This is part two of my crowdsourced – and clearly contradictory – set of opinions from the best investors in the world on how to get a job in VC. I wrote Part 1 here last week.
In last week’s post, I talked about networking and building a personal brand. This week, I’ll discuss how to demonstrate that you know about particular industries, companies and deals.
4) Get Smart and Send Research to Investors: You need to know industries, sectors, deals and companies inside and out and the best way to show that is to do “deep-dive” write-ups with dozens of pages, exhibits and company profiles. But nobody will read those because they’re too long, and investors already know you’re smart, so you should make your content easily digestible- one page max; the whole point of research is to catch their eye and set up a meeting. But if you’re great at making long-form analysis (ex banker or consultant?), definitely play to your strength and don’t hide your past. But nobody likes things that are “too bankery” or “too consultanty”; you’d be better off sending a logo montage with an explanatory paragraph.
5) Learn About Relevant Deals: Follow your passion and deals that you have a unique insight on. But it may actually pay off to follow deals that a specific partner at a specific fund might like. But don’t directly hit on a portfolio company or partner’s subsector because that could render you redundant to the already small team. But you want to hit on topics that they know so you can look smart.
6) Send Companies and Deals to Investors: Send relevant deals to VCs with a few bullet points about why you like them. But also remember that you don’t know or see much that they don’t see, because it’s their full time job and it’s not yours. Whatever you do, don’t spam investors because that’s a waste of your precious “inbox mindshare” with them. But if you email them, you better be offering them something, rather than just asking for time or a coffee chat. But it’s impossible to get smart on a sector in such a short period of time, so sending a weak investment thesis can be dangerous. But then again, it’s important to show that you’re capable of forming views on companies and deals, so fire away.
7) If All Else Fails, Start Writing Checks: If you have the means, the best way to show you can invest is to start investing. But none of your portfolio companies will have come close to exiting by the time you’re done with school, so it’s a lost cause. But investing your own money is the best sign of commitment to a partner that you’re serious about VC. But if you start to invest, then you’re asking to be judged on performance rather than potential, so you could be shooting yourself in the foot.
Got all that? Wrap-up coming in part 3.