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Quitting venture capital to return to journalism – my journey

by Jan 11, 2020Personal

Quitting venture capital to return to journalism – my journey

by Jan 11, 2020Personal

At 1 year 11 months, I was staring at a long road on the Venture Capital path but I decided to not play the waiting game 

Every time I tell someone I have worked in a venture fund and quit to return to journalism, they tend to get a puzzled look on their face.

It’s almost a reflex because the world of Venture is perceived to be much more glamorous, and prestigious, compared to journalism.

Recounting my experience for all the inquisitive minds out there!

 

You don’t pick venture; venture picks you… It just kind of…happens.

 

How did I land up this job?

I had been working with Economic Times for almost four years when Rahul Chowdhri dropped me a message to chat about his new fund. The idea behind Stellaris was simple. Back fearless founders, and use content as one of the mediums to reach them first.

It was not just a communication tool but a way to actively drive insights, source deals, stay relevant in a very competitive market, and create a brand. All this was new to me.

I was intrigued by this proposition and decided to jump on board. Of course, I’d be lying if I didn’t disclose that at the back of my mind, Sequoia Capital’s Michael Moritz was an inspiration. 

Day one

At Stellaris, from the very first day, I was doing much more than just Content, from deal sourcing to diligence. Being a part of every Investment committee meeting helped me gain a deep exposure to the overall framework and the workings of both- the start-up and the venture capital world.

I learned about the operational nuances of the fund by gaining perspective from a plethora of activities such as market research, assessing companies, building a thesis, negotiating an offer and the final closing.

I even evaluated the logistics market and the investment of Loadshare along with Alok, as my first end-to-end investment experience.

But then why quit? Looking back now, the dots connect much better.

The hierarchical elephant in the room:

VC funds are generally built on rigid hierarchies. If you re not a GP, you are not the final decision-maker. Which makes sense. And at the end of the day, it’s the GP’s responsibility to be prudent and give outsized returns to their own investors, called Limited Partners.

While Stellaris is one of the more transparent firms and open to disagreements, one can’t change the intrinsic structure of a venture firm. 

Pace of work:

 

Venture has a slow pace of action compared to any operating role

 

Venture in general, and Stellaris in particular had a much slower pace of action than what I was used to, with much longer feedback loops. This made the role too passive for me. For instance, I was writing long-form content once or twice a month, the impact of which took months if not years to become visible.

Compared to that, in ET, I was in a very active role for which I would get feedback within hours. 

Fundamentally, the culture isn’t for everyone.

Yet, I wasn’t done.

I started enjoying the investment side of things, and I wanted to take up ‘that opportunity’ more actively…which meant spending time on scouting deals.

That’s when I realized that there were a couple of notions inside the Venture Capital ecosystem which made me an imperfect fit.

Most funds in India unlike the valley unfortunately still don’t value diversity in their investment teams.

For instance, they chose to  hire engineers, and MBA’s over any other background, and tend to see them as best suited for running the investment drill. I studied commerce, and journalism.

 While I continue to disagree, I respect Stellaris for their honesty.

And even as I was doing challenging and rewarding work, I came to this realization that if I wanted to continue in Venture Capital, I was more keen to be at the core of it to be able to make an impact. At a seed-stage fund that doesn’t have an operating team – that means leading investment deals.

At 1 year 11 months, I was staring at a long road on the Venture Capital path but this realization made me unhappy at my job, and rethink my career priorities.

I decided to not play the waiting game or do something without full commitment.

And I firmly believe that you need to care deeply and legitimately… the day I didn’t feel that way, I chose to walk out.

But why Economic Times?

There’s almost never a bad time to return to The Economic Times. It is by far India’s most respected financial daily. As a writer for ET, I wake up every day doing what I love — meeting daring entrepreneurs, learning something new, and writing.

My work with ET allows me to have broader horizons and provides new frameworks of thinking. The quintessence of extreme uncertainty, psychological roller coasters, and everyday challenges continues to excite me.

I don’t know what I will be doing 10 years from now but I hope that the journey is at least as exciting as it has been so far.

Copyright ©️ 2020 Aditi Shrivastava | Contact - mail@www.aditishrivastava.com