Pléiade Capital aims to be the first full-fledged student-run VC fund in Quebec (Views: 5802)
Tue, 15 Jan 2013 10:04:40
If you ask Daniel Del Balso what the typical response is to the work that he and his fellow students are doing at Pléiade Capital, he will give you a light response.
“The room seems to fill up with excitement every time we discuss the details of a collaboration with a venture capital firm. We are a competent multidisciplinary group of students offering them services ranging from market analyses to due diligence. It’s a win-win situation for both parties involved,” said the member of the student-run venture capital (VC) organization.
It is clear that the students who run Quebec’s first student-run VC initiative are busy, committed and willing to gain experience from established VCs.
“The VC community is accepting of our mission because the entrepreneurial spirit is very much alive here in Quebec,” said Del Balso. “So its nice to see students trying to get experience in the field.”
It was founded in 2009 by Alexandre Legault Frenette and Martin Lefebvre, who were both studying finance at HEC Montréal. The organization is currently made up of 12 students from Université de Montréal, École Polytechnique de Montréal and HEC Montréal.
Along with Del Balso, Pléiade Capital is currently made up of 11 other student-volunteers: Marc-Antoine Baril, Hugo Belisle, Mathieu Blais, Valentina De Castris, Quentin Moline, Mathieu Morissette, Julien Perron-Piché, Alexis Ragusich, Thomas Terrats, Emil Vanjaka and Jason Wong.
These are not your average students either. All of them are completing their graduate studies while finding the time to volunteer at Pléiade between their studies, part-time jobs and other initiatives.
Their mission is to train students to excel in venture capital financing and innovation. In doing so they have three main goals: the first being to promote venture capital on campuses for all who may be interested; the second to offer services to both the entrepreneurial and the VC intermediates in and around Montreal while creating long-term partnerships with the VC ecosystem; and the third to successfully raise the first ever student-run venture capital fund in Quebec.
The wheels are turning. Pleiade’s visibility both on campus and in the VC community is expanding. At this moment, the group is developing its investment strategies and building its ties with industry players. Priorities include working on mandates with some of those VCs, which consists of issuing an investment recommendation for candidate firms as well as learning the ins and outs of venture capital.
As previously mentioned raising the first student run venture capital fund in Quebec is their ultimate goal. Fortunately, this concept is not unheard of. The $5.5 million University of Michigan Wolverine Venture Fund was the world’s first of its kind to actively use students in decision-making roles. Meanwhile, the University of Pennsylvania and First Round Capital recently launched the $500,000 Dorm Room Fund, all of which is handled by students.
Pléiade’s duty is first and foremost to form students, therefore some of the current members will soon make way for the next generation of students interested in taking part in this initiative. Although current students will most likely not have the chance to see the first round of funding reach Pléiade, they have acquired significant knowledge through the mandates that they have completed with other VCs. They have also greatly benefited from the countless interactions and relationships that they have created with influential members of the Montreal VC ecosystem.
Del Balso stresses that the opportunity has been truly beneficial in what it has offered him and his fellow team members.
“I can’t emphasize enough how great it has been for us overall. Without this group we wouldn’t have had access to any of the people within these firms,” he said. “Being able to work on actual mandates gives us a chance to prove to people that we are capable of generating high quality results right out of school.”
On December 6th, they were at the FFPME conference in association with M&A Club Quebec. Pléiade was among over 100 M&A related kiosks, including one from Fundica.
In addition, Pleiade is holding its own annual conference on February 6th at HEC where Frank & Oak and Anges Quebec will be discussing the investor-entrepreneur relationship in venture capital.
”I’ve been involved in numerous initiatives, both in and out of school, but Pleiade Capital has by far been the greatest learning experience of them all. Not only has it allowed me to stem my network into the VC community which otherwise is near impossible, but it has also allowed me to build new friendships with other co-members which are sure to carry on well after my departure from Pleiade.” Del Balso concluded our discussion on an optimistic note. ”The focus is not if we will have a fund, but rather when we will have it! A majority of our time is poured into completing that mission, however in comparison to our numerous accomplishments thus far, raising a fund would only be the cherry on the cake!”