Law students at the University of Denver are spearheading Pioneer Venture Group, a venture capital fund to help students across a variety of disciplines gain practical experience while supporting budding businesses.
The student-led fund, which finished recruiting participants last week, has thrust the students into the action of Denver Startup Week, where they heard pitches from 18 companies on Friday. Students will research these companies and others with the aim of making their first investment by early next year.
While students from a number of disciplines will run the fund, the initiative had its genesis in a group of students from the Venture Law Society, an extracurricular group for law students interested in corporate transactional and venture law, ac-cording to Martin Katz, professor of law and university chief innovation officer at the University of Denver.
“They had this dream of what they considered the ultimate in experiential legal education of getting to run their own fund,” Katz said.
Law student Kieran Edstrom, president of the Venture Law Society and managing partner of the fund, said the initiative fills a gap in DU’s experiential learning programs.
“We looked around and realized that there are plenty of litigation clinics [and] litigation practicums,” he said. “But there were not as many opportunities for transactional students or people that want to go into corporate law to get a hands-on experience in a way that would let them know whether this was right for them.” Edstrom co-founded the venture fund along with recent Sturm College of Law graduate Becky Stifter.
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