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A new path into venture capital for Gen Z

Aug 24, 2022

Halle Kaplan-Allen

For those finishing up college or early in their careers, starting a career in venture capital may seem intimidating– or even impossible. Established venture firms rarely post their open roles online, and even when they do the prerequisites are aplenty. Historically, landing even an entry level role in venture capital has required industry experience and an MBA. The competition can be fierce, and the job itself is not always glamorous. Like many entry level jobs, working as an analyst or associate at a large venture firm often means you are far away from the action. 

And yet, the generation currently exiting their college years and joining the workforce is a powerful one. Today, Gen Z is closest to emerging trends and technologies, and soon to be one of the most significant factions of spending power. Brands (and the investors behind those brands) want to hear the Gen Z perspective. 

But how does someone from Gen Z – with little to no work experience – land a job in venture capital, one of the most exclusive and opaque industries out there? For those that don’t want to go down the MBA path, consider venture scouting. 

What is a venture capital scout?

A venture capital scout works part time with a VC firm to identify the best startups to invest in. Many venture firms run scout programs to help diversify deal flow and increase their chances of investing in the next unicorn. Venture scouts are typically individuals who work full time in the startup ecosystem (founder, operators, community builders, etc.) and have used their position to cultivate a community of entrepreneurs. Although scouting is usually part time, some firms hire internal scouts to support full time. 

What does a venture scout do?

The best venture scouts immerse themselves into the startup ecosystem in order to decipher which early stage companies their VC firm should invest in. Scout programs typically last anywhere from four to twelve months. During this period, scouts attend online and in-person events and workshops to expand their networks and meet one-on-one with founders to build relationships and understand business models. The scout may be assigned by the firm to focus on a specific stage of company (i.e. Series Seed), a specific industry (i.e. healthcare), or a specific geography (i.e. Midwest). Sometimes scouts are “given” a predetermined amount of capital to invest into companies at their own discretion, or sometimes they are simply responsible for identifying promising companies to introduce to a firm and handle the rest of the process. 

Why would someone participate in a scout program?

One of the primary benefits for VC scout is the opportunity to learn the craft of venture investing and get hands-on experience in the industry. Many scout programs provide an educational curriculum to participants, including notable speakers, workshops, content, and networking events. 

Being a scout is also a great way to build an investment track record. Young individuals who want to build a career in venture but don’t hold a full time role at a VC firm can participate in a scout program in order to refine their deal sourcing, due diligence, and relationship building skills. At the same time, they can track their scouted investments in order to demonstrate their ability to source good deals. For individuals who want to start their own fund or syndicate down the line, this is a great way to build a track record. 

Another benefit of being a scout program is the financial upside. Scouts typically receive carried interest (or “carry”) when a deal that they sourced turns a profit. This means they are only rewarded for successful deals (those that bring in a return higher than the investment made). Sometimes, scouts will also receive closing fees to compensate them for bringing in deal flow which helps to align incentives between the scouts and the firm. 

Finally, scouting for a VC firm is a great way to build a network in the startup and investor ecosystem. VC scouts typically don’t have exclusive relationships with the firms they support, so some individuals will scout for multiple firms at once in order to build their network and refine their craft. Since meeting new people (both founders and investors) is such a pivotal part of being a successful scout, it’s a great option for anyone looking to build a career in the investing or startup ecosystem. Many of today’s most celebrated investors and founders started their careers in scout programs as a way to build their networks.

Why should more Gen Zs become venture scouts?

Most Gen Z are not accredited investors, meaning they can't legally invest in startups. Scouting for VC firms is a great way for non-accredited Gen Zs to learn the mechanics of venture investing, establish relationships with investors and founders, and build a track record of success. Regardless of your career aspirations, scouting is a phenomenal way to build a network across the tech, venture, and startup ecosystems which will pay dividends as you continue to develop your career. Having more Gen Zs in scouting roles is also world-positive, as they largely prioritize topics like diversity and equity, climate change, education, and future of work. Having a Gen Z influence on which companies and founders get funded will have a net-positive impact on our society.

How can I become a scout? 

There are a number of scout programs that offer educational resources and compensation for folks looking to gain experience in VC. Here are a few recommendations crowdsourced from our community: 

  1. GenZScouts is a 6-8 week fellowship that educates Gen Z students on the venture capital industry and gives them first-hand experience. Participants get access to educational content, weekly speaker sessions with top VCs, virtual office hours, and happy hours. While GenZScouts doesn’t directly compensate participants for sourcing companies, they do pair scouts with venture capital firms, accelerators, and angel investors to give them hands-on experience.

