Showing posts with label Pre-MBAs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pre-MBAs. Show all posts

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Apprenticeship, BVP and Thanksgiving

A couple weeks ago, Ben Siscovick over at IA Ventures wrote a really wonderful post on the importance of being mentored as a young VC. As Ben wrote,

“In fact, it’s a complete wonder to me that young venture investors find a place in the eco-system at all …And yet, not only are there young VCs, but many in this new breed are excelling in the industry. In some ways I think of a firm ‘betting’ on a young VC as analogous to investing in a first-time entrepreneur - you know there will be mistakes along the way, but you hope that the big successes will outweigh the inevitable mistakes and that overtime the individual will grow into a seasoned, mature and experienced pro. ” 
On this Thanksgiving day, I wanted to pick up Ben’s thread with a long overdue post.

When I joined Bessemer as an Analyst back in May 2006, I was very young, new to both the investment world and the technology world, and quite a bit shy. If the job had required any internal politicking to get ahead, I would have floundered. Instead, the job was incredibly merit oriented, and the measure of merit extremely objective. I worked hard, listened a ton, and somehow, someway, I excelled.

Midway through my second year, as I started thinking about applying to business school, Jeremy Levine asked me if I would be interested in becoming his Associate. For those of you who don’t know Jeremy, that’s a little like being asked to dance by the winner of the national dancing contest. I still remember how elated I was on my train ride home from Larchmont that day.

It’s been almost three years since that day, and I realize more and more how much I’ve learned working with Jeremy and the rest of the Bessemer team. Bessemer is one of the few firms that have successfully transitioned from one generation of great investors to the next, several times over (dating back to 1911). With this tradition, comes an ingrained commitment to nurturing and recognizing the talents of its younger investors. I’m incredibly lucky for that. Venture investing really is a craft that one learns best through apprenticeship and mentorship. The feedback cycles are too long otherwise.  But getting apprenticed doesn’t mean you’ll be successful. There is first a question of the quality of the apprentice and whether he or she will be able to absorb all the lessons (and bring his or her own perspective), and then there is the question of the quality of the lessons that apprentice learns.

Although I can’t speak to the former, on the latter, I believe Bessemer’s incredible track record and longevity speaks for itself. For a youngin’ like me, it’s a pretty phenomenal place to be.  I have no idea where the road ahead lies, but I feel lucky and grateful for the road I've traveled thus far. So thank you BVP, and happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My "ista" take on Larry Cheng's VC Blog Ranking

Larry Cheng updated his popular VC Blog Ranking and included some fun analysis, particularly on how Fred Wilson continues to lead the VC blogging show. If you haven't already, take a look.

Because I initially started my blog with the intention of blogging from the perspective of a female, junior professional (hence the “ista” in Adventurista), I’ve created two sub-sets of Larry’s: 1) Junior (i.e. non-dealmaker) professionals and 2) females.

#dos is pretty straight forward, but I might need some user generated editing for #uno. My rule of thumb was that if a person didn’t have the words “Partner” or “Managing” in their LinkedIn or website bio, I included them in my junior professional list. I'll admit some are on this list by a hair, but they make the rest of us look good!

Junior Professionals (woot woot!)
1. Christine Herron, First Round Capital, (354)
2. Philippe Botteri, Bessemer Venture Partners, Cracking the Code (263)
3. Andrew Parker, Union Square Ventures, The Gong Show (257)
4. Mark Peter Davis, DFJ Gotham Ventures, Venture Made Transparent (237)
5. Rob Finn, Edison Venture, Ventureblogalist (236)
6. Sagi Rubin, Virgin Green Fund, The Grass is Greener (182)
7. Sarah Tavel, Bessemer Venture Partners, Adventurista (156)
8. Rob Go, Spark Capital, Rob Go Blog (148)
9. Matt Winn, Chrysalis Ventures, Punctuative! (148)
10. Kent Goldman, First Round Capital, The Cornice (144)
11. Rachel Strate, EPIC Ventures, Wasatch Girl (129)
12. Mo Koyfman, Spark Capital, Mo Koyfman (127)
13. Lee Hower, Point Judith Capital, Venturesome (118)
14. David Dufresne, Desjardins Venture Capital, Dav-Generated Content (101)
15. Jon Seeber, Updata Partners, Jon’s Ventures (96)
16. Josh Sookman, RBC Ventures, Ubiquitous Startups and the VC (6)
17. Vishy Venugopalan, Longworth Venture Partners, Longworth Venture Partners Blog (2)

The Ladies (oh yeah!)
1. Christine Herron, First Round Capital, (354) (again!)
2. Sarah Tavel, Bessemer Venture Partners, Adventurista (156)
3. Rachel Strate, EPIC Ventures, Wasatch Girl (129)

I have to say I've had the pleasure of meeting quite a few of the people on this list and it's a great one (and a shout out to my BVP colleague, Philippe Botteri. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Philippe for almost three years and let me tell you: if you work in a SaaS company, if your business has any recurring revenue, heck, if the letter “a” or “s” appears in your name or the name of your company, you should be following his blog). Hope to meet the rest of you soon!

