Friday, May 30, 2008

Fred Wilson got lucky

Fred Wilson, the well-known NYC VC and blogger, just posted to his blog the abbreviated story about how he landed in VC. I think it's illustrative of the kind of luck and timing that you need to get into the business (outside of connections and just raw talent, which help, but aren't guarantees).

I remember Fred came into our Business, Technology, and Innovation class in the fall and shared with us some of this story as well. He was looking for a job in the days where you had to physically mail resumes to a hundred firms and then follow up the old fashioned way. Luckily, we've got tools like LinkedIn to help us out these days, but as you know from reading my blog, its still a hard (one of the hardest?) nut to crack.

Also, as the CEO at the company I interned with this summer said (an HBS grad, although I don't hold that against him), back in the day you wouldn't even dream of contacting VCs as a lowly business school student, or even have any expectation that you'd get a meeting. Times have really changed, and I can imagine Fred was knocking (literally) on alot of doors back then.

I wish more VCs would share their story. It's certainly conforting to know that its hard for most people to get into the business, and it definitely displays some humility and self-awareness to share that with others. If I've missed other examples of posts like Fred's, please feel free to comment and add links here.

By the way, I added my two cents with a comment on another guys's comment on Fred's post. Here it is.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I'm a celebrity

Well, not quite. :)

The kind folks at CBS's Public Offering blog did a bit of a repost of my graduation musings, that's all.

Not sure how long it will be on the front page, but check it out if you didn't read the earlier post.

Cluster H 2008 Trailer

Yes, I was in Cluster X 2008, not Cluster H. However, I still thought this was a great video. Cluster H filmed and photographed various parts of their two years at CBS and then someone in the cluster pieced together this great 'trailer', montage, whatever you want to call it. I think it gives a good sense of the community at CBS and what we all affectionately call "cluster love".

Watch the video and see what I mean.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Back to job hunting

I was in Baltimore this weekend with my wife and her family and came back up to the city yesterday for a friend's wedding. The wedding was at the Museum of Natural History. Although I'd been there to see the exhibits, this was the first wedding I attended there. Not a bad place to get married, I'd say! Food was great as well as the atmosphere.

Tomorrow it's back to the job hunt. Right now I've got a couple of meetings set up with a venture firm here in the city but other than that, nothing else is cooking this week. I should also be hearing back from the west coast firm that I had been speaking with.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

You want it, you got it: grad pics

I aim to please here at J-term Johnny's online outpost! Per popular demand (OK, a comment I just received, although others are probably interested, too), some pics from both the business school recognition ceremony and the graduation. Enjoy.

 simple private sharing

One of those days

Got bad news from one of the firms with whom I've had several interviews with. They don't want to hire me. This sucks (pardon my language) but given the competition for any of these jobs, I know I have to pull myself up and keep going. I did like the group alot and hopefully I'll have a chance to work with them in some way in the future.

The good part of today was going to commencement. I didn't actually participate (due to an interview I had this morning) but I went up towards the end to pick up my diploma.

I caught some of the degree-conferring action, which was kind of interesting. Basically each dean (of the various schools within Columbia U) gets up and tells the President of the university how smart, talented, etc the students in their school are and requests that their degrees be conferred. It was pretty funny and meant in gest (Dean Hubbard referred to our class as "Sarbanes-Oxley compliant" among other accolades :) By the way, the thing to do in the stands during commencement if you're in business school is to wave money (seriously)...

Other highlights included the dental school dean talking about everyone's great teeth and some of the grads waving huge toothbrushes. I have to admit, I kinda wish I was in the stands today versus sitting on the sidelines. It looked like fun.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My thoughts on graduation

The business school recognition ceremony took place on Sunday. Over 600 of my fellow CBSers and I assembled to hear some speeches, spend time with our families who have stuck by us through he process, and enjoy a few final hours together as a class.

The ceremony was well put together, and more importantly, held underneath tents so we weren't drenched by the monsoon that was going through New York City at the time :) Dean Hubbard gave some opening words and then introduced Jerry Speyer, of the real estate powerhouse Tishman Speyer. Jerry is CBS class of 1964, and shared with the audience a great story about his old Columbia College friend who had lost his eyesight during their time at school and overcame the disability to do great things.

I'm oversimplifying the story quite a bit (here is the full version), but the best part was when the friend was left to fend for himself on the NYC subway by another friend (some friend, eh?). Well, the guy made it back to campus on his own, and then learned that his friend (who happened to be Art Garfunkel!) was actually following him the whole time! A great story and one that the crowd really loved.

