How can I prepare for an interview for a research/intern position at a VC firm?
February 9, 2004 12:19 AM   Subscribe

Any Mefites out there in the world of venture capital. I'm interviewing for a research/intern position at a VC firm later this week and having no business training (I will hopefully be getting my M.Sc in Comp Sci later this year), I need to study up on the industry and fast. Anyone got any good advice on some decent introductory sites? What buzzwords should I be using in the interview? How badly will my lack of business skills hurt me and how can I minimise that?
posted by PenDevil to Work & Money (5 answers total)
Not to be a smart ass (cuz I did research for a consulting group), but hopefully you are trying to find this information for yourself. While getting information from a group like AskMe is worthwhile, realize that it is fairly slow and quite often you will be expected to have had answers before they are asked. No, I'm not kidding; they will expect you to anticipate their questions. Google will be your best friend. Learn to use it inside and out.
posted by mischief at 8:04 AM on February 9, 2004

Oh I've been using the WWW plenty. But I'd also like to get advice from actual people who work in venture capital. Especially when it comes to my qualifications and how it will affect my chances. Will the research skills I learnt doing performability analysis be suitable to do due diligence reports etc etc?

If there aren't any here on MeFi then well it was worth a shot.
posted by PenDevil at 9:52 AM on February 9, 2004

If it's a research/intern position, they'll likely be telling you what to do, and I doubt you'll have much input into their funding decisions.

I can't give you nice tailor-made answers to your questions, but if I were you, here's the "pitch" I would employ.

"I realize that this is a research position, and much of my time will be spent doing rudimentary analyses. I'd imagine that, in the beginning, not only will you be telling me what to do, but also you will be telling me how to do it. I accept that, and I think it's a fine way to start a job. But I'm passionate about this industry. I'm a bright guy, and we'll both be very satisfied when I earn a little autonomy from you and I can use some creativity and innovation to identify good ideas, ways to develop and manage them, and identify markets to which they can be brought"

1. I have an extremely broad knowledge base of software and hardware.
2. I understand why certain applications and products are commercially viable and others are not. (Give 90 second "case study" regarding an emerging technology and whether you think it has a future).
3. I can learn anything you ask me to learn and fast. (provide concrete example of a language or interface you picked up extraordinarily quickly).
4. While I'm not a business-school-type, I have a grasp on the fundamentals of not only the VC process, but the intracacies of incubating a productand bringing it to market. I'm comfortable giving you an educated guess about the size of the market for a hypothetical product. What investments are you currently considering?

Determining the scope and scale (and, thus, potential profits) of a technology is what VC firms do to identify who gets their capital. Be ready to show that you understand this. Explain why IBM, INTC, and MSFT have the market caps they do, while Iomega never got off the ground, and Apple is always in a dogfight. Think about what each of those companies looked like in their earliest days.

Generally, two types of people interview for these jobs-- management types and IT types. The interviewer knows you're strong in one of those fields, but he'll (probably) interview you about the other, since he's (probably) trying to find someone who can do both.

Learn what VC firms do, learn the stages of VC investment, and find a quick primer on the I-banking business. Then polish up your BS skills.
posted by trharlan at 10:05 AM on February 9, 2004

For VC bloggers, you might try Due Diligence and Joi Ito.
posted by gd779 at 10:16 AM on February 9, 2004

In addition to those listed, a couple of other really great VC blogs: A VC, VentureBlog, The Weekly Read. I'd say that any VC who's open enough to be blogging their thoughts to the outside world is a damn site smarter and more connected than the ones who are unplugged. Disclaimer, for what it's worth, Joi Ito is head of Neoteny, which invested in my employer. I like him anyway.
posted by anildash at 2:18 PM on February 9, 2004

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