38 Students From the LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business Complete The Sixth Cohort of the Venture Capital Apprentice Program

July 06, 2023

The Venture Capital Apprentice Program (VCAP) was formed by Nexus Louisiana (NexusLA), Innovation Catalyst and the Red Stick Angel Network in collaboration with the LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business and LSU’s Innovation Park.

“VCAP was designed to provide participating LSU students with real-world finance and business-related experience, along with networking and employment opportunities,” stated Bill Ellison, CEO of Innovation Catalyst and the Red Stick Angels. “It also provides high-growth Louisiana based companies, who require finance, accounting, and market research support services, with a team of smart and motivated students.”

In the six VCAP cohorts, 168 students have worked on 44 separate projects/deliverables. 

The team projects involved completing a wide variety of relevant tasks for their respective companies, including the analysis of a company’s funding needs, equity crowdfunding comparative market analysis, competitor and market analysis, an analysis of industry regulations, and private equity firms and a financial proforma. “The variety, scope and complexity of the VCAP projects that are related to VC fundraising, M&A, business planning and strategy provide a unique learning opportunity for our students,” said Rajesh Narayanan, chair of the LSU Department of Finance. “They were able to work closely with the management teams of local companies as opposed to working on a theoretical academic exercise. This type of practical, real-world application of the LSU finance curriculum is an incredibly valuable and unique experience for our students.”

In the spring of 2023, 38 students participated in the sixth cohort of VCAP, including students from The LSU Department of Finance’s Venture Capital course taught by Michael Kirby, retired co-founder of private equity firm Stonehenge Capital. The students formed eight teams and worked with the following local companies: Tele Louisiane, Aura Technology, Team Factor, Officer Reports, EMA Partners, Gnomic, and Vigilus.

According to Joseph Mengis, a senior finance major, "Working with our VCAP group was one of the most meaningful projects that I've done in college. As students, we gained valuable experience working as a team in a real business environment, which is something you just can't replicate in a classroom."

“LSU students receive real world experience by interacting with entrepreneurs, and delivering research and analysis that help Louisiana business owners make key discussions to grow their companies. The program is a win-win for all involved,” says Jason Boudreaux, Associate Director of Entrepreneurial Service at LSU Innovation Park.

"Louisiana has so much young, local talent deserving of investment and cultivation. Programs like VCAP are critical to making sure we can train future entrepreneurs and innovators and connect them to opportunities here in Louisiana in order to reverse the brain drain and reach our full economic potential as a state." - Will McGrew, CEO and Founder, Télé-Louisiane


About Nexus Louisiana

Nexus Louisiana is a Baton Rouge based 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides high-potential, technology-enabled companies the coaching, capital, and connections they need to accelerate their growth. 

About Innovation Catalyst

Innovation Catalyst is a nonprofit venture development organization, formed by community leaders to strengthen and broaden Louisiana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and drive new high-tech company formation through coaching, connections, and capital.

About the Red Stick Angel Network

The Red Stick Angel Network is a wholly owned subsidiary of Innovation Catalyst, whose members are accredited investors or "Angels" located in the greater Baton Rouge area. Its mission is to organize the Baton Rouge Angels as a network to identify, evaluate, and then aggregate investment capital of its members to invest in early-stage companies in Baton Rouge and throughout Louisiana. In addition to capital, its members provide coaching and connections to support and grow its portfolio companies, thereby fostering economic development and job creation in Baton Rouge and throughout the state. 

About the E. J. Ourso College of Business

Since its establishment in 1928, the E. J. Ourso College of Business has served as the flagship business college of Louisiana, playing an essential role in uplifting the economy of the state and the well-being of its citizens. Each year, the college graduates more than 1,000 exceptional men and women who are the business leaders and entrepreneurs of the future. 

