The Venture Labs Investment Competition (VLIC) and the qualifying competitions are designed to mimic the real-world process of raising venture capital. The competition allows graduate students to gain real experience while developing and growing new ventures based either on their own ideas and technologies, or those developed by others.
The spirit of the competition is to allow companies conceived and developed during the graduate school experience to participate. This means excluding companies that were started before graduate school admission or expansions of an established business.
Competition directors and faculty advisors are responsible for ensuring their teams meet these requirements. The teams are also responsible for ensuring their own eligibility. Violations by the teams will result in the ineligibility for the school in this year’s and the following year’s competition as well as forfeiture of awards and prize money.
Rules & Guidelines
1. Nature of Ventures: Companies must intend to be operating companies with corporate structures and financial statements that reflect real operating revenues and expenses. This is intended to exclude investment vehicles, partnerships, licensing and other pass-through entities where returns are measured for investment value versus operating earnings.
The competition focuses on new, independent ventures in the seed, start-up or early growth stages. In addition to what is outlined in the above paragraph, generally excluded are the following: buy-outs, expansions of existing companies, roll-ups, real estate syndications, tax shelters, franchise-based outlets, licensing agreements for distribution in a different geographical area and spin-outs from existing corporations.
Licensing technologies from universities or research labs is encouraged assuming there has been no previous commercialization. Demonstrating significant added-value to the technology through the efforts of the management team is key in these types of ventures.
All ventures must be seeking outside equity capital.
2. University Sponsorship and Faculty Adviser Involvement: The business venture must be prepared under faculty supervision. Ideally, the venture will be prepared for credit in a regularly scheduled course or as an independent study. The executive summary and business plan must represent the original work of members of the team. All universities with participating teams are strongly encouraged to send faculty or other university advisors to the competition.
Bids to VLIC qualifying competitions must be accepted by a team’s faculty adviser. The faculty adviser must, on behalf of the sponsoring university, attest to the eligibility of the team, their adherence to the rules and guidelines and acknowledge potential penalties for violations and infractions.
3. Dropping Out of a Competition: If a team withdraws, or does not compete in a competition after accepting a bid, the team and university will be subject to disqualification from competing in the Venture Labs Investment Competition and any other VLIC qualifying competitions for that year and the following year - a two-year ban. All violations will be reported to the Competition Directors Committee by the subject Competition Director with documentation of the violation.
4. IP Considerations: Teams requiring non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) should not participate. All sessions of the competition are open to the public and may be broadcast to interested persons through media which may include radio, television and the internet. In addition, any data or information discussed or divulged throughout the competition should be considered information that will enter the public domain.
All qualifying competitions, the affiliated universities, the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business and the organizer of the Venture Labs Investment Competition may make photocopies, photographs, video recordings and/or audio recordings of the presentations including the business plan and other documents, charts, media or other materials prepared for use at the VLIC. The above entities may use the materials in any book or other printed materials and any videotape or other medium that they may produce, provided that any profits earned from the sale of such items is used by these entities solely to defray the costs of future Venture Labs Investment or affiliated Competitions. These entities have non-exclusive world rights in all languages, and in all media, to use or to publish the materials in any book, other printed materials, videotapes or other medium, and to use the materials in future editions thereof and derivative products.
This document sets out guidelines to maintain a graduate student-based funding competition. Not every circumstance can be anticipated. The directors reserve the right to disqualify any team that violates the rules, regulations or the spirit of the competition. Any questions regarding eligibility should be sent to the VLIC Director, Rob Adams. A subcommittee of other competition directors will make the call on situations that are not directly covered in these rules.