A Day in the Life of a Junior Investor
How can I be helpful?
The most common question I get from aspiring VCs — how do you spend your time on an average day? While days can vary wildly depending on deals in motion, I wanted to share what a typical day might look like. Venture is one of those industries that is “always on”. Even when I am not working, I am always making mental notes on smart people and potential founders, emerging trends, and new companies that might become investment targets.
I am a night owl so waking up in the morning is tough. Which is why I usually set 15 alarms between 7 and 7:30am. I am always attached to the phone so my first instinct is to quickly scan my email, twitter mentions, and whatsapp messages, usually with just one eye open. I don’t generally like to eat breakfast so my mornings are uncomplicated. Sometimes I make coffee though I am definitely more of a hot chocolate person. The last thing I do before heading out is quickly scanning my to-do list for the day on Todoistand mentally preparing myself for the day ahead.
I usually reach the office by 8:15. I start every work day with a fixed morning routine. I start with Product Hunt to browse and test cool new products that launch every day. Then I read the top articles on Hacker News. My slack groups are next, I am in four main ones with other investors and friends and I go through my messages and threads. A quick Twitter scan. I end by peeking at the BVP index as my proxy for how the market is doing. I have 3 computer screens so usually a lot of these are happening in parallel.
8:30AM – 12:00PM
Mornings are for emails, investment memos, portfolio work and strategy ideation. That includes doing market and competitor research for an investment memo, putting together docs and jamming on GTM with a portfolio founder, and some good old fashioned cap table modeling. Sometimes my mornings are spent chatting with my colleagues about a deal we are particularly excited about. Since we invest so early, so much of our decision making process relies on these ad-hoc conversations that help us develop and advance our thinking about each company. Once we start getting really excited about a deal, we put together a one-page investment memo to share with the team. Mostly, it serves as a way to discuss as a broader team to invite questions, comments, and feedback. Then, we go back and forth with founders with questions and dive into the data room. The final step in our process at the seed stage is a final investment memo. Working on deals is the most intellectually fulfilling part of the job for me, which is why I save my mornings for it. It’s fun deep diving into a new industry with a new approach and trying to understand the mechanics and dynamics between all the major players in the space. But it’s also tough trying to balance our imagination and vision for the company’s potential with the company’s present performance in making an investment decision. Get too carried away in either direction and I am sure we will miss some gems. Hey, that is what an anti-portfolio is for!
12:00PM – 6:30PM
Afternoons are for back to back founder meetings. This is my favorite part of being a VC. I like spending my afternoon with audaciously ambitious founders filled with unbridled optimism. I really draw my energy from these meetings. I generally schedule 20-30 minute meetings. They are the perfect duration to quickly share BIP’s philosophy and process, get their background and story, understand the arc of the business and key levers, traction, and fundraising goals and timelines. Conversational is best, I go through the deck on my own before/after the meeting. I also say “how can I help” non ironically in every meeting and actually mean it!
6:30PM – 7PM
As I finish up the meetings, I spend some time reviewing the pipeline, prioritizing deals, assigning action items to each deal and scheduling them on my calendar. For example, an early stage fintech deal that I really like might mean that I have to talk to our partner who is the fintech expert about it, email the team for the data room, and get a call scheduled with their key payment processor vendor. Once it’s done, in a non-pandemic world, I would head out to spend my evenings at startup events and meetups to hangout with founders, investors, and more like minded people. Perfect combo of social fun and work for me. Now, I just head home 😭. Though sometimes I have zoom happy hours and those are pretty fun.
7:30PM – 12:00AM
I like to pack my evenings with my hobbies — basketball, working out, TV, and playing chess. Yes, just like the rest of the world I started playing chess after watching Queen’s Gambit and now I am hooked. I squeeze in dinner somewhere in this window.
12:00AM – 1:30AM (ish)
One last look at emails and action items for the following day. Finally curl into bed with a book. Usually I read 2 books at a time, one fiction and one non fiction. Just finished reading Crossing the Chasm, and currently reading Dune and Understanding Chess Endgames.
Want to follow along everyday? Follow me on Twitter @itsparaj and ask your burning VC questions.