About the LSU Innovation Park

LSU Innovation Park is a part of the LSU Office of Innovation & Ecosystem Development and provides entrepreneurs, small businesses, and companies with facilities and services necessary to launch and grow a successful organization. LSU Innovation Park offers amenities, access to experienced business consultants, services, and resources in the Capital region and throughout the state. Innovation Park also supports and manages the Small Business Development Center Network across the state. As the state’s flagship university, research is the cornerstone of LSU. LSU Innovation Park is located just five miles south of the main campus and is the focal point for technological innovation and startup ventures in the Baton Rouge region as a dedicated complex for research commercialization that benefits Baton Rouge and the state of Louisiana. Visit our website https://www.lsu.edu/innovationpark/index.php or call us at 225-578-4842 to discuss your business needs.

About Officer Reports

OfficerReports is a software company that focuses on creating solutions that support and enhance the efficiency of security guard professionals. OfficerReports is building end-to-end, integrated solutions for the security guard industry to make it easier for you to focus on what you do best. For more information, please visit https://officerreports.com/.

About Tele Louisiane

Télé-Louisiane is a media company that produces and distributes media content focused on Louisiana's unique language, culture, and people. In addition to co-producing an animated show and weekly newsmagazine aired statewide on LPB (local PBS), the company has built the largest online audience in Cajun and Creole Louisiana through long-form interviews and short-form digital content. The company worked with a VCAP team on a pitch deck to develop relationships with new funders as well as production and distribution partners locally and worldwide.

About Aura Technology

AURA is innovating in the OOH mobility advertising space using cartop digital billboards and fleet partnerships for scale. AURA offers unprecedented targetability, measurement, and attribution. By combining the best of OOH with the best of online/digital advertising, AURA is able to offer affordable and effective advertising for local businesses and large companies alike. 

About Vigilus

Vigilus is a cutting-edge software development and cybersecurity firm, dedicated to innovating and securing intellectual property for the greater public good. With a strong focus on blending creativity and technology, Vigilus proudly presents its latest venture, Griffin Games, currently developing the highly-anticipated party game, Top Dog. Set to make waves in the PC gaming world, Top Dog brings a fresh, engaging experience to the party games genre and fosters a thriving community through modding support via the Steam Workshop. Vigilus' commitment to pushing boundaries and fostering collaboration cements its reputation as a visionary leader in the software and gaming industries.

About Gnomic

Gnomic is working to help recent coding bootcamp and CS graduates break into the software engineering industry, and land their first tech job.

About Team Factor

TeamFactor is the brainchild of Jennifer Macha + Nely Ward. The company’s mission is to keep kids involved and engaged in sports and to accelerate their athletic performance. During the summer of Covid, they were on a break from our jobs working in race/event production and set out to help young athletes stay active and healthy. That journey led us to identify two problems in the field of youth athletics: 1 – that young athletes are being Coached Out Of Sports at an early age, and 2 – Advanced Players Don’t Have Access to Sport-Specific Foundational Training. They worked together to develop a solution to solve these problems. Our educational and work backgrounds are the perfect combination for developing a digital solution to help coaches and athletes achieve better athletic performance.

About EMA Partners

EMA Partners Seattle, a specialized executive search and advisory firm, serves the talent acquisition landscape in the cloud/IT industry. With a focus on AI/ML/cybersecurity and business-technical roles, the firm caters to private equity backed portfolios and fast-growing organizations. Under the guidance of Ezra Hodge, a former AWS leader, EMA Partners Seattle leverages a proprietary machine learning technology to remotely analyze the mindset of both leaders and candidates, effortlessly linking this valuable data to performance outcomes.

By combining cutting-edge technology with deep industry expertise, EMA Partners Seattle offers clients unparalleled insights into the talent pool. This innovative approach streamlines the search process, enabling organizations to identify and secure top-tier professionals efficiently. The firm's commitment to providing exceptional results is reinforced by their ability to connect mindset analysis with actual performance, ensuring optimal candidate selection for long-term success.

As organizations strive to build high-performing teams in the dynamic cloud/IT landscape, EMA Partners Seattle stands out as a trusted partner. With their unique approach and advanced technology, they empower clients to make informed decisions and drive business growth.