By Gustavo Cardenas (WG’12) and Carmen Madanes (WG’12)
It all started with a casual conversation between friends. While recovering from Wharton 54 at Parc at the end of our first year, we started talking about how we should make our second years more constructive. Since last fall, we started having weekly meetings with Nicolas Escallon (WG’12), Ricardo Yunis (WG’12), Tomas Gazmuri (WG’12) and Sam Abraham (WG’13) to discuss the status of private equity in Latin America. Who was doing deals? Who was raising capital? Who was hiring? More importantly, however, we wanted to make sure that Wharton had a prominent position as the leading business school within the private equity industry in Latin America.
The problem was that we did not know exactly how to go about that. After many open ended brain storming sessions, we settled on doing something that is fairly simple, but that created a lot of buzz and accomplished said mission. And so, the First Wharton Latin America Private Equity Competition was born.
The idea was to put a Latin spin on an existing activity by creating a space for networking among top business school students and PE funds in Latin America. The team reached out to the usual suspects in Boston, Chicago, London and New York to compete as well as our network of private equity professionals in the Latin American region to participate as judges. We were surprised to find such a positive and immediate reaction from all parties involved. All these efforts had the support of the Private Equity Conference, the PE/VC Club, and WHALASA, who are sponsoring the competition.
The competition will be held in Huntsman Hall on Saturday, February 4th, following the Wharton Private Equity Conference held on February 3rd. This allows both the participants and judges to take advantage of their time at Wharton and position the competition as an extension of Wharton’s private equity initiatives. Both the judges and participants will attend the conference with some judges also agreeing to participate in the Emerging Markets Panel of the PE Conference.
The basics of the competition are that each MBA team presents an original and actionable investment idea in Latin America, what the investment thesis is, what the returns could be and how they would get the deal done. After a first round in which all teams compete, the judges will select the two best teams. These teams will have one hour to analyze and present a case that is being prepared by the organizing team. This two stage competition will be great practice for interviews with Latin American private equity funds in which a person’s ability to evaluate new investment ideas is tested.
We have an amazing group of judges from top PE firms in the region, who are anxiously expecting to take a deal home from the competition. The judges will be representing private equity funds that are active in the region such as ACON Investments, Mesoamerica Partners, Amzak Capital, North Bay Equity and General Atlantic, as well as the Inter-American Investment Corporation and the President of the Latin America Venture Capital Association (LAVCA) as well as Wharton Professor of Finance Stephen Sammut.
On the participants’ side, there will be two teams from Chicago Booth, two from MIT-Sloan as well as Kellogg, Columbia GSB, London Business School and Harvard Business School participating in the competition. Two Wharton teams complete the competing teams. We’re hoping that home field advantage will put these teams over the top.
In early January we held an internal first round to select the competing teams. We received excellent proposals and interest from teams of our colleagues and friends and after a four-hour discussion within the organizing team we decided which teams would represent Wharton. José Luis Gonzalez Pastor (WG’12), Juan Gonzalez Goicochea (WG’12), Abel Osorio (WG’12) and Henry Heinerscheid (WG’13) as well as a first year team of Paula Martinelli (WG’13), Christopher Porras (WG’13), Jonathan Walters (WG’13) and Gonzalo Leigh (WG’13). The teams have a diverse set of backgrounds and nationalities that will make them extremely competitive in both rounds of the competition. The competition is really theirs to lose. No pressure guys!
Given the interest shown in the competition by both Wharton and the other participating business schools, we decided to open the competition to the public, giving a chance for our colleagues to assist in the presentations of potential deals in the region and receive feedback from the judges. We will host a happy hour after the competition where we will give a $2000 prize to the winner and $1000 prize to the second position. We are expecting a turnout of 60 people, therefore creating the first ever Latin American private equity networking reception among professionals and B-school students.
Keeping in mind our main intention to position Wharton as the school of reference for the private equity sector in the region, we are convinced we will achieve that goal by Saturday. We are looking forward to coming back as judges in the 10th Wharton Latin America Private Equity Competition in 2022!
The competition will be held on Saturday from 8:30 to 5:30 in Huntsman Hall. General admission tickets are available for purchase in the WGA website at $50, discounted price of $30 for WHALASA or PE/VC members.