International Studies & Programs

Successful Venture Capitalists Participate at Global Youth Advancement Summit

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Published: Tuesday, 09 Jul 2019 Author: Global Youth Advancement Network

One of the highlights of GYAN’s Global Youth Advancement Summit was the Entrepreneurship Competition, which was generously funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB). The goal of the competition was to identify innovative ideas, products and services that have a potential to create positive change, break down barriers and provide access and support to communities worldwide, while yielding a profitable return on investment. 

Six venture capitalists from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the US judged the competition and selected the three most successful pitches to receive seed capital. These judges include:

Dave Washburn is the Executive Director of the Michigan State University Foundation which promotes and funds many facets related to the commercialization of intellectual property through its subsidiaries Spartan Innovations, University Corporate Research Park, Red Cedar Ventures, and MBI, as well as its partnerships with MSU-Business Connect, MSU Technologies and LEAP. Learn more about Dave and the MSU Foundation.

Sonali Vijayavargiya is the Founder and Managing Director of Augment Ventures in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The mission of Augment Ventures is to “whose mission is to invest in exceptional teams transforming the way we live and work using software and smart hardware to impact energy, sustainability and health and wellness,” according to their website. “Over the last 20 years Sonali has worked with entrepreneurs, technologists and CEOs in order to build new businesses, mentor cross functional teams and accelerate new technology adoption across a variety of sectors and geographies.”

Adrián Garcia, Founding Partner of Carao Ventures in Latin America.
“Carao Ventures is a venture capital firm that invests in early stage startups” and seeks to “work with exceptional entrepreneurs who combine innovation, technical skills, ability and tenacity to run a business,” according to their website. Adrián has “advised and invested in early stage startups based in Latin America, the United States and Europe for the past 10 years. His recent experience includes companies in the sectors of SaaS, consumer software, marketplaces, fintech and education.” Learn more about Adrián and Carao Ventures.

Ngozi Bell, Investment Partner at the Trans-Sahara Investment Corporation in Lagos, Nigeria — a “private equity firm that originates, developes and actively manages direct investments in West Africa,” according to their website. Ngozi is a “corporate strategist and motivational team builder with vast trans-Atlantic experience,” and “specializes in venture capital strategies, technology strategies, new business development, and business growth and rescue.”

Hari Kumar, Managing Partner for Deloitte in New York. Deloitte is global network of member firms, which “invests in outstanding people of diverse talents and backgrounds and empowers them to achieve more than they could elsewhere. Our work combines advice with action and integrity,” according to their LinkedIn page. Hari is the “Lead Partner for some of the firm's largest clients in Technology, Media & Telecommunications industry. [...] As the Managing Partner, he built Deloitte LLP’s world class India operations of over 30,000 professionals.” Learn more about Hari and Deloitte

Chris Rizik, the Founder & CEO of Renaissance Venture Capital Fund in Ann Arbor, Michigan — which invests in “venture capital funds around the U.S. and connects those funds with both Michigan’s start-up community and with major companies looking for innovation,” according to their website. “With three decades of experience in technology, finance and law, he [Chris] has played a principal role in dozens of multi-million dollar venture capital transactions.” Learn more about Chris and Renaissance Venture Capital.

Prior to the Entrepreneurship Competition, the venture capitalists hosted a panel discussion, moderated by Dave Washburn. During the discussion, delegates learned critical skills such as how to approach venture capitalists for funding and seed capital, what should be included in a business plan and the type of businesses that venture capitalists typically invest in. The venture capitalist discussion provided a rare opportunity for both active and aspiring young entrepreneurs to interact and learn from real life investors from around the globe.  The global youth audience at the Summit benefited immensely form the dynamic discussions generated by during the panel.