Left to right; Jakob Binder & Thymen Versleijen
Jakob, the newest addition to our team, reflects on his time as an intern at No Such Ventures. He shares his four key takeaways with input from former intern Thymen (now IVY Capital Analyst) on lessons learned in the unchartered waters of Venture Capital.
How did I get here?
My relocation to Amsterdam in 2022 came with its quirks: towering locals, a sea of bicycles, and a surprising variety of fried foods. But now it was time to decide on my next steps. I had just finished my studies in Groningen and an internship at Van Lanschot Kempen (investment banking), but It’s been a long-standing dream of mine to work in Venture Capital. Thanks to No Such Ventures, this dream has now materialized much sooner than I thought.
It was something about NSV’s unpretentiousness that instantly grabbed my attention and drove me to write my first-ever non-formal application. I tossed my usual templates aside, got rid of the lengthy motivation letter, and simply sent an email with my honest thoughts and interests. After a series of pleasant, yet unconventional interviews (no spoilers here), a few weeks passed and I suddenly found myself at No Such Ventures, starting my internship as a so-called Jr. Investor.
Diving into the Deep End - 4 Key Takeaways
Right from the get-go, I was involved in the full bandwidth of tasks. Starting off with sifting through a mountain of pitch decks to develop a feeling for propositions, I soon got to sit in on founder meetings, attend and organize networking events, work with our portfolio companies, and spar on the hottest deals. Coming from an internship in banking, the sheer variety of work and responsibility from day one was quite the transition, but - and I say this with confidence - I was never bored for a second.
Throughout these months, and now as a full-time member, many things have surprised me, challenged my way of thinking, and shown me that university and book-smarts certainly didn't prepare me for them. Together with Thymen, one of my ‘predecessors’, who shared the same experience and went on to work as an analyst at IVY Capital, I have condensed our top learnings and key takeaways from this time below. Although there certainly are a lot more points to raise, these seemed most relevant to us:
1. Show color: It didn’t take longer than a few days until one of my senior colleagues asked me straight up: ‘What do you think we should do?’ Well, that was a surprise… but it didn't even compare to the look on my face when his reaction to my (still quite reluctant) answer was a dry ‘Alright, let’s do it!’. Especially at the start, it might feel off to have strong opinions and show your personal color, after all, there is not a lot of practical experience to back it up, right? While interning at NSV, you will not only learn how to effectively analyze a proposition. You will also realize that having an opinion and speaking your mind not only adds a lot of value to the team but also gives you the ownership to refine and develop your thinking.
“In the early stages of your VC career analyzing a startup can feel overwhelming because you can get lost in the details of the proposition. During my time at NSV I learned how to identify and research the crux of the proposition.” - Thymen Versleijen
2. Authenticity resonates: People will remember you for different reasons than you might think (or at least I thought). Being professional can be expressed in the quality of your work; you don’t have to become a living PowerPoint presentation yourself. Showing who you are aside from the business context will help you forge deeper relationships with founders and also make your life a lot more pleasant as a nice side-effect. I was surprised by how much founders value the person behind the money and are looking for a partner for the long run instead of just funding.
3. 80/20 is the name of the game: This one was particularly hard on me after getting used to the 100%-everything mentality I experienced in investment banking. Learning to discern what moves the needle and what the marginal pay-off of perfecting a task is, is a tedious journey, but it’s a must-learn in this industry.
“Time management might sound boring but it’s critical to a successful career within VC. The workflow is extremely dynamic and it’s expected that you stay on top of it. At NSV you will learn to adapt to the dynamic work environment, and still be able to laugh during it.” - Thymen Versleijen
4. Network, Network, & Network: Throughout the internship, NSV gave me ample opportunities to go out and represent the company and build a network at a variety of events. While beer & meeting a lot of new, exciting people is definitely no task to shy away from, it’s easy to get lost in office work and forget about this side of your job altogether. In the VC & founding ecosystem here in Amsterdam, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone, who isn’t two introductions away from you, so make sure to dive right in, or you will miss out on some great opportunities.
“Don’t underestimate how important your network is in the VC landscape.” - Thymen Versleijen
Working in Venture Capital is truly a unique experience. Your work week can change from one minute to another, and rarely will two days be the same, but if you are a curious person who can become enthusiastic about founders and their ideas, I’m sure, it's just the right thing for you.
Want to follow in the footsteps of Jakob & Thymen? NSV is always looking for interns, so apply here!