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The European final of the Venture Capital Investment Competition

One of the yearly highlights for our Full-time MBA students is the chance to compete at The Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC). The first round of the competition takes place in house.

Leonid Varaksin and his team made it to the final at Cranfield Business School. Here he shares his experience of the competition and the added value working on these business competitions have to your MBA programme.

Discovering an interest in venture capital

 When I started the MBA, I had a general vision in mind: to find a niche where I could seamlessly merge my business acumen and technical expertise.Potential avenues included entrepreneurship, a career in the technology sector, or working with start-up companies.

During the MBA projects, I had the opportunity to consult and work for a leading private equity firm in the northwest. I was involved in deal sourcing, which enabled me to explore diverse companies across various industries and evaluate their business models and investment potential.

Working on this project triggered my interest in private equity and venture capital, so I started to look for further exposure in this industry.

Preparing for the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC)

Alongside the MBA programme we are able to take part in a variety of business competitions that give us an opportunity to dip our toe into different industries.

The Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) presented a unique opportunity in my second year of the MBA programme to gain practical experience to the world of venture capital. As I was eager to maximise my experience in this industry I decided this was one of the competitions I wanted to be part of.

The preliminary round was local to AMBS and the students all competed against each other in teams of 5. This first round was designed to replicate the real competition setting.

Winning the AMBS round and making it to the European final


  • Meeting with start ups from the north west
  • Proactive in connecting with alumni who had done the competition in previous years to understand what best practice we need to adopt


  • It’s not just about valuation or finance, the competition is also about selling yourself
  • Make sure you understand what is expected of you from each presentation
  • Keep things concise and get to the point quickly
  • Communicate clearly

The Final

The European Final was held at Cranfield Business School. We arrived 3 days early so we could start focusing on the final as soon as possible. As we were familiar with the process we efficiently evaluated the proposed start-ups, prepared our team sheets and valuations in advance. The templates we had prepared were beneficial and helped us to streamline our work.

On the day of the final, at 8am, final day, at 8 am, we gathered for a quick introduction and were given our instructions and schedule for the day.

We met with three start-ups - EnsiliTech, PuriFire, and Olsights.  The three companies are from different industries and each founder had a distinct personality and communication style.

We had prepared thoroughly with questions and strategies but still faced some challenges that we acknowledged but failed to address effectively. For example, how to maintain the balance between politeness and assertiveness when dealing with a more outgoing founder.

In the end, we secured second place, narrowly behind the winning team. In the feedback sessions, we learned that minor mistakes and presentation skills during the founder and partner meetings had impacted our total score.

Networking Opportunities

 One of the most valuable aspects of the competition is the networking opportunities. After the ceremony, participants have the chance to interact with individuals from other schools, as well as venture capitalists and judges. These connections not only expand our networks but also allow us to learn from a diverse range of  and experiences.


 In conclusion, participating in the VCIC competition was a truly enriching experience that significantly expanded my network and provided me with a wealth of knowledge about the venture capital industry.

The competition has enhanced my understanding of valuation methods, deal structuring, and founder communication. By interacting with real venture capitalists, receiving personal feedback, and collaborating with a diverse team, I gained invaluable insights and practical skills that will undoubtedly benefit my career.

To have the opportunity to be part of this competition has been beneficial for me as I can see how I will link together the corporate finance knowledge and the experience from the Mergers and Acquisitions project on the Full-time MBA programme.

This competition allowed me to put into practice the theories and concepts we learned in class and apply them to real life setting. I was able to add to my communication and teamwork skills. I also got exposure to the start-up ecosystem and gained insights into how start-ups work and what investors are looking for.

As MBA professionals, we should seize opportunities like these that not only complement our formal education but also help us connect with like-minded individuals and industry experts, ultimately paving the way for success in our desired career paths.

I would encourage all MBA students to take part in these competitions on offer, especially VCIC. This offered a number of benefits from practical experience to networking opportunities. Competing at these events gives you a source of inspiration and motivation to challenge yourself and explore your potential.


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