Executive MBA with a concentration in Global Innovators

VCIC is unique -- there is nothing else like it anywhere in the world.  It is a truly global competition. It is NOT a business plan competition. It is more like a job interview to become a venture capitalist. The judges are venture capitalists and they evaluate the students in a live setting with real founders to see how well the students can play the role of the new venture investor. But this is not a finance competition -- it is a strategy competition. We have been waiting for years to be accepted into this competition. When one of our students -- Suvra Roy -- heard that the Harvard team had dropped out of the semi-finals, we jumped in to take their place. Our students took a deep breath and said they wanted to be contenders, and they achieved that goal, ending up in fourth place overall, and in third place in the 'due diligence' phase. Faculty members Izzet Darendeli and Alex Makarevich volunteered as faculty advisors, giving us a chance to build our capacity to continue to be involved in this competition in the future. 

Our students are incredible. They spent so many nights and weekends for many weeks preparing for the competition. One of the students is a mother with three children under the age of five, and carrying a load of five courses per semester. Imagine the level of commitment it takes to make the time necessary for this level of competition.  When the students entered the competition they had no idea how much there was to learn, but even as they discovered how serious this would be, their commitment never waivered. The deeper they got into the competition, the more they realized how hard they would need to push themselves to be ready for the big event. Their dedication was really inspiring. The team went one day in advance just to be able to compete on a level playing field with the east coast schools. It was not until the day of the competition that they learned that some of the students from other schools were already working in venture capital. That was a shock, but they took it in stride. They knew they were into something big but they did not go to the competition to lose, they went to compete and to prove something to themselves, and perhaps to all of us as well.  The other schools had many years of institutional experience in the competition and knew how to navigate the complex rules better than we did, but our students did a great job of learning on the fly and scored very well in areas like 'due diligence' where they placed third in the competition.  

The students will remember this experience for a very long time. Strong friendships developed in the heat of the competition. They will remember how hard they all worked together and they will remember what it felt like to go toe-to-toe with students from some of the top business schools in the world. We have great students, and competitions like this remind them that with hard work they can compete with the best. Even though they did not win, they have told us they want to support the next team, and to see Cal State East Bay back at it again and again  -- and maybe one day have the number one team in the world.

We did all of this with the support of the Dean’s Innovation Fund, with additional help from student Jimmy Shi, who provided company office meeting space in Boston and a van to transport the team, as well as accommodations for an extra night in Boston. That is who they are, and that is why the students are proud to show how much they can do on a shoestring budget by the sheer force of their hard work, their resilient attitudes and their team spirit. This was an experience they will never forget.

“Between the start-up pitch event hosted by Assistant Professor Darendelli and the VCIC competition, being able to see the holistic view gave me the final push to seriously pursue entrepreneurship.” Jimmy Shi, MBA alumnus

Cal State East Bay has been invited to compete in VCIC 2021 – virtually. The team will compete in the Silicon Valley region against UC Berkeley, Santa Clara University, San Diego Diego State University, UC Davis and University of San Francisco in February. We now have two excellent and experienced faculty advisors, Izzet Darendeli and Alex Makarevich, and a team of students willing to help show the way for the next team. Our students belong in this competition. 

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