At a large company that worked with equally large FTSE100 clients, I was surprised to learn that we had a Commercial Innovation team working with startups. After always dreaming of starting my own business one day, this seemed like the perfect next step.
Here I had the opportunity to get to know the inner workings of the startup world: I met founders every day, attended events in the ecosystem and learned how founders should sell to large companies. This was invaluable in Gather relevant experience in a completely independent industry and confirmed my desire to work as an investor with founders in the long term.
I learned that early on VC is a people business. So building your network is key. I first spoke to investors. This can be tricky if you don’t have a blackbook with VC friends, but try the following: a) Go to pitching events and hold on for the networking part, b) ask everyone on your network if they are Know someone in VC and whether they could do an introduction and c) Reach investors directly on LinkedIn / Twitter. The latter can be most efficient, but only if you personalize each message and remember that it’s a give / take: when asking about their time, give them some insight or a recommended company that fits their investment thesis. Starting my own podcast – When Unicorns Fly – was another way to notify serious messaging industry honchos and ask about their time.
As soon as I knew VC was my next step, I did I tried four channels to get my ideal fund: 1) Make a short list of funds that I follow that I would regularly follow on social media / website. 2) I have registered my interest in recruitment agencies such as PER People and KEA Consultants. 3) Sign up for newsletters, e.g. B. for the InnovatorsRoom TechJobs newsletter. 4) I used my network (this is where the above comes in) to tell anyone and everyone that I was interested in VC so any tips / intros / support will be appreciated. It is very important not to rely on any channel. Junior VC roles are very rare anyway, and once you’ve settled on your ideal fund (for me: early-stage, generalist, UK-based) your options are limited so it is very important to be proactive be.
The interview process with Playfair was smooth and fun, but difficult. It was about meeting the entire team 1: 1 and creating an investment memo for our portfolio company Omnipresent. Fortunately, there are a variety of resources available to help you prepare for VC interviews. However, I found the following particularly useful:
- Stay up to date. Sifted and TechCrunch are great for industry-specific news. Follow your favorite investors / funds on Twitter and read the latest industry reports, e.g. B. Atomico’s State of European Tech and TechNation’s Annual Report.
- Podcasts and Books. My must is The 20 Minute VC, this week in Startups and Associated. I always recommend Venture Deals for the basics and The Innovation Blindspot for thinking outside the box.
- Create your own hypotheses on specific industries or market trends! You can use VC thought pieces to shape your views, such as: B. a16z has a great content area.
Most importantly, don’t rely on your achievements, previous career, or network to find a job. If you are very passionate about working with founders and showing your commitment, you can really stand out from the crowd!
In August 2019, a few months before my 18th birthday, I packed my bags, said goodbye to my family, and traveled from my hometown in Australia to the United States to do a bachelor’s degree from UPenn’s Wharton Business School. I put up a Wall Street poster in my dorm and I remember one day I just wanted to work there – whatever it took. Aside from competing in the same field as my colleagues in Wharton and wanting to work in the place I’d seen in all of the films, I didn’t really know Why that’s what I wanted.
In the middle of my freshman year, I had the opportunity to explore a world outside of the typical financial route through a Tech Trek program Penn ran during his fall break that took us to San Francisco to meet some of the coolest VCs and entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley. It was the first time I heard the words “venture capital” and the first time I met VCs. It really caused the lightbulbs to go out in my head – I even wrote an entire article about it. It was the first time that I saw the potential of working in, for and with startups as a viable career path.
When COVID hit and I was back home in Australia and choosing between online school and a gap year, I saw Playfair Capital’s job posting for their off-cycle VC position on my LinkedIn feed.
I grew up in Australia and studied in the USA. So Britain was a region that I hadn’t been exposed to before. This means that posting to my feed was based on the mere chance of getting in touch with some people in that region. I remember reading the description positively to hum with excitement. In London, during my year abroad? Oh yeah. Demo days and meet new people? Yes, please. Are you working with cool tech startups and breaking into VC? Yes and yes, sign me up.
However, there was a part of me that didn’t believe I was the right fit. At that point, I was 18 years old, just a year after my bachelor’s degree, and had no real work experience. Sure the application said experience wasn’t necessary, but the cheat syndrome I was feeling said otherwise.
Instead of stopping there and not applying, I took a leap of faith and reached out to someone I thought might help me understand if I was a good fit for this role: the electricity The off-cycle analyst Alexandra who had just written a post on “Why I came to Playfair” that I devoured.
After a few questions about LinkedIn DMs, I became more comfortable with my suitability for the role. So I applied. The recruiting process itself was challenging but really fun. I reached out to some of my upper-class friends at Penn to prepare for the interview process and the final assignment that was assigned to me (a review of our now portfolio firm Recycleye). And so I got my very first offer with a VC company. I joined remotely and 6 months later than planned thanks to the pandemic, but it has been a great and informative trip from the start. For all other young people looking to get started in VC, all I can say as advice is to stop doubting yourself, understand where your passion for the industry is coming from, and seek help from those who do Are available to you.