The threads of entrepreneurship and innovation run through the fabric of the Rady School of Management as evidenced by the plethora of companies started each year by the school’s talented students and alumni. Many of these early stage startups receive guidance and support from one of the Rady School’s StartR Accelerator programs. Once these fledgling companies mature, they begin looking for investments from venture capitalists to spur growth. One avenue where they can find investors is a unique Rady School option: the Rady Venture Fund.
The Rady Venture Fund is assisted by the Rady School MBA students participating in the Venture Capital Management course. The class is an elective that enables students to get the first-hand experience of making investment decisions. Companies pitch their business ideas and the students evaluate the idea and with the help of an investment committee, determine whether or not to fund the company. The Venture Fund itself is funded by donations from people who believe the class experience will enhance the education of MBA students.
Lada Rasochova, Executive Director of the California Institute for Innovation and Development at the Rady School and the faculty who teaches the Venture Capital Management class, explained that the fund has invested in seven companies, five of which were started by either Rady School or UC San Diego alumni.
“We are willing to take the risk to fund our alumni because we believe in them,” Rasochova said. “We believe that they are the right people with the skills needed to succeed because they gained those skills here.”
Rasochova explained that funding university startups is the Rady Venture Fund’s preference. This focus is in line with the broader goals for the fund.
“In addition to education, the impact of the donations is that they support startup companies,” Rasochova said. “The Rady Venture Fund donors support whole life cycle. The companies started by our alumni get the funding and hopefully they become big companies that create a lot of jobs, have a significant economic impact, and hire even more UC San Diego alumni. And, because the Rady Venture Fund is supported through donations, any money gained from investments in startups goes back to the fund to reinvest in future startups, so the value is multiplied.”