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Switching into PE/VC?

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Current Student
Joined: 01 Apr 2008
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23 Jan 2009, 06:51
jb32 wrote:
I think the biggest thing about breaking into a mid-size PE/VC firm that no one is discussing is the financial knowledge and ability you need on day one. That I would say is the toughest hurdle to get over. In PE/VC, there are no training classes or firm orientation to teach you how to build LBO models like there are at BB banks for associates. You have to know that $hit cold from the first time you interview. That is why they prefer people with BB experience - they can model like crazy and know corporate finance/valuation cold. With those people there is no on the job training, which these firms don't have time for. If you are really serious about PE/VC, then I would start studying corporate finance/valuation now, especially if you haven't ever built models or worked in IB. Take the self-service Training the Street course this spring so you can get ahead. Build your own models and learn why a company makes a good LBO candidate. What levels of debt are you looking for? How much senior, subordinate, and mezannine debt can the company's cash flows support? What is the maximum IRR with varying levels of equity? Build a sensitivity analysis to analyze various deal structures. Study previous LBO deals and run the numbers. Then, when you know the numbers and accounting cold, spend this fall learning about the firms and the industries they invest in - not figuring out how to value a company and build a model. That is just my advice. I'm also starting to think about the McCombs Venture Fellows program at Texas. There are a few good firms that have internship partnerships with the university - Centennial Ventures ($340 million), CenterPoint Ventures ($300 million), Blue Sage Capital ($400 million), and Austin Ventures ($3.9 billion). I think any of those would be great places to end up - especially Austin Ventures. Of course there is also the possibility of networking into HM Capital or Hicks Holdings!! Thank you for the suggestions, jb. Even if I spend the next seven months learning the above subject matter on my own, I will still need to do IB before having a shot at PE, I'm assuming. Director Joined: 20 Feb 2008 Posts: 797 Location: Texas Schools: Kellogg Class of 2011 Followers: 6 Kudos [?]: 147 [0], given: 9 Re: Switching into PE/VC? [#permalink] Show Tags 23 Jan 2009, 08:24 I don't necessarily think so, but you'll have to be really, really good in finance and know what your talking about in interviews. If you can do that and network like crazy, then I think you could get a summer gig at a PE shop - of course, then you have to prove you're good enough to join the firm after graduation. Essentially without any IB experience, between now and next March (interviews), you would need to obtain all of the knowledge an IB analyst would possess without the luxury of actually being an IB analyst. Remember, they have 2-3 years at 80-100 weeks churning out models, pitch books, etc. On top of that, you would need to learn financial engineering and everything you could about how the PE industry works and makes money. Like I said, it's doable, but very, very difficult. That's why only 4-5% of HBS and Stanford graduates make it and very few from other schools. Another option would be to get a summer gig at a top BB, get in the financial sponsors group (if it still exists in some cases ), be an all-star, network with PE folks, and then try your best in the fall to secure a job in PE / VC. That may be the easiest option, although you'll still need to be really good at everything I mentioned in the first paragraph. Manager Joined: 25 Jan 2008 Posts: 166 Location: San Francisco, CA Schools: Wharton, Chicago Followers: 1 Kudos [?]: 12 [0], given: 0 Re: Switching into PE/VC? [#permalink] Show Tags 23 Jan 2009, 11:03 MeddlingKid wrote: I'm a bit late coming to this thread, but wanted to ask a few questions regarding PE. I've perused some of the top PE companies' websites to get a feel for employee backgrounds. My findings were largely consistent with those you all shared: H/S (and to a lesser extent, W) MBAs, and in most cases, top 10 private undergraduate education. With that said, I'm wondering where that leaves me. I didn't apply to a top undergraduate school, but rather excelled at a state school. Can a person with a comparatively no-name undergraduate experience, a Booth MBA, and BB IB experience have a shot at getting a chance at one of the top firms like KKR or Blackstone? Would I even have a shot if I tried transitioning from IB to a mid-size PE firm to one of the top ones? I have no doubts that I can perform the work well, but it seems that pedigree is a huge factor in even getting a shot to showcase one's abilities. Sorry to be blunt, but at this point you probably won't have much of a chance at big-name PE unless you've built a track record in PE (which would come at VP and higher level.) This is because, a) they're hardly hiring for the foreseeable future, and b) even when they do hire, there are plenty of pre-MBA, and post-MBA, IB + PE professionals already looking for a shot and who have a much better chance than you. Another point I'd like to make is that you shouldn't really think about a mid-size PE firm as a stepping stone to a larger one, but rather as an end itself. It's hard enough to get into any reputable PE firm, so once you're there you're thinking about doing good work and building a good investment track record (and hopefully equity along the way.) Unless the fund blows up, people don't shop firms nearly as much as they do at IBs. As an example, it's not like the folks at Golden Gate Capital are still trying to climb the ladder to get to KKR, they've already made it. Current Student Joined: 01 Apr 2008 Posts: 356 Schools: Chicago Booth '11 Followers: 5 Kudos [?]: 21 [0], given: 0 Re: Switching into PE/VC? [#permalink] Show Tags 