Breaking into VC

nyc1903's picture
Rank: Senior Monkey | 82

Looking to break into VC over the next year or so, and would like to spend some time preparing before I go into the thick of it all.

A little about me: Top 5 school undergrad. Spent 3 years at a top-5 IB group, and the last 5+ years doing product at smaller startups backed by top names. Have either been an early product hire or have built a product from the ground up.

1) What type of funds can I reasonably target? Potentially funds that will value my IB and product experience (will they even appreciate that mix?)
2) Which headhunters should I get in touch with?
3) Which resources should I use to prep?

Comments (5)

Jan 18, 2020

Bump

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Jan 18, 2020

You're unfortunately in a bit of a no-man's land at 8 years of experience -- too senior for Associate roles, not quite Partner level, and mid-level roles are often sparse in this industry with many early funds having a "barbell" staffing model (eg 4 partners, 2 analysts/associates, nobody in the middle). TBH there's an argument for riding things out until your company exits and trying to come in somewhere as a Partner, assuming you were senior enough in your org to credibly claim a major hand in the outcome.

That said seed / early-stage funds REALLY value folks with a Product background and you have a good "in" if your company was successful (tougher if it wasn't, even with good brands as backers). I'd start by expressing your goals to the folks currently invested in your company and the people there can likely open doors if they think you're good

Growth stage on up will be tougher IMO as your main role as a VP, etc is to project manage diligence / deals -- you would be competing against folks who have done probably a dozen deals in the last few years (these firms are often prolific!) and the product background is unfortunately slightly less germane at this level

Jan 18, 2020

Is it possible to be "too senior" for Associate roles? I don't mind entering at the Associate level and working my way up - ultimately I'm interested in the industry and would be willing to put in the work.

What about senior associate roles? Not a thing? Or just very few of them?

How does one go about finding seed / early-stage funds?

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Most Helpful
Jan 18, 2020

Hi OP,

You should check out John Gannon's website (https://johngannonblog.com/) and consider reaching out to him as he'll have seen enough examples to give advice on what you should target. He's a busy guy, so don't know if he'll respond (or respond right away), but his blog which includes examples of people getting into VC, how they've done it, and recent job posts is helpful.

Personally, I don't think you're necessarily too senior for Associate. I mean, you are certainly more senior than average range, but VC titles seem less 'defined' or 'standard' across the industry vs. PE or IB. There are some places that have "Sr associate" and some do not, for example. And some places where there are both VP and Principal roles, or sometimes "VP" is not a title and it goes from associate to principal as the next step. And then there are some firms where people might have more senior sounding titles than what they actually do. It depends on the firm.

As for getting into the industry... I would start by trying to build your network and getting connected to the ecosystem. If you're connected to the local startup ecosystem, you'll be able to build networks with VCs at events as well. In addition, knowing the startups is also helpful as it helps you demonstrate your seriousness towards becoming a VC. And as you're meeting with them, grab coffee, connect, and as you build a rapport, let them know you're looking to transition. Ideally, firms like to hire on warm intros (or at least, there's some weight to those that come in through them).

    • 3
Jan 25, 2020
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