If you are thinking about breaking into the venture capital industry or in the midst of recruiting, here are a couple of lessons to keep in mind. This is a distillation of countless discussions with B.A. and M.B.A. candidates as well as individuals thinking of making a career shift. We find ourselves here at Bowery Capital giving a lot of the same advice over and over again so thought it would be worthwhile to put pen to paper and share it with the world.
Be A Student Of An Industry. Go deep on one or many sectors, themes, or ecosystems and become a knowledgeable expert in that space. Showcase this knowledge by writing publicly on Medium, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other platforms. Find deals on Crunchbase and share them with VC firms. Invest and advise if you can. The key point here is to differentiate yourself and take a more focused approach to your candidate profile. Showing that you can do the work of sourcing and conducting due diligence "builds a bridge" for a hiring manager or recruiter looking at candidates. You will stand out.
Become A Recruiting Machine. You need to get good at referral oriented networking. Writing strong emails and having a regular catch-up cadence with industry professionals is key. While in person is always preferred, post COVID-19 the virtual catch up has become the norm. Ultimately, recruiting for VC is one giant networking game and the best entry point is always going to be referrals. Referrals from entrepreneurs. Referrals from other VCs. Referrals from industry participants. Whatever works. Develop a strong personal CRM. We tend to see this in Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel, or Salesforce if you want to go nuts. The main takeaway is to network with as many people as you can at the firms that you love. By staying in touch with these firms, you will be top of mind when they eventually hire.
Sharing Dealflow. Finding relevant deals and sharing them with VCs is probably going to move the needle the most. While firms will want a comprehensive package in their candidates, if you start sharing your deal flow and opportunities you automatically create a conversation with that VC. There is a lot of nuance to each and every deal so hearing back from them, discussing the deal over email, and working through specifics assists in building the necessary touchpoints. It helps you get to know them better and vice versa. This may be the best way to start a conversation with a firm. It shows you’re plugged into the industry and you’re providing real value.
Get In The Business. Venture is such an interconnected industry. Once you break in and land your first role, it becomes much easier to meet people. Within reason, the goal should be to get in the venture business. Just be prepared that it may take two to three years of persistent effort to do so. We find that too many candidates lose sight of this and think they are all going to get their first VC job at a Tier-1 firm. Thinking of this as a part of a broader career and career ladder is usually the right way to approach it.