23 Jan 2009, 11:24 cougarblue wrote: MeddlingKid wrote: I'm a bit late coming to this thread, but wanted to ask a few questions regarding PE. I've perused some of the top PE companies' websites to get a feel for employee backgrounds. My findings were largely consistent with those you all shared: H/S (and to a lesser extent, W) MBAs, and in most cases, top 10 private undergraduate education. With that said, I'm wondering where that leaves me. I didn't apply to a top undergraduate school, but rather excelled at a state school. Can a person with a comparatively no-name undergraduate experience, a Booth MBA, and BB IB experience have a shot at getting a chance at one of the top firms like KKR or Blackstone? Would I even have a shot if I tried transitioning from IB to a mid-size PE firm to one of the top ones? I have no doubts that I can perform the work well, but it seems that pedigree is a huge factor in even getting a shot to showcase one's abilities. Sorry to be blunt, but at this point you probably won't have much of a chance at big-name PE unless you've built a track record in PE (which would come at VP and higher level.) This is because, a) they're hardly hiring for the foreseeable future, and b) even when they do hire, there are plenty of pre-MBA, and post-MBA, IB + PE professionals already looking for a shot and who have a much better chance than you. Another point I'd like to make is that you shouldn't really think about a mid-size PE firm as a stepping stone to a larger one, but rather as an end itself. It's hard enough to get into any reputable PE firm, so once you're there you're thinking about doing good work and building a good investment track record (and hopefully equity along the way.) Unless the fund blows up, people don't shop firms nearly as much as they do at IBs. As an example, it's not like the folks at Golden Gate Capital are still trying to climb the ladder to get to KKR, they've already made it. Thanks for the insight. I am probably best off following the IB track after school and spending a few years there. That could give me the most options for exit, should I decide to leave, rather than putting all my eggs in the PE basket and competing with PE veterans for limited spots. Manager Joined: 25 Jan 2008 Posts: 166 Location: San Francisco, CA Schools: Wharton, Chicago Followers: 1 Kudos [?]: 12 [0], given: 0 Re: Switching into PE/VC? [#permalink] Show Tags 23 Jan 2009, 11:57 MeddlingKid wrote: cougarblue wrote: MeddlingKid wrote: I'm a bit late coming to this thread, but wanted to ask a few questions regarding PE. I've perused some of the top PE companies' websites to get a feel for employee backgrounds. My findings were largely consistent with those you all shared: H/S (and to a lesser extent, W) MBAs, and in most cases, top 10 private undergraduate education. With that said, I'm wondering where that leaves me. I didn't apply to a top undergraduate school, but rather excelled at a state school. Can a person with a comparatively no-name undergraduate experience, a Booth MBA, and BB IB experience have a shot at getting a chance at one of the top firms like KKR or Blackstone? Would I even have a shot if I tried transitioning from IB to a mid-size PE firm to one of the top ones? I have no doubts that I can perform the work well, but it seems that pedigree is a huge factor in even getting a shot to showcase one's abilities. Sorry to be blunt, but at this point you probably won't have much of a chance at big-name PE unless you've built a track record in PE (which would come at VP and higher level.) This is because, a) they're hardly hiring for the foreseeable future, and b) even when they do hire, there are plenty of pre-MBA, and post-MBA, IB + PE professionals already looking for a shot and who have a much better chance than you. Another point I'd like to make is that you shouldn't really think about a mid-size PE firm as a stepping stone to a larger one, but rather as an end itself. It's hard enough to get into any reputable PE firm, so once you're there you're thinking about doing good work and building a good investment track record (and hopefully equity along the way.) Unless the fund blows up, people don't shop firms nearly as much as they do at IBs. As an example, it's not like the folks at Golden Gate Capital are still trying to climb the ladder to get to KKR, they've already made it. Thanks for the insight. I am probably best off following the IB track after school and spending a few years there. That could give me the most options for exit, should I decide to leave, rather than putting all my eggs in the PE basket and competing with PE veterans for limited spots. You're welcome. Even in good years you're competing w/ PE veterans for few spots. I'll bet there will be many disappointed former PE professionals coming out of school this and next year. However, I do know one example of a guy at HBS who was Big4 TS (PE Due Dili), did top IB internship, then landed at reputable MM PE shop full-time (in 2005) and I'm sure there were a few others like it. I have no illusions of getting a good PE gig out of B-school, even though I have 3.5 years experience at a small PE. Maybe you'll recognize me at Booth as one of the pre-MBA PE guys who wants IM. Current Student Joined: 10 Dec 2008 Posts: 217 Schools: Kellogg Class of 2011 Followers: 1 Kudos [?]: 15 [0], given: 18 Re: Switching into PE/VC? [#permalink] Show Tags 17 Mar 2009, 05:34 jb32 wrote: I think the biggest thing about breaking into a mid-size PE/VC firm that no one is discussing is the financial knowledge and ability you need on day one. That I would say is the toughest hurdle to get over. In PE/VC, there are no training classes or firm orientation to teach you how to build LBO models like there are at BB banks for associates. You have to know that$hit cold from the first time you interview. That is why they prefer people with BB experience - they can model like crazy and know corporate finance/valuation cold. With those people there is no on the job training, which these firms don't have time for.

