Maybe you’ve already begun your VC job search and maybe you haven’t. Either way, let us give you some sage advice:
It won’t be easy.
Like all things worth doing, it will take some time, and you’ll have to persevere in order to land your first gig.
Just ask Sharran Deora.
Sharran was a member of GoingVC’s third cohort and recently began working as a Principal at San Francisco-based Digital Finance Group, a firm that manages over $1 billion in cryptocurrency and blockchain assets.
It’s a terrific opportunity, but it didn’t happen overnight.
Before landing this position, Sharran had to grind it out through a passionate pursuit that spanned several years.
This pursuit began after Sharran graduated college and started his professional career in investment banking. He worked at Lehman Brothers, Barclays and served as a corporate development associate at Schneider Electric.
The first time he stumbled across the venture capital field was when his father introduced him to some of his friends in VC, many of which would eventually become mentors to Sharran.
Realizing quickly that he could not just walk into a VC office and get a job, Sharran began immersing himself in opportunities that were at the intersection of business and technology. For good measure, the RPI graduate also decided to throw his hat in the ring and launch his own company.
Although his angel-backed recruiting startup didn’t make it, Sharran gained lessons as a startup founder that would be vital to his growth.
First, he realized that fundraising – although widely publicized and put on a pedestal by the media – is just part of the battle.
“Raising a round is not a milestone, it just means it’s time to work even harder because then the timer starts,” said Sharran. “Hiring is as difficult as fundraising.”
The experience also taught him resilience, because working at a startup for five years and not seeing it completely succeed can be a tough pill to swallow.
But after winding down his company, Sharran continued to chase venture capital and create opportunities for himself. He began working part-time, advising other startups in the media, healthcare, software, and crypto and blockchain industries.
Was this easy?
Did it always provide a stable living?
Absolutely not. It was both physically and mentally taxing.
“There weren’t enough hours in the day, and I also had to reset my mind to that firms’ thesis, and re-focus – very similar to a developer’s mind,” said Sharran. “When coding, you need to focus, but as soon as you get interrupted or have to do something else, it takes some time to get back to where you were in that coding zone. [You] need to re-calibrate which unfortunately does not happen instantaneously.”
Luckily, the hard work would ultimately pay dividends.
Not only did Sharran gain experience working with startups, but one of the contacts he worked with ended up creating his own venture firm and recruited Sharran to help him part-time with sourcing, researching startups, and supporting LP fundraising.
It was at this point that Sharran really began to learn about the qualities inherent to any good venture capitalist.
Primarily, the South Bay native learned that relationship-building is just as crucial as being able to sift through the barrage of startups that come your way in venture, and still find that needle in the haystack.
So after all of this, did Sharran get that job?
Hate to break it to you, but not yet.
The now experienced venture advisor was ready to make the jump from part-time to full-time VC, and it was during this period that we met Sharran.
Sharran joined our third cohort and not only began to network, but also started to see how the venture process works from soup to nuts through our investor program.
“GoingVC gave me the opportunity to see what it’s like going from beginning to end,” he said. “That means talking to all of the startups; seeing which ones you want to source; then deciding on which ones you want to narrow in on, analyzing the technology and founders and finally writing that check.”
It was during this time that Sharran also connected with John Gannon, co-founder of GoingVC.
John worked with Sharran during his time at GoingVC to refine his interviewing skills, particularly by helping him use rejection as a way to gain feedback on what he could have done better, and by taming some of Sharran’s overeagerness at times. John also told Sharran about the opening at Digital Finance Group.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Turns out that all the work Sharran put in before and during the GoingVC program eventually paid off. In late 2018, roughly four months after joining GoingVC, Digital Finance Group chose to hire Sharran as their new Principal to lead their San Francisco efforts.
Sharran has only been at the company for a few month as of this writing, but is using his venture experience to help the firm make investments in crypto and blockchain startups, as well as helping DFG launch its third fund in the space.
The moral of this story:
Not everyone will follow the same path as Sharran. Your first VC job might come quicker or take even longer to land. Regardless, expect to work hard and try some things that take you outside your comfort zone.
We think Sharran would tell you that getting the job of his dreams was worth the wait!