From quantum computing to genetic engineering and space exploration – deep tech startups are shaping the future by turning research and innovation into applications and businesses and making them widely accessible.
Venture capital (VC) allows placing a bet on the future and thereby making that future happen by supporting startup founders. If you are wondering whether you can be part of that as a STEM graduate, even without an MBA or formal business education, the answer is clearly YES.
Indeed, most people in the VC industry come from a business background, which is precisely the issue when dealing with deep-tech startups. Without a proper STEM education, it’s tough to understand what they are doing on a level that venture capitalists are comfortable investing in them.
As a STEM graduate, you have already trained your brain for analytical thinking and digesting highly abstract topics. Therefore, it will be easy for you to pick up on business terms and still learn about different technologies.
Here is why you may consider working in VC (as a recent STEM graduate):
Maximize your learning. Initially, the learning curve is steep, and your spectrum of tasks (deal sourcing, due diligence, supporting founders) is broad. Your work will include lots of context switching and learning many different things simultaneously. But over time, you will build an understanding of an entire domain.
Survey startup ecosystems. Working in VC, you will see 1,000+ pitch decks a year, giving you an extensive overview of different technologies, business models, and industry trends. Whereas startups are narrowly focused on a specific technology or market (and they should be!), VC will allow you to entertain your interest in different topics – in line with the fund’s investment thesis – while still working hands-on with founders.
Boost your network. VC is primarily people management – meeting founders to learn about their startups and make new deals, knowing the right people to access existing deals, or simply staying informed about emerging technologies and trends. Especially during the early stages, it is common to share deals between VC firms, either to make investments together or to forward a deal outside of one’s own investment focus to a more suitable VC.
Help startups succeed. Building a startup is always a collaborative effort – and as a VC, you’ll get the chance to help many startups flourish. Rather than watching founders from the sidelines building fantastic stuff, whenever needed, VCs get involved in helping their startups with hiring, communications, strategy development, or even operational questions. It’s a great fit if you like to genuinely help other founders build awesome stuff and are willing to go the extra mile to succeed together with others.
Make a difference. Given the ubiquity of VC money nowadays, most low-tech startups doing well commercially will get funding anyway – it makes little difference which VC is involved. On the contrary, joining a deep tech VC as a STEM graduate, your expertise will help to evaluate startups turning cutting-edge research into businesses that no purely commercial VC would consider touching and that would have been neglected otherwise.
This last point also inspired our partner to founding Lunar Ventures, a Berlin-based venture capital firm I joined as an associate in January 2022. We are investing in ‘computer science moonshots’ before they have any revenue or even product-market fit, and that likely wouldn’t have gotten funding otherwise.
If you are a STEM graduate, a founder, or an investor interested in working with us – feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.