Included VC 2021 Reflection: Amiran Yaghout
Amiran Yaghout joined Capital Mills as a VC Analyst in January 2021, just as the Fellowship began!
Amiran was one of the first Fellows to land a role in VC, but credits Included VC for being such an important factor in developing in his role. Amiran reflects on his invaluable Included VC adventure and how he hopes to continue to pay his learnings forward.
- 🤯 The lessons that Included VC taught Amiran about the reality of VC
- 🌟 Why Amiran is using his knowledge and Included VC experience to help others
- 🚀 How Included VC exceeded Amiran’s expectations
INVC: What were you doing when you were in the process of applying to Included VC?
AY: When I was applying, I had just got off a failed attempt to start a startup. This was at the point when Covid-19 had just started to break and my co-founder thought it would be too risky to continue. So, I was thinking to myself, ‘how am I going to continue?’ Obviously, I’d engaged with VCs before, and I found what they did really interesting and really cool. I thought if my startup doesn’t work out, VC would be the obvious place to continue my career as an entrepreneurial tech enthusiast.
Included VC came on my radar through a friend whose friend had gotten onto the Fellowship. I thought it would be a great opportunity and stepping stone for me, so I went for it and applied.
INVC: What are three things (mic drop/knowledge bomb moments) that Included VC has taught you that you will remember forever?
AY: One key insight is definitely how hard it is to raise and maintain a fund. VC can look very sexy and very cool from the outside, but it’s a labour of love with a lot of hard work. You have to show that you’re capable, and that you have a track record. Then you have to deliver on that promise once you raise the fund too. It was interesting to see the inner workings and the challenges that GPs usually deal with, which makes you understand better what your role is and how you can contribute.
Secondly, learning about the nitty gritty things; deal sourcing, due diligence, legal. Going into these layers deeper and really understanding what it means and what it entails to get it done.
Finally, the amount of tenacity you need to get into this business and stay. Staying in requires an amount of grit, tenacity and a willingness to push yourself to get better and better. After you get into VC, the most daunting part is still ahead!
INVC: In what two ways have the Fellows contributed to your development, learning, current role or life?
AY: Personal encouragement has been a big one. For example, talking to fellows about hesitations, doubts, setbacks, but also small wins. It’s been a huge part of the experience!
Another thing I’ve learned is, how do other people look at career planning? How do they plan? How do they strategize? What are some of their considerations? And then, how can you be helpful in that? You always think, ‘what can I do to contribute?’, but once you sit down and chat with them, you also realise personally that you have more to contribute than you think. It’s also great to then see and hear the gratitude when some of your insights help them with something. But, vice versa as well when the Fellows give you advice which you take, and it helps to take the next step.
INVC: Were there any pieces of advice, wisdom or guidance that you have received from the Partners that have really resonated with you in your role?
AY: I have had multiple mentoring sessions with Stephanie Opdam, Principal at Notion Capital, and the sessions definitely reiterated the importance of venture being a network driven business. The reiteration of building your network within your country, outside your country, with people at a similar level, but also people at higher levels and other funds to make sure that they know who you are.That’s definitely been a great one that I’ve followed up on, which has been helpful. It allowed me to get to know more people, but also find even more relevant funds to collaborate with because I went that extra step.
Then another Partner is Jaime Novoa, a principal at K Fund. He had an interesting background, and had transitioned into VC after a career in tech journalism. He had some great insights on how to distinguish oneself through consistently putting out quality content that helps founders and other investors understand your fund’s focus and vision of the future.
In Daniel Bloomquist’s, Partner at Creandum, session he was talking about gaming and how he was one of the early ones that went all in when the success of the space wasn’t that obvious. There’s a level of risk in doing so. But, I think my key takeaway is to do that. Not to just be like, ‘I’m not sure about this emerging theme I’m not sure about the sector’. You see some sort of enthusiasm from a bunch of people, and you should dip in, get to know the people and go a level deeper. If you are one of the early ones that’s in there and sticks a flag in it, it’s going to pay so much more dividends long term than just competing in all the other existing themes or existing verticals.
As an up and coming VC, looking for those additional emerging opportunities like Daniel did, and then sticking to it you have a space that you can own more easily in all sorts of different aspects. I’ve also followed up on this insight and have been immersing myself in the web3 space and following interesting teams that are building the foundations that will help to further proliferate web3.
INVC: Are there any ways that you will continue to contribute to diversifying VC?
AY: As I’ve broken into VC, I’ve been getting more requests from other young professionals with diverse backgrounds asking if I could provide advice about breaking into VC. I always take those calls and forward any new openings that have come across my radar. Just like me before I got into VC, they were doubtful of their odds and it’s great when most are motivated after our conversation to give it a serious shot.
I’ve also been working to give founders from diverse backgrounds extra support in their fundraising process. Some of these founders may have not had the privileges or insights that are required to successfully navigate the VC fundraising process. I’m trying to very proactively sit down with them and talk through what they need to work on to increase their chances of successful fundraising even if they are not right for our firm. Especially for first time founders, it’s probably more challenging getting that support. Hopefully, this pays it forward, because what that ends up doing is that other diverse founders will reach out to me through word of mouth. Then, I can connect with them and connect them with other Fellows to really champion them.
INVC: How has Included VC exceeded your expectations?
AY: I honestly did not expect it to be so valuable. The programme obviously was great, there was so much content and you had access to all these amazing Partners who were open to share and talk about their experiences. Especially during COVID, you had this extra support group which were the Fellows, even if it wasn’t like VC or career related value, they would add motivation and fun to the Fellowship. I’ve gained a whole group of new acquaintances and friends across the globe and I didn’t expect that!
INVC: Three words to describe Included VC.
AY: Empowering, Transformational, Feast