How much travel is there in Venture Capital?

How much travel is there in VC at all levels? Say you have a typical associate role, how much do they travel? I also have the same question for mid managers and GPs.

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Comments (6)

Nov 26, 2017 - 11:18pm

Really depends on the type of the fund. For example, if you are sand hill fund, you might not need to fly much.

If you are cross-border fund then there would be much more travel required.

Travel in my experience doesn't decrease but rather goes up as you go up the ladder in VC but I will defer to others for their experiences on this as well.

Best Response
Nov 27, 2017 - 4:54am

I agree with PrivateMarketplace's last comment.

There isn't much travel for the typical venture associate. Read a couple of other posts I've made on the junior roles (analyst and associate) in VC: 2015, 2016, 2017(

Since many funds don't offer analyst jobs and look at the most junior role as an apprenticeship focused on (i) sourcing and (ii) portfolio support, we can focus on the associate role. There your job is to be a first filter for the partner(s) you support on identifying, tracking, and screening dealflow.

Candidly, you're a low-cost, low-value item in the human capital hierarchy of the firm. Now that does not mean you're going to face the same bullshit you did in banking where you're looked at as an entirely expendable resource to be churned-and-burned before you leave and fresh meat replaces you in the grinder. You are expected to have an opinion on things, have a voice (an informed one), and be proactive in how you improve everything for everyone you interact with inside the firm and its portfolio, but you're not the person flying to conferences and accepting panel seats and traveling for board meetings.

That all starts at Principal (the common title for the post-MBA role, for the few firms who do any kind of recruiting at the MBA level). Some firms call that role Vice President.

At the partner level it really picks up. There's a conference circuit, you'd laugh. If you laid back and let it happen, you could spend 40 weeks of the year at conferences that have a halfway-decent program.

Some people get more out of that type of event than others. They do a conference within the conference by lining up two dozen meetings with people who they'd otherwise struggle to see with any frequency. Amusingly, most of the value at those events is not the scheduled programming but all the sidebar conversations that lead to deals getting inked later.

You can also burnish your reputation or prominence within the community by accepting invitations to give a keynote. This is usually the really senior guys in the industry, think Vinod Khosla or Jim Breyer or Jim Robinson or Fred Wilson or Bill Gurley.

Others will moderate or sit on a panel around a theme that fits their specialty. An example could be a dude from Bain talking about ecommerce (they do so much retail ...) or Matt Ocko at an AI conference.

You do this because it's all about the signaling value. By publicly giving away your insight for free you look more like the guy to know, so people you don't yet know find a way to get in touch with you to show you their deal.

To sum it up, travel isn't really a phenomenon at the junior level because the value an associate (or analyst, if the firm has them) offers does not fit what people in venture end up traveling for. At the more senior levels, travel can vary based on the firm's methodology (is it a volume player that takes the shotgun approach, or a more choose-and-build approach) and the lifestyle the partners like to maintain. It's not like banking or PE where you formally travel for a deal you've identified and have in process, to an outsider your travel may look relatively random and uncorrelated but that's because it has an entirely different purpose behind it.

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

  • 7
Nov 27, 2017 - 12:56pm

+1 to the above. VC tends to have relatively little travel, as most deals are local. Silicon Valley tend to invest disproportionately in SV, NY firms on the east coast, etc. Also, founders at this stage tend to visit investors and there's little value to on-site diligence since teams are typically a few dozen engineers in an office with no other assets. It's not like you have to tour a facility check on operations. Partners at some firms may travel a bit for conferences, but that's generally not a very frequent thing. I'm based in SV and fly occasionally to NY, Austin, LA, London, and Asia, but max 2 trips per quarter. I do drive/Uber a ton though within SV, and am rarely physically in the office.

  • 1
Nov 27, 2017 - 4:41pm

I know a few operating associates who travel every week, but can't see there being a need on the investment side, besides going to conferences.

here to open wallets, not minds
Nov 27, 2017 - 6:21pm
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