There are a plethora of different paths to landing a gig in VC, but there are really only four well-traveled roads:
- Inherit, earn or steal a Scrooge McDuck sized fortune and invest as you please. Note: For most people that fit into this category, this will mostly be a last resort designed to cure boredom after freestyling through your vault of gold has lost all appeal.
- Rise through the ranks at a high flying startup (Paypal early 2000s, Google circa 2004 - 2008 or Facebook more recently) and get poached by a VC for your domain expertise in a "hot" investing area.
- Found a startup that has a successful exit and leverage the money you made your investors into a role as a Venture Partner or an investment professional.
- Network like crazy, pound the pavement and beat the odds of successfully navigating through an asteroid field (which C-3PO will tell you are 3720 to 1).
- Leverage your existing relationships and network - University alumni, work affiliations, or clubs/organizations. Introductions are by far the most successful path to getting a meeting with a busy person. Always check LinkedIn for the best connection to the person you want to meet.
- Create something of value and tailor it specifically for the person you want to meet; for VCs, this means finding new, interesting investment ideas and explaining your thesis as to why you think that startup is a good investment. You can find interesting companies by parsing through CrunchBase, AngelList or VentureSource (check with your University for access if you are a student). Another great source is to talk to startups - I have often found that CEOs are 6 months ahead of VCs in terms of the knowledge in their specific ecosystem.
- Email/Call/Beg your way into 15 - 30 minute phone calls with VCs. Use your connection (from #1) and tailor your value add (#2) to their specific area of focus (which you can determine based on their website and past investments).
- Rinse and repeat as needed. Don't get frustrated or depressed when people say no, reschedule or simply ignore you. It's a numbers game and you have to maximize your funnel.
I developed 4 different Investment Idea Presentations and I tailored the companies in each presentation for the person I pitched. I probably had a 50/50 ratio of getting a meeting and I ultimately talked to at least 30 different investors. Out of those 30+ individuals, I came across only 4 firms interested in hiring an investment professional and I was fortunate enough to land with my top pick.
Han Solo said, "Never tell me the odds." Well, I just told you the odds and hopefully gave you the edge to overcome them. Good luck!