Women in VC Panel at Textbook Ventures

Since joining Reinventure Fund as an Investment Associate, I have received a number of LinkedIn messages from friends of friends on how I arrived into the world of Venture Capital. Most will tell you that there is no formula or that it is near impossible to get a job, but while VC is small in Australia, it is certainly growing and opportunities do arise. I’m here to share the experiences that have landed myself and other VC juniors into the industry.

1. Know what it takes to build a startup

Ideally you have already built and exited two companies by the time you decide that you want to sit on the VC end of the negotiation table (just joking). But just short of founding your own company, you should know what it is like to both build something and try to sell it to others. For me, that was launching a private social network for my uni campus to make uni-life more social — kind of similar to what Facebook was supposed to be at Harvard University before it went gangbusters on the world. Ultimately, the venture failed because my co-founders and I decided we would focus on climbing the corporate ladder instead. Or maybe it failed because we decided to call it “FriendZone”…regret. In hindsight, understanding what it takes and failing is also an important part of the journey. VC’s like to see this in their juniors because everyone should have a base level of empathy with a venture’s founders.

2. Care about tech/ innovation

If you think Amazon is just an online book retailer, think again. If you can’t name the genius behind Tesla, SpaceX and Hyperloop then I suggest you read more tech news. These are the basics. In my first round interview at Reinventure, I was asked to describe the difference between the Ethereum and Bitcoin Blockchains with bonus points for knowing their prices. Luckily for me, I had already invested in both. Frankly, that line of questioning was uncharacteristically hard but I have heard from other associates that some partners asked them to list their personal Snapchat scores and Pokemon Go count as a proxy measure for how readily the candidate tries and adopts new technology. Ultimately, you need to have a pretty serious curiosity about technology which will be hard to fake if it’s not already there.

3. Be real with your motivations

Good VC’s pride themselves on being able to read founders and their intentions for seeking capital. A large part of picking a winning venture relies on the VC partner’s ability to pick passionate and authentic founders who have what it takes to hustle their way to success. So it’s a safe bet that they will use the same ninja mind reading to understand your motivations for wanting to join their team as a VC junior. Do you want in because it will look good on your CV and because you want the street cred (I walk on some pretty cool streets)? Or are you actually interested in tech and the business models that are changing the world?

4. Get involved, get a network

VCs on average are VERY involved in the startup community, which means there are plenty of opportunities to meet with the VC partners or their teams. Look out for the open events, pitch nights or guest speaker talks at the various co-working spaces around the city. Meeting startup founders or their employees are also valuable as they will give you good insight into the industry and may be able to introduce you to the VC’s that have supported their startup. Get your name out there so that when a job opportunity does present itself, someone in the network will think, “I know the perfect person for that role!”.

5. Learn some analytical skills

As a VC junior, you will be expected to know how to do market sizings or prepare documents on whether or not to invest in a certain industry or specific businesses. Unsurprisingly, the majority of VC associates I know have come from either investment banking or management consulting backgrounds. I have been pleasantly surprised to learn that excel modelling hasn’t featured as heavily as it did in my management consulting days — largely because early stage startups don’t have much data thus modelling becomes grossly imprecise. Regardless, a solid handle of deriving meaning from data and presenting a coherent storyline is core to a VC junior’s toolkit

6. Intern at a VC

While scoring an internship at a VC is also a competitive process, it is an easier route to take than trying to enter as a junior later on. Interns obviously also need to knock off most of the aforementioned points however the hurdle is a lot lower than someone who is already 3–6 years out of uni. If you perform well, the door may then be open for an analyst position after graduation or later an investment associate. Other VCs will also see your internship experience as a positive sign that you like the work and thus have a greater potential to do well as a junior.

Here’s your chance to get your foot in the door

In partnership with Blackbird Ventures, we will be running a 3 week internship throughout July 2017 for 2 female university students. Interns will get real-world, hands-on experience in 2 of the most active venture capital funds in Australia. For more details and how to apply visit: bit.ly/vcintern