The chosen group will go on to compete against some of the best universities in Europe during the MBA Europe North Regional Finals.
Twenty-four students battled it out to compete for a spot on Saïd Business School, University of Oxford’s official Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) team.
The VCIC is the world’s largest student venture capital competition with over 120 university and graduate school teams competing, according to its organisers.
The unique opportunity provides a platform for students to become venture capitalists for the day, investing in start-ups as an accelerator for the fundraising process, putting into practice the academic elements they have acquired from the MBA and Executive MBA programmes’ established faculty members at Oxford Saïd.
This initiative is driven by the school’s Entrepreneurship Centre (EC), spearheaded by its academic director, Pinar Ozcan, and director, Maria Zubeldia, all in support of students’ dreams to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions through an exceptional experiential learning experience with a focus on innovation.
Reflecting on the process, Maria said, ‘Students did an outstanding job and prepared thoroughly to pitch to the panel, so the decision was not easy. The selected team is highly complementary, and I have no doubt that they will do a great job representing Oxford at the VCIC competition.’
Round one concluded with the successful appointment of four additional VCIC team members to join co-leads, Lerato Molefe, Esq. (EMBA candidate), and Simon Kotlerman, Esq. (MBA candidate), for the regional finals. The chosen students are Jessica Barford, Diego Rojas Arancibia, Sarin Boivin-Picard, Dr Aviv Yehezkel, and Zorawer Singh.
Team co-leaders, Simon and Lerato, are a case in point for the quality and composition of the Oxford team. Executive MBA student Lerato combines a background in M&A law, execution and strategy for financial and governance acumen that is anchored in inclusive, values-based leadership. She is the executive director of Naaya, a niche investment and advisory firm she founded in 2013 that helps clients manage and navigate strategic and legal risk in transactions and operations across Africa, with a special focus on technology and media clients.
As an MBA candidate for the class of 2023 at Oxford Saïd, Simon is very involved in the entrepreneurship and venture capital ecosystem at the school and beyond, fully utilising the fantastic suite of co-curricular activities to support his studies and fulfil his future career goals. He currently serves as co-chair of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Oxford Business Network (OBN), investment director at the Oxford Seed Fund, venture consultant at the Creative Destruction Lab, and selected member of the Oxford Saïd Finance Lab.
Reflecting on the process in the run up to the competition and beyond, he said: ‘Besides the professional training by top venture capital (VC) experts we partake in during our preparation for the competition, the professional content we were exposed to during the year through our classes and engagement with industry experts organised by the School and the Entrepreneurship Centre certainly provide us with a strong fundament for success in the competition. It also demonstrates the type of co-curricular activities students get involved in whilst studying at Oxford Saïd, providing an immersive vocational learning experience along with a regular one.’
The MBA programme and EMBA programme allow students to participate in a range of global competitions to facilitate their development whilst studying. Some of these include Amazon Pathways MBA Challenge, Bank of America Investment Banking Challenge, Yale Global Network Stock Trading Competition and Hermes GPE Private Markets Challenge. However, the VCIC tends to be a year-on-year favourite amongst all classes.
‘Both VCIC, and Oxford Seed Fund, give students a real and unique experience in the venture capital industry, preparing them to negotiate with VCs as an entrepreneur, enter employment at a VC firm, or even start their own fund,’ said James Murray, head of partnerships at EC and Oxford Seed Fund.
The talented group are currently preparing to compete in the MBA Europe North Regional Finals hosted by Cranfield University, seeing the best universities in Northern Europe, including the UK, compete for a place in the global final. Team pitches will address a chosen start-up to invest in, and the prominent business schools in Europe will battle it out for the top spot to progress onto the final in the United States.
For this stage, Simon, is hopeful: ‘I am positive that we selected a brilliant team of dedicated professionals from a variety of backgrounds who are keen to work hard to bring the trophy back to Saïd.’