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Past Highlights

Experienced Angel Investor Robert Okabe Joins Golder Center

Professor Robert Okabe

The Golder Center is pleased to welcome Robert Okabe as an Adjunct Professor. He joins Professor Dan O'Connell in teaching FIN 490, Introduction to Angel and Venture Capital Investing. As an experienced angel investor, Mr. Okabe brings a wealth of knowledge and a desire to integrate seed stage angel investing into the curriculum.

Okabe has extensive experience in the finance world. He spent 14 years working in capital markets and investment banking, and now assists researchers universities and national labs commercialize their technologies as a partner and co-founder of, RPX Group LLC. Many great things happen in research that can improve quality of life, Okabe explains, and he enjoys the process of getting some of those promising ideas out of the lab into the hands of people who can utilize them.

Okabe is actively involved with many business schools, giving lectures and judging competitions. He has teaching experience as a member of the Board of Directors of the Angel Capital Education Foundation and a lead instructor for its programs. Robert has also been involved as a classroom guest speaker at a number of universities, but FIN 490 is his first opportunity to be fully involved through the semester of a college course.

Okabe stresses that "Learning about Venture Capital and Private Equity isn't just about being on the finance side - it's important for entrepreneurs, too." Entrepreneurs are often unaware of and unexposed to the principles of finance and investment necessary to create a company from an idea. "Anyone who is an entrepreneur who isn't taking advantage of the Golder Center is really missing out," he concluded.

2010 Leveraged Buyout Competition Nets Students $2000 Prize

First place:
VSA Investments

Monday morning meets are a tradition within the world of private equity, as analysts present an overview of potential investments to senior partners in the firm. On Friday, March 12th, 2010, the Golder Center's 4th annual Buyout Competition simulated such an experience for students ranging from freshman to senior year of study.

For the Buyout Competition, eleven undergraduate teams were presented with two offering memoranda and given the task of preparing an executive summary and two financial models for the company they determined was best. The six teams who advanced as finalist presented to a panel of distinguished judges heralding from the private equity community.

First place went to VSA Investments, with members Steve Buran, Varun Karkhanis, and Andrew Lee winning the $2000 prize; Team Releveraged Sellouts finished in second place, with members Alex Florea, Angela Jiang, and Akrati Johari winning $1250, and Team Lieutenant Equity, consisting of Alex Freniere, Dan Hejza, Kevin Joy and Kyle Lindsay took third place with a $750 prize. The teams were honored at a reception following the competition, with food and conversation enjoyed by all.

The Buyout Competition is one of two case competitions held through the Golder Center, with a Venture Capital Competition hosted annually during the fall semester.

Special thanks goes to judges Ras Din of Andes Capital, Jim O'Donnell of O'Donnell Capital, and Janet Powaga of DN Partners, as well as Mesirow Financial for their generous support as an event sponsor for the 2010 Buyout Competition.

Margolis Market Information Lab (Spring 2010)

One integral facet of the recent Buyout Competition was performing a comparables analysis on similar transactions to the company each team was analyzing. Through the Buyout Competition seminar series, students learned how to use professional tools such as Capital IQ in the Market Information Lab (MIL) , located in the state-of-the-art Business Instructional Facility.

"Teaching Capital IQ at the undergraduate level will only increase Illinois students' marketability in this competitive job market," says Nate Barajas, Golder Center Student Director and CME Senior Fellow who facilitated the Capital IQ seminar, "The use of Capital IQ for the Golder Center Buyout Competition has given students a practical look at how industry professionals use such software to aid in their investment analysis."

The MIL also offers training workshops for Bloomberg, Crystal Ball, Moody's KMV, X Trader, Morningstar Encorr, Morningstar Direct, Analytica and WRDS software to interested students wishing to gain proficiency. Please visit the Market Information Lab website for more information.

