MBA Students Take First at Utah Venture Capital Case Competition

PROVO, Utah – Jan 15, 2021 – A team of students from the MBA program at the BYU Marriott School of Business took first place at the Utah Venture Capital Case Competition on 18 November 2020. As part of the competition, students sourced a deal with a company that helps entrepreneurs build mobile apps, gaining skills that will help them build their future careers.

The winning team included Stephanie Maynes Aldous, a fourth-year, JD-MBA student from Studio City, California; and second-year MBA students Kailey Battaglia from Lagos, Portugal; Michelle Dangerfield from Amherst, Virginia; and Angela Smith from St. George, Utah.

Smith says the choice to have an all-women team was deliberate. “Our team found statistics from Tech Crunch that reported that women receive only about 3 percent of venture capital funding. I wanted to create a team of women because we have a different perspective and will make sure that female entrepreneurs are represented and supported,” she says.

The team's critical-thinking and problem-solving skills were put to the test throughout the competition. “One of the unique aspects of a venture capital case competition is the limited amount of data that the students must work with as they make their recommendations on a deal,” says Gary Williams, BYU Marriott teaching professor of entrepreneurship and the team’s faculty advisor. “At the highest level, venture capital is a test of students’ critical thinking skills, their awareness of the ‘deal drivers,’ and their ability to develop and defend a coherent investment thesis.”

Team members had already honed some of those skills as they participated in BYU Cougar Capital, a BYU Marriott student organization that works closely with established venture capital and private equity firms on deals. Students in BYU Cougar Capital source deals and perform due diligence with the guidance of Williams, their faculty mentor.

The team members turned their preparation into action as they searched for a company to present to the judges at the competition. The Utah Venture Capital Case Competition allowed teams to pick their own companies as the focus of their presentations, so the team decided to source Tequity, a company that allows entrepreneurs to design their own mobile apps. Team members reached out to Sydney Davis, the founder of Tequity, after hearing her speak at the More Equity Pitch Competition sponsored by Harlem Capital.

“Sydney is the type of CEO any investor would love to work with,” says Smith. “She has been developing apps for more than ten years and noticed that a lot of the people who wanted to hire her couldn't afford the cost of an app developer. One of the main reasons our team chose Sydney and her company is because she has created a platform that is trying to make the tech industry more inclusive by removing a high barrier to entry for a lot of female and minority founders trying to launch their companies.”

Team members worked with Davis to better understand her company, then they presented their work to a panel of judges at the competition. As the students faced the judges, they felt prepared to answer any questions because of their previous experiences in BYU Cougar Capital. “We had no idea what to expect from the judging process,” says Aldous. “The organizers didn't provide a rubric, so we had to guess what they were going to judge us on, but we understood the typical VC’s due diligence process from our time in BYU Cougar Capital. We also knew we had sourced a good company and put in the time to understand the market and competitive landscape. Our preparation allowed us to present confidently and anticipate the judges’ questions.”

Aldous says the competition, along with their experiences at BYU Cougar Capital, has helped prepare the four women to be successful in their careers. “Every time I source and perform diligence on a deal, I learn something new. Sometimes it's related to how an investor might evaluate a deal. Other times, I learn things about the inner workings of the company from the management's perspective. The more deals I evaluate, the more patterns of success I'm able to see.”

From left to right: fourth-year JD-MBA student Stephanie Maynes Aldous; and second-year MBA students Kailey Battaglia, Michelle Dangerfield, and Angela Smith.
From left to right: fourth-year JD-MBA student Stephanie Maynes Aldous; and second-year MBA students Kailey Battaglia, Michelle Dangerfield, and Angela Smith.

Media Contact: Chad Little: (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kenna Pierce