How can veterans get into venture capital?

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JASON LEMKIN

The tough part is that venture capital is a tiny industry. It looks big on TechCrunch, but in reality, in each segment of the industry, there are only a handful of active firms.

And the industry doesn’t have a ton of headcount. Many firms don’t even have non-General Partners at all. And those that do, often have no career path for non-GP.

So first, let’s say there isn’t much room in a tiny, niche industry.

And the room at the bottom, the spec for the most junior positions, is highly focused on HBS, Stanford GSB, and Twitter/Facebook/Google alumns.

Which is to say, unfortunately, I’m not sure this is the best industry that is looking to help vets directly, by hiring investment professionals.

But.

There’s one proven path (of several) into venture capital, which is crushing it at a senior level at an inconic tech company. Get to be a director level at Slack, Google, Facebook, Salesforce, wherever, and mid-level (non general partner, but mid-level) opportunities open up in venture. Get to be a VP there, and more opportunities open.

So if you really have a passion for venture, take advantage of the fact that many leading tech companies do want to hire veterans.

And that the faster growing the company, the more quirky opportunities there are for promotion.

My suggestion is join the best startup you can, that is growing very quickly. And use your military training to work harder, and more effectively, than the next guy. Who may be a bit lazy. And crush it. And you’ll get promoted. Even if you have to start at a very entry level position. Then get promoted again. And again.

After three promotions at a leading, fast-growing tech company … you’ll have built a resume that will be attractive to VCs.

The beauty to the fastest-growing tech companies is they change so quickly, that if you truly kill it, you can grow and get promoted there faster than anywhere else. Especially in the 30–500 headcount days.

[Would like to also hear thoughts from Paige Craig and others.]

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Published on January 8, 2017
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