How can you get a job in a venture capital firm or a venture capital firm?

Updated on : January 21, 2022 by Kelvin Newman



How can you get a job in a venture capital firm or a venture capital firm?

Hi everyone,

Good advice on this Quora thread already, but I keep getting asked, so I thought I'd document my perspective.

First, it's good to start with the assumption that there are no VC jobs and intentionally joining a VC is unlikely for a specific job search. Very few VCs post open positions and run a recruitment process. Almost everyone hires through their networks and relationships opportunistically. Almost everyone hires people they know, trust, and have worked with for many years, or candidates who are highly recommended by those people. There are less than a thousand companies and almost all

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Hi everyone,

Good advice on this Quora thread already, but I keep getting asked, so I thought I'd document my perspective.

First, it's good to start with the assumption that there are no VC jobs and intentionally joining a VC is unlikely for a specific job search. Very few VCs post open positions and run a recruitment process. Almost everyone hires through their networks and relationships opportunistically. Almost everyone hires people they know, trust, and have worked with for many years, or candidates who are highly recommended by those people. There are less than a thousand companies and almost all of them are very small teams. Those who seem great because they manage a lot of money are very cautious and do not have that many members on the team either. A venture capital firm is structured as a partnership, and senior professionals are called partners because it is less of a job you get and more of a union for mutual benefit. Then,

Second, the old VC model described itself as a "learning business", but the new model is "anything goes." The norm used to be to be hired at the entry level, learn the dark arts and strings, and then be welcomed into an exclusive guild. This is no longer true, if it ever was. Entry-level positions, such as analyst or associate, are generally temporary roles, and those who fill operational positions after a few years are encouraged. However, there is good news: people are now joining or starting venture companies through all kinds of unexpected ways. It is highly dependent on time, relationships, and serendipity. (Oh, and privelage!)

Third, VC is a good state of mind rather than a job. (Roll your eyes, I know.) If you don't have it before you're in VC, then you won't make it or survive as a VC. As a community, we have similar failures clustering in a few key areas. We seem equally divided into extreme promoters and extreme skeptics. We think of ourselves as a conduit for the ambitions of others and we are in the habit of helping those who seek opportunities. We become obsessed with business building, innovation trends, new technology devices and platforms, interpersonal relationships, enabling networks, unmet market demand, great opportunities, and novel solutions.

Disclaimer: There are high points for VC, but it's tough behind closed doors. Not everything is pontificating in panels and making money. There is a constant overwhelming, daily fire drills, incessant firm pitches (repeated over and over again), and incessant company pitches. Much questionable time is spent doing analytical work to justify or combat other people's knee-jerk decisions. Ironically, it's both lonely and strenuously social, inspiring and heartbreaking. We have to be constantly high functioning to deal with constant dysfunction. Our calendars are not ours, everyone is trying to follow them, and our time and energy are wasted back and forth. We enter VC to support ideas and support entrepreneurs, But then we spend the vast majority of our time learning and then saying no to big ideas and struggling to find real time for the entrepreneurs we have the privilege of supporting. The amount of ego in most rooms is almost comical. Not to mention that the greatest value we create is often from a single investment every few years, so there is the nagging feeling that we are wasting time most of the time and that there is another place we need to be to find the next. Big Deal. Work-life balance is non-existent and our non-professional relationships suffer. (Try telling your loved one that you cannot make the date night because you need to go to an industry event where there is a probability of. 001% of knowing and investing in the next Facebook. Now do it 100 more times and see if I'm still in a relationship.) So there's an annoying feeling that we're wasting time most of the time, and that there's another place we need to be to find the next big thing. Work-life balance is non-existent and our non-professional relationships suffer. (Try telling your loved one that you can't make date night because you need to go to an industry event where there is a .001% chance of meeting and investing in the next Facebook. Now do it 100 more times and see if I'm still in a relationship.) so there's a nagging feeling that we're wasting time most of the time, and that there's another place we need to be to find the next big thing. Work-life balance is non-existent and our non-professional relationships suffer. (Try telling your loved one that you can't make date night because you need to go to an industry event where there is a .001% chance of meeting and investing in the next Facebook. Now do it 100 more times and see if I still have a relationship.) 001% chance that you will meet and invest in the next Facebook. Now do it 100 more times and see if you still have a relationship.) 001% chance that you meet and invest in the next Facebook. Now do it 100 more times and see if you still have a relationship.) (Try telling your loved one that you can't make date night because you need to go to an industry event where there is a .001% chance of meeting and investing in the next Facebook. Now do it 100 more times and see if I still have a relationship.) 001% chance that you will meet and invest in the next Facebook. Now do it 100 more times and see if you still have a relationship.) 001% chance that you meet and invest in the next Facebook. Now do it 100 more times and see if you still have a relationship.) (Try telling your loved one that you can't make date night because you need to go to an industry event where there is a .001% chance of meeting and investing in the next Facebook. Now do it 100 more times and see if I still have a relationship.) 001% chance that you will meet and invest in the next Facebook. Now do it 100 more times and see if you still have a relationship.) 001% chance that you meet and invest in the next Facebook. Now do it 100 more times and see if you still have a relationship.) 001% chance that you meet and invest in the next Facebook. Now do it 100 more times and see if you still have a relationship.) 001% chance that you meet and invest in the next Facebook. Now do it 100 more times and see if you still have a relationship.)