Anyone I'm missing?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

VC Pre-MBA Hiring...

A couple of months ago, I posted on my blog that Bessemer was looking to hire a new pre-MBA Analyst. More than 650 resumes later, we are thrilled to announce that Brian Feinstein has accepted our offer to join us as a full time Analyst. Welcome, Brian!

Having finished what feels like an epic recruiting process, it is interesting to look back at the process. Notably, of the more than 650 resumes we received, we conducted 42 first-round interviews (~6%), seven second-round interviews (17% of the 42), and eventually extended one offer (14% of the seven, but 0.15% of resumes submitted!).

To anybody reading this post who is applying for a pre-MBA role at a VC firm, this funnel may seem intimidating. So how can you get an edge? In particular, how does one get a first-round interview? So here is my "one-woman's take" on some tips I can think of post-recruiting to give you a slight edge:

  1. Your interest in entrepreneurship and technology shouldn’t start at the interview

This one may be a bit of a personal bias; some VC/PE firms looking to hire a pre-MBA likely wouldn’t prioritize this. But I can’t help but notice that Bessemer has had six full time Analysts, and five have been involved in entrepreneurship in one way or another. I'm not saying you need to start an internet company, but I do think involving yourself in the entrepreneurial or tech community will give you an edge. People who do tend to rise to the top during the application process, and I think it is because of their passion not just for venture capital, but for the entire ecosystem.

  1. Before you apply: Understand the role (and know yourself)

Pre-MBA VC jobs are heavy on the sourcing and researching, light on the tie-breaking votes and corporate jets. Expect to spend a majority of your time reaching out to CEOs of private companies in order to source deals for your firm. If this is not something that you think you can get excited about, that’s okay. Don’t let the allure of VC blind you into taking a pre-MBA role. Instead, pursue another job that makes you more passionate (or your MBA)… venture capital will always be there. If sourcing is something that you can get excited about, emphasize this in you cover letter or work in relevant experience in your resume. We are more likely to interview someone who we think is applying eyes-wide open.

  1. Be persistent

Sourcing requires a great deal of persistence. If sourcing is something you think you could be passionate about, show your persistence during the interview process (and however you can in your resume). For example, if you read a job posting for a VC firm, Google all the Partners in the firm and find which ones have blogs. Then email one or two of them. Make a smart comment about one of their blog posts, mention you saw the job posting and are extremely interested in the role, and oh heck… a little well-placed flattery never hurt anyone.

  1. Do your homework

It always impressed me to speak to a candidate who had clearly done their homework. I don’t mean they had a long list of exciting private companies they are familiar with. Instead, they knew some Bessemer portfolio companies, they read some of the Partners’ blogs, and they had a basic understanding of what the VC process is like. So do your homework – it shows initiative, curiosity, and your interest in the role. (And it doesn’t hurt to show that you did your homework in your cover letter.)

  1. Be Googleable

Charlie makes a similar point when he says “make a digital home for yourself.” Blogging is a great way to show who you are and demonstrate that startups and technology are something you are passionate about (tip #1). For some firms, this tip is the application process.

Last but not least: Know what we’re looking for and customize your resume to that

Tips #1-5 all feed into this tip which is: Don’t use the same resume for every job you apply to. For example, applying to a pre-MBA VC role is very different than applying to a pre-MBA buyout firm role. While the LBO recruiter might drool over a candidate’s investment banking background, we tend to get more excited by leadership experience such as starting a new successful club at your school or being the captain of your sports team. Customize your resume to highlight certain strengths specific to the job to which you are applying. Keeping this is mind should give you an edge in snagging that first round interview.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Interested in a VC Pre-MBA Analyst Role?

Bessemer is looking to add a new Analyst to our team. If you are a pre-MBA interested in VC, this is a really great way to get a taste of what venture capital is all about with some of the best in the business.

Check out the teaser below. If you think you might be a good fit, drop me a line or a comment and I can send you the full job description / requirements, or apply directly (w/ cover letter & resume) to FullTimeAnalystResumes at BVP dot com.


Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP) is the oldest venture capital practice in the United States. With offices in Silicon Valley, Boston, New York, Shanghai, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Herzliya, the firm manages more than a billion dollars of venture funds, carrying on a tradition of hands-on, active venture investing that has continued since 1911.

