An interdisciplinary team that includes Berkeley MBA students won the regional Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) at Santa Clara University Friday, Feb. 10. The CrossCal Associates team will go on to the international competition at the University of North Carolina's Kenan Flagler Business School in April.
The team consists of Blake Briddell, Chris Hallas, and Eric Palm, all MBA 13; and engineering PhD students Guillermo Garcia and Kelly Karns. The team won $1,500 and a place in the international finals to compete against the winners of nine other regional competitions.
The VCIC puts students in the shoes of venture capitalists evaluating the business plans of entrepreneurs as potential investments. Brigham Young placed second. Other competitors included USC and USF.
Team Leader Hallas says CrossCal negotiated a better price than other teams, with judges noting that they were the only team to push back with the entrepreneurs and to have a strong rationale for “moving the price in our favor.”
Skills from the Leading People course helped the team finesse the pricing arguments in their favor during the entrepreneur negotiation. “We couldn't just push down the valuation,” says Hallas. “The entrepreneurs have to see that you are a supporter and a partner. We negotiated in such a way that they could see our point and respect our position.”
Andy Laszlo, MBA 97, a competition judge and independent VC, says the team effectively controlled their meetings and negotiations. “They best approximated how venture capitalists would and should operate.” Hallas says judges also praised the cohesiveness of CrossCal's team and their poise in presentation.
The team bought drinks for all competitors following the Santa Clara competition, but plan to have their own celebration—and then get back to work, analyzing their performance and seeking additional insights from the Santa Clara VC judges.