I’m often faced with the difficulty of not having an “optimal venture capital background”. At an associate level, the majority of VC positions I’ve come across (both in the US and UK) look for an investment banking background. In fact, just today I was told a London VC required banking/consulting experience.
Makes sense. The combination of transactional, analytical, and modeling exposure results in a spreadsheet whiz who can quickly value a company and evaluate complicated funding options.
I know I’m not alone with this problem. Many of my friends and other soon-to-be MBA graduates struggle to enter the VC arena. Try telling a college careers department you want a job in venture capital and they’ll quickly ask for alternatives. It’s the smart thing to do as they know openings are sparse and require very specific background.
My day was made a little brighter after reading a post by Rob Hayes from First Round Capital. Not only does he stress their team’s diversity, he says there’s “no standard way to find the next person to join our team.”
Unfortunately I next discovered how Mr. Hayes evaluates candidates. Probably the most difficult and innovative application form I’ve come across, potential First Round Capital associates need to have a Hacker News (no idea what this is) username and answer questions like “Who are the three funded entrepreneurs you know best? Which three unfunded entrepreneurs know you best?”
I actually considered creating a Hacker News username and quickly filling in a few witty comments. However, it makes sense that someone requiring this username would quickly see through my ploy and scrap my application… if not publically shame me for being an idiot.
In short, although Rob may not give me a call-back, at least I can be confident that not all VC’s require a specific background. Whether you’re an engineer or nano physics PhD/MBA, best of luck on your application. Let us know when you receive an offer!