How to get into a VC firm in India

The people structure at VC firms is very different from conventional companies and professional firms. There are more people at the top than at entry and mid levels. At the top are general partners or GPs, they have raised the money and have the check book, these are people who have in their past lives been successful entrepreneurs or professionals with several years of experience at top consulting/investment banking firms. The middle level is principals/VPs who have a top notch MBA either from top IIMs or Harvard/ Stanford and a few years of experience, these guys head teams of entry level analysts, legal and core finance professionals to assist the partner by recommending investment opportunities and serve as an extra pair of eyes on the portfolio companies.

A typical firm has around 4 GPs, 4 mid level and 2 entry level professionals. As of Apr 2014, in India there may be around 100 active VC firms that are in their investment cycle (where they have money and are investing actively in companies), so at any given point there are only 600 people in the entry and mid level and fewer opportunities to enter the firms. The opportunities are barely advertised and potential candidates are identified through contacts and interactions, so how does someone new to the industry make the inroads?

Here are my top 3 suggestions to enter the firms – first, try and get an internship at a VC firm while at B-School as it is a lot easier than sourcing one when graduated. Second, work with a startup accelerator like GSF, Kyron or angellist, this gives you the ability to source deals, identify the traits of a successful startup and introduce you to the ecosystem. Third, get employed by a top notch consulting or IB firm and keep your ears and eyes open for opportunities.

Below is a sample list of VC firms active in India in no specific order

  • IDG Ventures India
  • Inventus Cap
  • Accel India
  • IvyCap Ventures Advisors Private Limited
  • Helion Venture Partners
  • Angel Prime
  • Das Star Ventures
  • Nexus Venture Partner
  • New Silk route
  • Unilazer Ventures Private Limited
  • Bessemer Venture Partner
  • Canaan Partners
  • Matrix Partners
  • Actis
  • Footprint ventures
  • Draper Fischer Jurvetson
  • Sequoia Capital
  • Kedaara Capital
  • Unitus Seed Fund
  • Tiger Global
  • Kalaari
  • Blume Ventures
  • SAIF Partners
  • Qualcomm ventures
  • Cisco Ventures
  • Ascent capital

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