When I first started in Venture Capital, I was consistently told that the way you get good at investing is to look at thousands of deals. Which means you realistically have to spend years doing it. Or pull 36 all-nighters watching Shark Tank re-runs (don’t double check my math that I definitely did there).
How could I take a productive shortcut to get there quicker? Like when you hypothetically fake a limp at Disney World to get a fast pass to cut the lines.
So I took a step back. Seeing thousands of deals makes you better at your job because it allows you to see trends first hand and understand what core components make up a successful business. You learn what business models work and who the right management teams are to make it happen.
But every deal an investor sees doesn’t leave the same impact. There is obviously a large difference between writing an investment memo for a deal and just reviewing another “Uber for X”’s pitch deck. Aside from spending more time on a deal, speaking with experts in the space, and asking more questions, I believe the biggest difference is the writing part.
When you have to summarize your thoughts on paper, you are forced to review and condense your findings, and in turn, you will better remember them.
So that’s what I did. For every deal our firm has looked at over the past three years, I wrote down the top five diligence questions for each deal and a few key takeaways.
Getting into the habit of doing it is tough, especially when you speak with companies that are creating something eerily similar to what you’ve seen in a Black Mirror episode.
For me, it wasn’t just about checking boxes and getting to the 10,000 deal mark. It was about being intentional in my review process and holding myself accountable to getting better at company diligence each time a company came across my desk.
There are a lot of prominent people who will tell you that when it comes to success, there are no shortcuts. But, I’m a #millennial, and this appears to be a productive shortcut for a specific goal that will hopefully apply to at least a few of you.
Even when goals have a seemingly definite timeline for success, pause and think about how you can shorten that timeline and go through the process more efficiently.
I am a 25 year-old venture capitalist and amateur stand-up comedian living in NYC.