Techrockies: Tell us a little bit about your fund, and its history. Is this a new fund?
Hutchings: We are just closing our first fund, and are in the middle of fundraising, however the concept of our fund started as early as 2001. We originally set to raise donationa and let students invests them in venture capital as an educational experience. What we realized after a couple of years, and after raising about a million dollars in donations, was that it would increase the educational value of the fund if we mirrored a conventional venture capital fund. We now have 7M under management, and have invested in 7 companies. We have 25 students involved in the fund, and 1 employee – myself. The fund is a fully student managed endeavor.
Techrockies: Is the fund associated with a particular school, and if, which school?
Hutchings: There are students from the University of Utah, Brigham Young University, Westminster College and Wharton.
Techrockies: How long have you been making investments?
Hutchings: We’ve been making investments for about 12 months.
Techrockies: Is there a specific sector that you invest in?
Hutchings: No, our fund is opportunitistic. We’ve invested in biotech companies, some IT companies, and in one leveraged buyout.
Techrockies: Can you mention any of your investments?
Hutchings: Yes, we’ve invested in a Voice over IP company called Lignup, that’s been an exciting company. We’ve also invested in a pharmaceutical company Chakshu, they’re developing products for treating cataracts, and we’re also in a company Infinera, a VC-backed company that’s had a lot of press.
Techrockies: How do you typically find opportunities, and are you sourcing your own deals?
Hutchings: Typically we’re co-investing in funds. We have strategic relationships with funds all across the country. Our students provide due diligence and research to the deals. Of course, because we’re such a small fund, we’re just a minority investor.
Techrockies: Tell me a little bit about your conference?
We host the conference. The purpose of our fund, and of the conference is to promote entrepreneurial education, and this is an effective way to do that. The conference has about 25-30 universities participating, some of which have some entrepreneurial programs of focus. There are 3 days of the conference, with 45 speakers flying out on their own dime to spend 3 days together.