The Long Road to Venture Capital: Understanding Specialized Search

 Meha Patel, Class of 2019

Meha Patel, Class of 2019

This past summer, I interned at Bowery Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm focused on enterprise software and based in New York. My experience with venture capital recruiting was just as fun as everyone makes it out to be – long, somewhat tiring, but intellectually stimulating.

For better or for worse, I came into business school knowing with almost 100% certainty that I wanted explore impact investing and venture capital. The key benefit of this clarity was that I was able to immerse myself in all things VC during my first year at Booth. I joined the EVC group (shameless plug – join the club!), participated in MIINT (the MBA Impact Investing Network & Training competition), took Commercializing Innovation and VC Lab, and also participated in VCIC (the Venture Capital Investment Competition) as an alternate.  Perhaps most importantly, I also completed an internship at OCA ventures through the VC lab. OCA Ventures provided a stamp of validation and also provided a helpful foundation to understanding the venture capital space. Luckily, I was also amongst the few interns that actually got an investment completed during the internship.

After securing my VC lab offer in December, I quickly shifted gears to summer recruiting. My approach to summer recruiting can essentially be summarized as thoughtful and borderline stalking. I was singularly focused on New York as my target geography, which was helpful in terms of narrowing down my list of target firms. I started with a list of almost every VC firm in New York, narrowed the list down to perhaps 40 firms of interest, and then started researching each one. During my research I was focused on finding individuals with whom I overlapped on at least one dimension. I tried finding investors who had either gone to Booth or NYU (where I went for undergrad), had a background in healthcare (I had previously worked in healthcare investment banking and at Zocdoc), or as a last resort also had an MBA.

While this took some time, I was able to craft more thoughtful outreach emails to these funds, and as a result had many helpful and productive conversations. In the winter quarter, I also attended the EVC VC trek to NY where I was introduced to Bowery Capital. I followed up with firm after the trek, and was invited to interview for a summer internship, ultimately securing an offer in March. Over the summer, my responsibilities largely fell into 3 buckets: 1) screening potential investments and attending pitches, 2) conducting diligence and assisting with investment memos, and 3) helping the team develop content and researching particular sectors. As with most venture capital positions, I had a high degree of autonomy and I learned very quickly that to be successful in venture capital you have to be proactive about prioritizing your time, sourcing good investments, and developing a framework of success for yourself. Overall, I walked away from my summer internship with an enhanced sense of what it means to be successful as a venture capitalist as well as a great set of new relationships.

Meha is a co-chair of the EVC group and a VC Career Advisor. Meha interned at Bowery Capital in New York over the summer following an academic internship at OCA Ventures in Chicago.