Odds of moving from startup to Venture Capital?

I am a senior at a non-target about to graduate in May 2017 with a 3.95+ GPA. I have accepted a FT offer at a tech-startup in LA. They have around 50 employees. They have gone through their latest series B funding with a post-money valuation of $50M+. A potential exit (IPO or acquisition) is about 3-5 years away.

I am their first hire to be doing any kind of financial analysis for the company. I will also be working in an operations and strategy role as well. I believe it will be a great opportunity to work with a talented team (many are former public c-suite members). In addition, I will be provided with many opportunities to work with VC firms and banks as the company continues to raise capital.

In the long run, I want to get back to a more traditional finance role. I was wondering how likely it is for a startup analyst to break into venture capital (assuming MBA isn't an option - I'd prefer to skip grad school to save $). Any input is appreciated.

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Comments (13)

Dec 5, 2016 - 1:30am

There's really no firm answer for this. A lot depends on your role, how the startup does, who their VCs are etc. It's definitely possible to go from startup to VC without an MBA but given how many people work in startups and how few junior VC roles there are, it's not super likely.

  • 1
Dec 5, 2016 - 9:27am

Thanks for your input. I sort of figured this but didn't know for sure. In your opinion, what are my best exit options?

The risk of joining a startup doesn't scare me, but the risk that I won't be able to leverage myself into finance does. I certainly don't want to limit myself to the startup realm only. From my standpoint, it seems that an MBA is the most logical route.

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Dec 5, 2016 - 9:33am

Hi ParkAveCowboy, hope I can help. Do any of these links cover what you're looking for:

  • Looking for input from IB/VC/PE folks in the west coast and potential exit opps. Seems like they work with pretty cool companies and will have decent exit to ... working with startups/entrepreneurs and location is not of a concern for me, should I automatically choose ...
  • Moving from Big 4 into VC/PE- Career Switch do to make myself more desirable from a PE point of view? is doing a CFA a plus? 3) What is the level ... diligence,valuations, and due diligence (am a manager now). Currently, am considering an MBA to switch my career into ... private equity. I have 2 questions: 1) What MBA to go to, Columbia, Berkely or Cambridge.....? 2) What to ...
  • Is It Really Impossible to Break Into VC/PE Right Away? really impossible? I may not be from Harvard, but I do go to a good school with a strong network, I have ... So obviously it's very difficult to get a gig in VC or PE right out of undergrad, but is it ... if it's possible to get a junior year internship at one of these bigger shops...am I completely ...
  • VC/PE senior track with or without a top MBA All, I'm looking for feedback from the more senior people on this forum; not to be dismissive ... from peers in VC and PE who are now considering business school or have gone through it, OR have ... decided to NOT go to business school to go forward. At my last review (at a large VC fund), I was told ...
  • Moving to education sector banking before moving to education sector VC/PE before moving to education VC /PE? Pros: Get further deal and modeling experience in the IB context. ... to move from consulting to an education banking group such as Macquarie 's education group, ... diligences. Cons: Look like a total job-hopper opportunistic career climber if I move from consulting to ...
  • Route to Landing VC/PE/PM Analyst sort of positivity to work from. Let's start with a bit of background about myself. I graduated ... to the mountains and did a ski season, and met random people from random walks of life. After a ski ... ^^^THERE^^^ to Portfolio Management, you ask? To make a long story short, I decided to move from the West Cost ...
  • VC/PE Internship Prior to Starting B-School? start-ups. A goal of mine would be to secure a PE / VC role (no real preference at this point in time). ... and real estate development industry (project management of $50M to $100M+ projects). Made a segue ... consulting for mega projects ($100M to $1B+). I have experience in both publicly and privately funded ...
  • More suggestions...

Maybe one of our professional members will share their wisdom: zuo DoctorWendy austinl

I hope those threads give you a bit more insight.

Best Response
Dec 5, 2016 - 9:34am

From my experience (having talked to 100+ startups since I've started a couple of months ago), what I think VC firms would appreciate most at this point of time is someone from a very technical background (say STEM or data scientist/AI) vs being operationally strong (which is in abundance). Not running you down but this is my current observation being in the industry.

