Rady Venture Fund Develops Next Generation Tech Investors

Rady Venture Fund

Rady School MBA students recently gained real-world investment experience by working on two investments made by the Rady Venture Fund, the school's student-assisted venture capital fund. In March 2013, the Rady Venture Fund invested in a $16 million Series B raise in startup Savara Pharmaceuticals, which is developing an inhalable antibiotic to treat cystic fibrosis patients with lung infections. In April 2013, the fund participated in a $1.5 million Series B investment in San Diego-based startup GroundMetrics, Inc. GroundMetrics focuses on enhanced oil recovery technology, using electromagnetic sensing technologies to provide advanced survey and monitoring services directly to oil, gas, mining, geothermal and environmental companies.

The Rady Venture Fund's investments in Savara and GroundMetrics were made in conjunction with investments by the Tech Coast Angels, the largest and most active angel investor network in the U.S. These investments provided Rady MBA students invaluable, hands-on experience in deploying investment capital to support emerging companies.

"Unique to MBA schools, the Rady Venture Fund was started to support the Rady School's educational objectives in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation and translation of discoveries into the marketplace," said Lada Rasochova director of the California Institute for Innovation and Development and managing director of the Rady Venture Fund. "Students take a series of courses in new venture finance and venture capital management where they gain hands-on experience in conducting due diligence and making investment decisions. Each investment is reviewed and approved by an investment committee of experienced venture capitalists and includes at least one independent external investor."

"The Rady Venture Fund students are instrumental in the process of identifying and evaluating investment opportunities, such as Savara," said Sergio Gurrieri, investor and business advisor at Tech Coast Angels. "Their diverse backgrounds contribute a wealth of experience and industry knowledge to ensure investments are technically and fiscally sound."

Rady student George Smith (MBA '13), a pharmaceutical scientist, explained that his work with the Rady Venture Fund fostered his exploration of a new career path. "As a Ph.D. scientist, who has been in drug discovery for a while, I wanted to expand my business skills and potentially start a company of my own," Smith said. "With this unique experience I have a much better grasp of how to seek initial startup funding and later, how to secure venture capital funding."

For Rady student Patrick Kelly (MBA '13), the Rady Venture Fund was a window into the world of venture capital financing. "It's an incredible opportunity for Rady students," Kelly said. "It's unique to MBA programs to allow students to play the role of a venture capitalist. It's absolutely amazing that we're really able to peek under the hood and check out how the company's business model operates and perform due diligence. It's such a unique experience that every student I talked to who had previously taken the class recommended it."

GroundMetrics CEO George Eiskamp enjoyed getting the unique perspective of Rady MBA students and testing his pitch with a new group of potential investors. "The Rady Venture Fund class is a diverse mix of young professionals and graduate students, so they had a very different perspective that was not too dissimilar from the professional financial community, but varied enough that it gave me the opportunity to create a more diverse pitch," Eiskamp said. "My experience working with the students was outstanding. I was really impressed with their level of professionalism as well as their thoroughness, communication and follow through. I would absolutely recommend the Rady Venture Fund to my colleagues. It's a great way to give back to the university, fun to work with students and a nice side road into the local venture capital community."

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