Breaking Into VC: An Exceptional “Gift” Guide

Melissa Morano Aurigemma
Exceptional Capital
4 min readDec 14, 2023

Guide compiled with collective effort from Andrew Van Nest, Marell Evans, Kiana Washington, and Melissa Morano Aurigemma

At Exceptional Capital, we’ve all been — and continue to be — impacted by positive mentorship. There are moments in all of our lives where mentorship has given us essential perspective, feedback, or confidence. Despite optics or posturing, the truth is that no one makes it 100% alone. Advice or guidance from those who have been in your shoes before can go a long way. That’s one of the reasons why internally we are so passionate about mentorship, finding ways to truly support and empower the next generation of brilliant builders and VCs.

Ultimately, we are all still learning and always finding new, incredible resources along the way — but these are pieces of advice we hope can be useful to anyone who is looking to explore the world of VC in a professional capacity.

LinkedIn People to Follow

You’ll learn quickly that LinkedIn is one of the most powerful tools you can leverage. “Your network is your strength” often gets thrown around the VC ecosystem and there’s no better time to build your network than now. Many of the conversations I’ve had over my career simply came from the fact that someone accepted my LinkedIn request because I shared a critical mass of mutual connections — the key is to have something to say, to have an opinion so that the eventual conversation rings true and people remember you — the following people are incredible thought leaders on LinkedIn in their respective areas:


Sometimes reading the founding stories of venture firms and the people who build them can shed light on some amazing “lightning in a bottle” moments. Additionally, reading about organization psychology and learning that “lightning in a bottle” can be captured repeatedly if you know where to look and how to recognize it — these books provide a clinic for understanding where hidden power lies!


Some of the best knowledge comes from reading tomes of company founding history or the ever nebulous world of Limited Partners. Super accessible, you can find everything from Phil Knight and Nike, Evan Spiegel and Snapchat to the less public-facing funds that keep the VC ecosystem afloat. The life of a new VC is often swamped and reading 500+ biographies or tracking down unlisted family offices may not be efficient. Luckily these podcasts take care of the heavy lift for you!

VC Tech Stack

Quick download on some basic tools anyone in VC space can expect to see. One of the most important things an analyst or associate can bring to the table early is backend management — learning and using the tools many VC firms use to run the day to day operations — having exposure or genuine experience with these tools is valuable:

  • Internal Comms: Slack, Zoom

Tip from our Exceptional intern Kiana Washington: she shares “Join as many Slack groups as possible. It’s great for networking, upcoming conferences, and deal flow.”

  • CRM: Affinity, Attio
  • Project Management: Notion
  • Portfolio Management: Tactyc
  • Fund Admin: AngelList, Carta
  • Data: Pitchbook, Crunchbase, CB Insights, Harmonic
  • Data Room: Docsend, Notion

Job Search

Interested in VC? Have some questions? Reach out to us:

Marell EvansAndrew Van NestMelissa Aurigemma

And be sure to keep an eye out for our mentorship meetups on the horizon for 2024!



Melissa Morano Aurigemma
Exceptional Capital

Philosopher, artist, poet, etc, etc by night and by day Chief of Staff at Exceptional Capital