Venture Capital Principals
Venture capital firms are located throughout the United States and the world. Many U.S.-based firms are headquartered in California and on the East Coast. Most VC firms have fewer than 15 employees. The National Venture Capital Association reports that companies in 50 states and the District of Columbia received VC funding in 2018. Much of venture capital investment is concentrated in start-ups in California. The next most-popular states for VC investment are Massachusetts, New York, Texas, Washington, Illinois, Florida, Colorado, Utah, and Pennsylvania.
Most people either break into the field by working as associates for two to six years or by accruing extensive experience in a specific industry (e.g., telecommunications, medical devices, consumer products, engineering, software).
You can break into the field as an associate by networking with venture capitalists at industry conferences, seminars, and business development events; participating in an internship at a VC firm; and volunteering with professional VC associations. Another good option is to participate in the Kauffman Fellows Program. The mission of the two-year fellowship is to increase the number of well-trained venture capitalists in the U.S. by placing and paying top candidates to work as associates in well-known venture capital firms. Visit https://www.kauffmanfellows.org for more information.
Principals who demonstrate their ability to generate good deals and strong returns on investment are promoted to the position of partner, who have similar duties as principals, but focus on big-picture issues and have the authority to approve investments and exits. A highly skilled partner can eventually become a managing partner, who oversees the entire firm. Some venture capitalists may leave the field and become chief financial officers, CEOs, or chief operating officers.
Tips for Entry
Read the following publications to learn more about the business world:
- Barron’s: https://www.barrons.com
- Bloomberg Business: https://www.bloomberg.com/businessweek
- Forbes: https://www.forbes.com
- Fortune: https://fortune.com
Take the Venture Capital Aptitude Test, https://guykawasaki.com/the_venture_cap, to see if you’re a good fit for a career in venture capital.
Volunteer with a venture capital or business organization to do some good, but also make valuable networking contacts that could lead to a job. Here are a few options:
- VC Taskforce: http://www.vctaskforce.com
- MBAs Without Borders: https://www.pyxeraglobal.org/signature-initiatives/mbas-without-borders
- High Water Women Foundation: https://highwaterwomen.org