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Venture Capital Jobs Blog

Curated by John Gannon and Team

Posts Tagged ‘Venture capital

Questions from a PhD who wants to work in VC

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Subscribers from my VC Careers email list (you can subscribe from this page) often email me asking for advice about how to get their first VC job. Below is one such email from a PhD student who is hoping to work in VC. I’ve responded to his questions below in bold.

Hello John,

Following your suggestion, I have recently had an informational intervew/conversation with a managing partner of a VC firm. The overall feedback is good, I felt that he is happy with my qualifications (PhD in —-, and currently working in a —-). Now I have two questions emerged after this conversation, and I think your insights would be very much appreciated on them:

1) The partner said that his firm only hires junior members as analyst/intern who works for them on a hourly basis. He even shared with me the salary that they are paying which is really an intern salary.

My question is: in your book and on your website, you repetively emphasize entering VC is hard, once you are in, you are in. I am really interested in and passionate about a career in VC, but is it worthy for me to enter VC as an analyst/intern, receiving hourly salary ( abandoning a consultant salary and not to mention no additional benefit with an hourly pay such as pension and health insurance etc)?

I wouldn’t create financial stress for yourself in order to break into the VC business.

A VC firm with >$50MM AUM should be able to pay you a salary that will at the very least pay your bills, and even smaller firms will offer basic benefits like health insurance. For example, the firm where I worked ($160MM AUM) had 3 junior professionals and 2 full time partners and we had a great health insurance plan.

Here’s an alternative for you: Have you thought about taking on part time or project based work with the firm? This way you’d gain experience, they’d get the benefit of your services, and you wouldn’t have give up your day job (and salary). One of my friends took this route with a US firm and ended up getting hired (at a livable salary) after a few months of hourly work.

If you want to go the part time / project route, be proactive and propose a project that would dovetail nicely with the firm’s interest areas and your experience. Even if they don’t like the project idea, it will help start a conversation that will hopefully end up with you doing some work for the firm.

Last, I’d leave compensation discussions until the end – when you know they’d like to bring you on board. Talking about compensation during informational interviews will get you sidetracked and take the firm’s focus off of what you can contribute.

You can politely deflect compensation questions in a couple of ways:

  • State that you’d want to be paid similarly to your peer group at other funds of similar size OR
  • State that you’d prefer to discuss compensation later in the interview process once you have a better sense of the job requirements and the particulars of the firm.

2) Secondly, he suggested I could go for a secondary captial firm (secondary buy-out / directs), as he described they are having a booming business right now in life science session. Are you familiar with this kind of VCs? and any difference in the job-hunting tactics with such VCs?

I think the networking tactics (some of which I have outlined in my VC Careers and job hunting eBook) would be quite similar. However, I’m not sure how secondaries firms source and analyze investment opportunities. I’m sure the day-to-day is quite different than what you might see at an early stage VC firm. You’d probably want to do some informational interviews with people with secondaries experience before making a decision if that line of work is for you or not.

If you liked this post, and are interested in careers in venture capital, think about subscribing to my mailing list. I promise not to spam you and will only send information related to venture capital jobs and careers. Please input your email address in the field (and click ‘Submit’) below if you would like to subscribe.

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Written by John Gannon

December 29, 2013 at 9:36 pm

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5 seed investment ideas

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I’ve no investing checkbook to speak of but that doesn’t mean I don’t have an idea of where I’d place some bets in the early stage tech ecosystem were a pot of money to magically appear! :) Feel free to borrow, elaborate upon, or debate any of these seed investment ideas.

1) Identity – Username/password authentication is woefully inadequate to protect us yet it is still the standard for authentication on the internet. I can’t see the current state of affairs lasting another 5 years given the growing sophistication of cyberattackers. Plenty of room to innovate in this space (probably leveraging some of the latest / greatest mobile tech) and therefore room for some young companies to make a name for themselves.

2) Marketing for recruiting – The recruiting tech space has been pretty staid for a while. Recruiting has typically operated as a sales-like function within companies but I think there is a big opportunity related to candidate marketing and/or helping recruiters build relationships with passive candidates. Think Eloqua or Marketo – for recruiters.

3) Integration software for Normals – Products like Zapier and Ifttt are just scratching the surface in allowing Normals to integrate their cloud-based services together. There is room for a big company, or a few big companies, to be created in this space.

4) Tablet Music – New paradigms of music creation and performance are available through the tactile interface of a tablet. We’re seeing traditional vendors like Korg (I love the iKaossilator!) take advantage of this and repackage their physical products into tablet apps. This not only opens up new avenues of music creation for experienced musicians but allows novices (guys like me, for instance) to fairly quickly make music that sounds good and is fun to make. Plus, by virtue of being on an internet connected device, it opens up a world of possibilities for collaboration and shared performances. Bottom line – this is a huge market where a startup could make a splash.

