UVA’s Virginia Venture Fund held its second annual Shark Tank competition last Friday Rouss and Robertson Hall. The Virginia Venture Fund is a student run venture fund and is one of the first of its kind in in the country.
The mission of VVF is to educate students about the venture capital and entrepreneurial process including: networking, completing due diligence on potential deals, partnering with investors, investing in start-up companies, maintaining and expanding a portfolio, incubating entrepreneurial ideas, and gathering the resources of the University of Virginia to help entrepreneurial growth. Part of the group’s mission is to hold Shark Tank-like events throughout the year. These events would encompass VVF board members listening to start-up pitches, investing in a select number of ideas, and acting as mentors or for the student ideas that they choose to fund. They would work with the entrepreneurs to help their ideas develop into fruition.
This year’s Shark Tank Competition had four finalists:
- Crooked Trails: a food truck offering a variety of grain & green salads and healthy breakfast items to UVA students, the greater Charlottesville population, and festival goers in the area. The Crooked Trails brand will promote healthy-living and sustainability by offering a variety of fresh, affordable menu items, and operating out of a food truck that relies on sustainable energy, and strives to eliminate waste.
- Relish: To connect MBAs with Recruiters, job opportunities are posted to the service at pre-selected schools and/or for types of students, as designated by the recruiters. This aspect furthers MBAs’ recruiting efforts by providing them with job opportunities and contact information they may have otherwise been unaware of on campus.
- Styler: an e-commerce platform that offers the opportunity for artists to feature their merchandise and one that would reward users for attracting buyers by creating unique outfits using their items.
- ImpediCine: aims to provide collaboration between CHF patients and Physicians as well as empower CHF patients to manage their condition, increases effectiveness of CHF treatment and lower the costs for insurance companies and uninsured patients
These four companies, started and run by students, each received up to $3000. The final amount is pending due diligence and further conversations with each of the respective companies by VVF.
Matt Brown, an intern at OpenGrounds and VVF Founder, describes the event as a “fast paced series of pitches by innovative students looking for funding from fellow students.” What is unique about this is that very often, classical venture capitalists have a different view of the world than those they fund.
This is not the case with VVF and their competitions; those competing for funding will eventually be funded by people within a similar age-group and thus with a similar view of the world. Sometimes, that can make all the difference when it comes to investments that succeed.
OpenGrounds encourages the kind of entrepreneurial spirit prevalent in competitions such as VVF’s Shark Tank and hopes to see and facilitate more events of this nature in the future.
Finally, the OpenGrounds team would like to congratulate the companies who received funding and the VVF team for putting together a formidable event.