MARK SUSTER: Want To Become A Venture Capital Partner? Here’s How…


In a recent blog post, Mark Suster of Upfront Ventures announced that Jordan Hudson has been promoted to Principal at the L.A.-based VC firm, and also gave a few hints on what top-tier venture capitalist actually do with their time.

Associates are generally the lowest-rung on the VC ladder, and spend their days:

  • Deal sourcing for partners
  • Deal screening
  • Deal support/analysis/quant/legal for deals a partner is seriously considering
  • Portfolio company support & analysis
  • Portfolio community building
  • Industry reviews
  • VC firm admin
  • VC firm policy or fund analysis
  • Helping be the VC ‘presence’ at key events
  • Alumni activities

At Upfront, Suster notes that associates are generally pre-MBA candidates, which he prefers because associates must (in his words):

  • Be very strong mathematically/quantitatively (which you either are or your aren’t but an MBA won’t improve)
  • Have strong analytic skills to put large amounts of information into context
  • Manage and prioritize large amounts of tasks, and handle obligations thrown at you from various directions
  • Source information easily to help build a thesis around companies/industries/competition
  • Possess exceptional networking skills, which are critical when you want to be about to reference entrepreneurs & concepts and bounce your ideas off other people in the industry
  • Great social skills – especially so that you don’t become an arrogant, callous, know-it-all that many VCs can become

Suster also emphasizes that most Partners at VC firms are in their 30’s, and agrees with Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures that VCs hit their stride in their 40s and 50s.

Jordan, a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, is apparently a bonafide superstar — Suster says the young Principal was head of the Upfront’s internal ‘strategy and operations’ team within a year of being hired, and “completely owned” the process of relaunching Upfront’s website.

Now that’s he a Principal, Jordan has the power to make his own investments, although Suster indicates that he must consult closely with other senior VCs before investing.

So to recap, don’t expect to be a VC unless you’re great at math and great with people (kind of like any business role), and don’t expect to be a young superstar like Jordan unless you can lead a massive initiative (like a website relaunch).

Too easy, right? Go get ’em, champs.