March Madness MBA Style

BYU MBA students take second at international venture capital competition

PROVO, Utah – Apr 25, 2017 – North Carolina may have danced through March Madness to the NCAA championship, but on the Tar Heels’ own campus, it was BYU that made it all the way to the finals competing in the world’s most respected venture capital competition.

Consisting of five second-year MBA students, the BYU contingent placed second at the Venture Capital Investment Competition one year after winning the international event for the first time in school history. Mark Broadbent, from Gilbert, Arizona; David Christison, from Park City, Utah; Kevin Couch, from Cameron Park, California; Holly Preslar, from Sugar City, Idaho; and Jordan Roper, from Highland, Utah composed the team.

BYU joined eleven other regional champions at the University of North Carolina to compete in the championship rounds. Each team was introduced to four startup companies, then began the process of conducting due diligence on each deal. They spent time with each CEO, ultimately selecting one of the firms for an investment.

The teams were judged by professionals from more than a dozen investment firms on their ability to interface with the company's CEO, understand the deal and industry, produce an investment thesis, and then defend it in front of the judges and CEOs.

“It was fun to have a target on our backs,” Broadbent says. “We were the defending champs so people said, ‘Oh—there’s BYU.’”

Early on the second day, judges eliminated five teams. The remaining schools presented their investment plans, and after the final round of judging, Georgetown was awarded first place with BYU coming in second.

“This experience has been the highlight of my MBA,” Roper says. “It’s very real. BYU’s venture capital program is getting better and better and succeeding in competitions like this really shows that. The team finished behind Georgetown but ahead of other finalists, including Harvard, MIT, Chicago, and Wharton. It felt really good to be number two in the world.”

Gary Williams, the team’s faculty advisor, worked with the team for eight months in preparation. Williams teaches a two-year MBA track in venture capital and private equity and serves as the faculty advisor to BYU Cougar Capital.

“I consider this to be pure third-party validation—you can’t fake it,” Williams says. “This competition pit five students from Provo against five students from China, India, and other countries around the world. We are happy both for our team and the university and thankful to each of our team members for their outstanding work in representing BYU on a global stage.”

BYU MBA team members pose with their winnings on the UNC campus.

Media Contact: Jordan Christiansen (801) 422-8938
Writer: Abby Eyre