Business students win competition third time

August PelliccioNews Writer

The Venture Capital Investment Competition trophy rotates from winning team to new winning team each year; any team who wins three times gets to keep and display the trophy for life.

This is exactly the honor bestowed upon Paige Decker, Mike Sullivan, and Tyler Fedak after their Dec. 11 VCIC triumph. Associate professor of finance David Tyson explained the nature of the competition: students from various schools around the state submit business proposals to be evaluated by student judges from other schools. Tyson and professor Han Yu both advise students who wish to participate in the competition.

Yu said the format of the competition could be directly compared with ABC’s “Shark Tank.” In Southern’s case, students acted as the “sharks.”

“We gave some feedback, asked questions, and we picked the best presenter,” said Yu.

Tyson said that before the competition, student judges were given some preliminary information about each business model in order to develop critical questions and analyze the proposals.

At the presentation itself, however, Decker, Sullivan and Fedak were on their own.

“It’s just the team members representing themselves,” Yu said, “We basically serve as the audience.”

Along with the student judges, Yu explained there were career venture capitalists that also judged business proposals. The way to win the competition as a team of student judges is to make choices most similar to the professionals.

Yu said unlike Shark Tank, which is optimized for television – dramatic, and performance oriented – VCIC participants rigorously prepare for the event, and break down each proposal.

“Valuation methods for small businesses are a lot different than valuation methods for large companies,” Decker said, for example. “Therefore, we had to look into the assets versus the liabilities in order to value the companies and try to project what we thought future sales would be.”

Decker said profit margin was one of the key statistics to consider in this valuation.

Critical considering like this meant these Southern students flourished in competition, which according to Tyson, was not surprising considering the three have done well in his classes.

“We now have the opportunity to move on to the next round of the VCIC challenge in Boston where we will compete with other schools in the region,” said Decker. “This is the more challenging competition and we are excited for this next opportunity to complete.

Their reward for Dec. 11 was the trophy which is now proudly displayed in the School of Business’s dean’s office, and a monetary prize to cover travel expenses for Boston, according to the VCIC website.

For the last three years Southern has taken the Connecticut trophy, but Decker said they have not yet placed in the national competition in Boston.

Yu and Tyson both explained that any students interested in participating are welcome for next year’s competition. Yu said this opportunity is not even limited to students in the school of business. She said if an engineering, computer science or biology student, for example, had a proposal to contribute, they could.

Tyson said, “we keep encouraging people to do it, and it’s a good way to apply what we learn in some of the classes.”

Photo Courtesy: David Tyson


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