Ideas with Impact
UNB Faculty of Management

Students earn huge returns in UNB’s Venture Assessment course

Author: Liz Lemon-Mitchell

Posted on Aug 28, 2020

Category: Students , Programs , Alumni

There is a reason students describe UNB’s Venture Assessment course as “the epitome of experiential learning.” Students in this full-term course experience the world of venture capital first hand by learning how to analyse real start-ups for real cash investments; they test their knowledge on the national level by competing against other students across Canada in the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC), hosted by Saint Mary’s University (UNB’s students have won 1st prize twice in the past three years!); and in the past year, they’ve experienced what it is like to invest in start-ups from their very own student venture fund.

As part of the entrepreneurship concentration in the Faculty of Management, Venture Assessment is taught in partnership with the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF), an independent non-profit corporation that specializes in venture capital and research investments. Students work side by side with the NBIF staff conducting due diligence on their portfolio of start-ups and help to decide which ones are ready for venture funding. After BBA alumnus Charles Fraser (’68) established the Fraser Student Venture Fund a year ago, students have made their first investment in a local start-up from their own venture fund.

Fraser established this fund so that students could live the experience of investing in new ventures and contributing to the Atlantic Canadian economy. Their inaugural investment was with 3D Planeta, a company which uses satellite and drone technology to produce ‘true’ 3D image generation and visualization for use by defense, GIS, real estate, power companies and others.

“The students were involved in every aspect of the deal,” said Raymond Fitzpatrick, director of investments with NBIF and instructor of the Venture Assessment course. “They saw live pitches from the company, had a chance to do Q&A with the CEO, seek feedback from the investment committee, work alongside co-investors (NBIF) to share due diligence, create an investment memo, and a final pitch to the investment committee to seek approval.”

Sydney Rankin (BBA ’20), one of the students in the 2019-2020 cohort, said by immersing students into the world of entrepreneurship and venture capitalism, students learn first-hand the role venture capitalists play in boosting the regional economy. “Venture capital injects smart financing into these businesses enabling innovation. To have the opportunity to follow leading start-ups, immerse yourself in their mission, and then cut the real cheque that empowers scaling, is an experience unlike any other.”

You never know what will happen in an experiential course like Venture Assessment. Unlike a textbook with a concluding chapter, the narrative keeps unfolding. By the end of the recent school year, two students in the cohort ended up working full-time for 3D Planeta in business development, Daniel Purcell (MBA ’20) and Samer Alam (MBA/JD ’20). Sydney Rankin is now working with UNB’s International Business and Entrepreneurship Centre (IBEC). Of course, past and future students, along with members of the UNB and entrepreneurial communities will continue to follow the story of this first investment for years to come.

UNB’s Venture Assessment course is a prime example of how the Faculty of Management is able to deliver exceptional learning experiences to business students through its partnerships with industry and alumni.

For more information about the Venture Assessment class, contact Sydney Rankin.

Learn more about the Faculty of Management.

PHOTO: An excited group of UNB students show off the prizes they won at the 2020 Venture Capital Investment Competition hosted by Saint Mary’s University on March 6. Students are, left to right, Brandon McVicar, Simon Ferron, Alex Sutherland, Daniel Purcell, Robert Stepner, Amber Weekes, Holly Ayles, Sydney Rankin and Samer Alam with Raymond Fitzpatrick, Director of Investments at NBIF, on the far right.