Q: What do you actually do as a VC Associate?

A: Well, it depends. (And I know that’s a cop out answer)

Here’s some of what I do:

  • Sourcing and screening. Finding new companies is one of my largest responsibilities. Screening includes making decisions to push companies forward through the investment process (i.e. introduce them to more team members) based on initial conversations and/or initial diligence.
  • Diligence. When we get more interested in a company, I’ll dig into market, competition, company metrics. If we get really interested in a company, I’ll support in first-person diligence and a deeper dive into the startup.
  • Portfolio support. I’m trying to better understand how we can be an effective resource for our portfolio companies in a scalable and repeatable way (if you have suggestions, let me know! tweet @jaydimonte)
  • Community building. I mentor companies in accelerators, incubators, and am constantly talking to folks prepping for fundraising, trying to work in VC, learning about the process.
  • All of the other random small-co stuff. We are a small company too… Someone has to do quarterly reporting (yes, we have investors just like the companies we invest in)!

And some of the things my counterparts at other firms do:

  • No sourcing. There are some firms where associates support deal work with diligence but aren’t responsible for finding new companies. This is more applicable in firms that spend less time doing outbound sourcing (i.e. reaching out to companies vs. having companies referred to them)
  • Projects for portfolio companies. A few firms actually farm out associates for short-term focused projects. For example, if a company is working on a new sales strategy, an associate may work for a few days a week helping lay out the plan
  • Support thesis work. If a firm is very thesis-driven, associates can do much of the research on market opportunities and identify companies in those categories

I’ve realize a few factors that go into how responsibilities get doled out to VC associates. A lot of it has to do with the type of firm you’re joining:

  • Your firm’s target company stage is a big one. As you move from Seed to Series A to Series B, etc., you have much more data to work with. Where seed investors may focus more on teams and markets, later stage investors may dig deeper into financial statements (for example, I usually talk about revenue, CAC, LTV, etc., where some of my friends at later stage go deep into EBITDA, margins, etc.)
  • How big your team is. As firms have more resources, there can be some specialization in the work you do. For example, at HPVP, we have an incredible sr. marketing manager (shout-out to @jacktrox) that manages everything from our social media presence to our limited partner (LP) communications. Much of those activities would fall onto partners or associates on smaller teams

Key takeaway? The missing element is constant learning. Regardless of the specific activity, the great thing about working with startups is that each day brings something new – and stretches you a bit farther. From analysts to partners, they’ll all say the same thing.

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