This past summer I interned at Andreessen Horowitz in Menlo Park, CA. Andreessen Horowitz (A16Z for short) is a venture capital firm with $2.7 billion under management that invests primarily in software focused companies of any stage. It is a unique VC firm in that it is structured with a staff to support its portfolio companies. There are currently around 70 employees – around 50 provide support services to portfolio companies (i.e. public relations, talent, market development) and the rest work on sourcing and executing new investment deals.
I was a summer analyst on the Deal Team, the group responsible for researching and performing diligence on potential new investments. I worked on a research project in the educational technology space that involved meeting with entrepreneurs and analyzing industry data to create a point of view for future firm investments in education. I also performed diligence on live deals in the form of market research and analysis of user traction, retention and engagement metrics. The hours were great – I came into the office between 8 and 9 AM each morning and left between 5:30 and 6:30 PM depending on my workload for the day. The internship was paid and breakfast and lunch were provided.
From my experience at A16Z, I learned that in the world of venture capital, your connections are your most valuable assets. There is a saying that the majority of returns in any given year only come from around 15 companies; the name of the game is to leverage your relationships to get in on as many of those deals as possible. I also learned that venture capital is a tough industry to just “break into” out of college – one generally has to prove him or herself through either starting a successful company or gaining strong operational experience and mastering a specific market segment. Overall, I had an amazing experience where I learned more about venture capital and the world of tech start-ups than I could imagine. I would highly encourage anyone interested in start-ups or investing to check out venture capital – you will learn a lot!
Photo Credit: Aaron Parecki