  2. The BLCK VC Scout Network provides Black scouts and angel investors with the knowledge, network, and tools to make better investments. The goal is to empower Black scouts and angel investors to make more investments and become better investors by helping them expand their sourcing pipelines, increase their ability to efficiently diligence companies, and build networks to co-invest alongside other investors. 

  3. Dorm Room Fund, spun out of First Round Capital starting in 2012, is where investors and entrepreneurs start their careers. The fund, which supports the strongest community of student entrepreneurs across the nation, backs student founders with a network of investors, mentors, and their first check.

  4. Seed Scout helps founders build their network (online and in person) to make raising capital a more efficient use of time. Seed Scout pairs their founders with a network of venture partners to jam on their company, provide feedback, and increase the founder's luck surface area.

  5. Contrary Capital Fellowship is a diverse and selective community of the top engineers, designers, and product minds. Fellows receive lifetime access to an exclusive network of highly talented peers, invite-only events, and so much more.

  6. Susa VC Venture Fellows Program is a six-month training program for aspiring venture investors. Venture Fellows will receive 1:1 mentorship from the Susa partnership and participate in Susa’s sourcing, evaluation, and investment processes in order to gain hands-on experience and build a body of work. This program is an opportunity to see how our team and venture capital work from the inside. 

  7. Undercover VC Fellows are curious, creative, and driven students across the country passionate about startups, investing, and problem-solving. Fellows will work with startups on their campus on behalf of UndercoverVC, connect with the UndercoverVC community, attend events, meet guest speakers, and learn skills core to VC.

For those finishing up college or early in their careers, starting a career in venture capital may seem intimidating– or even impossible. Established venture firms rarely post their open roles online, and even when they do the prerequisites are aplenty. Historically, landing even an entry level role in venture capital has required industry experience and an MBA. The competition can be fierce, and the job itself is not always glamorous. Like many entry level jobs, working as an analyst or associate at a large venture firm often means you are far away from the action. 

And yet, the generation currently exiting their college years and joining the workforce is a powerful one. Today, Gen Z is closest to emerging trends and technologies, and soon to be one of the most significant factions of spending power. Brands (and the investors behind those brands) want to hear the Gen Z perspective. 

But how does someone from Gen Z – with little to no work experience – land a job in venture capital, one of the most exclusive and opaque industries out there? For those that don’t want to go down the MBA path, consider venture scouting. 

What is a venture capital scout?

A venture capital scout works part time with a VC firm to identify the best startups to invest in. Many venture firms run scout programs to help diversify deal flow and increase their chances of investing in the next unicorn. Venture scouts are typically individuals who work full time in the startup ecosystem (founder, operators, community builders, etc.) and have used their position to cultivate a community of entrepreneurs. Although scouting is usually part time, some firms hire internal scouts to support full time. 

What does a venture scout do?

The best venture scouts immerse themselves into the startup ecosystem in order to decipher which early stage companies their VC firm should invest in. Scout programs typically last anywhere from four to twelve months. During this period, scouts attend online and in-person events and workshops to expand their networks and meet one-on-one with founders to build relationships and understand business models. The scout may be assigned by the firm to focus on a specific stage of company (i.e. Series Seed), a specific industry (i.e. healthcare), or a specific geography (i.e. Midwest). Sometimes scouts are “given” a predetermined amount of capital to invest into companies at their own discretion, or sometimes they are simply responsible for identifying promising companies to introduce to a firm and handle the rest of the process. 

Why would someone participate in a scout program?

One of the primary benefits for VC scout is the opportunity to learn the craft of venture investing and get hands-on experience in the industry. Many scout programs provide an educational curriculum to participants, including notable speakers, workshops, content, and networking events. 

Being a scout is also a great way to build an investment track record. Young individuals who want to build a career in venture but don’t hold a full time role at a VC firm can participate in a scout program in order to refine their deal sourcing, due diligence, and relationship building skills. At the same time, they can track their scouted investments in order to demonstrate their ability to source good deals. For individuals who want to start their own fund or syndicate down the line, this is a great way to build a track record. 

Another benefit of being a scout program is the financial upside. Scouts typically receive carried interest (or “carry”) when a deal that they sourced turns a profit. This means they are only rewarded for successful deals (those that bring in a return higher than the investment made). Sometimes, scouts will also receive closing fees to compensate them for bringing in deal flow which helps to align incentives between the scouts and the firm. 

