I am 13 and aspire to be a venture capitalist. Could somebody give me advice on the best route to take to become one?

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JASON LEMKIN

My best advice is actually very similar to what I give folks that think they want to be lawyers.

It’s — understand what doing the actual job and profession really means.  For real.

One way to be a VC is to “stumble” into it after being a successful founder, or VP at a hot tech co., etc. etc.  Or to start as an angel with your own money and grow it from there.  That’s not you.

Another is to start in the industry from Day 1-ish, i.e., fresh out of Harvard or Stanford.  That’s what you are asking.

Then I’d say:

  • Are you willing to start as an analyst, do cold calls and emails all day, get ignored by founders, and have 0.001% chance of making partner?
  • Are you willing to get promoted to Principal after working your arse off, sourcing a few amazing deals, and getting 0% carry (i.e, profit) in them even when the partners make millions from them … and then leave when you aren’t made GP?
  • Are you willing to defy the odds in a profession without, usually, a real career path?
  • Are you willing to wait about 20 years, really (from age 21 as an analyst) to make “real” money almost no matter how well you perform?  That’s 10 years to get to junior partner at 30 (if you crush it) … and then another 10 to get your first material carry check at 40?  Think about that.

Don’t think about doing VC because you “like start-ups”.  Join a start-up because you like start-ups.

Think about doing VC because you want to be a professional investor, and you want to try to specialize in a very nichey-type of investing that has a very long pay back period … and you are OK with that because you think it aligns with your skill set.  Because you can make more money, time adjusted, at a hedge fund or PE shop.  So you should do that instead if your skill set is broader / less focused.

If this and the above 4 bullet points don’t scare you … then you do understand the industry well enough to think through how to achieve your unlikely but not impossible goal.

But if this now sounds less appealing than before … don’t start your career in VC.

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Published on November 20, 2015
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