What it’s Like to Work as an Associate at Touchdown Ventures
Q&A with Rahul Daryanani on the associate role
Earlier this Fall, I published an interview with Kathy Quigley on what it’s like to work as an analyst at Touchdown Ventures. We received feedback from candidates interviewing for our open roles and professionals interested in a venture capital career that this article provided a useful illustration of what the job is actually like.
Building on this positive feedback, I spoke to Rahul Daryanani, who joined Touchdown as an associate in 2019 and was promoted to senior associate in 2021. This interview aims to provide insight into what it’s like to work as an associate at our firm, including a comparison to similar roles in traditional venture capital firms.
Jane: Rahul, what was your background before joining Touchdown?
Rahul: Prior to joining Touchdown, I spent most of my career in various alternative investment roles, including private credit, private equity, and venture capital — within larger corporations and at a standalone institutional fund. I also worked at a financial technology startup in a strategy and business development role. Of everything that I had done, I enjoyed my time in venture the most. I’ve always been intrigued by the “FinTech” space given the need to pay, borrow, lend, and insure in so many aspects of daily life.
Jane: What attracted you to join Touchdown?
Rahul: As I mentioned, I had spent time investing within larger corporations and also as part of a small team at an institutional fund. Each environment has its strengths and their weaknesses. As I thought about my career growth, I was drawn to Touchdown’s unique model and the ability to add value to both startups and corporations. Touchdown’s model blends the strengths of traditional CVC and VC, while also offering growth as an investor at what seemed like an accelerated pace, and that appealed to me.
As I went through the recruiting process, I understood the importance that Touchdown places on culture, and the time and resources we invested in our team; this only increased my desire to work here.
My perception while interviewing was that investment professionals at Touchdown are provided with unique opportunities to learn and take ownership early-on, but with real support and mentorship from senior leaders with decades of experience. This thesis has thankfully proven to be true, in my experience.
Jane: How would you describe the day-to-day of the associate job?
Rahul: An associate’s job includes sourcing and managing the potential investment pipeline, taking an active role in diligence, and contributing to strategic analyses we produce for our corporate partners. Sourcing is a key part of the role, as the associate is on the “front line” screening opportunities to drive strategic value for our corporate partners, while also creating the opportunity to generate a venture return for the fund. Associates role in diligence includes customer references, preparing financial models, capitalization tables, market sizing, and more. Associates will typically interact directly with senior leaders at the corporate parents of these venture funds, too.
Jane: Having been promoted, what do you think it takes to succeed as a Touchdown associate?
Rahul: Building your external network as an investor in the ecosystem and leveraging that network to drive and share deal flow is a key part of the role. Our network aids with filling and prioritizing the pipeline.
The “internal network” matters too. Learning more about the sector focus of the fund and the corporation’s specific needs allows the associate to help identify new investment themes and guide sourcing activities. The role differs from traditional venture in that driving value and impact for the corporate partner is a priority for everyone at Touchdown.
Contributing to the diligence process and owning parts of the process is a great way to enhance your investor acumen and get promoted here. This takes great organizational skills and follow through. It’s not enough to perform diligence; the job also takes great listening skills and the ability to unpack what we learn in diligence, to help decide whether we should proceed with an investment.
Jane: How do you think the associate job here is different from your peers in traditional venture capital?
Rahul: I think that compared to traditional venture capital, which isn’t always a team sport, there’s a necessity to work well with others. Everybody contributes, senior members of the team are always available, and very little work is done in a silo. My perception of traditional VC is that the practices are often organized into small cells that make their own investments and roll up together into one firm, but we are much more integrated as a company. Associates actively contribute to sourcing, building, and even aspects of managing our portfolio, so I think this is a lot of responsibility for the role.
Jane: How would you describe our culture?
Rahul: Touchdown’s culture is a meritocracy and we focus on accountability, integrity, and follow-through. Our day-to-day often involves speaking with people in leadership roles at large corporations and so coming to meetings prepared with fresh ideas and being honest about the good and the bad is very important. Given our model, everyone on a particular fund team relies on each other. Being proactive and following through helps us deliver value to our corporate partners, the startup portfolio, and other ecosystem stakeholders like venture capital co-investors.
Jane: What do you do for fun outside of Touchdown?
Rahul: I find venture fun, so I like to try to do as much of it as I can! I also really enjoy being in the water and I like to spend as much time as I can in a pool or on a beach, weather permitting. When I’m not doing that, I’m reading a book or watching Formula 1.
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Jane Simons is Head of Operations and Rahul Daryanani is a Senior Associate at Touchdown Ventures, a Registered Investment Adviser that provides “Venture Capital as a Service” to help corporations launch and manage their investment programs.
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