Nov. 17, 2021

UCeed fund trains venture capital leaders of tomorrow

Haskayne Student Fund bridges gap between theory and practice by providing students first-hand experience in early-stage venture capital investing

When you hear the term “venture capitalist,” you may think of flashy pitches on Shark’s Tank or Dragon’s Den. However, there is so much more to this form of investing than what you see on TV. 

As part of the University of Calgary’s commitment to being Canada’s most entrepreneurial university, the UCeed Haskayne Student Fund (UHSF) is integrated into the Haskayne School of Business curriculum to educate and train UCalgary students in this complex area of business. By bridging the gap between theory and practice, the UHSF provides the experience needed for students to pursue a career in venture capital. 

Established in 2020 and funded by private donors wanting to make a positive impact on the student experience and the economy, the UHSF is the first student-managed, university-based venture capital fund in Western Canada. A unique aspect of this educational opportunity is the coaching and mentorship students receive from leaders at Innovate Calgary, Creative Destruction Lab Rockies and the Haskayne School of Business. 

Developing the next generation of talent in Alberta 

“Upon completion of the course, and associated real-world experience, our goal is for students to be able to step into a role at any top investment fund and be a strong contributor from Day One,” says Dr. John Wilson, PhD, CEO of Innovate Calgary. “The course provides an educational experience that develops skills and leadership. Because it is so deeply rooted in experiential learning, it has the potential to significantly enhance the career trajectory of students.”

One of these students is Jordan Kruithof, a sixth-year student working on a combined degree in commerce and economics. Kruithof was one of 14 students involved in the inaugural year of the fund and was motivated by its unique opportunity to eventually open doors in the venture capital and private equity space.

“We have a lot of support from the community,” says Kruithof. “People are really interested in the program and want to see the students thrive by sharing their own journey and passing on their knowledge.”

Translating theory to real-world practice

One of the highlights of the program is its emphasis on experiential learning, with students getting exposure to the world of venture capitalism.

Kruithof says this is a major element in the program, as students form “deal teams” to talk with potential investment companies. They work with these ventures to begin the due diligence process and have any questions answered, then present the investment to the whole student group.

If approved by the students, the investment goes before the UHSF Investment Advisory Group (IAG), which evaluates the students’ decisions and work before approving or rejecting the investment recommendation. The IAG is made up of volunteers from the community — heavy-hitters in venture capital and early-stage company development.

Two companies — Innovere Medical and Cohesic Solutions — received investment from the fund in its first year. Kruithof says she learned a lot from getting to know the founders and their business as part of the UHSF due diligence process. 

Most venture capital funds require one to two years of experience before they hire someone as an investment analyst. Kruithof says her time with the UHSF will support her job search after graduation.

Learn more about UCeed.

UCeed is a philanthropically powered early-stage investment program accelerating UCalgary and community-based startup companies to advance problem-solving research, create jobs and fuel the economy. A key program in the UCalgary innovation ecosystem, UCeed bridges the gap between innovation, demonstration and commercialization, and is managed by UCalgary’s knowledge-transfer and business incubator, Innovate Calgary. The UCeed Haskayne Student Fund is supported by the Cannonball Sport and Education Foundation and UCalgary donors. UCeed is also supported through the TD Ready Commitment Program.