What happens to the bad VCs?

I'm considering an offer at a top early-stage fund in my preferred vertical, but given I only have ~1 year of operating experience at an AI/ML unicorn, I feel like it's a risky play given that no one wants junior product talent (i.e. you need to have owned shipping a product from ideation to post-launch to be a competitive first PM hire) in the case I'm not a superb investor and need to switch back.

Realize the junior venture capital role is fairly new, but of those of you who've went operating -> VC -> operating, or have seen people go down a similar route, a few Qs:

  • What were your goals, short and/or long term, going in? I've seen people set on becoming a GP at 30 and others who use it to build a skill set and then join a hot portco in a finance/BD/product role.
  • At what point did you realize you were underperforming? Were there clear signs either internally (yourself, partner feedback, unable to push sourced deals through IC) or externally (e.g. portco founder feedback)?
  • What differentiated those who excelled? 
  • Any tips on what you would've done differently? 
  • Where'd you end up? Do people move up-market (e.g. into growth), to lower-tier firms, go back to operating, or something entirely different?

I'm leaning towards taking the offer regardless; it's a risk worth taking imo. Letting an opportunity like this pass by seems foolish, especially given how unique & rare these seats are + my personal alignment with the thesis and team.
I spent my undergrad studying math; interning in research, quant, and tech growth equity; and now PM at a startup – if you're doing or considering something similar, happy to chat and ideate. Shoot me a DM!

Comments (7)

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Aug 2, 2022 - 12:38pm

Did you intern at the firm? If so, you can use that experience to determine if you'd be a good fit long term. Otherwise, you can talk to former juniors from the firm.

Lots of things should go into your analysis, how "top" is this firm? Is it a first time fund/new firm or an established junior program? What are the partners like

Aug 2, 2022 - 12:57pm
aristos, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Less concerned about fit & quality of the firm – it has a superb reputation with founders in the space, first check into generational data/ML companies, first two vintages are top-decile in performance, running over $1B AUM, [ redacted ], partners are sharp, etc. – and more about how people think about good vs. bad investors and outcomes there.

I didn't intern and there's only a handful of former juniors (not much turnover and not a very established junior program) 


Aug 4, 2022 - 3:39pm
PotatoSalad19, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I wouldn't worry about being a poor performing VC out of the gate. You will be measured by your IRR when you are a partner. At the junior level your job is to build solid relationships and source, find interesting deals and do some good analysis on their potential. Honestly from a former operator to now VC, do it. The level of conversations you will be having are on a completely different ballgame vs a junior operator. Its an amazing position. 

Aug 2, 2022 - 1:25pm
throaway92, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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