Ready to make an impact in the venture capital space, Ben Hohensee, a finance major from Lincoln, Nebraska, excelled at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln using his CliftonStrengths® and experience from the Husker Venture Fund (HVF), a student-led venture fund that invests in Nebraska-based startups. As he prepares for graduation this December, he feels ready to lead in his role as a venture associate at VC Lab, headquartered in Palo Alto, California.
“Nebraska has been a great place to learn. From faculty, staff and the education you receive – everything's great here, particularly in the College of Business. I've had some wonderful and unique experiences with the various things I've been involved in,” he said.
A requirement for all business students, the course PrEP I Investing in Strengths (BSAD 111) showed Hohensee how to utilize his top CliftonStrengths to find success early on at the College of Business. Mentoring from staff and one-to-one coaching by student strengths coaches led to him expanding his involvement on campus.
“The Clifton Strengths Institute staff helped me better understand my strengths and made me realize I have more potential than I thought I did, and were extremely influential. They also helped me realize I should get out of my comfort zone and try different things,” he said.
As a senior associate in HVF, Hohensee discovered different ways to apply his strengths, by helping assess the founders and startup companies that come to present and figuring out whether or not the student-led fund should invest in them. He then applied what he learned to his internship at VC Lab, a local venture capital accelerator.
“Husker Venture Fund has been crucial to how successful I've been at VC Lab. It took out the whole first step process of trying to get to know venture capital because I already had such a great basic understanding of it through HVF. I didn't have to learn as much as quickly as other people at VC Lab,” he explained.
Mike Suprovici, head of acceleration at VC Lab, feels confident in the soon-to-be graduate’s ability to advance in the venture capital environment.
“Ben has been an invaluable contributor for VC Lab. His operational rigor helped our team as we launched hundreds of new venture capital firms all over the world this year. I am really bullish on his potential as a key contributor in the VC industry, and I’m really excited about his future,” Suprovici said.
Within HVF, Hohensee found a space to collaborate with like-minded peers and make an impact in the startup community, gaining unique insight into the investment chain for early-stage startups.
“The Husker Venture Fund sparked my passion in venture capital and made me realize that I really like entrepreneurship. It's cool seeing things from the different perspective of startups,” he said.
Maria Heyen, a managing director of HVF and senior international business and Clifton Builders management major from Astoria, Oregon, witnessed firsthand Hohensee’s impact on the large financial decisions made by the group.
“Whether it’s deal discussion, due diligence or mentoring, Ben is always there to step up to help. He is always a standout in writing due diligence, and his comments during deal discussions are always heavily valued,” she said. “Ben has directly contributed to a majority of the due diligence reports we have written. Specifically, Ben always asks great questions during and post pitches and is an excellent example of how to best contribute to our deal flow process.”
Over the past four years, Hohensee also joined several other organizations on campus, including the Nebraska Human Resource Institute, Phi Delta Theta, Big Red Investment Club and Civitas Consulting. He used his strengths experience to thrive, especially during his time as a student strengths coach, mentoring first-year business students in BSAD 111 and helping them discover and develop their natural talents.
“I felt like I left a pretty significant impact on a lot of the students who I mentored and coached. I helped them realize their potential in regards to their strengths. It also helped me realize how good of a leader I can be,” Hohensee said. “The best thing about being a Husker is the sense of belonging in a community filled with people who put others before themselves.”
Hohensee draws from his top five strengths regularly to elevate his personal and professional life and enhance his work.
“My top strength, Maximizer, describes me perfectly, because I'm never quite satisfied with where I'm at and always trying to push to that next level. I utilize it as much as I can, as well as my Ideation strength. Just thinking about those subconsciously throughout my college experience really helped me excel,” he said.
With a job secured, long-lasting friendships made and a strong foundation of financial skills built, Hohensee looks forward to joining the nearly 40,000 business Husker alumni community.
“Graduating from Nebraska provided me with loads of unique experiences and opened doors to new opportunities I never thought I'd have the chance to pursue. I developed many relationships with influential people at Nebraska and the surrounding Lincoln community who want the best for my future and me. I'm genuinely grateful for everything Nebraska offered me and happy to say that I'm graduating with no regrets,” he said.
Published: December 13, 2022