If you are still interested at this point, you may have the malfunction to enter VC. If you think of it as a winding journey rather than a job search, chances are it will eventually happen, and then you too may get so many emails asking for a meeting for coffee that your brain explodes.

So here are some patterns that I have seen. Most of the people who ended up in VC did so unexpectedly and through a combination of the following:

The paths you can have control over:

  1. Become a sought-after person in an area of ​​relevance to an emerging industry. This may involve providing thought leadership that becomes visible, or doing deep research on something erudite and technical, or helping so many entrepreneurs in remarkable ways that a large network of people begins introducing you to entrepreneurs starting businesses in their domain. experience. The VCs then hire you for their transaction flow and access.
  2. Bring investible capital to the table for a promising VC that you have built trust with. This sounds unlikely, but that's what makes it possible. You may have access to a family office, an institutional investor, a group of foreign capital that wants to enter VC. In the meantime, help an emerging venture capital by running a few projects, refer them to entrepreneurs, write market reports, or help with diligence or events. If you have your confidence and can come up with $ 20 million or more, a rising manager will most likely be happy to have you join in and hope you learn the ropes.
  3. Build your own angel investing history with everything you can throw away, keep track, and make a strong impression on entrepreneurs and co-investors. If you enter a high-growth company early, you are golden and may even start your own company. If you have returns with an IRR greater than 15% or a net multiple greater than 3X, you can show it to a company and participate in an investment function, or you can even raise a small own fund from LPs who are willing to take bets. new administrators and small funds.
  4. Enter world-class networks among the next generation of entrepreneurs. The usual advice from Stanford, Harvard, Carnegie-Mellon (totally unhelpful) falls into this group. You don't have to go to these schools, you just need to be in entrepreneur networks. You can go to events. You can join member networks like Young Entrepreneurship Council or Sandbox. It doesn't really matter where you find them. But join groups and attend events until you find an environment that seems to be full of bright, visionary people who want to build great companies. Bonus points if you build your own top-tier network, formally or informally.
  5. Think of a unique, contrary, timely and memorable thesis, do your homework and become an expert, write reports and blog, and keep it up until people start thinking that you could be onto something. When the VCs begin to communicate with you about it, let them know that you might be willing to work with them.
  6. Participate in activities similar to VC. Advising companies on fairness and doing real work for them without getting paid. Work with a group of angels to secure deals, work with an accelerator or incubator, help manage a student venture capital fund, or help host industry events, hackathons, and kick-off weekends. Hell, you could even work for a private equity firm.
  7. Create VC-like work products and have a portfolio of work to share. Take notes on all the companies you know, summarize them, and make sense of them. Keep traction data in a consistent format. Write a brief or report on a space, even better if you do original research, choose the most promising companies and write an investment memo about them. Document your thinking convincingly. Write blog posts on business start-up best practices. Go to conferences and blog about the recommendations. Do and keep track of special projects and presentations for entrepreneurs.
  8. Work on "alternatives" in asset managers and go above and beyond for venture capitalists in your portfolio. There are many more jobs in the groups that fund VCs than in VCs. Donations, family offices, large financial institutions, insurance groups, and professional asset management companies often have teams that they assign to Venture. Go work on them. Examine and evaluate professional venture firms. It will be wonderful to meet you. Be helpful. Go to the Annual General Meeting of each VC to which you are assigned. Leave an impression.