The real questions would be:
1. What is your underlying motivation for joining a VC? Push or pull factor, ie. passion or desperation? Used to be an angel investor, but now want to do it full time?
2. What do you expect from the VC? Giving you a partner/VP role? Providing platform for you to source for deals? Stepping stone to do something bigger in life?
3. There are many VCs out there, but not many readily accepts a partner/VP who can't source and close deals. You probably have to start building your rolodex from ground up again and it's a very painful process because you'll have to prove your worth time and time again, because nobody trusts you (with their money) at this point of time. Are you ready for that?

Having clarity of thought is utmost important when embarking on a new journey, so that you ride on the wrong track.

Dec 5, 2016 - 9:35am

Startup to VC/Growth Equity of PE (Originally Posted: 08/11/2010)

Just curious for those who work in VC or are familiar with it.

I did M&A for a year, and left for a very prominent startup, that is well funded by some big names in the VC and PE space. The firm has also attracted some of the strongest execs in the internet/media space.

I moved here to a strategy role from M&A - working on one of the new businesses, from both the operational side to the more strategic issues. I realize I'm young - but have been given a decent amount of responsibility and breathing room to prove myself I think. I was working with a co-founder for a bit, and continue to work with some of the most senior people in the firm.

I'm just curious if it would be possible in 2-3 years (post IPO), assuming strong performance on my end from both the operational and strategic aspects - to move into an Associate type role or similar at a VC fund or Growth Equity arm of a PE shop. The startup is in a relatively hot space within the internet realm - and ideally I would have learned/gained some insight and good experience by then.

Just curious - since VC is clearly less spoken about.

Thanks in advance.

Dec 5, 2016 - 9:36am

From what I've read on VC they prefer to hire people with industry experience.

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Dec 5, 2016 - 9:37am

You probably have a more non-traditional background than most but I can certainly see the similarities between what you have done, are doing and will likely do at a VC/PE in the future.

I have not evidence (no similar experiences or stories that I have heard) but I think the skills you are utilizing now run right inline with what you would need at either place. Whether or not you will get a position will have more to do with how you tell your story and explain your qualifications/experience to a potential employer.

I think you might be better qualified for a VC role then a PE role...or, at least, you would be more likely to find someone willing to hire you in VC vs PE because as trackstar2k2 mentioned in the previous post, VCs like people with actual industry/operational experience. The issue with the PE side is you will be competing against people who will likely have more deal experience than you, which might be valued highly at a PE firm where you are more of number cruncher vs a VC firm where they find a ton of value in people who have started business and worked in start ups.

I think either way, you are seemingly qualified for either, its just which one you are likely to get hired at and which one you would prefer to do. Maybe you would be able to network yourself into a position at one of the equity backers the company is funded by.

Hopefully some of the other members might know "friends" that have been in a similar situation and transitioned to one or the other. Best of luck.


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  • 3
Dec 5, 2016 - 9:38am

Thanks guys.

CPH - You are kind of thinking along the lines of what I was thinking. I would say I would be much more interested in a VC role, or at least in a growth equity arm of a PE shop. This current startup has two investors, both of each are one of the two i just listed (one is huge PE shop, think KKR/Bain/GSPIA) while the other is a purely internet/VC fund. I have begun to interact with the Partners from these funds who are on the board, though admittedly, their involvement is less than most since this is in a pretty new space in the internet.

The types of skills simply I am learning are how to build an e-commerce customer base as well as revenues, along with learning to better match the supply and demand in this specific type of business model. Not that this makes me anything industry at all, but ideally if I am sucessful and have numbers to back it up - it would lend some more credibility to my story.

I realize it's a non-traditional path completely - but hopefully with the backing of the founders I would have some strong credentials. My deal experience from M&A is certainly weak given the past year, but perhaps illustrates at least the ability to crank and model if I need to (no much modeling in VC is my understanding).

Thanks again for the responses.

Dec 5, 2016 - 9:39am

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