The early-stage capital scene in Kansas City is getting a youthful shot in the arm.
Designed to give Kansas City-area university students interested in entrepreneurship and private finance deep and real-world experience, the newly announced Kansas City University Venture Program aims to create a pipeline of experienced, young early-stage investors.
Led by Royal Street Ventures — one of Kansas City’s newest venture capital firms — in partnership with the Kauffman Foundation, The University Venture Fund, the Sorenson Impact Center and other private donors the private scholarship and educational program is modeled on the long- standing success of the Utah University Venture Fund (UVF), the largest student venture program in the U.S.
“We wanted to do something unique to contribute to the already vibrant ecosystem in Kansas City,” said Jeff Stowell, Managing Director of Royal Street. “We know we’re going to be investing in Kansas City and the broader Midwest for a long time and the resources for entrepreneurs are so extensive, we wanted to see what we might be able to do to on the finance side to build the bench strength of young people with practical skills.”
“We’ve had the good fortune of working with the Sorenson Impact Center and the University Venture Fund out of our Utah office over the last three or four years and have been really impressed by how that program works and how it serves the community. We jumped at the chance to emulate that in Kansas City.”
Through the UVF program, students receive training in the basics of private finance, from angel and early-stage investing, through to mergers and acquisitions. Along the way, students get to work on real world projects, performing due diligence, studying markets, crafting and negotiating deal terms and helping venture-backed companies with special projects. Projects are sourced from Royal Street Ventures and other local investors. Additionally, students are able to advise on direct investments in companies they work on through a specially established fund.
Continuing their commitment to strengthen Kansas City’s early-stage venture environment, the Kauffman Foundation recognized that this is too promising of an opportunity to pass up.
“We’re excited to see this experiential program launch in Kansas City,” notes Nathan Kurtz, Senior Program Officer at the Kauffman Foundation. “The collaboration between the universities, students, and entrepreneurial community will give students outstanding hand-on experience with key aspects of entrepreneurship and investing.”
The eagerness from key local players in the area’s venture capital environment to support the program didn’t stop there. “We’ve been so fortunate to get great support from the community. Not only the Kauffman Foundation, but from Five Elms, OpenAir, Firebrand, KCRise, MAA, the ECJC, the BTBC, Techstars, really everyone we’ve had a chance to talk to about this so far, and there are more we need to visit with,” said Stowell
Applications for the 2017/2018 Kansas City University Venture Program are now open. Students who are interested in applying should visit www.kcuvp.org/apply. Selected students will be chosen for an in-person interview before being admitted to the program. The application deadline is April 14, 2017.