The paths you probably have no control over:

  1. Start a business that attracts attention. Go through the ups and downs of the founder. Develop intuition about the creation and construction of companies. Gain remarkable trust with your own investors by handling the ups and downs with poise. When the business collapses or is sold, work with your own investors.
  2. Start a business that makes money. Bring your own money as a GP commitment and join or co-found a company with partners you have built trust with. Bonus points if you win a lot of money to investors.
  3. Play early and key operational roles in the next generation of high-growth companies. Did you work at AirBnB and Uber and Dropbox? Come on! You must know how to choose them!
  4. Work in consulting or investment banking and gain muscle memory for rapid material generation. Work in emerging industries or on transactions found in emerging industries. Venture capitalists typically have to write investment memoranda, make internal presentations, rebuild financial models, conduct and document due diligence or perform similar workflows, and create similar deliverables. If you're good and fast, and have original thoughts in the process, VCs will want you on their team because they can't take the time to do it without top-notch help.
  5. Work on transactions and get closer to the details. Be a corporate or transaction attorney, work for a stockbroker or investment banker. Sell ​​or buy, make deals. Price. Negotiate. Review the red lines on overwhelming, long, and boring legal paperwork and have passionate discussions of accounting techniques. Learn how to get tricky and tricky deals all the way to the finish line. Bonus points if you help to list a company.
  6. Be a tech journalist, even a fake one. Cover some emerging spaces and interview all the entrepreneurs with a pulse. Find the essence, make sense of things, identify and label trends, and create a detailed mind map of the fringes of an innovation ecosystem. Bonus points if you write a book or co-author a book with a famous VC.
  7. Develop a credible and relevant bio and make a company look good by hiring you. This is vague, but venture capitalists should make and leave an impression on LPs and entrepreneurs quickly. So personal history matters. "We invested in energy storage, and Rebecca invented a new kind of low-cost battery here when she was a student."
  8. Convincing an unsuspecting group of money to act like a VC. Come up with a family office, an endowment fund, or a corporate balance sheet so you can write checks because all these cool things are happening and you're missing them right now. Sell ​​FOMO.
  9. Fulfill time in the acquirers. Across all industries, there are a handful of established companies actively acquiring venture-backed companies. They have teams that scan the market and run the acquisition process, generally called Corporate Development. If you have a strong network in several and you know how they think and operate, that is very relevant for VCs.

There is virtually no way to learn in depth about starting, starting, building, and scaling businesses. It is useful to know everything about how capital moves around the world. So if you're not reading a bunch of business books for fun, then VC is probably not for you.

I suspected there might be a trick to all of this. Find out which VC you want to join, and then act as an associate without getting paid. Go explore companies, meet with them, write company briefs, choose a company and write an investment memorandum. Then simply share your work with your favorite partner and compliment.

I hope it helps!

For context, I joined Learn Capital as a partner after starting a visible company, helping some other companies in the founding stages, referring many entrepreneurs to Learn Capital, going to too many industry events and drinking too many coffees, and preparing some angel investments. I was a Kauffman Fellow, class 20 and created the scholarship program at Learn Capital.

Many of the best VC firms have three types of roles: analytical / support roles with very little hope of an upward trajectory, director / vice president (above or outside) roles, and true investment association roles.

The best ways to get an Analyst / Associate position at these companies (remember that some companies call these positions "Associate" like A16Z):

  1. Work for 1 to 4 years at one of the top three management consulting firms (McK, BCG, Bain) or a top five investment bank, and then work with an executive recruiting firm that leads the search for an associate position (Glocap, CPI, Friendship Search Partners). When I was an associate consultant at Ba
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Many of the best VC firms have three types of roles: analytical / support roles with very little hope of an upward trajectory, director / vice president (above or outside) roles, and true investment association roles.