If you are really serious about PE/VC, then I would start studying corporate finance/valuation now, especially if you haven't ever built models or worked in IB. Take the self-service Training the Street course this spring so you can get ahead. Build your own models and learn why a company makes a good LBO candidate. What levels of debt are you looking for? How much senior, subordinate, and mezannine debt can the company's cash flows support? What is the maximum IRR with varying levels of equity? Build a sensitivity analysis to analyze various deal structures. Study previous LBO deals and run the numbers. Then, when you know the numbers and accounting cold, spend this fall learning about the firms and the industries they invest in - not figuring out how to value a company and build a model.

That is just my advice. I'm also starting to think about the McCombs Venture Fellows program at Texas. There are a few good firms that have internship partnerships with the university - Centennial Ventures ($340 million), CenterPoint Ventures ($300 million), Blue Sage Capital ($400 million), and Austin Ventures ($3.9 billion). I think any of those would be great places to end up - especially Austin Ventures. Of course there is also the possibility of networking into HM Capital or Hicks Holdings!!

Thanks for the advice - as someone w/o prior PE experience, it's very much appreciated.

Another component of the original question was the ability to transition from MC to PE/VC. I've heard elsewhere that working for M/B/B may serve as a potential stepping stone into PE/VC. Any truth to that?
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17 Mar 2009, 06:42
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OhThatMBA wrote:
Thanks for the advice - as someone w/o prior PE experience, it's very much appreciated.

Another component of the original question was the ability to transition from MC to PE/VC. I've heard elsewhere that working for M/B/B may serve as a potential stepping stone into PE/VC. Any truth to that?

Here's a good article on PE recruiting: http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/private-equity-recruiting-in-2550-words/
Read through this site and you should have many less questions about PE/IB.

I know Golden Gate Capital is all ex-Bain guys, but I'm sure it's not an easy path to take.
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17 Mar 2009, 07:32
jb32 wrote:
OhThatMBA wrote:
Thanks for the advice - as someone w/o prior PE experience, it's very much appreciated.

Another component of the original question was the ability to transition from MC to PE/VC. I've heard elsewhere that working for M/B/B may serve as a potential stepping stone into PE/VC. Any truth to that?

Here's a good article on PE recruiting: http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/private-equity-recruiting-in-2550-words/
Read through this site and you should have many less questions about PE/IB.

I know Golden Gate Capital is all ex-Bain guys, but I'm sure it's not an easy path to take.

