Kansas City University Venture Partnership introduces students to early stage investing
School of Business students are getting firsthand experience in the world of investing, thanks to the Kansas City University Venture Partnership (KCUVP).
Launched by investment firm Royal Street Ventures and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation last year, KCUVP exposes Kansas City area students to early stage investing. The program is based on the University Venture Fund in Salt Lake City and includes a curriculum introducing students to private finance, including angel investing, venture capital, growth equity and private equity. Participants also work on projects from investment firms and startups throughout the area and manage the student-run Kansas City University Venture Fund.
“Through the projects, students learn not only how to complete projects with sometimes ambiguous terms and data, but they also make valuable connections in the community,” said Laura Brady, partner at Royal Street Ventures.
KCUVP has offices in WeWork, a co-working space located in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District, but students can often work remotely. Rather than being paid hourly, they receive a scholarship each semester.
Weston Hack, a KU junior majoring in finance and computer science, has been involved with KCUVP since its inception, participating in the spring 2017 pilot program and now serving as a senior associate. The position requires him to oversee projects and make sure the Venture Fund is finding deals and making good investments.
“Having real dollars that we can put to work in the Midwest area and help build up the ecosystem here, it’s been a really cool experience to be a part of,” Hack said.
Working for KCUVP has helped him decide what he ultimately wants do in finance, and Hack also can see himself putting the lessons learned to use as an entrepreneur.
“I’d love to start and run a company later on, so it’s been cool getting more immersed in the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Kansas City and throughout the Midwest and learning the struggles that founders of companies go through, not only when they’re raising capital, but just on a daily basis,” he said.
Hack is one of nearly a dozen Jayhawks currently involved with KCUVP, which also includes students from other local universities. They come from a variety of academic backgrounds, including business, law, engineering and even graphic design.
“Having students from a wide array of disciplines and a variety of universities participating in KCUVP creates an environment similar to what students will encounter when they start working in the ‘real world,’” Brady explained. “This diverse educational background also leads to substantive discussions when completing projects or determining whether to invest in a particular startup.”
Senior marketing major Mikaela Myers started with KCUVP in August 2017 and has enjoyed seeing the different approaches team members take when solving problems.
“I loved the fact that I got to be in a room with such smart people,” she said. “I felt like I was learning from the students around me just as much as I was learning from the entrepreneurs.”
Because she had not previously studied finance in depth, Myers appreciated learning the ins and outs of investing from the curriculum. Activities where students chose whether they would invest in certain companies and then got to hear what Royal Street Ventures actually did and why were particularly helpful, she said.
Myers is currently in charge of deal flow and deal management for the Venture Fund and will start a management position with Amazon after graduating this spring. Although her new role will not involve investing, Myers said her newfound understanding will continue to help her personally and professionally.
“Now that I have this knowledge and I’m able to speak intelligently about it, I feel a lot more confident in my decisions and choosing things that will benefit me down the road,” she said.
Learn more about KCUVP and apply to participate at kcuvp.org.