Breaking into Venture Capital: part 1

On April 5, 2022, EntryLevel sat down with Jonathan Chang of Gen Z Scouts and Daydream Ventures and Sully (Ryan Solomon) of Workweek to talk about breaking into Venture Capital.

Both Jonathan and Sully are Gen Zers who broke into Venture Capital in unconventional ways.

Read on for their advice!

How did you break into Venture Capital (VC)?

Jonathan

I was a business economics major, but didn't know what I wanted to do until I joined a few clubs on campus (including a VC club).

I interned in a few VC places, and got a job in VC after graduation.

Sully

I used to do videography and social media (including TikTok) before becoming a community manager - I’ve actually hosted 200+ events!

Currently, I work at Workweek - and I got hired because of TikTok.

Initially, I didn’t plan on going into Venture Capital - it just kind of happened!

My advice for getting hired on TikTok?

Make TikToks about the company and send it to the CEO.

This works because you’re showing you add value.

Create a tech portfolio to show employers. Learn tech skills with EntryLevel's beginner-friendly programs. Enrol at entrylevel.net

What advice do you have for breaking into Venture Capital (VC)?

Jonathan

Everyone has unique stories and backgrounds. Lean into this with:

  • Personal branding (write and share online!)
  • Entrepreneurship (start your own project!)

Sully

Content matters (in personal branding) because:

  • You don't have experience in investing in companies
  • You need to show how you think and what you know

Here’s how you can get started in your venture capital journey:

  • Make a list of LPs or startups you're watching and why
  • Start writing a blog, newsletter, or Twitter thread
  • Try podcasting

Personal branding and reputation can be the same.

You want to meet a lot of people and network. Twitter Spaces is a good way to network too.

What are the most important skillsets to get into VC?

Jonathan

There are 2:

  1. Communication
  2. Sales

Communication is important because most of your time is investment memos. You need to accurately articulate your research and the due diligence you did.

As for sales - I like to call Venture a glorified sales role. If you're a VC Analyst, you're selling to GPs on why they should invest in a particular company, and why startups should take your money.

Sully

I suggest joining a startup - you can stand out more with this experience.

You'll also get the opportunity to understand startup founders more. This entrepreneurial spirit and experience can land you a job.

What if you’re not very social or if you’re an introvert?

Jonathan

it takes practice. I used to be an introvert - but I started talking to more and more people and it got easier.

Sully

I've always been extremely extroverted, but here are my tips:

  1. Doing Twitter Spaces (speaking in front of people but you can't see them - this makes it easier)
  2. Read "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie

It's about how to be a good conversationalist more than being an extrovert.

A huge part of talking to others is actually just listening.

How do Venture Capitalists recognize great investment opportunities?

Jonathan

Your investment style can change with experience, as you invest in companies that do or don't work out.

In early stage investing, it boils down to the founding team.

You want to invest in the best founders. This can differ from firm to firm.

There are so many pivots in early-stage startups - the product can change a lot.

If you don't get along with the founder, it may not make sense to invest (since it's a 5-7 year relationship).

You invest in relationships.

Sully

You have to dive deeper than the pitch deck. A founder’s pitch doesn't always tell you the whole story

This is why sometimes referrals have more weight (if someone you trust DMs you - a VC - telling you to meet with a founder).

What’s a myth about VC?

Jonathan

A myth is that you pick nice companies and you win.

In reality, some founders don’t want to take your funding.

This is why relationships are so important. Founders are more likely to take your funding if you know them personally.

It also helps if you have experience or networks in the founder’s industry.

Sully

A myth is that experience with bigger firms are better.

The truth is that I have learned a LOT more with smaller firms - I got more unique experience. In smaller firms, I was more of a generalist and did a lot of different tasks.

It was easier to break into VC with this experience.

Tip: search Twitter for emerging fund managers and find out how to bring value to them!

Do you need finance experience or an MBA to go into VC?

Jonathan

No - unless you're doing late-stage VC.

For early-stage VC, you don't need to know too much about finance stuff. You'll do some but you can be trained on it and learn it easily.

In early-stage VC, you're really investing in people and numbers.

Sully

No - I was literally an advertising major.

You should know what term sheets look like and general knowledge like that - you're not the one crunching the numbers (accountants and lawyers do that).

Resources

Venture Deals book - but this is more for growth and later stage startups instead of early-stage ones: venturedeals.com

Secrets of Sand Hill Road book: https://a16z.com/book/secrets-of-sand-hill-road/

Learn more about VC and enrol in our program to get experience: https://go.entrylevel.net/vcama1promo

Next steps

  1. Follow our social media to get more tips for free
  2. Check out our VC Analyst program to get guided VC experience
  3. Read part 2 of our Breaking into Venture Capital blog post series

About EntryLevel

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To make learning more affordable, we offer a full refund for our programs once you complete them. You’ll also end the program with a portfolio of work that you can show off to recruiters.

Learn more about our programs here.

Date originally published:
June 16, 2022
Date last updated:
Aug 16, 2022
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