Getting a job in VC

Without fail, I get at least one email a week asking about how to break into VC. I will give my short answer, and then point you to some other posts with great answers and advice, much better than mine.

There are two common paths to becoming a VC:

  1. You worked in the startup space
  2. You have transactional experience as a banker

Some other common traits:

  • Have a network of entrepreneurs and VCs/lawyers/bankers
  • Strong interest in working with startups.

Most of all… you have to be Lucky. There aren’t many openings, so you have to be there at the right time and place.

Other Posts: (will add as I come across others)

Learning To Code with CodeYear.com

CodeYear.com is a great idea. They will send you a weekly homework assignment that will teach you how to code. I also like the marketing push to coincide with New Year Resolutions. Sign up if you haven’t already.  I did.

Great idea, but how many people will finish and gain enough skills to actually land a job or launch a successful app?

We all know majority of new years resolutions are never met. I know of only a few reasons most people can successfuly achieve such goals – your life depends on it and/or your career depends on it.

Codeyear is a start in the right direction, but there is a lot more needed than just a tutorial. It needs to create a community support group through forums, meetups, experienced newbies and mentorship

Augment the codeyear experience by adding taking some additional steps:

1. Set a goal – launch an app or get a job. Keep it simple, a simple CRUD or better yet, a read-only application
2. State it publicly – accountability always helps
3. Get Support – a community to answer questions, guide etc.
4. Get a coding buddy/mentor/partner
5. Fix someone else’s bugs – Coding from scratch is hard. Modifying someone else’s code is a much better starting point.

I don’t know the goals of codeyear, but lots more need to be done to build an app than some javascript. Granted with most shared hosting services, you can get a simple website up and running quickly, but it gets pretty complex with any other functionality beyond HelloWorld. Databases require some understanding of queries, relationships, data integrity, etc. What about version control? GIt vs subversion? What about hosting vs local machine dev?

I doubt many people will stick with the program.  But I want people to make me eat my words. Prove me wrong!!

I’ve signed up for CodeYear and I’m going to seek out a programming mentor, thanks alexkehayias. I “plan” on sticking with it to dust off my development skills and learn some new skills and languages. But life happens … 

How I got a job in VC

This is a list of things I did to prepare for a VC job search.  It is not all encompassing, but rather some things I thought would be useful to others.

Mark Davis Peter has a great series of posts on Getting the VC Job.  I read all of them and definitely recommend them.

Read everything
 – VC blogs –  Larry Cheng has complied a list which he updates annually.  I added the top 20ish to my RSS reader to help make reading more efficient.  This will help you get some insight to how VCs think and what they are interested in.
 – Twitter – follow VCs and entrepreneurs.  Read what they link to.
 – Read BusinessInsider SAI and BetaBeat. SAI will usually link to the most popular postings of the day, so add that to your RSS list too.

Join the community
 – Network – attend events and shake hands with VCs and entrepreneurs (Meetups, pitch events) and then grow the relationship.
 – Twitter – start conversations by asking and answer questions
 – Comment on blog posts –  Add value to the discussion.
 – Join every alpha/beta/new product and play with it.  Take some pictures with Color, Check-in with Foursquare, get a Kohort username 

 Process the information
– Take what you read/what you know/who you met and form an opinion.
      Will Company X be successful?
      How can Company Y monetize?
      What do you like/not like about Company Z?
      Know all the hot startups and some relatively unknown ones. Have an opinion.

 Help a startup
 From the networking events you attended, hopefully you made some connections.  Now reach out to the entrepreneurs and ask to help out.  Propose a plan that will leverage your skill set.  Got social media skills? … help with marketing.  Got finance skills? … help with an Excel model.  Got software skills? … well, everyone can use help here.
How you will help will vary on your availability, your skillset, and their needs.  It could be volunteer, hourly, project based.  Either way, you’ll learn something.

I consulted with numerous startup building Excel models, writing software, doing QA, and just thinking through marketing plans and providing feedback.  They all gave me some insight into their startup which was helpful in interviews.

Study up
Learn how to build financial models (Training The Street)
Learn about term sheets (http://www.gabrielweinberg.com/blog/2010/06/how-to-learn-about-angelvc-term-sheets.html)
Learn about the different business models 

Be lucky
Luck plays a role in any job search, so be prepared when your time comes. During Q12011, there were at least 4 openings – OATVSpark Captial, First Round and Time Warner.  I haven’t never seen so many VC openings in such a short period, and those were the advertised ones!  Each have their own specific requirements, but they all require the applicant to know the venture space and love it.

I’m happy to answer any questions.