BATON ROUGE – Thirty-eight students from LSU’s E. J. Ourso College of Business completed the third cohort of the Venture Capital Apprentice Program, or VCAP, a project formed by NexusLA, Innovation Catalyst and the Red Stick Angel Network in collaboration with LSU’s E. J. Ourso College of Business. Also participating in this cohort were business consultants from LSU’s Innovation Park.
In the fall 2021 school semester, the third cohort of VCAP included students from the LSU Department of Finance’s venture capital course taught by Mike Kirby, retired co-founder of Stonehenge Capital, and from the LSU Flores MBA Program’s entrepreneurial consulting course, taught by Steven Perret, an adjunct faculty member with the LSU Stephenson Department of Entrepreneurship & Information Systems. The students formed 12 teams and worked with the following local companies: Research Defender, Bioceptive, Basic Fitness, Smalls Sliders, Iconic Moments, chckup, Cremmjoy, Workaru, Pedego, Agilify, La. Revival and Thumb.
“VCAP was designed to provide participating LSU students with real-world finance and business-related experience, along with networking and employment opportunities,” said Bill Ellison, CEO of Innovation Catalyst and the Red Stick Angels. “It also provides high-growth Louisiana-based companies, who require finance, accounting, and market research support services, with a team of smart and motivated students.”
Throughout VCAP, student teams participated in various projects to assist their partner companies in preparing a competitor and market research analysis, a fundraising pitch deck, a multi-year financial model, and a strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, or SWOT, analysis. Students also identified public relations opportunities and crafted press releases and created the structure and financial model to fund women, minorities and veterans.
“The students worked closely with the management teams of local companies as opposed to working on a theoretical academic exercise. Providing this type of practical real-world application of the LSU Department of Finance curriculum is an incredibly valuable and unique opportunity for our students,” said Rajesh Narayanan, LSU Department of Finance Chair.
VCAP is one of the opportunities LSU offers students to prepare them for life after graduation and successful careers.
“There is no better way to understand business challenges and opportunities than to consult directly with CEOs of startup companies that are living it every day,” Perret said. “The VCAP project allowed select MBA students to apply their knowledge of operations, accounting, marketing, and personal experience to deliver an entrepreneurial consulting project based on the company’s current needs. The learning that occurred during this project is invaluable to both the student and the CEO.”
Local companies also gain professional business advice and fresh insight from the LSU finance and MBA students, and from faculty.
“The VCAP project was a great help in vetting our idea and developing a plan for a long-term initiative that we could not devote additional resources to at the time,” said Joe Lewis, president & CEO of Smalls Sliders. “The LSU business students and their mentors were a great help in assisting us to define the scope of the project and then doing the work to put it together with minimal time from us. We now have the direction outlined to move forward with the initiative when we are ready.”
Connecting LSU students and faculty with the local business community through VCAP continues to be a success.
“I really enjoyed being a part of VCAP. Working directly with startup businesses showed me a perspective on venture capital that could not be taught in a traditional classroom setting. Seeing how entrepreneurs build their small businesses was a unique and interesting educational experience,” said Evan J. Daigrepont, a senior finance major. “VCAP was definitely the coolest thing I have done in my academic career at LSU.”