Breaking into Venture Capital

12.05.19

Blog, News

By Tribeca Venture Partners

Our Senior Associate, Nitya Rajendran, recently sat down with SoGal Foundation to discuss Breaking into Venture Capital. Each month, Elizabeth Galbut interviews venture capitalists to gain valuable insight into the various paths to land a coveted VC job and answer questions from the webinar audience. Here are some key takeaways from Nitya’s conversation with Breaking into Venture Capital, featuring questions from the webinar audience.

What skills do you need on Day 1 to perform successfully as an Investment Associate at a venture firm? 

One of the most important things you need is intellectual curiosity. Skills like financial modeling can be taught but intellectual curiosity is the key to success. Show up on Day 1 eager to dive into tech trends that pique your interest and develop your own investment thesis. 

Strong analytical skills are important as well. As an investor, I absorb lots of information from companies I meet, read a lot, and talk to other industry experts and investors. I need to be able to dive into the weeds as well as take a step back and understand the bigger picture.

This leads to the last one: having the courage to form your own opinion. After analyzing what’s available, form and share your own opinion and be willing to absorb feedback and revise your opinion. Hashing out an investment thesis with the rest of your team can be one of the best parts of the job.

Since VC jobs are rarely posted publicly, what’s the best way to network your way into the industry? (How did you find your job at Tribeca Venture Partners)?

When I was looking for a job in venture, I couldn’t leave my desk at my investment banking job to attend events so I strategically cold emailed some VCs, many of whom were kind enough to chat with me. If you’re cold-emailing, try to provide some value to the recipient. For example, research the VC firm and mention a company that you think could fit their mandate with a few short bullet points.

I ended up finding the job at TVP through John Gannon’s blog (highly recommend!). There are so many other ways to go about it: going to events, starting a blog or podcast, or perusing job boards. When you’re trying to get into the industry, find the approach that’s most authentic to you and your strengths.

What do you find most rewarding about being a VC?

I love working with early-stage founders. I often can’t believe that my job is to meet with incredibly smart and passionate people who are trying to have a positive impact and change the world in some way.

Hands down, the most rewarding part of my job is rolling up my sleeves to help our portfolio companies, whether that’s helping them think through strategic initiatives, build-out KPI frameworks, or finetune their financial models. I love being an early-stage investor because I get to help founders grow their businesses and build something amazing.

What was the best piece of advice you’ve received about building a career in VC?

The best piece of advice I’ve received is to follow your curiosity. My natural inclination to follow my interests and go down rabbit holes can be really useful in unearthing new verticals and opportunities I hadn’t previously considered.

What should you look for in a VC firm when you’re applying for jobs?

There are a couple of high-level things to consider: 

  • Stage (early vs. late)
  • Sector (industry-agnostic vs. sector-specific)
  • Geography (where is the firm based and where do they invest)

An investor’s day-to-day role can vary, especially depending on the first two. When you’re interviewing, try to ask the following questions to better understand your potential new role:

  • Would your role be more focused on sourcing, conducting due diligence, or supporting portfolio companies?
  • Is it a two-year program or is there potential to grow with the firm?
  • How do they measure success and what are the firm’s values?
  • How do they make decisions as a firm?

It’s just as important to interview the firms you’re meeting to see if values and interests align.