Finally, scouting for a VC firm is a great way to build a network in the startup and investor ecosystem. VC scouts typically don’t have exclusive relationships with the firms they support, so some individuals will scout for multiple firms at once in order to build their network and refine their craft. Since meeting new people (both founders and investors) is such a pivotal part of being a successful scout, it’s a great option for anyone looking to build a career in the investing or startup ecosystem. Many of today’s most celebrated investors and founders started their careers in scout programs as a way to build their networks.

Why should more Gen Zs become venture scouts?

Most Gen Z are not accredited investors, meaning they can't legally invest in startups. Scouting for VC firms is a great way for non-accredited Gen Zs to learn the mechanics of venture investing, establish relationships with investors and founders, and build a track record of success. Regardless of your career aspirations, scouting is a phenomenal way to build a network across the tech, venture, and startup ecosystems which will pay dividends as you continue to develop your career. Having more Gen Zs in scouting roles is also world-positive, as they largely prioritize topics like diversity and equity, climate change, education, and future of work. Having a Gen Z influence on which companies and founders get funded will have a net-positive impact on our society.

How can I become a scout? 

There are a number of scout programs that offer educational resources and compensation for folks looking to gain experience in VC. Here are a few recommendations crowdsourced from our community: 

  1. GenZScouts is a 6-8 week fellowship that educates Gen Z students on the venture capital industry and gives them first-hand experience. Participants get access to educational content, weekly speaker sessions with top VCs, virtual office hours, and happy hours. While GenZScouts doesn’t directly compensate participants for sourcing companies, they do pair scouts with venture capital firms, accelerators, and angel investors to give them hands-on experience.

  2. The BLCK VC Scout Network provides Black scouts and angel investors with the knowledge, network, and tools to make better investments. The goal is to empower Black scouts and angel investors to make more investments and become better investors by helping them expand their sourcing pipelines, increase their ability to efficiently diligence companies, and build networks to co-invest alongside other investors. 

  3. Dorm Room Fund, spun out of First Round Capital starting in 2012, is where investors and entrepreneurs start their careers. The fund, which supports the strongest community of student entrepreneurs across the nation, backs student founders with a network of investors, mentors, and their first check.

  4. Seed Scout helps founders build their network (online and in person) to make raising capital a more efficient use of time. Seed Scout pairs their founders with a network of venture partners to jam on their company, provide feedback, and increase the founder's luck surface area.

  5. Contrary Capital Fellowship is a diverse and selective community of the top engineers, designers, and product minds. Fellows receive lifetime access to an exclusive network of highly talented peers, invite-only events, and so much more.

  6. Susa VC Venture Fellows Program is a six-month training program for aspiring venture investors. Venture Fellows will receive 1:1 mentorship from the Susa partnership and participate in Susa’s sourcing, evaluation, and investment processes in order to gain hands-on experience and build a body of work. This program is an opportunity to see how our team and venture capital work from the inside. 

  7. Undercover VC Fellows are curious, creative, and driven students across the country passionate about startups, investing, and problem-solving. Fellows will work with startups on their campus on behalf of UndercoverVC, connect with the UndercoverVC community, attend events, meet guest speakers, and learn skills core to VC.

For those finishing up college or early in their careers, starting a career in venture capital may seem intimidating– or even impossible. Established venture firms rarely post their open roles online, and even when they do the prerequisites are aplenty. Historically, landing even an entry level role in venture capital has required industry experience and an MBA. The competition can be fierce, and the job itself is not always glamorous. Like many entry level jobs, working as an analyst or associate at a large venture firm often means you are far away from the action. 

And yet, the generation currently exiting their college years and joining the workforce is a powerful one. Today, Gen Z is closest to emerging trends and technologies, and soon to be one of the most significant factions of spending power. Brands (and the investors behind those brands) want to hear the Gen Z perspective. 

But how does someone from Gen Z – with little to no work experience – land a job in venture capital, one of the most exclusive and opaque industries out there? For those that don’t want to go down the MBA path, consider venture scouting. 

What is a venture capital scout?

A venture capital scout works part time with a VC firm to identify the best startups to invest in. Many venture firms run scout programs to help diversify deal flow and increase their chances of investing in the next unicorn. Venture scouts are typically individuals who work full time in the startup ecosystem (founder, operators, community builders, etc.) and have used their position to cultivate a community of entrepreneurs. Although scouting is usually part time, some firms hire internal scouts to support full time. 

What does a venture scout do?

