Is HBS worth it for VC?

I did a few years at MBB and am now finishing up my Associate stint in PE. I applied to business school this fall and fortunately got into HBS, so now I have a decision to make: Should I go? 

My goal is to transition ideally to late-stage VC at the likes of an Accel Growth, Sequoia Growth, Bessemer Venture Partners Growth, IVP, NEA, etc. I know for earlier-stage VC start-up experience is key, but it looks like the growth teams at these places are a bit more friendly to the IB/MBB -> PE background. So based on that, it looks like a job I could be competitive for now, which begs the question of why even get an MBA at all? Yes there's value in the HBS brand and the network I'd make there, however I'd argue the value of both those things is decreasing each year. I'm looking at ~$200K in savings / loans plus another ~$400K+ in opportunity cost and asking myself, is HBS really worth that much if I can go get the job I want now anyway?

Would love people's thoughts, especially those in VC / Growth already.

Comments (53)

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Apr 20, 2022 - 4:43pm

 it looks like a job I could be competitive for now

Correct but you need to work on branding a little bit - these guys are sensitive to "Why us". I interviewed semi-successfully at a few of these places (final rounds, companies you listed) so it's definitely possible. Also consulting --> PE

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Apr 20, 2022 - 5:20pm

No I'm talking about interviewing in general, and personal branding. You need to have 100% laser-dialed in why their strategy and why growth technology. These guys look to make sure you have a deep curiosity about technology - that you like working with founders, you like getting to the bottom of why a piece of technology might win, etc. You need to have something to show for yourself other than "hey yea I like this stuff" because that's a bit fluffy to them. It's a screener for when you're talking to management teams to win deals - you need to be able to show you're into it in a way that's completely believable 

  • Incoming Analyst in PE - Growth
Apr 20, 2022 - 8:18pm

FWIW, most of the shops you listed above haven't taken many (or any) ex-MBB folks. Most are ex-tech bankers, so might be worth going to HBS assuming your recruitment process will be easier

May 13, 2022 - 12:08pm
VCMonkey01, what's your opinion? Comment below:

WTF are you talking about. I'm quite confident there are ex-MBB people at nearly all of those places. I know a couple personally. They don't take many ex-MBB folks in the sense that they don't take many folks in general.

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  • Analyst 1 in PE - Growth
May 13, 2022 - 1:31pm

I'm well aware that these firms take very few people in general, working at a firm that has co-invested/competed with the firms OP listed. I also have friends at the above as well. It's simply a fact that there are firms that he's listed that have absolutely 0 ex-MBB presence on the team. Zilch. Off the top of my head, Accel Growth and IVP; these firms do take many ex-tech bankers, however. Not to say it isn't possible as I'm sure there's a certain degree of self selection bias, but late stage venture and growth firms tend to hire out of banking because of their modeling skillset and technical reps. I'm not here to argue whether that should be the case - I personally find MBB folks to be smarter/more personable than bankers on average, but it's just the way things are.

May 13, 2022 - 12:12pm
VCMonkey01, what's your opinion? Comment below:

"Nothing is worse than getting paid $250k in SF and with taxes barely affording a studio and having $200k in debt."

Nothing is worse really? The phrase is overused but check your privilege bro. $250K is still plenty and far more than most post-MBA gigs pay. As for your point about SF, SF housing costs have actually not really rebounded from COVID while housing costs have risen in most other parts of the country so living in SF isn't that much more expensive than most other major coastal cities these days. It's actually way lower than in NY these days. If you want to live somewhere like Chicago or Atlanta, yeah you can still save a lot of money but good luck finding jobs paying more than $250K in those cities (at least immediately post-MBA).

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  • VP in PE - LBOs
May 13, 2022 - 2:06pm
VCMonkey01

"Nothing is worse than getting paid $250k in SF and with taxes barely affording a studio and having $200k in debt."

Nothing is worse really? The phrase is overused but check your privilege bro. $250K is still plenty and far more than most post-MBA gigs pay. As for your point about SF, SF housing costs have actually not really rebounded from COVID while housing costs have risen in most other parts of the country so living in SF isn't that much more expensive than most other major coastal cities these days. It's actually way lower than in NY these days. If you want to live somewhere like Chicago or Atlanta, yeah you can still save a lot of money but good luck finding jobs paying more than $250K in those cities (at least immediately post-MBA).

ah yes, jump on a tongue-in-cheek phrase used out of context for a classic "holier than though" check your privilege aside to the main points discussed. beautiful lol. have a great weekend my friend!

