In the Shoes of a Venture Capitalist

As a PhD scholar in Telecommunication Engineering and Google Fellow working in CSIRO’s Data61, I have always been intrigued about start-ups.

When I was given the opportunity to work alongside the partners at Main Sequence Ventures (mseq), I was very keen to participate and find out what is going on “the dark side”. What funds do and how they function was completely new to me. All I knew was that they invest in start-ups they believe have potential for growth.

I joined Main Sequence Ventures for two weeks in August 2017, and on my first day I was introduced to the team of partners and joined them in their meetings. Over the two weeks I would join them for even more meetings, events and pitches as being immersed in the world of a Venture Capitalist (VC). The first meeting was a bit daunting for me since a lot of terms were new to me, like cap table (capitalisation table), ESVCLP (Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partnership), LP (Limited Partner), GP (General Partner), but it didn’t take me long to settle in. What I discovered early on was that the team was made up of highly professional big shots who had been working as VCs for years, each from different areas of expertise. They had seen lots of wins and losses, and up and downs, which gave them a clear perspective on what they deem valuable and worthy of investment, specifically start-ups with potential for 10X return.

What I learnt from being an VC for two weeks

I really enjoyed my time being a VC at Main Sequence Ventures even though the team was running on a very tight schedule, full of back to back meetings between which they would spend time with me to make sure my questions were answered. After my two weeks with the team, I have developed a new mindset and perspective on thinking about and evaluating growth, know which tools to use, podcasts to listen to and websites to visit to keep up with the VC and start-up world. Understanding the framework that VCs use to evaluate start-ups was extremely valuable, as I now know what VCs could be looking for pitches in start-ups, and what makes a start-up stand out, be valuable and how its value is evaluated.

What is unique about Main Sequence Ventures

What I loved the most about the team at Main Sequence Ventures is their genuine interest in helping Australian start-ups with focus on deep-tech grow. The team is very founder-driven and wants to make sure that the founders of the start-ups are fully supported, and would own a large enough share for them to be motivated to grow. They will guide and mentor the start-ups they want to invest in and form close relationships with them. They will provide them with legal support they need for acquiring their IP and licensing and even introduce new experts to their teams.

My take home experience from interning at MSEQ

My time in the Nova program at Main Sequence Ventures has given me a invaluable experience about startups, their valuation, validation and potential for growth. What was really interesting to me was how interested the partners at MSEQ were in the founders of the start-ups. The team really took into account their experience and their personalities. Things like if they are hustlers, would they fight for their idea, how big their idea was and how much of an expert they were in the field, were all really important alongside the idea itself, its potential for growth, its target market and existing competitors and customers.