A student group at UND has gained real life experience by creating a $1.4 million investment fund.
Greg Syrup, a former president of the Dakota Venture Group, said he can now publicize the achievement because the group was no longer soliciting investors as of Aug. 31.
DVG was first established in 2006 as a student-controlled educational investing opportunity.
Retired venture capitalist Bart Holaday and his wife, Lynn, started the fund with a $300,000 donation. Both sit on its advisory board.
He said he's happy to see that students took that investment and made it a valuable part of their education at UND.
"The worst case would be they learned a lot and it didn't work, but it really has worked far better than I thought it would," Holaday said.
Working closely with UND's Center for Innovation, the group spent the last three years pitching to investors, who could make a minimum commitment of $50,000 to the fund.
Syrup said over time they accumulated investors from across the country and about $1 million of the total was raised in the last year and a half.
"We've already invested half a million of that and will continue to invest the rest in years to come," he said.
DVG President Emily O'Brien said she joined the group as an undergraduate with no experience but enjoyed the hands-on part of learning how to interest investors. She's one of more than 110 students who have become DVG members over the years.
"It's fun learning what investors look for in startup companies, so if I were to start my own company, I would have the skills to raise the funding," she said.
Holaday said the board has historically been hands-off, wanting students to learn for themselves.
"So many of the kids have told me it was the most valuable part of their college education," he said. "They thought they learned more there than they did in any class. It has accomplished so much experiential learning, and it's been successful as an investment venture as well. I couldn't have asked for more."
O'Brien said the money is being invested into startup companies and the goal is to be able to pay investors back and then some.
"It's also meant to provide economic stimulus in the companies and help build future talent," she said.
DVG will host a Student Venture Capital Summit Nov. 8-10 in the Center for Innovation to bring professionals and students together.