5) Data Estates – Throughout our lives we create a huge amount of digital content through photo sharing, social networking sites, and use of other internet services – our ‘data estate’. What happens to that data when we pass on? I want to ensure that when I pass on my data is provided to those I care about – namely my family and friends. Estate planning is a very well understood concept in the physical world and it’s only a matter of time before that concept is brought to the virtual world. It’s Day 1 in the Data Estates space, which is why I’d love to place a bet there.

How about you? Do any of these investment areas seem compelling to you? Or am I way off of the mark?

Let me know either way – I’d love to hear from you.

Written by John Gannon

August 16, 2013 at 12:42 pm

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The key to VC fundraising: “Not need it.”

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First time entrepreneurs often ask me what they should do to maximize their chances of raising venture capital. To which I invariably answer: “Not need it.”

via Continuations : Want a Good Deal? Have a Credible Alternative.

Written by John Gannon

January 29, 2013 at 4:18 pm

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Before you write your first eBook, here’s 15 things you need to know

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Years ago, when I was still working in venture capital, I committed to the world (ok, a small world ;) via my blog that I would write a book about careers in venture capital.

After I made that commitment, I left the VC world without having written the book (1st year of my children’s lives), went to a startup (no time to write a book), and finally last year…published the book!

Now that I’ve actually written and published the darn thing, a post-mortem is in order! Here’s what I learned about the world of book publishing, and about myself, during this process…with some additional tips and suggestions smattered in:

  1. You’re going to be self-publishing your first book, unless you’re famous (or at least famous on Twitter). Publishers expect you to bring a big following to the table if you want them to work with you.  Same goes with literary agents.
  2. If you still want to find a publisher, you’ll need to write a 50 page proposal — basically a big abstract — in order for them to consider taking you on.
  3. Just 1% of authors earn out of their advance.  (Are you still surprised about #1 and #2? :)
  4. Smashwords provides a great platform for converting your eBook (which needs to be written in a specially formatted MS Word file) and converting it to all of the major eBook formats.  I thought I would need all of the formats, but it turns out that the only format I’m actually distributing is the PDF.  Go figure.  Which leads me to…
  5. …Gumroad.  Gumroad provides a ridiculously simple platform to distribute and sell eBooks as well as other digital goods.  If you don’t need a lot of fancy features and just want a super simple sales and distribution platform, it’s a great service and they eat into much of your profit margin!
  6. Smashwords has a list of people who will produce book cover art using stock photos, and typically you’ll pay on the order of $40.  Now that I’ve discovered fiverr, I bet I could get a great cover for just $5-$10 the next time around.
  7. Luckily I had a very nice friend who proofread the entire 30 page eBook for me as a favor.  Other editors quoted me wildly varying rates (<$100 and upwards of $500).
  8. Long plane flights rock.  I wrote almost the entire first draft of content on a couple of cross-country plane flights.
  9. If you maintain an email list of potential readers of your book, share parts of the book with them as you go through your writing process.  It’s a great way to get feedback and your readers will appreciate being part of the creative process.
  10. No email list yet?  Get started today.  A great “give” is to provide a portion of your book to new subscribers to your list.
  11. Once you release the book, create a nurturing campaign (also called drip marketing) so that new subscribers to your list will be notified that the book is available for sale.  Ideally you’re notifying them after you’ve provided other value in the nurturing campaign.  I use Madmimi for my email list, which has support for Drips (their term for a nurturing campaign). BTW if you sign up, they’ll shave a few bucks off of my bill, too! ;)
  12. Write a blog post stating your intention to write a book, and repost it to all of your social networks so that you’re a liar if you don’t follow through! :)
  13. Not sure if you have a story worth telling or at what price to sell your book?  Create a poll on your blog (here was mine) to gauge demand for the book as well as potential price points.
  14. Consider giving your book away for free to your Tribe.
  15. There are actually services, like Hyperink, who will write your book for you in exchange for a portion of the earnings.  I applied to see if they’d write mine for me, but they never wrote back (*sniffle*)

I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank a few people who were involved in different parts of this experience:

  • Keith Cowing, who inspired me to write this post
  • Carla O’Connor, my awesome friend and copyeditor
  • Lucinda Blumenfeld, for giving me a crash course on the world of publishing
  • Super-connector Chris Phenner, who introduced me to Lucinda.  (BTW, Chris runs a great email list where he talks about ad tech and social ads.  He’s been in the space for a long time and is a great guy to follow.)

Last, but not least, I recently finished my second eBook!  It’s called 15 Emails That Worked. 

In the book, I share the actual email templates and describe the best practices that helped me get meetings with hard-to-reach entrepreneurs and VCs during my last job search.  It will definitely be useful to you if you’re job hunting in the startup and VC world, but the tips and techniques also apply to anyone who is looking for more effective ways to connect with busy people via email.

If you’re interested in getting this eBook for free, simply click here to learn more.

