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Venture capital fellowships are entry-level programs where individuals gain industry knowledge and mentorship needed to excel as an investor. For VC funds, building a notable fellowship program can help them establish themselves as thought leaders and strengthen their reputation. Over time, a history of successful alumni can bring awareness back to the fund - attracting both founders and full-time employees.
Unlike scout programs, where the sole purpose is to support deal flow. Fellowships allow individuals to participate in a range of activities across the fund. These programs can span from 8 months to two years, enabling fellows to make more substantial contributions to the fund compared to short-term internships.
While fellowships may differ from scout programs and internships they all act as entry points into an otherwise competitive field. Along with the growing VC creator economy, these career opportunities work toward demystifying venture capital knowledge. While universities offer little guidance toward a career in venture the advice to ‘break in’ typically falls within networking and gaining transferable skills. Both of which are easier for those with access to pre-established networks such as through school alumni or familial connections. Susa Ventures put it this way,
Ideally, VC should be a meritocracy, funding the best ideas and teams. In practice, this isn’t always the case. Networks play a huge role in who and what gets funded. While there are many ways to help improve this reality, Susa believes it starts with who is making the investment decisions.
For this reason, many fellowships have a commitment to supporting underrepresented individuals or those who are looking to gain working experience for future roles. Funds that offer open access to their processes can enable individuals from diverse backgrounds to contribute to the field, promoting inclusivity, and fostering innovation.
In addition, teaching others the ropes naturally allows for funds to question common practices and innovate within their internal strategies as well. As a new generation emerges in the working world and consumer behavior shifts, letting in fresh perspectives can positively impact your fund just as much as you can impact their futures.
The specifics of a fellowship program are entirely based on the fund, which means you can customize the program around the priorities of your investors. Here are a few things to consider when building a program:
A number of organizations have committed to refining the VC fellowship. Offering a community of aspiring VCs a place to start outside of a singular fund of investors. These programs often include a number of speakers and curricula across a variety of fund types and theses.
We support early-stage Life Science startups in engineering biology to drive radical advances in human health.
Alpaca VC is a seed-stage venture capital firm that invests in the people, products, and processes that power commerce in the physical world.
We look for exceptional entrepreneurs that address large markets. We invest early and like to be as helpful as we can both pre and post-investment.
Bessemer supports founders through every stage of growth in the enterprise, consumer, and healthcare spaces
We invest checks through founder-friendly SAFEs via our network of student fellows toward the brightest student founders across the US.
Nine Capital invests in need-driven health tech founders with international ambitions.
Hawke Ventures is a track-to-lead check fund ($50k-$2m) in pre/seed and seed for eCommerce enablement, MarTech, and AdTech.
Susa Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm, investing in a growing family of dreamers and builders.
Interested in learning more about VC fellowship programs? Check out these additional readings!