Queen's University

Creating the next generation of venture capitalists

Previous participants in the Tricolour Venture Fund – Team Red – listen to a product explanation from a local company seeking investment.

Students in Commerce and the Queen’s MBA program can conclude their degrees by participating in the Tricolour Venture Fund, the first student-advised venture capital fund in the country. The initiative aims to support the development of a robust venture capital industry in Canada, one that can consistently birth large, innovative companies.

One of the main learning objectives of the course is how to make a sound, high-risk investment, which means understanding the due diligence process. Students evaluate business plans, financial reports, and organization behaviours of one or two companies. Like on an episode of CBC’s Dragon’s Den, they then present and defend their recommendations to a board made up of past and current venture investors.

“It’s superb from a pedagogical perspective, and we get to make a difference,” says Elspeth Murray, an associate professor and associate dean of MBA Programs and Director, Queen’s Centre for Business Venturing (QCBV). “The money put in is really helpful for these new companies. They leverage it with other government funding to stay alive for another day and do really innovative work.”

Another benefit is that students see how to negotiate that difficult start-up phase in the life of a young company. While many courses are available on entrepreneurialism, very few focus on the investor side. Understanding this perspective early is vital to successful start-ups.

“The Tricolour Venture Fund provides valuable insight into how venture capitalists fund start-ups and what they look for in a pitch,” says Simon Hamilton, a recent Queen’s MBA graduate and co-founder of Cibo Systems, a new restaurant management system using social media. “It gave me the confidence and knowledge to successfully pitch our company to potential investors.”

Over a four-month period, students work with actual start-ups and their stakeholders, and make recommendations for real venture investments. Venture investments are the riskiest kinds of investment, but also potentially the most lucrative and game-changing.

The Tricolour Venture Fund in a partnership between QCBV, PARTEQ, and alumni who generously donated $5-million in seed money.

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Last updated at 10:25 am EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
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