Putting put pen to paper two months after starting at Mountside Ventures.
I had formed an image of what individuals in VC were like primarily through late nights at university reading Paul Graham and Mark Suster essays; meticulous analysts, able to contextualise an often very abstract concept with financial and scientific precision.
I naively never thought emotional intelligence would come into play; the ability to look beyond numbers and act with a degree of empathy towards founders and their solution — I personally blame it on the constant state of panic of wondering what I wholeheartedly wanted to do after I graduated.
In hindsight, it’s glaringly obvious; in my opinion, the single most important asset to a VC firm is people . Within the team at Mountside, I am fortunate enough to learn from three individuals, and more importantly friends, who founded one of the Big Four’s corporate accelerator and early-stage fundraising team.
I was far from a conventional candidate. I enjoyed a mere summer on an investment banking programme which is still to this day responsible for my love of the city of London. Looking back on it now, it was a fantastic learning curve, but never for me.
As part of my degree I also completed a year in industry over 2018–19 which primarily consisted of marketing large trade events in Europe. Deadlines were short, resources scarce, but we always managed to pull it off. My work fortunately got picked up by one of our exhibitors based in Los Angeles, where I preceded to spend the summer marketing CBD based products through multiple international channels. Random, right?
It actually wasn’t until I started my final year of university that I revisited venture; my brother was hoping to raise an institutional round for his SaaS startup in the new year (annoyingly, he was always the most entrepreneurial of the two of us).
He and his team were improving the productive capacity of underserved airports around the world, successfully increasing efficiency of day to day operations. I remember the glowing reviews he received from huge players (that often pivoted to him from a more expensive, less effective solution) and admiring the passion he evidently had for the product.
It was fascinating to see his emotional side, one that very rarely appeared in personal situations, treading carefully as he was still very much nurturing a project he had put relentless hours behind. Not to mention, I was in initial disbelief of the revenue quality of the SaaS business model — the financial side of me prevailing.
I was overjoyed for him when he closed a round with an outstanding player in the industry — a testament to how far he’s come. After a short stint working within the business, I decided to do my own thing and soon joined the team at Mountside Ventures as an intern.
I guess it starts with the idea of entrepreneurship in its entirety. How cool is it to introduce a product or service onto the market which improves peoples lives? Whether this an asset to people’s health and wellbeing or an everyday banking solution, my overall career motivation lies in enabling such products to reach people and have a very real fear of missing out on getting a first look at the next best tech.
Especially at seed stage, I get the chance to analyse businesses in their rawest form; often with minimal revenues and traction, you really see the company’s backbone. Furthermore, I have the opportunity to meet unique people with differentiated business models, approaches, outstanding stories and visions. Quite simply, I find it fascinating.
Mountside also have an interesting proposition; since we don’t deploy funds ourselves, we negotiate the best deal for our client and finish on terms that are right for them, which is a great point of satisfaction.
Corporate experience further lends its self well to my aspiration to complete a MBA at London Business School a few years down the line. The MBA requires four years of experience before enrolment where gaining key understanding of a business in a wide range of functions is of paramount importance.
What does a typical day look like?
As a junior member, my allegiance lies with supporting the partners across deal flow, due diligence, client work and internal affairs. Not one day is the same, but below is an attempt to break down what I do:
- Attending startup events and conferences, building relationships with the innovation ecosystem.
- Screening the many inbounds we have and subsequently setting up calls.
- Conducting due diligence on opportunities, from market sizing to competitive research of the landscape.
- Supporting initiatives such as the virtual VC roundtable discussions we run regularly.
- Client work which varies greatly, but consists of collating initial feedback on pitch decks, business plans, financial models and data room documents alongside the partners.
- Outreaching investors, exploring their interest in sub sectors of the market, sharing deal flow.
- Creating content such as our most recent report which collected insights from the investors behind Europe’s Venture Capital ecosystem.
How Mountside has been instrumental to my personal development
The short of it; the business and its partners have made me fall in love with a line of work, which I think is a rare occurrence amongst my age cohort in the modern day.
I came into the role with willingness to demonstrate proactivity and assert my interest in learning and adding value — I thought this was the best way to pay back the firm for the opportunity given.
I’ve certainly reaped the rewards of that approach and hope it has helped in achieving my aim of learning how to think like a VC. With great people around me, I’ve grasped how to spot red flags, structure analysis around useful frameworks, ask leading questions and differentiate a good deck from a bad one. All which wouldn’t have been possible without the great amount of trust bestowed on me.
Most importantly, they’ve made it clear that learning knows no bounds. The whole team are constantly encouraging me to read up on industry news, reviewing (and writing) research reports, listening to podcasts, and connecting with their network to share and learn findings — a quality that I will hold close as I develop in my career.
I am truly excited to see what the future holds!