A successful student initiative second to none
Student initiative: Students of the Global Executive MBA at the WU Executive Academy have put their financial and managerial skills together and set up a substantial venture capital investment club with an initial volume of almost one million euros. The goal: to support tech startups in the start-up phase that improves the lives of many people.
It all started at the Africa Immersion, a study trip to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi as part of the WU Executive Academy's Global Executive MBA program - around 40 executives took part. "Someone at the dinner said: there is so much leadership experience and management knowledge gathered around the table here, you should make something useful out of it," Sonal Trivedi recounts. The co-CEO of Dallas-based management consulting firm The Como Group was immediately inspired by her fellow student's statement.
Along with others, a lively discussion ensued that would continue for the next few days of the Africa trip. "We visited a lot of startups and companies in Nairobi and saw how much meaningful work they were doing for society and a better life for the people there," Sonal Trivedi says. Soon, the idea of launching a venture capital investment club was born. The background was also the idea of maintaining contact with fellow students who had become friends in the meantime - and to improve society with a joint project. The idea was to use a venture capital investment club to provide financing for promising purpose-driven tech startups in the start-up phase that use technological innovations to improve the reality of life for many people in various sectors.
Together with fellow students Sajid Leibner (Director Operational Excellence & Strategic Pricing )and Florian Gradwohl (CFO), Sonal Trivedi (Co-CEO) founded a limited liability company, and with fellow student Ana Lipovac (Legal Cousnel) they formed their management board.
For six months, the four Global Executive MBA students tirelessly researched the laws, regulations and tax conditions surrounding investment clubs and contacted companies and private investors to set up "GEMBA Ventures".
We were very much on our own - no one holds your hand when you want to start up
A total of 17 of the 40 GEMBA students are now involved in the club and more are joining. The members of the investment club meet regularly from around the world and enjoy staying connected post EMBA. Vienna emerged as the location for strategic reasons. "Vienna connects us and I love coming here - and there are many international organizations and companies gathered here, the central location in Europe is also a plus," says Sonal Trivedi.
In the meantime, the GEMBA investment club has already collected around one million euros.
This is to provide seed funding to startups especially from emerging and developing countries like Africa and India. "We focus on early-stage, meaning-driven startups because we see a lot of potential here to make a positive impact on society," says Sonal Trivedi. Specifically, the focus is on startups in the following industries:
A further investment round will be opened in June - "the focus currently remains on Global Executive MBA students and alumni," says Sonal Trivedi. In the future, the team around Sonal Trivedi also wants to open the club to companies and officially register for it: "The registration process is still ongoing, but we are confident that companies will soon be able to participate as well," says Sonal Trivedi.
To learn more please contact contact(at)gembaventures.com
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