Great article, thanks for passing this along. +1
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22 Mar 2009, 13:58
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Anybody familiar with the Kauffman Fellows Program? Sounds interesting.

http://www.kauffmanfellows.org
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22 Mar 2009, 14:01
OhThatMBA wrote:
Anybody familiar with the Kauffman Fellows Program? Sounds interesting.

http://www.kauffmanfellows.org

I looked into it a while ago. It seems to be highly selective, but offers amazing opportunities. There seems to be a handful of people who can get into this program outside of H/S, and without prior PE/VC background -- which is amazing. It's one of the few routes into the industry for a career switcher (provided you can get accepted).
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22 Mar 2009, 14:06
Hey all, I've found the Vault Career Guide to Venture Capital to be extremely informative. Here's the link, though you can get it for free through school:

http://www.vault.com/store/book_preview ... industry=0
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01 Jun 2009, 12:19
Would JD/MBA help someone get into VC? Perhaps knowing the law/antitrust/IP status of startups would help one break into the field. I don't have any pre-MBA banking experience so I would need all the help I can get. I'd imagine having a JDMBA would open the doors to restructuring as well...
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01 Jun 2009, 12:59
More likely help you get into one of the select IB's (friends in the past have been at Rothschild, Lazard) which opens those doors later. Less likely off the bat.
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01 Jun 2009, 13:43
blah... turned down an ML IBD offer last summer because I wanted a work life balance. Definitely do NOT want to go into banking after b-school...
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01 Jun 2009, 15:41
bipolarbear wrote:
Would JD/MBA help someone get into VC? Perhaps knowing the law/antitrust/IP status of startups would help one break into the field. I don't have any pre-MBA banking experience so I would need all the help I can get. I'd imagine having a JDMBA would open the doors to restructuring as well...

Right now it seems like most JD/MBA's here are going into law for the summer. Law internship recruiting happens in the fall, it pays well and it is not a lot of work. So I think a lot of them accepted offers when the writing was on the wall that internship recruiting would suck this winter.

I do have a friend who is a lawyer who is now working for a VC firm, went from corporate law for a few years, to PE, to a VC company. An odd progression and he is still kind of on the law side of it...sounds like a lot of it is structuring deals and lots of contract stuff.
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02 Jun 2009, 09:07
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That's interesting... I know that northwestern's JDMBA class mainly choose to practice law whereas Harvard's will likely practice business. I wonder if its the quality of bschool exit ops that influence what direction the class is headed
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08 Jul 2009, 07:18
You are going to have to play a long game to get in to PE without some serious Corp Fin background (and even then, blind commitment). The JD won't open any new doors per se, more give you a few different methods of trying to force it open. The career path as a JD in the world of investment is somewhat longer if you want to do "deals" - strangely, they normally want you to do "legals".

This isn't a world that wants to take your passion and potential. They want someone who can do things immediately, so you have to prepare yourself for that, or work to prove that somehow.

Also, I don't really understand how PE is attractive if you can't face the hours of IBD.
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08 Jul 2009, 07:41
3underscore wrote:
You are going to have to play a long game to get in to PE without some serious Corp Fin background (and even then, blind commitment). The JD won't open any new doors per se, more give you a few different methods of trying to force it open. The career path as a JD in the world of investment is somewhat longer if you want to do "deals" - strangely, they normally want you to do "legals".

This isn't a world that wants to take your passion and potential. They want someone who can do things immediately, so you have to prepare yourself for that, or work to prove that somehow.

Also, I don't really understand how PE is attractive if you can't face the hours of IBD.

When you say PE in this post, are you including VC under that umbrella? Seems like getting into VC is quite a bit different than getting into under arenas within PE. Less emphasis on finance background, though still important, and more emphasis on operations / entrepreneurial experience.
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30 Aug 2009, 02:44
Gents,

I am considering recruiting for PE this year, preferably in NYC. I had an internship in a bulge bracket bank in London this year. Assuming that they will offer me something, how can I transit to PE? I heard / read that no PE experience is a huge no - no for recruiting, especially if I didn't do it in the summer and preferred doing IB instead. Could somebody help me out with this?

I'm also afraid that I'm changing not only industry but also geography, although that should be less of a problem that the industry change.

Anyway, any good tips are appreciated!
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31 Aug 2009, 00:52
All,

Having spent 3 years in ibanking as analyst and now in my 2nd year at a Mega Fund (think Apollo, ,Bain, BX, Carlyle KKR, TPG)... I agree with the commentary regarding, PE experience is pretty much required at certain funds and its definitely the case at my fund for a Post-MBA hire. Granted in my Pre-MBA class there are a couple McK/Bain type people... I'd say all (but 1) Post-MBA hires were mostly HS type people and most had top-tier Pre-MBA experience (think one guy was at Hellman before but that's close to top tier).

That said, a guy who was in my analyst did 3 years went to HBS and is going to a well respected middle market shop and I've heard of guys getting into PE shops with analyst experience.

I think agold mentioned that the work is interesting, perhaps... but honors in the dollar kid.
Re: Switching into PE/VC?   [#permalink] 31 Aug 2009, 00:52

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