NORMAN, OKLA. – Undergraduate students at the Michael F. Price College of Business at the University of Oklahoma are taking advantage of new pathways into the burgeoning venture capital scene in Oklahoma.
Price College now offers two venture capital financing courses that educate students about the venture capital process, providing them a solid understanding of funding negotiations, deal structure and the management of private equity investments, along with exit strategy.
“As new venture capital firms have emerged in the past few years in Oklahoma City and Tulsa and the sector continues to grow in Texas, Price College is seizing the opportunity to develop young talent for this exciting and critical area of business development,” said Corey Phelps, dean of the Price College of Business.
The new courses, combined with annual entrepreneurial competitions such as Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup, prepare students and supports Oklahoma’s efforts to increase venture capital activity and supply human capital for increased economic activity within the state.
“We’ve built relationships with several venture capital firms to create opportunities for our students to gain hands-on experience in this growing field,” Phelps said. “Price College’s courses, combined with local and national collegiate competitions, address the significant need to accelerate talent development and highlight local venture capital achievements.”
The courses are taught by Price College faculty Ron Bolen, associate professor of entrepreneurship, who brings more than 20 years of private equity investment and venture capital experience to the classroom, and Jared Stanfield, associate professor of finance and an expert in venture capital financing. Students first take Stanfield’s class, Venture Capital Finance I, which focuses on quantitative aspects of venture capital, difficulties and solutions to valuation, deal structure and economic challenges to navigate in venture capital.
The second course in the sequence led by Bolen, Venture Capital Finance II, focuses on practical aspects of venture capital through case study, practicum and engagement with local venture capitalists and entrepreneur guest speakers.
Justin Wilson, president and managing director of Plains Ventures, an Oklahoma-based venture capital firm, believes courses like those offered at Price College allow students to understand the realities of the venture capital field, clarifying any misconceptions and setting them up for success in this expanding job market.
“Venture Capital is a very frequently misunderstood asset class. Since it is a financial discipline, students often think it’s a purely arithmetic exercise,” Wilson said. “While there is plenty math involved if you want to be good at it, these are actually logic problems. It’s about understanding human behavior in a dynamic marketplace, how those behaviors can change, and how that impacts the numbers in a given scenario. I would love to see students come out of these classes with more of an eye toward substance on these matters, which will better prepare them for this field.”
As startup growth continues to accelerate in Oklahoma, Bolen is optimistic about the prospects for the emerging venture capital sector.
“Venture capital firms really want to train the young, talented professionals in this pipeline of talent that’s forming in Oklahoma,” Bolen said. “Now, firms don’t have to go to Harvard or Yale anymore to find a student to train up. They’re looking for individuals that want to be in Oklahoma for the long haul, and those are the students we are preparing and able to provide to this industry.”
Beyond new academic coursework, Price College also supports talent development in the venture community through the Ronnie K. Irani Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth (I-CCEW) and the new student-led Crimson Prairie Ventures.
I-CCEW's experiential student-consulting program provides paid internships for select students to perform early-stage company market research and due diligence. Over the past two years, I-CCEW has provided support for over 25 early-stage investments across all venture capital firms in Oklahoma.
Crimson Prairie Ventures, a venture capital training organization, offers students a comprehensive, 10-week venture-capital bootcamp exploring the fundamentals of venture capital. The initiative doubles as the student-managed funding arm of Startup OU – the university’s entrepreneurship hub that administers and deploys more than $50,000 of non-dilutive, pre-seed capital into startups across the state each year.
“Venture capital plays a critical role in how the Oklahoma entrepreneurial ecosystem develops and grows,” said Dayten Israel, director of Startup OU. “We have an opportunity to shape that role through the student talent we cultivate, train and launch into the state.”
The programs and new courses offered by Price College provide a platform and a path for OU students to compete for highly competitive and coveted venture capital jobs in Oklahoma and beyond.
The University of Oklahoma Michael F. Price College of Business has experienced significant growth over the past five years, becoming OU’s second-largest college with over 5,800 students. The college offers highly ranked undergraduate, master’s, executive and doctoral programs across six academic divisions. More information is available at price.ou.edu