So You Wanna Be a VC

venture capital advice cartoon vc

Here’s some wisdom and accompanying thought I’ve put together for those who aspire to one day be a venture capitalist. Fear not – it’s relevant to most all other fields as well :)

Start Your Own Business. If I was a VC firm looking to hire, I wouldn’t consider anyone who had not started their own company…unless I just needed a research geek. Especially now that the barriers to entry are so low for entrepreneurs, I would have serious doubts about hiring someone incapable of 1) starting their own company and 2) generating income when the job description is essentially evaluating the ability of others to do the same

Don’t Just Read – Note and Collect. Anyone can read. People with photographic memories may even remember huge chunks of that information — but most likely you won’t. The top VC’s of the future will be people who can cull through a lifetime of accumulated knowledge, their own data asset, and draw connections and insights

Read Newspapers and Magazine – Yes, there is a ton to be said for understanding a particular niche…blogs and RSS are great for that. But a good VC should also understands the overall economic environment and big picture trends. Also they should have exposure to other market segments and innovative thinkers – niche research on blogs doesn’t provide this

Develop a “livingâ€� Rolodex – Not just names and numbers. Figure out a way to build sustaining relationships that have interaction. A name registered in Outlook five years ago from a chance encounter isn’t going to hold much weight

Take a Course in Engineering – While it would be great if you were an EE, complementing your finance or computer science courses with some engineering will impress recruiters and help you think strategically

Know Art & Design – Let’s face it, every business these days can benefit from a compelling user-experience, whether web-based or not. Being able to judge design talent and craftsmanship is essential. Whether consider Tufte’s stance on web design, or simply impressing clients/investors with your sculpture knowledge at a fundraiser knowing basic concepts will pay big dividends

Blog – This accomplishes numerous things. First, it is a great way to be found, self-promote and establish yourself as an authority on niche subject matter. Second, VCs must write and express themselves to partners, entrepreneurs, etc. A blog is a good way to highlight and practice analysis and communications skills. Imagine having a blog that is read by many entrepreneurs. It indicates and you are well-respected among core demographics and gives you credibility and recognition. It’s a  huge asset you can bring to a VC firm that hires you on day 1. Consider how many VCs currently blog…and most are playing catch up. One specific idea is to be one of the first people to review a new startup from a sustainability or monetization perspective. Basically, just join the conversation

Research IP/Patent Law  This will only become a bigger and bigger field. As technologies mold into commodity goods, the ability to differentiate on IP and protect innovative approaches is key. If you can look at a technology and intelligently suggest what might be proprietary, patentable or easiest to defend in the market (whether from the legal perspective or not) you are a god

Start as an Advisory Capitalist – Find a promising startup and offer your consulting services in exchange for some equity. It’s a good way to develop a small portfolio that you can use to validate your determination, due diligence, ability to work with entrepreneurs and do small-scale deals

Volunteer – Maybe it sounds crazy, but if you really want to network and gain experience offer to assist an established firm with some due diligence. A good VC always finds ways to create opportunity


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