I get this question quite a lot in the last 3-6 months from students and professionals from the industry. To not repeat myself over and over, I thought I will just blog about it.
Venture capital is broadly categorized under Private Equity as a financial asset class. “Venture capital” here will be referred to early stage — seed, and Series A investments. Growth and late stage venture capital is quite different in many sense (which I will not go into in this post).
If you like to work for a venture capital firm that invests in early stage technology startup companies in Singapore as an analyst, associate, principal or junior/venture partner level. The points below will give you an edge above everyone else who are smart, hungry and full of initiative, willing to be coached etc. After all, it is an apprenticeship business. Everyone starts somewhere.
First, you have to love the world of start ups. It has to ooze out of conversations with you, your resume and the way you talk (live and breathe it). What are some of the tell tale signs that you are crazy about entrepreneurship and starting up?
- You have participated in business plan competitions or entrepreneurial clubs and associations.
- You have started a company or worked in a startup (family businesses do not count).
- You have dabbled with a side project or two while you are holding down a day job.
- You have taken a class to teach yourself a functional skill in technology — coding, design, UX, online marketing etc.
- You have invested in a startup and are able to articulate why you have invested.
- You have helped, advised founders of a startup.
- You have organized or ran community events and activities for startups.
Second, you have to have founders’ empathy. How do you acquire this particular empathy?
- You have started a company or worked in a startup and worked under the founding team.
- You have invested in at least a startup and are active either on the board of directors or speak to the founders 1-2 times a month. And have done this more than 5 years.
Third, you have a skill that is relatable to founders of startups.
- You can code, design, growth hack, online/mobile market.
- You are helpful with smart introductions. With potential hires, partners and customers.
- You have a specific engineering background. e.g. machine learning, artificial intelligence.
- You have a specific industry background. e.g. advertising networks, gaming studio.
At the end of the day, irregardless of what your position is in the venture firm. You need to command respect from the best founders out there. This is more important than just money. As you grow with experience, it will help propel you to the next level.
Lastly, be yourself, hustle your way there and know deep down what is your motivation to join our profession.