VCAT (Venture Capital Aptitude Test)

I haven’t really been reading up on my subscribed feeds that were tagged “VC” for a long time, and this is pretty much why… Instead of getting an MBA or JD/MBA and then try to break into VC, I’m probably better off using that money to do my own shit and see what comes out of it…

How to Change the World: The Venture Capital Aptitude Test (VCAT)

Venture capital is something to do at the end of your career, not the beginning. It should be your last job, not your first.

My theory is that when you?re young, you should work eighty hours a week to create a product or service that changes the world. You should not sit in board meetings listening to an entrepreneur explaining why she missed her numbers while you read email on a Blackberry and intermittently spew forth gems like, ?You should partner with MySpace; I can also introduce you to a few of the losers in our portfolio.?

Furthermore, entrepreneurs should view any young person who opted for venture capital over ?real world? experience with contempt. Why would you want advice from someone whose background consists of working in a college bookstore or cranking spreadsheets at an investment bank? Financial models are almost totally irrelevant because there?s no financial wizardry involved in making a good product and selling the heck out of it.

The three worst backgrounds for a venture capitalist are management consulting, investment banking, and accounting. Management consulting is bad because it leads you to believe that implementation is easy and insights are hard when the opposite is true in startups. Investment banking is bad because it leads you to believe that everything can be reduced to cells on a spreadsheet and that companies should be built for Wall Street, not customers. Moreover, investment bankers are oriented towards doing deals, not building companies. Accounting is bad because it leads you to believe that history not only repeats itself, it predicts the future.

Finally, there is the issue of the pertinence of an MBA to venture capital. The upside is that such a degree can provide additional tools and knowledge (such as calculating that 25% of $1.6 billion is $400 million) to help you make investment decisions and to assist entrepreneurs. The downside is that earning this degree (and I have one) causes most people to develop the hollow arrogance of someone who?s never been tested. All told, the downside of an MBA outweighs the upside.

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