Finding An MBA Program For VC Careers

Sand Hill Road in Silicon Valley is home to many of the most famous venture capitalists

Finding An MBA Program For VC Career

Venture capital and private equity are notoriously difficult fields to enter.

Having a foundational education in these fields, however, can help.

Ilana Kowarski, a reporter at US News, recently wrote about how applicants can select an MBA program that can teach solid fundamentals for a career in in VC and private equity.

The Name Matters

Experts say when it comes to these fields, prestige of your school matters—a lot.

“The challenge in today’s market with many of the venture capital firms or private equity firms, when they go out to do their recruiting, is they’re trying to recruit from top business schools,” James Cassel, co-founder and chairman of investment banking firm Cassel Salpeter & Co, tells US News.

Crunchbase News analyzed roughly 4,500 US and Canadian investment partners (individuals associated with a particular investment firm who have made at least one investment on behalf of those firms) and found that VC professionals tend to be affiliated with “elite and exclusive” schools.

Check out the numbers below from Crunchbase News.

Among the top 10 feeder schools to the investment partners career path, seven out of the eight Ivy League schools are included. Other prestigious schools, like Stanford, MIT, and University of Chicago, are also represented.

While attending a prestigious school isn’t a sure path towards VC, these numbers show that it definitely helps.

Diversity In Business Disciplines

Having a solid foundation in finance and accounting is fundamental to VC, but experts say applicants should seek out schools that excel in multiple business disciplines.

“I think being well-versed across a spectrum of industries and problems is very, very helpful,” Patrick Mullane, the executive director of HBX, the online education portal of Harvard Business School, tells US News.

In an article for Inc., six VC’s outlined essential skills one should demonstrate in order to be considered for a partner role. They included:

  • Being able to raise money.
  • Solid networks of Limited Partners.
  • Domain experience (and with any luck, in a sector the VC partners find exciting).
  • Prior investing track record.
  • Strong access to high quality deal flow.
  • Relationships with seasoned, all-star serial entrepreneurs.
  • Ability to help portfolio company founders with their biggest operational challenges.
  • Understanding if a company has the ability to grow and scale given its team, the marketplace, the financial composition and the vision for the product or service.
  • Commercial judgment and the ability to find an exit.
  • Reputation in both the founder and investor communities.
  • Long-term vision and ability to see opportunities and gaps in the market.

Learn How To Successfully Expand A Company

Outside of coursework, it’s crucial to demonstrate experience in growing a company. At the same time, it’s essential to have work experience that is relevant to VC.

“Startup experience is definitely relevant,” Kelly Hoey, Angel investor, speaker, and strategist, writes for Inc. “Corporate or startup or accelerator experience could be relevant but it depends on the VC firm. Different firms have a different ‘lens’ through which they would judge their interest in such work experience and some of it all depends on what ‘gaps’ the partner team at a VC fund believe they need to fill. A non-investor role with angel group or family office is least relevant unless it’s for an administrative position. Corporate roles are relevant only to later stage investors.”

Linda Darragh, a clinical professor of entrepreneurial practice at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and the Larry Levy Executive Director of the Kellogg Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative, says—above all—students should get some experience learning how to actually grow a company.

“At Kellogg, we focus on a growth and scaling track,” she tells US News. “While much media hype continues to focus on ‘launching’ new ventures, real value is created in actually ‘growing’ them.”

Sources: US News, Crunchbase News, Inc.

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