Are Growth Equity / Venture Growth Firms Still Open to Unique Backgrounds

I remember that a few years back, there was a sentiment that buyout PE was more prestigious / lucrative than growth equity / vc shops. As such many posters on here had said that if you didn't join a top banking / consulting group, many of these firms would still give you a shot. However, it feels like in recent times, growth equity / vc shops have become more desired to the point where many are opting for them over traditional buyout. It also feels like more of these firms are starting to recruit from top banking groups also

Question is, do I have a shot in landing an interview at the top growth equity shops (ie., spectrum, JMI, Insight, General Atlantic) as an IB analyst at a small lesser known shop? My firm is a super small boutique shop (think foros, dyal, mklein, dbo type). Have not really received any inbound interest from recruiters since Ive started and wondering also if these firms would be open to unsolicited inbounds

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Comments (14)

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
May 13, 2021 - 5:47pm

It's extremely frustrating. Late stage venture used to have enough seats open because of secular growth that you could come from more backgrounds than not into these roles. Now, everyone and their dog works in late stage venture. As I've recruited for late stage venture jobs, from a reputable UMM/MF *technology group*, I've heard so many times "we are just looking at people with late stage venture backgrounds" which blows my mind. How can you fill a talent pool with just people with relevant experience? Turns out, it's because the industry has matured a little bit. /rant, thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.

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  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
May 13, 2021 - 5:57pm

Geez if someone from a background like yours is having a hard time breaking in, i dont see much hope for me. Do you think these firms would be more lenient from an associate hire standpoint vs. more senior / partner track like yourself? 

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
May 13, 2021 - 6:02pm

Yes, but your bank merit won't carry you. What you need to do is start doing things like 1) investment memos of relevant companies in the type of investing you're trying to break into + market maps; 2) broad thesis pieces (e.g., primer to [hot new industry where companies have only gotten to Series A in maturity]), and 3) network your ass off, drop these memos or pieces as marketing collateral on yourself for email intros or send every couple of months. I mean, you start pumping these out over the next 2 years, you build up a massive knowledge and physical database of collateral you can send whenever relevant (e.g., you talk to an HCIT venture investor and two months ago you did an investment memo on an HCIT company; well, you dust it off, update stats with anything you can find in the news, and toss it on his desk 30 mins after your call. That's cool and will get you jobs).

  • VP in PE - Growth
May 13, 2021 - 9:28pm

I think the short answer to this is still yes, at least where I work (which is one of the funds you mentioned by name).

The longer answer is that more growth and late stage VC funds have started using recruiters in the past 5 years. Those recruiters are completely risk averse and do not give boutique bankers the proper time of day. Add to that the fact that a lot of funds in growth and late stage venture have added analyst programs, so fewer associate spots for bankers AND more associate candidates who have already been doing growth / vc. And on top of that, as you mention, it's becoming a more popular route given WLB, returns, etc. so generally more competitive for fewer spots.

That said, a core skillset of this world is networking and I think you'll find most shops will easily get you in a process through networking. The interview process is usually much more focused on how do you think about businesses vs. modeling, technicals, etc. My personal experience is that a lot of boutique bankers have a much more well-rounded experience that serves them well in this type of interview process vs. a typical BB analyst.

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