TL;DR: I wrote my book, Making Moonshots, and got hired at Lux Capital because I interviewed the managing partner and co-founder Josh Wolfe for it.
First, an evolving list of resources and recommendations:
- Do the job of a VC to get into VC
- Make memos, do market research, source startups, and do their work for them so that you can build relationships and prove that you can do the job. Them hiring you should not be a waste of their time or effort.
- Then, "cold" email them with the help of hunter.io, rocket reach or anything else—below is a Notion doc for all things cold emailing
- Join communities
- Discord, twitter, slack, etc. Some I'm in: Gen Z Mafia, Ladder (Remote Students), Accelerated, Gen Z VCs, and many niche ones.
- LinkedIn sucks. Use Twitter for networking, conversing, and connecting with people you'd like to meet (in the startup/VC realm). That said, LinkedIn is great for sourcing companies and for talent.
- Zone in on a few niches and make it your own
- I'm doing it for deeptech and moonshot companies. Focus on a few topics of interest and REALLY get to know them. Be the best in the world about it. Obviously you won't be, but you can hustle and aspire to be it.
- Create content
- blogs, podcasts, books, whatever. Just prove that you actually know what you're talking about or that you're developing expertise in the space. Also tweet about it as you learn. Learning in public!
- Tech & VC: The Foundation
- An Ode to Cold Outreach
- Prospect Student Ventures - Breaking into VC guide (92 pages!)
- VC/PE resources
Resources for founders (that I'd recommend aspiring VCs know by heart)
- High Output Founders' Library + its website
- Envision Resource Library
- This amazing book: Making Moonshots :)
Something like the Odyssey: My journey into Lux Capital
Deeptech, frontier tech, emerging tech, advanced tech, hardtech, tough tech, etc. etc. etc. All those synonyms. I realized I love it all in the summer before college, although its roots began during my childhood. My dad works at Bell Labs and has been there since before I was born. As a kid, he'd take me to the labs across New Jersey. I became obsessed with the history behind the storied research lab and wanted to win a Nobel Prize of my own as I saw those of the Bell Labs legends. Not to mention, the mini museum in the Murray Hill lab—it got me so excited.
Funny enough, in high school, I fell into the finance crowd and pushed aside any curiosity for science and tech. For four years, I went to a business administration magnet program, in other words, a specialized high school geared towards all things business. High school itself was quite a turning point in my life. By senior year, I was in the top 5% of my class, an international piano performer (and winner!), president of the business program that I previously mentioned, on the executive board of two more clubs, and so much more. I really put a lot into the work I did, admittedly for the chance to go to a solid college. Long story short, life happened and I got rejected from 14 straight colleges. All of my dream schools.
Following that came a dark moment in my life—seemed like reality hit me for the first time. A ton of introspection lead me to really consider what made me happy and fulfilled. Did I really enjoy investment banking? Did I really need to go to a top college? At the time, I thought my professional path was ruined by going to a state school.
For months, I thought about what I want to do in the long run. My curiosity for deeptech resurfaced, but my strengths and knowledge laid in all things non-technical: finance, sales, marketing, operations, business development, community building, etc. Thus, I decided to combine the two: deeptech venture capital. It was the chance to build and support the future; a job in which I would be paid to learn. How amazing is that?
At Rutgers, there is virtually no resources around startups. But, I treated it as a blank slate and made it my own. I worked to spark the entrepreneurship ecosystem there along with doing a ton of networking, which I quickly realized was futile. The many 30-minute conversations yielded nothing but false hope. I had all this energy and passion but didn't know where to channel it.
I realized that I had to be extremely resourceful. One thing I did was check the opportunities pages of Stanford, Harvard, and UPenn organizations. Its public info anyway. I also attended events and recruiting sessions for other top schools. Hopefully no one noticed a Rutgers kid in the zoom call. I was doing this for a few months during my first semester at college, until something huge happened. Not sure if it's just the universe looking out for me, or luck, or serendipity. Whatever it may be, the opportunity to write a book came across my lap, and I jumped at it.
The book journey started off randomly. In the matter of a few weeks, I made the decision and began writing my manuscript (January 2020). Fun fact—my first idea was to write about how the private sector was solving public sector problems, such as those in the insurance, healthcare, and other hyper-politicized industries. But, as I began researching, I really did not have any intrinsic motivation to do so. I considered that a sign for a pivot. I went back to that introspective mindset and really, really thought about it. I asked why I loved venture capital so much, why I love deeptech. The answer? Moonshot companies. The crazy ones that positively impact the course of humanity. The ones that were the epitome of human potential.
From that point on, the rest is history. Making Moonshots was born. Many people become experts, then write books. I chose to write a book to become an expert. Many people told me I was crazy and that it would be impossible, but that's the start of every moonshot idea.
I sorta had this dual mandate: not only learn as much as humanly possible about the concept but also write it in a valuable, concise, entertaining manner. I did deep research into deeptech, conducted nearly 100 interviews, and sacrificed a part of my social life. When COVID hit, I made the most of the newfound time at home. It was all momentum after that. Opportunity after opportunity arose.
Jan-May 2020 = worked at an AI startup + began posting on twitter; Summer 2020 = began joining communities + worked at a moonshot nanotech startup. I also worked at Contrary Capital and the Alchemist Accelerator in content creation roles. But, in September 2020, I was out of any job. Yet another serendipitous conversation occurred with my good friend Jack (NASJAQ), as I told him how it was a dream of mine to work at Lux Capital—the epitome of deeptech venture investing and venture building. I told him about how I interviewed Josh Wolfe for my book, but I was honestly scared to ask to work for him. Jack reminded me that 1) I was literally doing the research into startups that Lux invests in and 2) the worst thing that can happen is a "no."
I sent the email on a Monday. I probably took an hour to craft that email the night before. Surprisingly, Josh replied within about 30 minutes of me sending it. No interview, no application, no resume. I simply sent him Chapter 2 of my book (the Mindset chapter). I was hired on the spot.
I was honestly just fortunate in that instance. I didn't have any scientific background at the time, nor have I ever started a moonshot company. But, I had this burning passion for the concept and proved that I could hustle. It's pretty crazy to say that my first paying internship/job is also at my absolute dream firm.
I'm still working at Lux, so I'll keep updating y'all on what I learn. Always remember: extreme people yield extreme results.
Per aspera ad astra.