The best ways to get an Analyst / Associate position at these companies (remember that some companies call these positions "Associate" like A16Z):

  1. Work for 1 to 4 years at one of the top three management consulting firms (McK, BCG, Bain) or a top five investment bank, and then work with an executive recruiting firm that leads the search for an associate position (Glocap, CPI, Friendship Search Partners). When I was an associate consultant at Bain, we were always hired for the same jobs, because venture capitalists value the skill set that people acquire at these companies and rely on the selection process to identify qualified talent.
  2. Join a fast-growing and trendy tech startup in a corporate, BD, or product developer role. It has to be modern enough for the aforementioned recruiters to hit you, so don't go at an early stage. When I entered the early stage, I was rarely chosen for these roles, except for recruiters who classified me as a "Bain consultant with X years of experience." Join something post-C Series and very trendy. They also hire corporate development roles at large tech companies (Google, etc.).
  3. Go to Stanford and join a group of tech / entrepreneurship clubs. Many venture capitalists just want to hire kids who went to Stanford, maybe Harvard or a few others. There is an argument that these people will be better at getting offers from their groups of friends.
  4. Born really rich, preferably the son of a successful VC.
  5. Be a person on the conference / meeting scene and follow every tech startup no matter how esoteric or unimportant.

My experience is that many venture capitalists do not value their Analysts / Associates and promote people with abstract professional benefits such as "learning the industry." There is an expression: "you value what you value" in the form of promotions / payment / learning. Most hiring managers will tell you that these are 2-year programs that have virtually no chance of staying; I'm not sure there is a better signal than where companies value. Many things force you to focus primarily on "sourcing," also known as cold calling, or "deal support," which in the initial stages of deals is not a complicated analysis. They also don't tend to learn the challenges associated with building a startup as much as the people who join real startups. There are certainly exceptions. But many successful VCs advise people interested in this path to instead join a "rocket ship" and try to get in as a PM / operator. Very few people in these roles advance within a fund; most go to boutique / tier-2 firms, go to growth investing / PE / hedge funds, or work at a startup. Some definitely do, especially if they are covering more growth investing type jobs. And some start with their own funds. But many successful VCs advise people interested in this path to instead join a "rocket ship" and try to get in as a PM / operator. Very few people in these roles advance within a fund; most go to boutique / tier-2 firms, go to growth investing / PE / hedge funds, or work at a startup. Some definitely do, especially if they are covering more growth investing type jobs. And some start with their own funds. But many successful VCs advise people interested in this path to instead join a "rocket ship" and try to get in as a PM / operator. Very few people in these roles advance within a fund; most go to boutique / tier-2 firms, go to growth investing / PE / hedge funds, or work at a startup. Some definitely do, especially if they are covering more growth investing type jobs. And some start with their own funds. especially if they are covering more growth investing type jobs. And some start with their own funds. especially if they are covering more growth investing type jobs. And some start with their own funds.

Look at 30 Under 30 This Year to Confirm the Above: Sam Altman, 29 - In Photos: 2015 30 Under 30: Venture Capital. Or look at the list of Kauffman Fellows: Current Fellows | Kauffman Fellows. Many tiny funds (<$ 50 million), many Stanford students, many children of wealthy investors, and many former consultants / bankers.

To obtain a director / vice president position:

1) Get an MBA from Harvard or an MBA from Stanford. These schools disproportionately place people in companies relative to other higher B schools.
2) Play an important operational role in an early start-up or growth stage.
3) Have a mid-level corporate developer role in a fashion tech company or growth stage startup.
4) Take advantage of your analyst / associate experience to move companies to another company that is hiring directors / vice presidents.

To land an investment partner position at a major company:
1) You started a ridiculously successful company or series of companies, get a great exit, and then decide you want a second career.
2) Have an important operational role in a unicorn company or a large technology company.
3) Be a ridiculously successful director / vice president who lands incredible deals. Associations are often very reluctant to split the fees / take them with new members, especially in smaller venture capital funds, so you really need to be killing to convince them to add you to the club.

Good luck!

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