Venture Capital Newsletter and VC Jobs

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VC returns in yogurt, video stores, and train tracks (seriously)

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CIVC had a number of highly successful non-technology investments made in the late 1970’s timeframe, such as:

LB Foster: Repurposed old train tracks

JD Robinson Jewelers: The original “diamond man” (Tom Shane’s inspiration)

National Demographics: Mailing Lists

American Home Video: Video Stores

Michigan Cottage Cheese: Yoplait Yogurt

The Aviation Group: Expedited small package delivery

JMB Realty: Real Estate Management company

None of these companies fit Mr. Neumann’s definition of the era’s venture deals and each generated returns we would welcome today.

via Brad Feld’s A Venture Capital History Perspective From Jack Tankersley, a response to Jerry Neumann’s popular post “VC Heat Death”, which covers the VC industry in the 80’s.

Written by John Gannon

August 25, 2015 at 11:53 am

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Bravo Pinterest

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I hope this becomes a broader trend in the startup world. No reason employees should only have 6 months to make a decision on whether or not to pay for their illiquid chunk of equity.

Fortune has learned that Pinterest told employees that if they have been with the company for at least two years and choose to move on (or who are terminated), they now can hold onto their vested stock options for another seven years (post-departure) without exercising them. By doing so, Pinterest has removed a massive tax liability that haunts the dream of many successful startup employees.

via Exclusive: Pinterest unpins employee tax bills – Fortune.

Written by John Gannon

March 23, 2015 at 4:25 pm

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The Rule of 3

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The best way to become quickly knowledgeable is to find the right people and talk to them. Of course, do your homework first. But there isn’t a substitute to finding the three people in the world who know best and triangulating their answers.

via Sam Gerstenzang – Seven things I learned in venture.

Written by John Gannon

March 17, 2015 at 8:35 am

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The Birth Of Floodgate

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In the early days, I decided this is a people-flow business and not a deal-flow business. I’ve always had this leap of faith that if you just spend all your time with smart awesome people, that the dots will forward connect. The deals will reveal themselves, and somehow you’ll get into some good ones.

via The Birth Of Floodgate: Text Of My Discussion With Mike Maples – Haywire.

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November 20, 2014 at 9:22 pm

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If you want to work as a VC later, become an advisor to startups now

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For VC’s to take you seriously in their hiring process you need to have a relevant set of work experiences that dovetail with the firm’s investment stage and sector preferences.

But you also need to show that you live, breathe, eat, and dream startups – even outside of your 9-to-5 job – and especially if you’re not working at a startup today.

A great way to show that enthusiasm is by becoming an advisor to startups.

What does a startup advisor do? It’s pretty simple. You do whatever you can to help a startup be successful – without being compensated for your efforts.

If this makes you uncomfortable, stop reading here. Do not pass ‘Go’, do not collect $200. VC’s spend a lot of time giving free advice. If you don’t like it, you won’t like being a VC.

If you are still reading after all of that doom and gloom ;) let me share some tips with you on how to become a startup advisor.

1) Be great at something, preferably something that startups care about – and then share.

If you look at the types of people VC firms generally hire, you’ll often see standouts who have strong personal brands focused on a specific area of expertise.

For example, Hilary Mason is one of the best known data scientists in the US and maybe the world – and now she is advising Accel Partners on Big Data investments.

Another great example is Danya Cheskis-Gold, who just moved over to Spark Capital to run their community outreach efforts after having built a great community at Skillshare.

Given their depth of expertise in areas that are extremely relevant to tech startups I’m sure both of them have spent a fair amount of time formally and informally advising early stage companies.

It all comes down to figuring out what you have to offer a startup that few others can.

Figure it out and then pay it forward by offering advice around that area of expertise for free to startups with whom you think you can make a difference.

2) Spend lots of time with startup founders.

A great way to do this is to attend relevant Meetups or startup pitch events. Introduce yourself to the companies where you see overlap between their sector and stage and your industry or functional expertise. Ask them how you can be helpful and where appropriate volunteer specific areas where you can assist.

For example, if you have a lot of sales experience and you meet a company founder who is starting to think about how to build out their sales team, maybe you can share some advice based on your past experience.

Don’t force your help on people but if in the course of conversation you see an area where you could add value, it doesn’t hurt to mention it. You never know where it could lead.

3) Raise your hand and ask to be involved in your local accelerator or incubator.

Accelerators and incubators are always looking for mentors to help their affiliated companies.

What’s the harm in asking someone for a warm intro to the folks who run a local accelerator or even reaching out directly to them to offer some pro bono help?

Absolutely nothing!

You’d be surprised at how few people do this in practice. They’re waiting to be picked — so stand out from the crowd by raising your hand.

Click here for more venture capital job search advice.

Written by John Gannon

September 18, 2014 at 11:48 am

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Your VC job hunt depends on one thing

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Some people think the key to breaking into VC is getting a big break – getting one interview with a top firm, or getting a solid intro to a partner at a hiring firm, for example.

Let me tell you something. It’s not.

The most important thing – the key to your job hunt – is getting your ‘wedge’.

