Created a Startup; Now Want to Get Into Finance

Over the last year/two years myself and two partners built a startup in California. Raising several million in capital and now operational. This has started a fire in me to want to refocus to a career in the financial world. I do not have my bachelors. I dropped out of college while studying History in England to start this venture. I have what is essentially a UK associates degree but I am able to apply for some postgrad programs with it and my work experience. What advice can you give me?

What I have come up with so far are two options;
1. Get a postgrad in management from LSE online
2. Get an economics certification from Harvard Extension School; with this apply for econ related postgrads at LSE online
I am not opposed to studying on campus but this will not really allow me to work and I see continued work experience as a plus... might be wrong about this-advice welcome.

LSE seems to be the best place that will accept my credentials for postgrad and offers an online program.

I would really appreciate some insight into this idea

I can also spend quite a lot on retraining etc... as it turns out some startups are profitable!

Thank you all

Comments (11)

Apr 12, 2020 - 7:14pm
Netswift, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Did you sell the start up? Why do you want to get into finance?

Apr 12, 2020 - 7:49pm
KGR, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I strongly suggest VC. Venture Capital firms see your experience as extremely valuable and depending on how your company is doing, the VCs or fund sources may be a good start in terms networking.

Apr 12, 2020 - 7:55pm
Hölder, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Excuse me for answering with a question but have you considered the possible damage that could be done to the business if 1/3 partners were to just ditch the company to work in finance? If you have already considered this and talked it out then I'd be curious about how this is going over. What do your investors think, what do your partners think, etc. Just really curious about how a partner leaving shakes things up.

Apr 13, 2020 - 1:48am
hm543, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is doable, and I'd recommend you go back and get your bachelors if you want to go the traditional recruiting route, but situation seems kinda weird.

If your startup is profitable and you've raised millions in venture funding, then you should stay on at your company. Build the business. You have some level of responsibility to do that, and it also makes a ton of sense from a personal financial perspective if you have the appropriate founder-level equity.

The only reasons you should leave for IB are:

  1. The company is going to fail.
  2. You are being forced out.

If 1. is true, then own that, and try to sell the company. Don't just leave. A sale is not the IPO outcome you and your investors hoped for, but at least it's a soft landing for everyone. The sale process will also teach you a lot of practical (though small-scale) M&A nuances that will be useful if you ultimately transition to IB.

If it's 2., then I recommend you go finish your degree. Start networking now. Talk with senior bankers pitch your story, communicate why you left your company (more compellingly than this post, because they'll have the same questions I do), and you'll probably be able to land a role.

VC is an option, but tbh getting a worth position at a good fund will be difficult at this stage. Most entrepreneur-->VC transitions this early in ppls careers are portfolio founders moving over to one of their investors' teams. That's only possible if your business wind down/departure is extremely amicable (like a sale), and your investors love you. Also probably only makes sense if your investors are notable VCs that will weather the coming storm.

Apr 15, 2020 - 11:29am
mikecofone, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Without going into detail I have sound reasoning for at least preparing an exit strategy. At this time I have complete faith in the company, its operators, and our modeling. My concern mainly lies in the unknown factors of Coronavirus fallout. In my opinion the business is not recession proof and with so much volatility I think it is wise to at least prepare for outcomes that are not favorable.

You advise finishing my degree. Can you elaborate on this? My degree is in history, not something finance related. Certainly my experience in the startup realm will give me some sort of an edge and I'd like to capitalize on it. Could you go into more detail regarding finishing my degree?

Could you also point me in a direction for whom to reach out to on LinkedIn? Whether that be companies to investigate or individuals?

Thank you for this reply

  • Prospect in Other
Apr 15, 2020 - 11:59am

Yes, your experience is interesting/valuable. It is still highly unlikely that somewhere will hire you if you don't gave a bachelor's degree, but this also depends on the size of the firm and how institutional it is.

Apr 13, 2020 - 2:42am
m_1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Why would you want to go to school when you have a successful company?

I was in your shoes a few years ago when I was trying to decide what to do. Had a good inflow of cash from my main company, and wanted to start investing it because my business partners in the company throwing off healthy dividends didn't really want to scale the co/go as HAM as I did.

Ended up launching a small firm with a business partner I made co-invested with and it worked out really really well.

We stuck to our roots and invested in what we knew...which gives you a HUGE leg up over any investors in VC or PE with "traditional" backgrounds. IE, they need consultants to diligence an asset when you can probably do it much much faster as an operator if the business is similar to what you do now. I can give entrepreneurs a yes/no and and start getting cash into their co within 1 - 2 weeks if they are fast on the DD end.

Just read some books on PE, buy some courses online, and hire someone with some experience in PE. It's not rocket science and nothing you do in school is going to be anywhere near as valuable as the ability to scale a company.

Most Helpful
Apr 15, 2020 - 1:18pm
BoBandy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This. I may be missing something but it boggles my mind when entrepreneurs consider giving up their success to go work in M&A. I grew up wanting my own business and decided that M&A would get me as close to the driver's seat as possible (hearing founders' stories, understanding how investors and operators think about driving growth / industry dynamics) and inspire a startup idea of my own while I stockpile cash to either fund my own idea or bet the house on red with an SBA loan to buy something small. I accepted the hours, stress and relative indignity that comes with working in banking as a means to that end.

Something m_1 has said in previous posts that's resonated with me strongly is how working in M&A doesn't really train the skills needed to get in the cockpit of a business and drive growth. I love the exposure M&A has provided but I still have no real idea what I would do if put in the executive chair of a small company. TBD on what job does train those skills if anything other than just having the opportunity to get in and do it live.

I'm rambling at this point but OP I just wanted to share that it sounds like you're living a dream most guys in banking / PE don't ever realize. If it's deals you want to do, is it possible to partner with someone (fundless sponsor) that knows their way around a buyside process and exchange your operating expertise for that deal exposure, while being able to win a meaningful stake in those deals? I might be revealing how green I am there as I'm not sure what's common or possible but I struggle to believe getting M&A exposure / reps from your position can only be accomplished by resorting to a desk job. Sounds like a huge step back.

Apr 15, 2020 - 1:22pm
m_1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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