Breaking into Venture Capital: part 2

Check out part 1 here: https://www.entrylevel.net/post/breaking-into-venture-capital-part-1

On April 19, 2022, EntryLevel sat down with people in the Venture Capital (VC) space to chat about what it’s like to work in Venture Capital. Our panelists were:

Read on for their advice!

How did you get into Venture Capital (VC)?

Giulianna

I’ve been in the startup space for 7 years. I was always more of a founder (building things) than an investor.

That’s how I learned about startup financing - I was a founder first.

Lauren

I started earlier when VC wasn't as popular. I had skills in community and story-building (rather than finance, investment) and worked in an Australian VC fund.

Every fund needs a community component. It's a differentiator.

You don’t need to be super analytical or have finance experience! I started out in community.

Emily

Yeah, I agree. I was a doctor, and am now a newbie in VC. Before that, I tried finance but it didn’t work out for me.

I got some experience with startups and did community management. So you definitely don’t need to have finance experience!

I just tried a lot of different things, and realized VC is more people-related and more generalist than finance-related.

VC is more people-related than finance-related.

What's the day-to-day like as a VC Analyst?

Emily

Usually, I do these:

✅assess pitch decks

✅talk to founders

✅talk to portfolio companies

✅operations (setting up systems)

✅community work through social media / events

When I’m doing a deal, here are some more tasks I take on:

✅financial stuff

✅writing memos

To be honest, I expected more data and analytics work, but it wasn’t the case.

Part of what I love about the VC space is the ability to make a difference. I’m creating a space for founders and startups to solve real-world problems.

I get to talk to awesome founders and learn about the amazing things they're doing, which is inspiring. I get to figure out how I can help them, and that's so rewarding.

Part of what I love about the VC space is the ability to make a difference.

Lauren

My day-to-day at Startmate varies with each cohort we have. I work on various initiatives (like fellowships) to see how I can support founders more.

For anyone looking to get into venture capital right now, the best thing you can do is develop your own curiosity and convictions.

Put your thoughts down on paper - why you think a company is going to succeed, or why a founder will succeed.

For anyone looking to get into venture capital right now, the best thing you can do is develop your own curiosity and convictions.

EntryLevel’s VC Analyst program is a great place to start getting in the mindset while also familiarizing yourself with the vocabulary: https://www.entrylevel.net/experiences/vc-analyst

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

Giulianna

My day-to-day consists of supporting founders and strategy-oriented tasks like deal analysis.

One of my favourite things to do is 3-hour deals calls.

However, my least favourite part is anything that’s process-related, including documentation.

What is the one thing you felt you needed to understand in-depth either technically or personally before starting your career in venture capital? How important was it in reality?

Lauren

Nobody knows any more about what's right and wrong than anyone else.

Knowledge can actually be the enemy of success - sometimes a fresh perspective is your greatest asset.

Don't waste time thinking you don't know enough about an industry, founder, or venture in general.

All you've got at the end of the day is the relationship you've built with the founder. Make sure it's a strong relationship.

Knowledge can actually be the enemy of success - sometimes a fresh perspective is your greatest asset.

If you were to jump into a role in VC without any background or experience, how would you do it?

Emily

Demonstrate your conviction and thinking models.

Don't underestimate your own perspective.

People were saying “get an MBA in finance,” but you can get around it by self-learning and demonstrating what you have to offer.

Show how you think (blogs, social media, newsletters) and evaluate founders and startups.

For example, I originally discounted my health background, but it ended up being what made me stand out - people were asking me questions and I started a newsletter.

This built a track record and audience that resonated with my values - which was super valuable experience.

Your different way of thinking is a competitive advantage.

Show how you think (blogs, social media, newsletters) and evaluate founders and startups.

You do not need a financial background before getting started - you can figure it out later.

There are many other things that are more valuable to learn - especially in early-stage startups.

Your different way of thinking is a competitive advantage.

How to land your first VC role?

Giulianna

The one underlying thing is curiosity.

I had the finance experience, but underestimated the people skills required for the role.

You need to speak to a lot of people in VC. You have to be curious and learn.

An indicator of curiosity is what you learn every day. For example, I like to ask people this question in interviews:

“What newsletters do you read?”

This question shows curiosity and a drive to learn more.

The one underlying thing is curiosity

Another good interview question to practice for is “if you were to start a startup now, what would it be?”

It’s amazing to hear the answers to this question, and it shows:

✅ founder mentality

✅ seeking opportunities

✅ paying attention

✅ curiosity and interest, even if people have no idea what to start

A good way to break into VC is to volunteer - show how hard you work and how you get things done.

It's not about who you know, it's about who knows you. Once you establish those relationships, things will come.

It's not about who you know, it's about who knows you. Once you establish those relationships, things will come.

Do you feel like you need to specialize in something as a VC, or can you be a generalist as you grow in a VC role?

Giulianna

If you want to be good at what you do, specializing is important.

However, I don’t want to pigeon-hole an industry or group of industries, because generalizing is still a good way to keep learning.

Lauren

It depends on the market you're operating in.

In Australia, if you're too much of a specialist, you may not have a lot of startups and founders to pick from.

The exception can be fintech - you need a deep understanding of the fintech industry.

At one point, you'll realize what you really love, what gets you excited, and what you're really interested in.

People can change, so your interests may shift over the years.

It doesn't hurt to be generally interested in many different things.

Emily

Emily's interests and background are in health, but in Australia, there isn't enough of a strong market or investment portfolio to go deep in health. The health startup scene is not as established right now.

There's power in bringing together people with a special interests.

But if you go too niche, you can miss out.

You can benefit from the intersections of different skillsets and experiences.

So there isn't really a clear answer - it's up to you whether you want to be more specialist or generalist.

There are pros and cons of each - and it can depend on the size of the industry and market.

What trends or developments are you looking forward to most in the VC space? What's exciting you right now?

Lauren

I’m interested in web3 and how it will evolve and change.

Emily

I’m also interested in web3 - there are so many threads and articles to learn from.

There's a lot of potential - like getting communities and individuals involved based on their values.

Giulianna

I consistently have new learnings - problems that startups address differ in different countries.

There are always interesting problems that pop up - especially with web3.

I love that there are so many gaps that pop up and ways to solve problems - it's always fun and exciting.

Resources

Learn more about VC and enrol in our program to get experience: https://go.entrylevel.net/vcama2promo

Check out part 1 of Breaking Into VC here: https://www.entrylevel.net/post/breaking-into-venture-capital-part-1

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

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