The Fund invests in a variety of entrepreneurial private equity ventures by canvassing and screening a large array of investment opportunities across multiple industries and selecting those that maximize tradeoffs between perceived risk and return. It is unusual for students to have an opportunity to work with a fund which focuses on non-public companies at any university, much less at a small liberal arts college.
One primary goal of the Fund is to involve students in the Fund’s activities, providing them with a rich, hands-on learning experience that exposes them to the world of private equity and the critical role it plays in capital, wealth, and job creation. Students apply what they have learned in their entrepreneurial and other coursework by researching, evaluating, forecasting, and performing due diligence on various investment opportunities, as well as monitoring the progression of companies through the various stages of growth and maturity, including liquidity. Students participate in the legal, tax, valuation, and regulatory challenges faced by these companies as well as the evaluation of the entrepreneurial/management team, marketing plan/market potential, intellectual property/competition, and the business plan. Our students have participated in the hosting of various companies’ management teams and Angel Investors on campus to observe and participate in the capital raising process.
The Fund is primarily focused on, but not limited to, entrepreneurial start-up firms, including seed stage, early stage, and expansion/mezzanine stage investments. While not limited geographically, the Fund primarily considers and evaluates Mississippi-based opportunities. The Fund currently holds investments in various sectors, including computer networking technology, medical devices/pharma, renewable energy technology, hospitality services, and craft beer. Two companies are headquartered in Mississippi and some others have significant connections to Mississippi.
“We believe by placing our students in a position to have meaningful input into high level decisions that have very real and potentially transformative consequences, they learn to embrace diversity, risk, and important challenges—thus, how to be a leader.” —Dr. David H. Culpepper