If You Could Give Me Just One Piece of Advice – VC Edition
Venture capital (VC) has developed as a significant mitigator to find funding for new firms that otherwise have difficulty gaining traction. A VC provides financing through funds or firms to businesses that demonstrate promising growth, in terms of annual revenue and/or the number of employees, etc. Despite the dynamic nature of this industry, venture capitalists make high-risk investments in promising businesses, encouraging entrepreneurs. Their goal with taking such high risks is the potential of promising returns, an incentive that drives it to continue investing in new ventures.
This semester I am participating in the Silicon Valley Program at Claremont McKenna College. I have been working as an Investment Analyst at Initialized Capital (IC), a seed and early-stage VC firm in San Francisco. As part of the team, I got an opportunity to interact with some great minds in the VC industry. This article highlights the best advice I received from my colleagues since starting at Initialized.
- Chahat Kaur (CMC’21)
Co-Founder and Managing Partner at IC
“Society is going to want you to be a very specific thing, but if you want to eventually start something and run it and be the CEO, you will need to be able to do all of those functions and understand them from the ground up if you expect to be able to hire, manage, and lead those functions. Be multidisciplinary if you want to be CEO. You’re not your resume. Learn everything you can about every function.”
COO and Partner at IC
“When building a startup, it is better to do one thing really well for one group of people than to do several things only OK for many groups of people. Spend time talking to and learning about your target customer and understand what his or her biggest pain points are. Use this to develop a hypothesis of how you might solve their problem - build products and solutions to test your hypothesis in the smallest way possible, and then iterate based on the results you get.”
Partner at IC (CMC’07)
“Money isn't the most important thing, but money goes where value is being created - For me, this was a really hard pill to swallow coming out of college, but if you'll notice people at the top of their field tend to be able to move to other fields and have come from other fields. Why? Well, it turns out a lot of them started in places where they were surrounded by the best resources - sometimes that is money, sometimes that is people, sometimes, that is technology (or some other resource that helps you shape reality). Early in your career, people tell you to pursue your passion, but it's really the intersection of passion, economic engine, and what the market will bear. As a result, people who go to money first, find it then easier to go out of it than the other way around. It's not that you won't learn anything elsewhere, but you learn with more resources and it turns out most people go to where resources are.”
Dani Metz Shuval
Chief of Staff at IC
“Build a network of female leaders and mentors you respect and trust. Having them beside you – especially during the tough times – will be invaluable.”
Head of EA at IC
“Pay attention to detail. When you're trying to get your ideas in front of the right person, you have to remember that the email you sent or simple deck you created will be seen by several others first. When a mistake like spelling that person's first name wrong is made, at least two other people will have had the opportunity to notice and make a note of it before the real stakeholder even gets a chance to see it. Those mistakes can cost you the opportunity. So, pay attention to the details.”