BVP is seeking an investment analyst to join the firm. The analyst role is ideal for an entrepreneurial, competitive self-starter who is outgoing, charismatic, and analytical. The position is located in the firm’s Larchmont, New York office, which is 35 minutes by train from Manhattan. Several of the firm’s professionals live in Manhattan.

Position Description
Analysts interact with roughly 1,000 entrepreneurs each year in an effort to source 2-3 new investments for the firm in their primary role. In addition to reviewing industry publications to identify promising companies, responsibilities include investment analysis and due diligence while working closely with the firm’s senior professionals.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Back in the Saddle... At Least Until Round 2.

It's been a while. My apologies.

As a pre-MBA, half-latina, female, East Coast, VC Analyst, I finally decided that I had one-too-many signifiers, and that it was time to knock off one of those puppies. So the past couple of months, any creative energy I have has been funneled into GMAT studying and essay questions akin to "What do you want to do with the rest of your life?" Gotta love it.

As I've gone through this process, I can't help but wonder whether the "application package" will ever become more of a LinkedIn+Blogger-esque page that would allow an applicant to link to important highlights of their web presence, in addition to containing their essays, resume et. al?

At the very least, will schools ever include "Blog / Web Presence URL:" as one of the template questions alongside "Mailing Address"? That would be a nice touch.

Anyways, this post is a cheapo (nothing easier than breaking a blogging spell by explaining the drought!), but I look forward to jumping back into the blogging dialogue.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

"No offense, but you are an 'Analyst'."

Given the main objective of my job as an Analyst is to source deals, I speak to literally more than a thousand companies a year. In some ways, this makes me and any other Analysts/Associates out there a great “front-line” barometer for the venture climate. Moreover, I'll venture that the reaction a General Partner gets from an entrepreneur will be a little rosier than the view someone like myself gets.

So when over the course of just a couple of weeks I get a reaction twice that I've gotten only once before, it gives me pause. The reaction?:

"Please don't take this the wrong way, but you are an 'Analyst.' If your firm was really interested in [MyCorp], a Partner would have contacted me. Meeting with non-Partners is just not a good use of my time." [This is verbatim.]

Is this reaction a telling commentary on the start-up friendly period we find ourselves in? Or should I just re-read Guy's VCAT and remember my place? ;)

From my perspective, there are several factors that perpetuate this mindset:

  • We now have well established and easily accessible “waterholes” (i.e., the likes of TechCrunch). With one fell swoop, everyone knows about a company. The web, I would venture to say, is actually super-saturated with websites whose sole focus is to review web startups. There are literally dozens of blogs with TechCrunch-esque models. Hot consumer internet companies don't stay secrets (and uncompetitive deals) for long. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, consumer-internet VCs are increasingly bringing in EIRs to incubate web companies.

  • Likewise, many companies seem to assume that once they’ve been mentioned in one of these blogs, all VC firms know of their existence. The lack of an immediate inbound call from a Managing Partners is tantamount to a lack of interest from the firm.
  • It's not just with consumer internet deals. I can't tell you how many enterprise software companies I've called who tell me that they get daily calls from VCs. VCs overall are becoming more proactive when it comes to generating deal flow. This proactiveness has two flavors: either individuals in the firm becoming more proactive (including partners), or the firm adding a level of employees who are there to be proactive. Many firms have hybrids of these flavors, but it is rare to find a firm that has not adopted one stance or the other.

In this world of in-bound interest, I can't blame entrepreneurs for their reaction. Why go through resume submission / first-round interviews when other firms let them skip right to final round interviews?

But instead of thinking about an inbound call from a junior person as a waste of time, entrepreneurs should think of the call as a great opportunity to get the person's firm excited about their company. Junior people have the ear of the senior people in their firms - otherwise, they wouldn't be there. Entrepreneurs who realize this often have a powerpoint deck always updated and at hand, ready to email out or WebEx at a moment's notice. These entrepreneurs have figured out how to efficiently and effectively play the game. And when they are ready to go out and raise a round, my guess is that they'll have a long list of VCs (junior and senior) waiting to hear from them.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Whoops! Youngin Blooper.

A self-admitted loyal Gawker reader, part of my daily routine is to check out both Gawker and one of Gawker's blog properties, Valleywag. As I was catching up on my backlog of posts, I couldn't help but notice a post that made me squirm in my seat -- VC's spambot targets random sites -- and, I'll admit, giggle.

It looks like someone over at OpenView Venture Partners made an overture to Valleywag, possibly not realizing that Valleywag is part of Gawker. Unfortunately, that overture ended up in the blogosphere. Valleywag posts the email and writes:

"Boston's OpenView Venture Partners must either enjoy abuse, or be so desperate to catch the web boom that they're reduced to spamming any site with any audience that registers in Alexa."

