he path into venture capital is anything but a straight line. Sure, if you’ve been hyper-focused on breaking into VC from the very beginning of college and joined the right clubs, and completed the right internships, then maybe you landed a job or promising internship right out of college.
But most people don’t realize they want to get into VC until a little later in life. If you’ve been following GoingVC and reading out content, you know there are lots of different paths into the industry. You might first work at a startup; you might be an expert in a certain industry that makes you an asset; or perhaps you’ve done several internships.
A new path into VC that has emerged over the last several years and really gained traction is the VC platform role. Let’s take a look at what the platform role is and how you can land a job like this.
What is the Platform role?
The Platform role can be a variety things so there is no simple definition but in general the head of Platform at a venture capital firm works to make sure that portfolio companies have access to all of the resources that a VC firm can provide.
There’s no way a few general partners can help all of their portfolio companies at once, so the Head of Platform can act as an extension and also at times serve as a liaison between the portfolio companies and the general partners.
The Head of Platform serves as a resource themselves and may assist portfolio companies with critical operations such as hiring, business development, marketing, and networking. Additionally, the Head of Platform is also likely assisting the general partners at the VC firm by setting up networking events and connecting various contacts.
Keep in mind that there are different kinds of platform roles: one in which you will be wearing many different hats and others that are more role specific. In a more specific platform role, a VC firm might hire a head of content or one platform manager to work with different portfolio companies specifically on hiring, which is one of the most important things for a startup.
“In the coming years, I predict that firms will double down on Platform in two ways: firms without a Platform team will make their first hire, and firms with a Platform team will continue to make hires in the most pressing areas of need for their founders,” Stephanie Manning, the Director of Platform at Lerer Hippeau, wrote in a blog post back in 2019. “This all goes to say: there’s never been a better time to pursue a VC Platform role.”
If you think about Manning’s statement it makes sense because the days of just throwing blind money at a good idea are now largely over. VCs now want to work with and offer their expertise to their portfolio companies, especially when it comes to things like hiring and managing venders.
On the other hand, startups are looking for more than money as well. They want founders that that can help with making connections and provide input on big decisions. A lot of VCs now view the platform role as a competitive edge, a way to show startups that they will be actively involved and will be able to offer them more than just money.
Looking at some job descriptions
We took a look at several head of platform job descriptions, some that were more recent and others from a few years ago to get an idea of what kinds of applicants firms are looking for. Here are some specific quotes from the different job descriptions about what the role would entail:
● You will cultivate community by sourcing and leveraging content or speakers for regular portfolio meetings, creative programming and events (both in-person and online), and resources to drive community engagement and add value for portfolio companies.
● Responsible for brand management, PR and communications, client engagement, design, online and digital marketing.
● Creating and curating a curriculum of lessons learned and best practices for our founders, across all aspects of building innovative companies.
● You help to frame story-telling for fundraising through deck creation and are a master at coaching others through their pitch strategy.
● Manage outsourced, third-party service providers.
Ultimately, a common theme in the platform role is building community, managing that community, and helping portfolio companies use the VC’s resources to solve problems.
In terms of experience, there was a big range. Some VC firms were looking for two to four years of experience in a certain fields such as marketing, while others wanted two to four years of experience working with startups. One firm wanted a decade of experience in the platform position or managing startup operations, so even though the titles sound the same they can come in very different shapes and sizes. Here were some specific traits or experience that firms were looking for in their ideal head of platform:
● Has an incredible amount of empathy towards founders and the challenges of building an early stage company, ideally based on lived experience building startups.
● You love to network. “Connector” is your middle name.
● You figure sh*t out and can work independently. We don’t need to hold your hand to figure out what you have to do next.
● Has the capacity to direct strategic initiatives while executing on tactical duties, manage and deliver on multiple, simultaneous projects.
● BONUS points if you have a strong Twitter profile!
How to land the job
Oftentimes, VC is not an industry that you can instantly land a job in. It takes time and creative approaches to incrementally build your experience and resume to a point that VC firms will take notice, so don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t happen right away.
Luckily, there are ways you can make yourself into a more attractive candidate for a platform role. Think about the main part of most platform roles: building community to help solve problems. You can do that. Go network with people in venture capital and startups – there are tons of events anyone can attend. Maybe join a startup and work there for a year or two so you understand the matters they are dealing with on a daily basis.
As mentioned above, a big part of the platform role is creating content and one firm even said that it’s a bonus if you have a strong Twitter profile. You can do these things from the comfort of your home. Start a Twitter account around VC content and tailor your content to things that VC firms and startups want to read. Start a blog or podcast that can demonstrate your communication skills, which are also critical to the platform role.
The best way to land the job is to show VCs that you are a self starter and can do the job on day one. The key is to get your name out there in a way that reflects your expertise and passion for the industry.
Join to receive Venture Capital research, guides, models, career tips, and many other great insights delivered straight to your inbox.