In partnership with the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology, MiddleGame Ventures recently launched its first VC Scholar Program after recognizing there was a significant gap between academia, fintech innovation and venture investing.
Image Credits: Mich Jacoby / Silicon Luxembourg
Pascal Bouvier, Managing Partner at MiddleGame Ventures, is the mastermind behind the new Luxembourg-based VC Scholar Program. The first iteration happened in September, which included a three-week curriculum tailored for highly talented university students, recent graduates and PhDs. When asked why the program focuses on students, Bouvier said “because they are at the very start of their professional journey – and they are the talent of tomorrow”.
To get into the program, applicants were asked to submit a copy of their resume and responses to a set of questions relating to their experience and interest in fintech and investments. “We were excited by how diverse the applicants were” said Bouvier, noting that applicants came from 16 different nationalities.
After reviewing 40 applications and interviewing those on the shortlist, MiddleGame Ventures chose five scholars to participate in the program; Heng Yao, Nida Khan, Gianluca Generoso, Armin Thon, and Pier Mario Lupinu. “The quality of applicants was really impressive. They had energy, drive, and were way more attuned to innovation and tech change than I thought they’d be” described Bouvier.
The program offered scholars the opportunity to learn about three core areas: venture investing, the fintech industry and the world of financial services with a special focused placed on the Luxembourg ecosystem.
“I am also in the process of designing a sister program called ‘Entrepreneur Scholar Program’.”
The three-week program ended with a final deliverable – The Investment Game. Each scholar evaluated a group of startups, wrote two investment memos and presented their two investment opportunities. MiddleGame Ventures selected two winners, Nida Khan and Armin Thon, who did the best job of identifying, evaluating and presenting on a startup within their assigned ecosystem.
As the program wrapped for 2021, Bouvier said “I had a blast, and the scholars did too. There were quite a lot of ‘aha’ moments, which was really rewarding to see.” Bouvier took away many learnings for how to improve the program next year.
Winner Nida Khan said “The program was very introspective and helped to hone our thoughts to become more attuned to analyzing fintech startups from a growth in market capitalization perspective. I learnt to take optimum investment decisions with inadequate information and within stringent deadlines. I would certainly recommend the program to all aspiring to be in the venture capitalist space, and to entrepreneurs to understand the mindset of investors.”
Next year, MiddleGame Ventures is looking to build on the success of 2021 and establish the program as the premier VC Scholar Program in Europe, based in Luxembourg. From building partnerships with Luxembourg-based financial services firms and service providers, to involving other Venture Capital firms who can coach, mentor, and guest lecture, along with increasing the number of scholars – 2022 is set to be a big year for the program.
Interested students should keep an eye out for the next round of applications opening in June, with the program beginning in September 2022.
In addition to the VC Scholar Program, Bouvier says “I am also in the process of designing a sister program called ‘Entrepreneur Scholar Program’. While also targeting Masters & PhD students, this program is designed for those who are interested in learning about how to take an idea and structure it to get funding – all in a practical way.” Stay tuned for more information.
To learn more about the VC Scholar Program, visit here.