Ouch. and yet. I can't help but shake my head. The cat is outta the bag! It's true that once you land in the Alexa 5000 club, you can expect a lot more inbound interest from proactive VCs. I am going to guess that OpenView does have a software program that alerts them every time a company smashes that ceiling, or at least a diligent someone who combs the Alexa 5000 list every week.

VC Ratings has a little write-up of the event here. And as they rightly point out, I guess all press is good press!

Addendum: Just came across this post from Nick Wilson's personal blog, Communicontent.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Contempt, eh?

A lot has already been written about Guy's post, so I'll try not to echo too much. But it is worth mentioning that, while most of the readers commented on the insightfulness of the VCAT (styled after this quiz in Cosmo…), I can't help but think Guy's post is a little behind the times. No, no, I am not saying 25 year olds should be calling the shots at VC firms and casting a vote on investment decisions. But I don't think it is fair to belittle all the early 20's enterprising applicants who are interested in VC jobs. And it is Certainly not fair to advocate treating those people with "contempt".

For those who haven’t read Guy’s post, his argument, oversimplified, breaks down into 3 premises:

  1. Young ppl are motivated by dreams of grandeur to try to get into VC
  2. Successful VCs have x / y / z qualifications ("Venture Capital Aptitude Test")
  3. Young people don't have enough (if any) of these qualifications

Ergo: It is ridiculous that young people are trying to work in VC.

In essence, Guy’s VCAT is supposed to be a sobering wake up call for us youngins who lack experience (can't say I've ever been “kicked in the groin”), and are aiming for the VC scene to be a part of the sexiness associated with the industry -- corporate jets and all.

But this does two things. 1. It unfairly clumps every young person’s motivation for getting involved in VC to one motivation. 2. It assumes that a pre-MBA’s job is equivalent to a GPs job. Neither is the case.

To the first point, there are a good number of young people out there interested in VC for the broad exposure to entrepreneurship one gets with the aim, either to cross over, or leverage that experience in some other industry. Heck, there are already some great examples of former pre-MBA VCs crossing over to entrepreneurship (Charlie is case in point). My guess is that Charlies’ experiences at Union Square Ventures help inform his day-to-day at Oddcast. To the second point, pre-MBA posts are (for the most part) jobs heavy on the sourcing and researching, light on the tie-breaking votes and corporate jets.

Guy goes on to write: "entrepreneurs should view any young person who opted for venture capital over “real world” experience with contempt." I am sure Guy didn’t mean it as strongly as he wrote it, but ouch. Guy, what did you hope to encourage by that proclamation?

Contempt clearly doesn't help anyone. I agree with Guy’s claim that no pre-MBA should be calling you, expecting to know what it is like to be running your business as well as you do. Nonetheless, as funds gorge themselves on LPs’ wallets, more and more money is out there, needing to be put to use. Increasingly, to adapt, VC firms are supplementing their inbound deal flow with outgoing calls to make sure that there aren’t some good deals passing them by. Chances are, if you are an entrepreneur behind a successful start-up, you have been called by a twenty-something working for a VC. The increasing presence of pre-MBAs in VC is less “additional proof that we’re in a bubble”, and more a sign that the VC organizational structure is changing -- for better or for worse.

As an aside, I think this trend is great. Not just because it means that I get to work in VC (Whoo hoo! Corporate Jet!) but because I think it helps open the playing field for entrepreneurs who don't belong to the "old boy's network", namely women and minorities. Obviously there is still a long way to go here, but every little bit helps!

It's time to start blogging....

I've been twirling the idea of starting a blog around in my head for a while, but it took a post by Guy Kawasaki + a recent article in Slate about female ambition to finally be the motivators I needed.

Why would these two things motivate me to try my hand at blogging? Two reasons.

One, there are a lot of new “pre-MBA” positions in Venture Capital (my position included) and this category will only continue to grow. The responsibilities of these positions vary from firm to firm, but they include some mixture of sourcing (i.e. outbound calls to startups) and diligencing. But as Guy’s post seems to indicate, there is a whole lot of misunderstanding out there about why these young kids are moving into VC-land, what their motivations are, and how to deal with them. I hope to chat a little about this from time to time.

Second, there continues to be an amazing dearth of women and minorities in venture capital and start ups. For example, currently I am the only female in my firm of 30. (Perhaps Guy should have added that as one of his test questions? “If you are white / Indian / Asian, +2 pts. If you are male, +3 additional points”.) Being an empowered woman (aka feminist), and having been involved in feminist organizations in college, I am inclined (make that, starved) to talk about these things. In many ways, for me, being the only woman in my firm has been a great social experiment. It has challenged me in more nuanced ways than I originally thought it would. This really hit home when I read the Slate article on female ambition. It is a worthy read.

So that is my first entry (gasp!). A counterpost to Guy’s post will hopefully follow…. But future posts will most definitely not be limited to reasons one and two.