Students help award grants to St. Louis or WashU-founded startups

  • June 17, 2024
  • By WashU Olin Business School
  • 2 minute read

This fall, Olin entrepreneurship students will get hands-on experience in the venture capital industry, as they help choose two startups with WashU or St. Louis ties to receive $25,000 grants.

The Venture Capital Practice course is open to undergraduate, specialized master’s and MBA students and expands on an existing course that introduced them to the world of venture capital, said Rian Edwards, associate director for entrepreneurship at WashU Olin.

Students have previously undertaken projects for venture capital firms, but this opportunity allows them to work with actual funds and play a significant role in the selection process.  

Rian Edwards

She said students have been asking for more experiential learning opportunities in this space.

“It’s really hard to break into venture capital,” Edwards said. “To get a job, you need venture capital experience on your resume. Students are asking how to achieve that. We aim to provide them with an understanding of what it's like to do this work while offering experiential learning that they can showcase on their resume.”

The course is taught by Jeremy Degenhart, a professor of practice and principal at Advantage Capital Partners, a St. Louis impact investment firm.

Olin Startup Grants LogoThroughout the course, students will hear from venture capital professionals about how to analyze proposals and make funding decisions. Then, with the help of mentors in the industry, they’ll choose two recipients for the new Olin Startup Grants.

To be eligible for the $25,000, non-dilutive grants, startups must be either founded by WashU alumni or based in St. Louis. Edwards said the grant program is a way to honor WashU’s “In St. Louis, For St. Louis” commitment.

“We want to support our WashU alumni who are doing amazing things in startups," she said. “But we also want to ensure we’re giving back to the St. Louis community, which is full of incredible entrepreneurs who have done so much for WashU.”

Applications for the grants are open Aug. 1-Oct. 1. Learn more about requirements and the application process here.

Edwards and Degenhart will lead a team to narrow down the field of applicants to a manageable group. The remaining startup founders will present their proposals to a team of students and VC mentors throughout the fall. The two winners will be announced in early December.

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Washington University in Saint Louis

WashU Olin Business School

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