Third Annual Venture Capital Competition Nets Students $2,000 Prize (January 2008)

First place:
Mighty Morphins

Second place:
Hephaestus' Forge

Third place:

Every year, analysts at venture funds screen hundreds of investment proposals to find just the right ones for their firms. At the typical venture fund, each Monday morning the analysts present their choices in competition for the scarce partnership resources of time and money. When they pitch a proposed deal to their partners, they must know their subject inside and out - and they must ready for tough questions.

An annual event sponsored by the Golder Center and with the generous support of IllinoisVentures seeks to mimic the "Monday morning meeting" and prepare undergraduates to respond to its challenges. In mid-November, student teams participated in the Venture Capital Competition seeking the top prize of $2,000. Their challenge? Convince their "Senior Partners" that a proposed investment was worth doing. Competing teams were given a week to choose one of three business plans. After analysis, the teams developed and submitted a detailed investment thesis and proposal. From the pool of entrants, six finalists were selected to make their argument to the panel of judges.

The judges, including senior VC's from IllinoisVentures, Ceres Venture Fund, Hopewell Ventures, Open Prairie and Valuation Research, played the role of the senior partners and grilled the teams with tough questions on their proposed investment.

In its third year, the Venture Competition has grown and become more challenging each year. The College is unique in that its competition is meant specifically for undergraduate students.

In preparation for the competition, students attended a series of workshops to introduce the workings of a venture firm and to polish their analytical and presentation skills. They were ultimately judged on the strength of their investment argument and the depth of their understanding of some very complex issues. Three teams came out on top.

First place and $2000 went to Team Mighty Morphin Stock Exchangers consisting of Alex Schmallmo, Erik Johnson, Michael Mangialardi and David Baker. Team Hephaestus' Forge with Adam Jackson, Jack Rosenberg, Phil Nguyen, Adnan Qureshi and Neil Thakkar took second place and $1250. Team Juggernaut finished third. Ryan Hoffman, Kevin Toomey, Anirudh Talwar and Atik Luthria will split that $750 prize.

In the spring semester, the Golder Center will hold its annual Equity Sponsor Competition. In this event, competing teams play the role of analysts at a buyout fund. Interested students should watch for further details upon their return to campus in January.

Congressional Testimony in Support of SBIC (April 2005)

The House Small Business Committee of the US House of Representatives conducted hearings in April to determine the role -- and fate -- of the Small Business Administration’s participating securities program currently under review by the Bush administration. The program, called Small Business Investment Companies (SBIC), are public-private partnerships designed to help American entrepreneurs create businesses that can flourish, thereby generating jobs, economic prosperity, and improvements to health and safety.

Dan O'Connell, Director of the Golder Center for Private Equity, was invited to present testimony to the committee as the only practitioner among the presenters. He has made investments both through and outside the program. Other witnesses included Jaime Guzman of the SBA, Colin Blaydon of Tuck’s Center for Private Equity, Sue Preston from the Kaufmann Foundation, and Red Clark and Mark Redding, both CEOs of companies that have received funding from this type of SBIC. Read More >

Golder Center Co-hosts Third Annual Private Equity Conference (April 2005)

Downtown Chicago was the site of the third annual conference about the role of private equity in the economy, coordinated and hosted by staff from the Golder Center of the College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. and co-hosted by the University of Chicago.  Michael Weisbach, Golder Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Steve Kaplan, Neubauer Family Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, moderated the day-long conference.

Designed to foster communication and interaction between private equity professionals and the faculty who research the field, the invitation-only conference featured industry speakers T. Bondurant French, CEO/CFO of Adams Street Partners; Mark Koulogeorge, Managing General Partner of MK Capital; and Daniel W. Rosenberg, co-founder of Sterling Venture Partners. Faculty from the College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Sloan School at MIT, and Harvard Business School were presenters and panelists. Topics included valuation in private equity settings, term sheet valuation, and limited partner performance.




UIUC College of Business Office of the privateequity