Most Helpful
May 13, 2022 - 12:05pm
VCMonkey01, what's your opinion? Comment below:

So a few points.

In the broadest sense, getting into late-stage VC via HBS is a plan that makes sense. While you could try and recruit for these jobs now, going to HBS will give you the advantage of having more time to network into these firms and build out relevant investment theses. For the most part, Accel/Sequoia etc. do not recruit in the same way that PE firms do. It's a lengthy networking-based process where you will have to prove that not only are you intelligent enough to do the job but that you have unique networks/POVs that disproportionately add value to these firms. They don't need bodies to throw at diligence execution in the same way PE firms do so you have to bring more than that to the table. 

So yes, you should be able to get into those firms via HBS (in a normal macro environment - we'll come back to this). But it's also no guarantee. You will have to roll up your sleeves and hustle to get these jobs, even from HBS. You can't just expect to get interviews based on your resume alone. 

The last point I'll make, which should be CRITICALLY important in your consideration, is that the venture capital asset class, particularly the growth-stage sector, is in a very precarious position right now. The asset class saw historically high returns over 2020-21 which led to historically high inflows. This led to every growth fund raising record-large funds, which led to more promotions and hiring across the sector. In 2022, the bottom has fallen out. The public markets have cratered, evaporating most of those returns and now every LP is dramatically overallocated to VC. Even the best firms are going to struggle to fundraise over the next 2 years (rumor has it that Blackstone growth missed their fund target). That's going to inevitably lead to a shakeout. A lot of firms are pulling back on hiring right now and there are even talks of layoffs (especially from the crossovers - know at least one person at Tiger who got canned and they apparently got margin-called so more on the way).

So if you want to go into late-stage venture, now is probably the worst time to do it so going to business school and trying in a couple years is almost undoubtedly a better plan than trying to lateral now. But things may still be in a shitty place in 2 years, so I'd come up with a backup plan.

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Jun 15, 2022 - 3:09pm
chicken3point, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Would it not make more sense to go join a rocketship and get 2-3 years of operating experience (+salary +equity) rather than blowing so much money on HBS?

Jun 5, 2022 - 2:21pm
chicken3point, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Any firm that requires HBS on the resume isn't worth your time in the long run. Tell those guys to suck it and forge your own path

Jun 11, 2022 - 9:50pm
MDR1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

VCs usually don't recruit at top MBA programs, and unlike PE and HF, they are not as pedigree driven, at least with respect to school brand. Having worked on deals or being an operator at a unicorn startup are far more valuable than going to HBS.

  • Associate 2 in VC
Jun 15, 2022 - 1:53pm

This is so true!! If you're a super star in sales at a startup or tech driven company you're more valuable than a big 4 worker who went to hbs after working for example. Depends on the VC strategy too but just an example.

Jun 15, 2022 - 1:16pm
theghostofthestreet, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I am bias because I ended up in the HC/Biotech space. Mostly PhD/MD types here. The knowledge you gain from cases and the degree is completely worthless. The only thing with value is the brand. It is impossible to value if the brand will produce a ROI or if your career would end up in a direction where you wouldn't have needed that MBA.

  • Associate 2 in VC
Jun 15, 2022 - 1:49pm

No. Not unless it's a guarantee or for some reason what you currently do is unappealing.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Jun 15, 2022 - 4:47pm

I am on the LP side and we invest a lot in VC. From the top VCs we invest with, non are impressed by top MBAs; they're much more impressed by experience. 
 

They've also been struggling *hard* to find talent. So yes the market is in a downturn, but firms are hungry for talent so if you were able to get into a firm that just raised a fund, it could be the start of a nice track record. Just my $0.02. 
 

When do you need to decide?

Jun 15, 2022 - 4:55pm
chicken3point, what's your opinion? Comment below:

+1 on the new fund approach, though they'll likely be looking to cut costs in the short term given the current market

  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Jun 15, 2022 - 5:51pm

Ducimus modi sunt tenetur recusandae inventore. Quo totam praesentium placeat fugiat labore.

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