Reflections from the 2022 – 2023 Vanderbilt MIINT Team 

March 2023

In September 2022, graduate students had the opportunity to apply to be part of Vanderbilt’s 2022-2023 MIINT (MBA Impact Investing Network & Training) Team.

Turner MIINT is an opportunity for graduate students to get hands-on training in impact investing. Students from top business schools get together to be part of a growing impact investing network. Turner MIINT, co-sponsored by the Wharton Social Impact Initiative and the Bridges Impact Foundation, is a unique experiential learning opportunity for students interested in understanding the perspective of investors in the social impact sector.

During the program, team members completed a series of modules on various aspects of impact investing, from sourcing to investment strategy. Following the modules, students begin the sourcing phase, searching for a company to pitch to the Turner MIINT Investment Committee in the Turner MIINT finals. This year’s Turner MIINT team chose to pitch Kadeya a startup that offers sustainable solutions by reimagining the entire supply chain of water bottles.

This weekend, the 31st of March and the 1st of April, a group of five excellent Vanderbilt Graduate students is competing in the semi-finals and finals at the Wharton Business school for a potential investment of up to $50,000.

Before the team left Nashville to compete in Philadelphia, we asked them about their experiences as Vanderbilt’s MIINT Team.

  1. What motivated you to be part of the MIINT competition? 

I’m interested in founding a startup at some point in the future. As such, it seemed worthwhile to learn what investors are looking for within the social enterprise space. (Parker Willmon, Ph.D. Biomedical Engineering ’25)

Coming from an engineering background vs. an MBA background, I wanted to participate in the MIINT competition to learn how to evaluate impact investments. (Juliana Yang, MS Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering ’23)

I pursued joining MIINT to gain first-hand experience working with start-ups and with marrying profitability and social/environmental impact. Further, I desired to be challenged to consider the objectives of both the social entrepreneur and the investor. MIINT offers hands-on experience in a structured, practical, measurable way – through sourcing, conducting due diligence, and presenting an early-stage company to investors. (Tanishka Parker, MBA ’24)

I believe that capitalism is the most efficient problem-solving system to date. I believe that it is our responsibility as business leaders to prioritize problems truly worth solving for our investment of time and capital. I joined MIINT to learn how to evaluate and choose between quality companies for such investments. (James Keck, MBA ’24)

I had some previous experience working with ESG investing as an asset manager during my job before coming to the MBA. I felt that doing MIINT would be a good complement to that by providing me a more direct experience in the ample world of impact investing. (Christian Sanders Aspillaga, MBA ’24)

  1. What has been the most impactful experience or learning from this competition so far? 

The Chicago immersion was the most impactful part for two reasons. The first is that, as with Project Pyramid, it offered a time to get to know each other’s backgrounds and interests beyond school. The second was the connections to founders and VCs in the area. Ask again after the actual competition. (Parker Willmon, Ph.D. Biomedical Engineering ’25)

Being able to interact with various startup founders and investors during the Chicago Immersion has been the most impactful experience as we met Kadeya through the TechRise competition while we were there. (Juliana Yang, MS Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering ’23)

The sourcing and due diligence processes have been most impactful. Through those processes, I got the chance to apply some of the principles and theories learned in my core courses. I also learned a great deal about what to consider when determining if an investment is attractive or not. As a bonus, I had the opportunity to meet and connect with inspiring founders and learn of the social impact of their work. (Tanishka Parker, MBA ’24)

Our Chicago immersion trip was an opportunity to absorb the thinking process and approach of VCs. As someone new to the space, I was able to develop a much better understanding of the career pathway to VC roles. (James Keck, MBA ’24)

For me, the best experience was the Chicago Immersion. The opportunity to see a pitch competition was invaluable both for me both as an individual and for our team to get inspiration for the MIINT competition. After that, the chance to interact directly with the CEO of the company we sourced was very enrichening. (Christian Sanders Aspillaga, MBA ’24)

  1. What do you expect to gain from competing in the finals at Wharton Business School? 

I have no idea. As an engineering student, I feel like I’ll have to work to make connections with people, but I don’t know what I‘ll learn or who I’ll connect with until we get there. (Parker Willmon, Ph.D. Biomedical Engineering ’25)

I’m excited to help pitch Kadeya to investors as I believe the company has the potential to not only eliminate single-use plastic but expand access to clean water! (Juliana Yang, MS Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering ’23)

As for the finals at Wharton Business School, I look forward to presenting our chosen start-up (Kadeya) and gaining expert feedback. We have truly committed to this project and the company and hope to communicate our findings effectively to the investment committee. Outside of the actual competition, I look forward to networking with other graduate students from top schools around the world. (Tanishka Parker, MBA ’24)

Primarily, I hope to generate significant press for Kadeya, the startup we are representing. Personally, I’m looking forward to meeting the other teams and the judges to deepen my network in this space. (James Keck, MBA ’24)

I expect to gain valuable experience and knowledge from competing in the finals at Wharton Business School. Being able to pitch a startup company to a panel of experts is a unique opportunity to see how the world of venture capital works. (Christian Sanders Aspillaga, MBA ’24)