Five graduate students manage the Rutt Bridges Venture Capital Fund with the help of Bard Center advisers. In their first decision, they are putting $50,000 into a local company called UrgentRx.
"UrgentRx was chosen from more than 80 other businesses because it is well-funded and has a unique product with huge potential," said Jeff Macco, an MBA student and one of the fund's managers. "At the same time it has a very driven CEO who will be a guest lecturer in entrepreneurship classes at the Business School."
That 'driven CEO' is Jordan Eisenberg, who developed the idea of selling wallet-sized, flavored pain relief powder that you just pop in your mouth when you feel a headache coming on.
The selection of his UrgentRx company follows its second-place finish last year in the annual Bard Center Business Plan Competition. At the time, the judges commended both the uniqueness of the product and the thoroughness of Eisenberg's presentation. The next Business Plan Competition, focusing on business students and alumni, will take place on June 16, 2011.
Software entrepreneur Rutt Bridges started the venture capital fund in 1998. His goal was to create seed capital for start-up companies affiliated with the University of Colorado Denver Business School's Bard Center for Entrepreneurship.
"It is crucial to support start-ups and small businesses in Colorado, which provide the vast majority of jobs in the state," he said.
Bridges, a member of the Bard Center Advisory Council, has no management or oversight over the fund but wants to provide a real-world education for students by letting them manage it.
"When we were given the reins of the fund, we were told how much money we had, what the rules were and that the main goal was education," Macco said. "We rigorously source our deals, meet with applicants, conduct due diligence and make the final decision about whether to invest in a company."
"We don't get academic credit, but the experience is priceless," Macco said. "How many graduate students get to run a venture capital fund? For that matter, how many professionals ever get to run a fund?"
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