Miami’s student-led business organization RedHawk Ventures announced in early August plans to raise a $1.5 million fund this school year. RedHawk Ventures allows students to invest in start-up businesses, helping them get off the ground using venture capital (the practice of funding early stage firms based on high growth potential).
Seniors Laura Mena and Andy Newman, co-managers of RedHawk Ventures, hope to use the new fund to educate new members and invest in start-ups in collaboration with their new board of advisors.
RedHawk Ventures receives gifts from investors, and that money is then invested in start-ups. Any returns on investment are placed back into the fund for future students.
The organization began in 1997 with an initial fund of $500,000 from Procter & Gamble, and was formally set up in 2008. RedHawk Ventures has decided to raise the second fund due to an increased interest in the organization and the first fund allocation is nearly gone.
“As we've grown our marketing efforts and overall as a firm,we have more startups wanting to work with us, more partnerships with venture capital firms across the country, and a never-ending interest from students wanting to join our organization,” Newman said.
Dr. Tim Holcomb, director of the John W. Altman Institute for Entrepreneurship and RedHawk Ventures’ faculty advisor, said the additional funding will be used to make investments in early, seed-stage startups (companies that have just launched) led by Miami students and/or alumni.
RedHawk Ventures previously gave each new start-up checks for $25,000 as a base, but now they are looking to raise that investment to $50,000 on an as-needed basis.
Mena said she also aims to use the fund for the organization’s recently-developed new member education program. Incoming RedHawk Venture members now undergo a required, intensive five-week curriculum that teaches the basics of venture capital and start-up financing.
Ultimately, the objective in investing is to give students experience in venture capital.
Mena said RedHawk Ventures hopes to receive donations from large corporations or interested Miami alumni who are willing to donate back to entrepreneurship efforts.
“If you invest or donate into this fund, we are going to continue to crank out students who are educated on a space that isn’t seen at an undergraduate level,” Mena said. “We will be able to get Miami students the tools necessary for them to go learn about venture capital and be successful.”