The student speech was great as well. Venk Varadan, a fellow J-termer and member of the GBA, gave a talk about his trip to Kilimanjaro, where he met a CBS alum 30+ years his senior who was also making the trek in terrible conditions. In fact, the alum was a member of Columbia Business School's Class of 1969, dubbed "The Whiz Kids" by Forbes Magazine, which graduated heavy hitters like Henry Kravis, Erskine Bowles, and Lew Frankfort. What are the chances that this sort of chance encounter would occur? I have no idea (stats wasn't my best subject) but it's gotta be small :)

My thoughts on the day? It went fast, and it still hasn't hit me yet, although I am sitting here on Tuesday morning jobless and still unsure of where I will be sitting next year (other than that I'll have two beautiful baby girls!)

I'm also thinking about...yes...the blog! Since I'm out of school now, I'm not sure how much realism or value I'll be able to add about the CBS experience. I had a couple of thoughts (which are not mutually exclusive):

1) Hand the blog down to another CBS J-termer

2) Start a new blog and focus more on my career interests (commenting on media, tech, VC, etc) and personal life

Would love to hear everyone's thoughts on these ideas (or get some volunteers to take this baby over!) :)

Friday, May 16, 2008

VC wannabes: learn how to size!

If you are planning to pursue VC after business school, a word of advice: get experience doing market sizing (OK, market estimating is probably more like it) and practice, practice, practice.

By market sizing, I mean taking a given market (like the market for HD Televisions, Widgets, Oatmeal cookies) and slicing and dicing it based on a series of assumptions.

I have had some time to practice this through my internships (looking at market sizes for purposes of business plans or VC investment) and to a small degree in classes, but you can always improve - and improvement means practice.

If I could rewind to the summer, I might have spent some time doing practice management consulting case interviews (even though I didn't want to go into consulting) for that very reason.


Well, in case interviews, you need to quantitatively walk through a business problem and figure out the magnitude of profit, revenue, etc that guides your decision-making. More importantly, it forces you to develop your own analysis process.

Doing this repeatedly is bound to make you improve in that area.

Bonus VC job tip: Pick an industry you know little or nothing about and spend about 10 hours (give or take) during a 1 week period looking at the industry trends, value chain, competitive landscape, market sizes, value proposition for key players, and think about who you would like to invest in (if anyone). After doing this, you'll know yet another space, and have yet another set of insights to share during your informational and formal interviews.

Monday, May 12, 2008

VC job advice

Here is a good post by a VC regarding finding a job in VC.

Puerto Rico was great, in case you were wondering. I plan on posting more about the trip in the next day or two between Dis-O events and the like.

Also found out today I will be having a 2nd round interview this week with a venture firm. Very exciting and I'm hoping I can get over the finish line w/these guys.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

T-minus 2 days til Puerto Rico

Only a couple days left until the trip to Puerto Rico. It looks like besides the typical beach action, we will be taking a full-day sailing trip on a catamaran complete with food, drinks, snorkeling, and (hopefully no) sunburns. This is the first trip I have taken w/CBS people since last year's Rugby tourney at Duke.

People are finally done with the various projects, classes, finals, etc and are starting to kick back. I think tonight is the end-of-semester party and I know that tomorrow one of the guys in Cluster Z is having a big pool party at his house in NJ. I'm going to skip it since I've got to get ready for the trip, but I know that a bus was rented to take folks from CBS to his house, so it sounds like it will be a good one.

Also, today is my 2nd wedding anniversary! My wife and I will be babysitting a friend's daughter as said friend is going into labor w/her second child and they don't have any family around to help out. So, I'll pick up a movable feast and bring it over to the friend's house.

On the job front, still having a bunch of discussions but nothing has germinated into later stages...yet. Just got invited to fly down to meet with a firm in the mid-Atlantic region, so I will probably be doing that the week after graduation. Speaking of graduation, I think my goal of having a job by that time is in jeopardy :) Hopefully something will happen soon. However, I know that there are plenty of others that are in the same boat (including some of those who will be chilling in Puerto Rico with me) so I have others to commiserate with!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Best apartment listing ever

I was just poking around on some Boston rental real estate websites (since we currently have no clue which city we'll be in for the next year) and died laughing when I saw this picture in a apartment posting.  You would think they would have cleaned the apartment before taking the picture...and perhaps removed the cat that is sitting on the couch? :)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

comment away, I'm listening again

Blogger sends me notifications when people comment on the blog - except that my old email address was busted so I didn't see any of the recent comments until tonight! The situation is fixed now so I should be on top of any comments that come in. Thanks for your patience - I didn't forget about y'all :)