Why Venture Capital?
I’ve always loved to tinker. I was a fairly imaginative kid and use to build Rube Goldberg-esc machines as a kid for fun. As an undergrad at MIT, I would get together with a group of friends to discuss business ideas. We called ourselves the ‘breadwinners club’ (who knows if there was some subconscious chauvinism in that, but I assure you, none was intended) and considered many concepts: mobile payments platform, couponing website, location services, etc.
We settled on an idea I had to deliver audio versions of print and digital articles based on a user’s preferences (think customized podcasts + content search + TTS engine). We made some decent traction, were trying to raise a round but ended up folding the business after about a year. Biggest regret, letting go of that team (Neal, Chris, Jason, Greg) – they were awesome.
I then sold my soul and went into strategy consulting. Actually, very much enjoyed it – worked on exciting projects for big corporations. 5 years in, everything was going perfectly: good exposure to clients, rapid promotions, great teams… But had the entrepreneurial itch and had to scratch or I would forever wonder.
(Silicon Valley will laugh at this next comment, saying it proves I’ve abandoned my west coast roots and become a true east-coaster) …so I went to business school at Wharton. Honestly, having been through a year, I disagree with all the web chatter about the ‘uselessness’ of an MBA for an entrepreneur (future post?). I had my heavy doubts, esp. about cost, but it’s been an awesome experience. The speed of which I have been able to make solid connections to heavy hitters has been amplified by my involvement with the school and my classmates.
I wasn’t perfect, but most of my efforts were motivated by my potential goals (join a hot startup, start another company, or join a VC firm): became an officer in the venture capital club, entrepreneurship club, founders’ club; competed in the VCIC, SVCIC (went to international finals in both); worked sourcing deals for a West-Coast VC fund (Foundation Capital). I’ve spent my first months as Co-Pres of the eClub trying to link the various resources and communities in and around the UPenn campus and accelerate the start-up activity.
The summer posed a difficult choice, but ultimately decided to take a VC job at Genacast Ventures and hack away at night on my current business ideas. Still unsure which side of the table I’ll be on upon graduation…stay tuned!