Finance students return from Chicago VC event with a win

Griffith Business School's team with Scott Metalf, Director of Pre-Professional Programs at University of Chicago, after winning the VCIC Entrepreneur's Choice Award

A team of five Griffith Business School students has nabbed the Entrepreneurs Choice Award at the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) held at the University of Chicago.

Tanner Noakes and Liam Smith at the top of Chicago’s Willis Tower, which was the tallest building in the world when built but is now the third tallest.

Bachelor of Commerce (Finance and Accounting) student Tanner Noakes said the venture capital (VC) competition was the largest and oldest VC event globally and Griffith’s participation marked the first time an Australian team had been involved.

“The ‘Entrepreneurs Choice Award’ is given to the team that is most likely to reach a deal with the startups, a critical aspect of the VC process,” he explained.

“The team was very happy to win something, but we were also happy just to be there in the first place.

“In the few months leading up to the competition we learned so much about venture capital and the whole experience serves as probably the best introduction to VC anyone could ask for.”

With institutional support, Tanner was joined in Chicago by fellow students Crystal Palliser, Shanayah Sharif, Liam Smith and Alexander Byrne, with Islam Abdelhay acting as team shadow back home.

“These kinds of competitions are amazinglearning opportunities, in fact the learning ‘curve’ is more like a cliff,” Tanner said.

“I think I’ve done about eight competitions in my undergraduate (degree), and Griffith makes it all possible.

“The support is something that really sets them apart from other universities.”

Professor Mark Brimble, Dean (Learning and Teaching) GBS said the school was incredibly proud of the team’s efforts.

“Being the first time an Australian university has been invited to attend in 15 years of competition and winning theEntrepreneur’s Choice award illustrates the ability of our students to compete on the global stage,” he said.

Team members Crystal Palliser and Shanayah Sharif in Chicago

“It also demonstrates the impact our dedicated and supportive staff, together with investment technology and infrastructure upgrades, and authentic learning experiences such as the Student Managed Investment Fund, can have on student learning outcomes.”

Tanner Noakes is now hoping to bring the VCIC to South East Queensland to help support the startup scene here.

“Almost one third of all startups in the competition have gone on to receiveVenture Capital funding, and it’s a greatway to get advice on their business from actual VC’s,” he said.

“For students, it’s a unique experienceto learn a rare skill. For Venture Capitalists, it’s a chance to give back to the community and to flex their knowledge.”

Noakes is also applying his social enterprise smarts and entrepreneurial talents to the #bringbackbinnaburra campaign, after the tourist icon, his family’s business, was destroyed by fire last year.

Binna Burra Chairman Steve Noakes, will lead efforts to rebuild, supported by a number of partners, including Griffith, which recently signed a long-term MOU focusing on the development, interpretation and presentation of collaborative research and educational activities.

“It’s my motivation for most of what I do now. Binna Burra is a social enterpriseand has been the reason for my passion in the area,” Tanner said.

“Unfortunately, the lodge is strugglingto get funding to rebuild (but) thanks to my connections in entrepreneurship and knowledge offinance, I’ve found that the prospect of equity crowdfundingto be a very useful path for the lodge, which could raise up to $5mil in funding.”