New Business Club Enters the Market

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COURTESY OF AKSHATH UMESH

The PEVCC leaders hope to create a club that offers students opportunities in private business investment.

By KATRINA MANANSALA, Contributing Writer

Akshath Umesh, Gabelli School of Business at Lincoln Center (GSBLC) ’23, and Sandy Cheng, GSBLC ’22, are hoping to start a new club at Fordham Lincoln Center (FLC) this semester: Private Equity Venture Capital Club (PEVCC). The goal of this club, according to Umesh, the club’s venture capital (VC) president and co-founder, will be to “help more undergrads network with and learn more about the people who work in the private equity (PE) and VC industry.” He had noticed the lack of a club at FLC that focused specifically on PE and VC for undergrads and wanted to open the opportunity to the undergraduate school. The club also hopes to increase student understanding of business and investing outside of the classroom experience.

For those who may be unfamiliar with VC projects, Umesh described it as “the process of investing in new ideas and companies to allow them to grow in scale. (It’s) a kind of fund that invests in start-up or early-stage businesses.” The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), which is the voice of U.S. venture capital and advocates for supportive public policy for American entrepreneurship, wrote that “venture capital supports new ideas that could not be financed with traditional bank financing, threaten established products and services in a corporation or industry, and typically require five to eight years to reach maturity.” 

On the other hand, “private equity is about investing in private companies,” said club co-president Xipu Li, GSBLC ’22. “Public companies are traded on the stock exchange like Apple, Amazon — companies anyone can invest in by buying shares. Private companies are not available for public investors (i.e. you and me).” The American Investment Council explains private equity as an industry that “grows businesses, supports local jobs and improves communities” by investing in “companies that are perceived to have growth potential.” Private equity may sound like venture capital, and in a way it is. One way to think of it is private equity focuses more on already established businesses that are trying to expand into something bigger, while venture capital is more about getting the idea and its thinkers off the ground. 

PEVCC is currently pending approval, but club leaders look forward to creating an environment where students can expect to learn more about PE and VC concepts through events such as panels, case competitions, and workshops. They also hope to host events with professionals of private equity and venture capital, and with Fordham’s Graduate School, PE/VC club to help students develop a network of peers and professionals involved in the industry. The club will be open to all undergraduates; “from the PE/VC pros, to the student who has no clue what they want to do in the future, everyone is welcome.”

Li said, “Currently at (FLC), finance-related clubs are too focused on investment banking and public equities. We think that educating undergraduates about PE and VC will help them understand the job market better so that they won’t be just applying for jobs because of the prestige.” While PE and VC may not be important to the typical person going about their day, funds from these firms can help starting businesses develop into corporations that not only create and support more jobs for working-class Americans, but that also boost the nation’s economy.

Although the terms can seem abstract, clubs like PEVCC can help students pursue their interests out of the classroom setting and educate the Fordham community as a whole on the private investment side of business.