Student Run Venture Funds — Cornell, UMich, PSU

Business plan competitions have long been a must ‘participate’ activity for students wanting to launch their own ventures. But another group of students, those wanting to be venture capitalists, often enter competitions in order to learn about bplans, financial projections, and also to network with venture capitalists and other financiers/professional service providers that judge, sponsor, and attend competitions.

Another tool that schools are using in order to teach and support entrepreneurship are student run venture funds. Though less well known than competitions and obviously harder to offer (due to capital needs) they are interesting to look at as learning tools and also in order to see if these student VCs can perform better than the pros.

WSJ writer Christopher Zinsli offers a piece on some student run funds and the students who manage them.

A handful of business schools are experimenting with giving students free rein over how to invest millions of dollars. These programs function much like real-world venture firms, but they face unique obstacles and remain unproven ventures.

Student venture capitalists do nearly everything their professional counterparts do — sourcing and selecting deals, negotiating terms, counseling portfolio companies — with minimal interference from college administrators and advisers. Investment decisions, researched and recommended by committees of students based on their areas of study, are voted on by the full groups, which can consist of up to 30 students.

The article mentions funds at U of Michigan (Wolverine Venture Fund) , Cornell (Big Red Ventures), and Penn State U (Garber Venture Capital Fund).