By Divinity Matovu, WG17
I came to Wharton knowing I wanted to become an investor.
Prior to business school, I was an entrepreneur. I launched my first company from my dorm room at the University of Southern California when I was 19. I went on to create three additional companies – one of which:http://www.mbamama.com/, I am building while I’m at Wharton.
There is no job that can compare to being a founder. Seeing an idea that you conceptualized and created become a product/brand that people value is phenomenal. Despite all the perks of being your own boss, the entrepreneurial path is incredibly challenging, especially for risk averse people.
While raising money for my third start-up, Matovu Consulting, I realized that I did not have the network I needed to reach the right people in venture capital, an insular industry where warm referrals are the name of the game. As I pitched my company, I realized I did not speak the language of investors. I was a serial entrepreneur who had no clue what a term sheet or cap table was. Shortly after this epic fail, I decided to start the journey to business school and was elated when I was admitted to Wharton.
At Penn/Wharton, there are no shortage of opportunities to learn more about investing – from Penn-affiliated Dorm Room Fund to Wharton’s Private Equity Venture Capital Club. Given my interest in social impact, I decided to apply to become an Investment Associate with Wharton’s Impact Investing Partners (WIIP – formally the Wharton Social Venture Fellows). My interest in WIIP was piqued when I met WG17 Aria Florant who spoke passionately about her involvement with the organization during Explore Wharton: Diversity in Action, an event for prospective women, the LGBT community, and under-represented racial/ethnic groups that I attended in 2014.
Housed under the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, WIIP is a student-led organization that sources and conducts diligence on early and expansion-stage companies with venture-grade growth potential and intentional, measurable social impact. After completing an application and interview process in the early days of my first semester, I was thrilled to secure my spot with WIIP on the financial inclusion team. My involvement with WIIP has been a major value add to my Wharton experience.
Through WIIP, I am gaining investment knowledge and getting hands-on professional experience in the venture deal-making process. I presented some potential portfolio companies to WIIP’s investment committee which was an amazing experience to get in front of alumni. I’m currently sourcing deals and learning best practices for conducting due diligence on start-ups and understanding early stage valuations. As a WIIP investment associate, my peers and I will compete against other top schools like Haas and HBS in the MBA Impact Investing Network & Training Program (MIINT) with its founding organization, Bridges Ventures. I’ll also be traveling to North Carolina with some of my WIIP colleagues to participate in UNC-Kenan Flagler’s 2016 Invest for Impact Case Competition.
I am networking with – and learning from – my peers in WIIP who come from different countries including India, Colombia, Nigeria and Spain as well as diverse professional backgrounds ranging from microfinance in Africa to private equity in New York. Despite having numerous deliverables last semester for academics and mature recruiting, I really enjoyed working with a committed team of people to create a comprehensive sector map identifying the trends in the fin-tech space that might be good targets for WIIP deals. It has been refreshing to bond with my fellow WIIP investment associates, the leadership team and alumni who all share my passion for the intersection of business and social impact.
I plan to leverage the knowledge and skills I’ve gained in WIIP to be competitive as I pursue entrepreneurial finance careers in investment management and/or venture capital. As an entrepreneur, I’ve always been on the other side of the table trying to secure funding by convincing investors that my start-up is the winner. With WIIP and in my next role post-MBA, I want to be the person that picks the winners to build a diversified portfolio with a social impact component that reaps major financial returns.