Campus organization provides real-world business, investment experience
by Mariah Cuellar
Plutus21 was founded by a group of SMU students who saw the need for and potential in providing safe opportunities for investors to invest in countries unfamiliar to them.
These founding members, from countries including India, Mexico, Panama and China, noticed that investors and entrepreneurs are often reluctant in investing or starting a business in another country due to unfamiliarity and high risk factors.
Senior Hamiz Awan and May graduate Ricardo Sieveking, who are both familiar with the economies of their home countries and of the U.S., aim to bridge the gap between investors and investment opportunities across all borders.
In order to do this, Plutus21 members evaluate potential projects. After a project is accepted, market research is assigned to the team’s analysts or interns, who generate financial projections and potential outcomes.
Next, business plans are made and evaluated by the organization’s Tier I and Tier II members, who are post-graduates and experienced professionals. Once advised and business plans have been finalized, the team creates pitch decks to send to their investor network.
For business students, it can be easy to find business opportunities, evaluate them and decide whether to take part in it. For Awan and Sieveking, it was easy to say yes to what they saw as a pool of global opportunities.
“I wanted to put together an international team that represents major countries and takes advantage of interesting deals across borders. I wanted to be that bridge,” said Awan, a finance major from Karachi, Pakistan minoring in statistical science with a concentration in alternative assets management.
Plutus21 members are students eager to find or create their own opportunities and by doing so create an unprecedented path of entrepreneurship – a risky but rewarding path if all things align. Compared to other organizations on campus, Plutus21 boasts that it provides a unique experience to members.
“Working as an analyst for this org is so much different from just being part of the machinery for a huge corporation. I get to communicate directly with partners and other analysts with personal input and ideas for projects ranging from real estate to tech opportunities,” analyst Sabrina Peng said.
Awan says he had six different offers from companies that any other student would have taken, but that he rejected because he saw the potential in being an entrepreneur and the uniqueness in this organization.
“People have a perceived look at entrepreneurship but really you have nothing to lose, especially as a college student or recent grad,” Awan said.
Members of Plutus21 aspire to be like Tom Dundon, an SMU grad who transformed his $80,000 student loan debt and two-and-a-half star burger joint into a role as CEO of a lending firm and his own investment firm. Dundon is now a billionaire; throughout his journey, he has said he aims to dedicate himself to causes he believes in.
The team aims to be an alternative assets investment fund and is currently focusing on venture capital and real estate. Plutus21 members saw the real estate industry as a major opportunity for international investors to invest in a low-risk scenario. The team has partnered with experienced real estate professionals to learn more about the industry.
“That’s what’s awesome about Plutus, we create our own opportunities where we see fit,” Awan said.