Written by John Gannon

January 20, 2013 at 11:06 pm

What happens in a VC informational interview

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I originally posted this account of a VC informational interview on my Columbia J-Term Business School Blog in 2007.  You can view the original here.

This afternoon I met with a principal from a late-stage VC here in the city. This was a follow-up to a meeting I had last week (which was made through a connection on LinkedIn via a woman I used to work with prior to business school). I thought it went very well and I think I had a good rapport with the person I met with. He told me to keep in touch and that there may potentially be either an internship or a full-time opportunity in the coming year. So we will see.

Here are some of the questions I was asked, in case you are curious what sorts of questions might be asked of you in a VC interview…

– Why do you want to get into VC?
– What opportunities for investment do you see in the space you worked in prior to business school?
– How did you do academically in your undergrad program?
– Discuss your involvement in vendor selection at your previous jobs.
– Talk about leadership experience you’ve had.
– Tell me about what you perceive to be the functions of the job.

If you liked this post, and are interested in careers in venture capital, think about subscribing to my mailing list. I promise not to spam you and will only send information related to venture capital jobs and careers. Please input your email address in the field (and click ‘Submit’) below if you would like to subscribe.

Written by John Gannon

November 7, 2012 at 9:51 pm

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Upcoming venture capital job hunting class online

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I’m teaching the VC Job Hunting Hacks class again, but this time (for the first time!) Online (October 16). In this interactive course, you’ll get actionable tips that will help you accelerate your venture capital job hunt, and get you off on the right foot if you’re just getting started on your quest to become a VC.

In the class, we’ll cover:

  • How to secure interviews (Hint: It’s not by asking for a job)
  • How to identify which firms may be hiring (when they all say they’re not hiring)
  • How to stand out from a ridiculously competitive pack of applicants
  • How to follow up like a pro
  • How to negotiate an offer
  • How to build a powerful network that will benefit you for the rest of your career, even if you don’t end up working in VC

Note that the course content will be heavily focused on how to secure a job in venture capital, but many of the tips will have applications to other kinds of job hunts. Click here to see what other students have said about the class.

Registration Info:

If you are interested in careers in venture capital, think about subscribing to my mailing list. I promise not to spam you and will only send information related to venture capital jobs and careers. Please input your email address in the field (and click ‘Submit’) below if you would like to subscribe.

Written by John Gannon

September 27, 2012 at 11:30 am

Bay Area VC associate (post-MBA) role

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Looks like a Bay Area multi-billion dollar AUM firm is looking to fill a Bay Area post-MBA Associate role (consumer internet focus). Posting indicates they could be open to a mid-career non-MBA as well (4-6 years experience) as well.

Posting also indicates that the hiring firm “has actively partnered with entrepreneurs to build great businesses since the earliest days of venture” … which narrows things down somewhat (I’m thinking Sequoia, Greylock, or NEA).

Click here for more info via Glocap’s site: Senior Associate, Venture Capital (Consumer Internet)

If you liked this post, and are interested in careers in venture capital, think about subscribing to my mailing list. I promise not to spam you and will only send information related to venture capital jobs and careers. Please input your email address in the field (and click ‘Submit’) below if you would like to subscribe.

Written by John Gannon

September 23, 2012 at 9:25 pm

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Is Thrive Capital hiring?

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VC job hunters, take note!  Thrive Capital in New York City just closed their 3rd fund ($150MM) and it’s a much bigger one than the last (they had only raised a total over $50MM across their 1st two funds).  When you see a firm raise a new fund that’s >$50MM than its previous fund, it signals that they may be looking to add a partner and potentially a junior staffer.  If you’re looking for a VC job, you’d be smart to try and reach out to these guys.

If you are interested in advice and tips on getting into the VC industry, feel free to join my mailing list via the form below.  No spam (I promise!) and only super relevant content to a VC job search.

Written by John Gannon

September 20, 2012 at 11:15 am

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RSS feed to track VC fundings and deal activity

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I’ve created an RSS feed that aggregates some of the leading startup and VC blogs and only posts those that have financing or M&A keywords in the subject line.  I found this to be a useful tool when I was working as a VC and trying to keep up with the myriad of fundings and M&A deals in the startup world.

It’s not 100% accurate but it is pretty darn close, and will save you a bunch of time in keeping up with these transactions.

Click here to check it out and subscribe.

Written by John Gannon

September 19, 2012 at 9:18 am

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Venture Capital Job Hunting Hacks class slides

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Below are the slides from my most recent Skillshare class, “Venture Capital Job Hunting Hacks“.  I have been teaching the class in NYC (twice now).  Have been thinking about expanding it, so if you’d like me to take it to another city or in an online format, please leave a comment and let me know.

By the way, if you are interested in advice and tips on getting into the VC industry, feel free to join my mailing list via the form below. No spam (I promise!) and only super relevant content to a VC job search.

Sign up!

Written by John Gannon

August 24, 2012 at 9:58 am

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