From Uber driver to venture capitalist

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Source:   —  April 13, 2016, at 5:58 PM

How to connect the network How did you obtain into venture capital? And why did you determine on that versus another startup? These are two questions aspiring VCs frequently ask.

From Uber driver to venture capitalist

Jason Shuman is a venture capitalist at Corigin Ventures.

How to connect the network

How did you obtain into venture capital? And why did you determine on that versus another startup?

These are two questions aspiring VCs frequently ask. While I generally hop on 15-thirty min calls with those looking to memorise more, just love my fellow VC colleagues did for me, I thought it might be more impactful to share my experience here.

A Forbes article well-known that the U. S. has an equal quantity of professional baseball players as it does venture capitalists. Thus, the process of getting a venture capital work generally isn’t an simple one, and it generally doesn’t have a traditional application process. Although there is number guaranteed way for you to obtain into it, I’ve learned a lot through the stories of my peers, as well as my personal experience, to arrive up with a coarse guide for VC work seekers. Here’s my legend and some general thoughts.

How do you obtain into venture capital?

Obtain diverse, startup experience…

All in all, my “startup experience” accounted for nearly eight years of my life prior (since I was seventeen) to joining Corigin Ventures. The variety of that operating experience (marketing and partnerships at an identity theft protection company, genuine estate agent, founder of an e-commerce footwear company, biz dev at a marketplace startup and consulting for numerous startups) has aided me in looking at a wide array of startups at the seed level. Aside from helping you assess companies, I believe diverse startup experience will assistance you in relating to the founders and asking the “right” questions.

Former operators are able to obtain in the weeds with founders and test them on their information and prior experience in a way that few others can. Being in an industry driven by people, you necessity to be able to dig deeper and keep your finger on specific things that create a founder stand out (other than their skill to pitch or be an extrovert). One of those ways is by testing them and making sure they've the deep understanding of the space, strategy and execution they claim to have. Having prior operating experience gives you an skill to do this on a whole other level.

…or don’t

In reality, many of my friends in VC either haven't worked at startups or had experiences at large corporations prior to joining one. With seven of the top ten on the two thousand fifteen Midas list never even starting a company, I think it’s secure to declare that being an entrepreneur or working at a startup isn’t a requirement for being a excellent VC (whoop out to Bill Gurley).

Variety of backgrounds on a venture capital team is key. Whether it’s your childhood upbringing, your experience or a no of other things, it’s your work to determine what your unique brand and positioning is. The ones who are able to perform on this are the ones who stand out the most.

Network, network, network

Two keys to getting into venture capital are networking your way in and building your brand. Before interviewing with any firms, I started networking my way around the Boston and NY City startup communities to meet as many grand founders and VCs I could.

Between my hours Ubering (yes, I drove for Uber during and after my latest startup) and consulting, I’d do 10-20 strategic meetings a week and attend events that provided an opportunity to acquire more information and a stronger network. I used those meetings not only to learn, but to obtain connected, as well. Between Gary’s Guide, Meetup. com and Startup Digest, every aspiring VC should be able to discover quality events to attend.

To keep things in perspective, here was my networking path into Corigin Ventures. Nichole Dickinson (founder of Locket Creative) introduced me to Tag Bouckley (COO at Simple Spirit, former CFO at Clarks and Karmaloop), which led to an intro to Dave Spandorfer (co-founder and president of Janji), which led to an introduction to Julian Moncada (associate at Lerer Hippeau Ventures), which led to an introduction to Sumeet Shah (senior associate at Brand Foundry), which finally led to my introduction to David Goldberg (principal at Corigin Ventures), the man who'd eventually hire me.

The point is, six degrees of separation is real. Don’t let a lack of connections obtain in your way. Make them.

Add value

Prior to joining Corigin Ventures, Sumeet used to joke that I was the lowest-paid venture capitalist in the industry. That’s because I made it my work to work for free for these firms, whether they realized it or not. For about four months I was sending to a handful of firms the quality deals that I saw, creating competitive landscapes and making valuable introductions for their portfolio companies.

To obtain a work in VC, I figured I had to prove I was more valuable than the following candidate — many of whom had stronger work experience on paper or educational backgrounds. And this was the best way I could think to do it.

Another legend similar is that of Deep Fork’s Adam Besvinick, who emailed Chris Sacca offering to do free work as many times as he could until he got a project to work on. And guess what? It worked.