The best venture scouts immerse themselves into the startup ecosystem in order to decipher which early stage companies their VC firm should invest in. Scout programs typically last anywhere from four to twelve months. During this period, scouts attend online and in-person events and workshops to expand their networks and meet one-on-one with founders to build relationships and understand business models. The scout may be assigned by the firm to focus on a specific stage of company (i.e. Series Seed), a specific industry (i.e. healthcare), or a specific geography (i.e. Midwest). Sometimes scouts are “given” a predetermined amount of capital to invest into companies at their own discretion, or sometimes they are simply responsible for identifying promising companies to introduce to a firm and handle the rest of the process. 

Why would someone participate in a scout program?

One of the primary benefits for VC scout is the opportunity to learn the craft of venture investing and get hands-on experience in the industry. Many scout programs provide an educational curriculum to participants, including notable speakers, workshops, content, and networking events. 

Being a scout is also a great way to build an investment track record. Young individuals who want to build a career in venture but don’t hold a full time role at a VC firm can participate in a scout program in order to refine their deal sourcing, due diligence, and relationship building skills. At the same time, they can track their scouted investments in order to demonstrate their ability to source good deals. For individuals who want to start their own fund or syndicate down the line, this is a great way to build a track record. 

Another benefit of being a scout program is the financial upside. Scouts typically receive carried interest (or “carry”) when a deal that they sourced turns a profit. This means they are only rewarded for successful deals (those that bring in a return higher than the investment made). Sometimes, scouts will also receive closing fees to compensate them for bringing in deal flow which helps to align incentives between the scouts and the firm. 

Finally, scouting for a VC firm is a great way to build a network in the startup and investor ecosystem. VC scouts typically don’t have exclusive relationships with the firms they support, so some individuals will scout for multiple firms at once in order to build their network and refine their craft. Since meeting new people (both founders and investors) is such a pivotal part of being a successful scout, it’s a great option for anyone looking to build a career in the investing or startup ecosystem. Many of today’s most celebrated investors and founders started their careers in scout programs as a way to build their networks.

Why should more Gen Zs become venture scouts?

Most Gen Z are not accredited investors, meaning they can't legally invest in startups. Scouting for VC firms is a great way for non-accredited Gen Zs to learn the mechanics of venture investing, establish relationships with investors and founders, and build a track record of success. Regardless of your career aspirations, scouting is a phenomenal way to build a network across the tech, venture, and startup ecosystems which will pay dividends as you continue to develop your career. Having more Gen Zs in scouting roles is also world-positive, as they largely prioritize topics like diversity and equity, climate change, education, and future of work. Having a Gen Z influence on which companies and founders get funded will have a net-positive impact on our society.

How can I become a scout? 

There are a number of scout programs that offer educational resources and compensation for folks looking to gain experience in VC. Here are a few recommendations crowdsourced from our community: 

  1. GenZScouts is a 6-8 week fellowship that educates Gen Z students on the venture capital industry and gives them first-hand experience. Participants get access to educational content, weekly speaker sessions with top VCs, virtual office hours, and happy hours. While GenZScouts doesn’t directly compensate participants for sourcing companies, they do pair scouts with venture capital firms, accelerators, and angel investors to give them hands-on experience.

  2. The BLCK VC Scout Network provides Black scouts and angel investors with the knowledge, network, and tools to make better investments. The goal is to empower Black scouts and angel investors to make more investments and become better investors by helping them expand their sourcing pipelines, increase their ability to efficiently diligence companies, and build networks to co-invest alongside other investors. 

  3. Dorm Room Fund, spun out of First Round Capital starting in 2012, is where investors and entrepreneurs start their careers. The fund, which supports the strongest community of student entrepreneurs across the nation, backs student founders with a network of investors, mentors, and their first check.

  4. Seed Scout helps founders build their network (online and in person) to make raising capital a more efficient use of time. Seed Scout pairs their founders with a network of venture partners to jam on their company, provide feedback, and increase the founder's luck surface area.

  5. Contrary Capital Fellowship is a diverse and selective community of the top engineers, designers, and product minds. Fellows receive lifetime access to an exclusive network of highly talented peers, invite-only events, and so much more.

  6. Susa VC Venture Fellows Program is a six-month training program for aspiring venture investors. Venture Fellows will receive 1:1 mentorship from the Susa partnership and participate in Susa’s sourcing, evaluation, and investment processes in order to gain hands-on experience and build a body of work. This program is an opportunity to see how our team and venture capital work from the inside. 

  7. Undercover VC Fellows are curious, creative, and driven students across the country passionate about startups, investing, and problem-solving. Fellows will work with startups on their campus on behalf of UndercoverVC, connect with the UndercoverVC community, attend events, meet guest speakers, and learn skills core to VC.