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The Hill Institute launches angel analyst fellowship at Furman

Staff Report //March 1, 2022//

The Hill Institute launches angel analyst fellowship at Furman

Staff Report //March 1, 2022//

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When he was a young boy, Oscar Guillen and his mother emigrated to the United States from Honduras in search of economic opportunities. Now, the Furman University Asian studies major wants to help young people in Honduras start businesses and spur the economy there.

The program is open to all students at Furman, not just business majors and graduate students. (Photo/Furman University)A new program for Furman students, developed by The Robert and Margaret Hill Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and in collaboration with VentureSouth, could help him do that.

Guillen is in the inaugural cohort of the Furman Angel Analyst Fellows, learning what it takes to be angel investors, according to a university news release.

“The goal is to provide students with the skills, experience and network to accelerate their learnings in early-stage venture investment,” whether they want to pursue a career as an investor or raise capital for their own ventures, Anthony Herrera, Furman’s chief innovation officer and executive director of The Hill Institute, said in the news release.

Charlie Banks, a managing director of VentureSouth, said students will get hands-on experience working with the VentureSouth team, participating in meetings, learning the firm’s due diligence process, and “seeing behind the curtain”

The group meets twice a week for eight weeks at Furman 101 in downtown Greenville, where they hear from entrepreneurs and business leaders, have facilitated discussions, go over case studies and exercises and receive mentoring. The last three weeks are spent on a due-diligence project, culminating in a presentation to VentureSouth. At the end of the program fellows have the chance to interview for two internship positions with the investment firm, according to the release.

The first class includes students from every academic year, but future cohorts will be limited to sophomores and juniors, giving students an advantage when applying for competitive internships with venture capital, private equity and investment banking firms their junior and senior years, Herrera said.

Students from any major can apply, making the program unique and the first of its kind at a liberal arts and sciences university, Herrera said in the release, adding the handful of similar programs are at larger universities, and are either exclusive to business majors or to graduate students.

Banks said his firm has been impressed with Furman students who have interned there in recent years. He and Herrera talked about expanding opportunities and opening it up to non-business majors. They want Furman students to become part of a growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in South Carolina and the Southeast.

“Furman students have talent and the willingness to learn a new skill,” Banks said in the release. “In the past, if a student wanted to get involved in venture capital, they had to go outside the Southeast.”

Guillen said he aspires to start an angel investing group in Honduras, and possibly in Mexico, where his stepfather is from. The countries “need investment into entrepreneurs to create new business and economic opportunities,” he said in the release.