BC

1/ Someone emailed me asking how to break into VC, so I wanted to answer on Twitter where others could see and contribute to the conversation.

2/ “Being a VC” can mean a lot of different things, so it’s worth asking:

What actual activities do you want to do?

- Deep market analysis?
- Be in the flow of information and people?
- Make deals?
- Work closely w/ founders over time (e.g take board seats?)
- Manage capital?
3/ It’s worth specifying what type of VC you might like to become — as there are different archetypes. E.g.

- Benchmark (Lead series A/B - couple investments a year)
- First Round (Lead seed rounds, partner w/ a few companies a year)
- SV Angel (Make lots of seed investments)
4/ Continued:

Expa - Incubate companies

YC / Village Global - Build a platform to help entrepreneurs at scale

Do you want to join a firm or start one? There’s a lot to consider.

Different paths will require different skillsets & sets of experiences.
5/ Since the person who wrote the email is a young person trying to break into VC by joining a firm (and who doesn’t want to start a company), I’ll tailor this tweet storm to that goal. There’s some overlap.
6/ If you are looking to join a VC firm, the question the firm needs to be able to answer is:

“Is this person going to help me to invest in companies that I otherwise would not have invested in without him/her?”

How do you do this?
7/ Basically you want to see yourself as having an asset or “portfolio” of assets that make you uniquely valuable—not only next to thousands of other smart, connected, well-branded ppl trying to break into VC—but also to other *existing* angels/VCs.

Why will you see great deals?
8/ Maybe because you own a key network. Examples:

- You worked at Stripe or Palantir and run their alumni group (Company)

- You went to MIT and ran their on campus fund (College)

- You ran Waterloo’s startup community and you know all the great projects (Location)
9/ More examples of key networks:

- You host the signature AR/VR conference (Vertical network)

- You run a community like "Interact"—top technologists under 25 (Horizontal network)

- You’re the best writer in, say, crypto—or more specifically, privacy coins (Legible expertise)
10/ Or you have some unfair advantage:

- You worked at Product Hunt or in journalism (can help startups with distribution/PR)

- You host "The 20 min VC" (can help startups raise money)

- You run a podcast called "The 20 min Blockchain Engineer" (can help startups recruit)
11/ The important thing is to do the work upfront.

Here are other things you can do to add value to VC firms:

1. Send them good deals
2. Send their companies customers or talent
3. Invite partners on your podcast or to your event (or any of the assets mentioned above)
12/ These things, of course, are hard.

How do you get access to customers in the first place? Host a VP of Sales Event once a quarter, or an event for another core buying audience.

Talent? Start a job board site for engineers, or a regular happy hour for top designers.
13/ Deal flow? Have some asset that makes founders come to you — an event series, a valuable network, or a domain expertise — and then send deals to others. The more you send good deals the more you’ll receive.
14/ Quoth Rob Go: “ it’s much less about “how” to find a VC job but more about “being” the kind of person who can get a VC job.”
15/ Getting a job in venture capital is partly less about “who you know” and more about “who you’ve helped.”

Start creating a personal portfolio of projects that allow you to help others, especially around getting into deals, and you may break into VC.

Add any other thoughts.

More from Erik Torenberg

1/ Here’s a list of conversational frameworks I’ve picked up that have been helpful.

Please add your own.

2/ The Magic Question: "What would need to be true for you


3/ On evaluating where someone’s head is at regarding a topic they are being wishy-washy about or delaying.

“Gun to the head—what would you decide now?”

“Fast forward 6 months after your sabbatical--how would you decide: what criteria is most important to you?”

4/ Other Q’s re: decisions:

“Putting aside a list of pros/cons, what’s the *one* reason you’re doing this?” “Why is that the most important reason?”

“What’s end-game here?”

“What does success look like in a world where you pick that path?”

5/ When listening, after empathizing, and wanting to help them make their own decisions without imposing your world view:

“What would the best version of yourself do”?
1/ Some initial thoughts on personal moats:

Like company moats, your personal moat should be a competitive advantage that is not only durable—it should also compound over time.

Characteristics of a personal moat below:


2/ Like a company moat, you want to build career capital while you sleep.

As Andrew Chen noted:


3/ You don’t want to build a competitive advantage that is fleeting or that will get commoditized

Things that might get commoditized over time (some longer than


4/ Before the arrival of recorded music, what used to be scarce was the actual music itself — required an in-person artist.

After recorded music, the music itself became abundant and what became scarce was curation, distribution, and self space.

5/ Similarly, in careers, what used to be (more) scarce were things like ideas, money, and exclusive relationships.

In the internet economy, what has become scarce are things like specific knowledge, rare & valuable skills, and great reputations.

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