WTF is a wedge? The wedge is something you do that screams “I’m going to become a VC damn it.”

It’s the thing that shows the VC community that you can hustle and create opportunities for yourself. That you can ‘wedge’ yourself into the ecosystem and add value doing it.

Most importantly, it’s the defining event in your VC job hunt, because it creates huge leverage for you to open up other great opportunities.

My wedge? It was convincing a VC firm to sponsor me for an independent study during business school. Once I had that experience on my resume, I could mention that I had done work for the firm – in intro emails, to help secure interviews, and in interviews. It’s an understatement to say it opened some doors.

What’s your wedge? Maybe you’ve already found it or achieved it. If so, congrats! You’re well on your way and have as good a shot at securing a VC job as anyone.

Here are a bunch of things I consider to be great wedges for finding work in the venture capital business:

Starting a well-attended meetup focused on startups, entrepreneurship, or VC (I know a guy who did this, and now’s he’s a VC.)
Securing an internship or project work with a VC firm
Starting an entrepreneurship organization on your campus
Organizing a conference attended by prominent entrepreneurs and VCs
Founding a startup or joining an early stage startup that ends up having moderate to major success
▪ Recommending to a VC firm a company in which they end up investing

If you don’t yet have a wedge strategy and you’re dying to get into VC, pick one of the wedges I suggested above and set a goal to achieve it by a certain date.

Or think of your own wedge that will make you stand out from the crowd. Then get to work!

Click here for more venture capital job search advice.

Written by John Gannon

September 15, 2014 at 8:50 am

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How to construct a venture capital investment thesis, Bill Gurley style

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I get a ton of questions from venture capital job hunters about how to come up with investment ideas and theses, so I wanted to share with you this recent article from Bill Gurley, General Partner at Benchmark Capital and investor in companies like eBay and Uber.

In this article, he breaks down Benchmark’s framework for evaluating digital marketplace investments.

This is a chance to get into Bill’s head and see how he looks at this space. More importantly, it’s an opportunity for you to see how a successful investor puts rigor and structure around an investment thesis — and how you might apply more rigor and structure to yours.

Click here for more venture capital job search advice.

Written by John Gannon

September 12, 2014 at 9:42 am

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How to identify venture capital firms that may be hiring

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It’s not always obvious which Venture Capital firms may be hiring.

In just 2 and 1/2 minutes I’ll show you how to find out. Check out the audio download here.

Written by John Gannon

August 25, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Joining a CFO’s team at a tech company: A path to a venture capital job or a road to nowhere?

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A reader of my venture capital careers mailing list wrote to me with the question below. She’s an investment banker that’s thinking of going to work on a CFO’s team at a small tech company.
Her goal? To eventually get a job in venture capital.

Here’s what she said (slightly modified to protect the innocent):

I wanted to get your opinion on a job I’m currently interviewing for. At some point I would like to get into VC but I realize with my current background that it may be more challenging.
I am currently interviewing with XXXXXXXX in XXX. The role entails working with the CFO, as well as interacting with each of the business units to develop models, business plans, presentations, etc. They have emphasized that the role is not strictly creating models, but truly getting to understand the different products and business lines while working with the business heads.
Apologies if that was long-winded, but I was hoping you might have some insight on if you think this role could be helpful for getting into VC later on or if I’m better off where I am now (or going to a start-up obviously).

And here’s what I think…

I don’t know of many people who went directly into a venture capital job after a job as a financial analyst.

People take all sorts of paths into VC but it definitely helps (especially if you are early in your career) if you have one of those backgrounds that pattern matches with what a ‘typical’ analyst or associate looks like. Financial Analyst –> VC associate or analyst is not one of them. However…

There are lots of examples of early career investment bankers who move into VC.

You can figure out from a well crafted LinkedIn boolean search that there are a ton of people who have worked in VC who came from an investment banking background. People like:

If you haven’t already done it, reach out to some of your investment banking peers who have successfully made the move. See if they’ll share their stories with you. I bet they will have some tactics or ideas (or leads!) you haven’t explored.

Have you thought about working in corporate development at a big tech company?

Corporate Development people at big tech companies interact with lots of startups and lots of VCs. I’m not sure how much experience a Corp Dev role typically requires but hiring managers are usually looking for former investment bankers and consultants. This could be another route for you to explore in your quest to get a venture capital job. I talk about this and other paths to VC in my venture capital careers eBook. I hope this helps. Good luck in your search!

Written by John Gannon

August 14, 2014 at 11:08 am

Venture Capital Job Hunting Workshop – August 20th in NYC

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On August 20th I’m offering my popular VC Job Hunting Hacks workshop here in NYC.

The last 3 times I held this workshop it received 100% positive reviews. And I will not let that change this time around so I’m bringing even more content and tools to the table to make sure you get incredible value from the session. 


Click here if you want to learn more about the class or would like to enroll.

If you have any questions about the class just reach out to me directly, leave a comment below, or hit me up on Twitter.

Hope to see you there.


Written by John Gannon

August 8, 2014 at 1:33 pm

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