What can candidates do to stand out from the pack to break into top VC firms?

Q: What can candidates do to stand out from the pack to break into top VC firms such as Sequoia and/or Kleiner Perkins?

It’s hard.

First, bear in mind VC firms are tiny entities for the most part. A handful of partners, and then a few other investing professionals. Few firms have even more than true 10 investors on staff, sometimes fewer.

Second, and this is hard, firms that do hire junior investors — and they don’t hire that many — are very pedigree focused. Look how many went to Stanford or Harvard Business school (even today), or were top product folks at top tech companies like Twitter, Square, Google, Facebook, etc. If you aren’t either, the odds are already against you.

But … but … there is still a way.

Here’s what you do.

One, apply to every single role possible at every VC firm possible. Apply to the most junior analyst role. Apply for a summer internship. Offer yourself to every GP as an intern, even if they don’t ask for one. Everyone needs help. Look at their University programs, their inclusion programs, their summer programs, anything. Find some way in the door in any role.

And then …

Two, source and find 1 great investment. Just 1. The next Zoom, Plaid, Slack, Datadog, Shopify, whatever. And it has to be that good. But go find it, on your own. Before they have found it. And when you are 100% sure that’s the 1 deal you think they should do, ask for 10 minutes of the partner’s time and present why. Do your homework. Come super prepared.

If the deal is that great, you win them over with it in 10 minutes, and you were the one that sourced it, that gets noticed. Fast.

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Published on January 16, 2020

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