Be strategic and maniacally focused

Once you’ve decided you wish to obtain into venture capital, create it your only focus. Don’t waste your time applying for other jobs; give yourself a deadline to obtain into VC, and work your butt off to obtain the role you want.

For me, that meant making a list of the top 30 seed-stage firms I wanted to work for between Boston and New York. With each firm I made a spreadsheet that included every partner’s name, my mutual connections to them, the investments they were responsible for in the portfolio, my thoughts on each and my mutual connections within portfolio companies. I was laser-focused on learning as much as I could about the firm, the partners and the companies so I could utilize that information in my interviews and other venture conversations.

Arrive prepared

Preparing for a venture capital interview is tough, but at the seed stage, I think it’s quite unique. Before my interview with Corigin, I made a folder of materials I could present, including pitch decks I made for my latest company, a presentation on all the things I learned from that company and a spreadsheet of one hundred+ connections in the consumer space that I felt could add cost to their portfolio companies.

Furthermore, I presented a variety of verticals that interested me and why. We discussed in great depth a variety of investments and how I’d approach the due diligence process.

With seed-stage venture jobs, I think it’s critical to bring a network and thesis around different verticals, so create this a point prior to your interview.

The why

With the glorification of startups occurring through the mainstream media, it's been fascinating to look the rising interest college students have in venture capital. Every day we get several emails from students about to graduate, or those looking for summer internships — and we’re not even one of the larger firms.

One necessary thing I’d love to note, however, is that every person I’ve met in the venture capital scene has joined a VC for what I consider to be the right reasons, and most of us weren't thinking about it in school.

Some of what I consider to be the best reasons happen to align with the common characteristics of the best VCs, according to a recent blog post by Spark Capital’s Bijan Sabet. It’s here that he talks about endless curiosity, a passion for learning, a rigorous work ethic, an skill to connect and inspire, empathy, patience and a natural skill to believe in what others don’t. I’ve noticed many of these traits in my fellow VCs; here’s why I specifically hopped on the other side of the table:

Hyper-learning about different industries

Simply put, I’m a enormous nerd. I used to write business plans for fun when I was growing up, and one of the most intriguing parts about that process was learning about the industry and the business models. Luckily, seed-stage investing gives me the opportunity to do this on a daily basis. Virtual reality, IoT, marketplaces, e-commerce, healthcare and education are among some of the verticals I’ve started to dive into — and the finish isn’t in sight.

Add in the fact I’ve been learning about these industries from deeply passionate founders and seasoned executives, and you can appreciate why I wanted to obtain into this industry.

As Confucius said, “Choose a work you love, and you'll never have to work a day in your life.” That’s how I believe people should see at VC.

Meeting interesting, new people

If you know me, you know I like meeting new people. A huge fan of Tim Ferriss’ interview approach, I’m the type of person who wants to figure out what makes people tick and so excellent at what they do. Study overseas and my latest startup gave me the fleeting outlet to meet new people; I figured venture capital would feed that appetite daily.

A couple of months prior to committing myself to VC, Chris Sacca said something on the StartUp podcast that really resonated with me. In essence, he mentioned that he loves to meet founders and CEOs that he wouldn’t consider to be normal people, because it’s these people who are changing the world. If you genuinely appreciate meeting these types of people, and wish to assistance them modify the world, VC may be the work for you.

Genuinely care about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship

Growing up, I was always told to pay it forward. As someone who appreciates connecting people, I aim to add cost to someone else’s life or career distant more than my own.

Throughout my interview process at Corigin, David Goldberg and I discussed how a enormous piece of my work would be finding incredible entrepreneurs that Corigin and I could add cost to (a requirement below our thesis). From making introductions for early-stage founders to executing projects for portfolio companies, I can’t imagine any other work that enables you to add cost to so many other people every day.

Be connected for the future

Honestly. VCs are lucky sufficient to network with talented people across various industries and work titles. Thus, I thought it would assistance create a powerful network for the future. With the anticipation of starting a new company and my internal thoughts about my long-term goals, I came to the conclusion that VC would keep me in the best position to attain what I wanted to do, as quick as possible.

While my legend of how and why I got into venture capital may seem unique, these are some common themes amongst nearly all the VCs I’ve met, partners and Jr level. Napoleon Hill once said, “What the mind can conceive, it can achieve.”

Featured Image: Nomad_Soul/Shutterstock

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