Table of Contents
- Where to Find Them
- Type of Investing
- What was your background before college?
- How did you choose your major?
- What was your introduction to investing?
- Breaking In
- How did you approach the steep learning curve at the beginning of your career?
- What is your advice to students interested in investing?
- What is your advice on networking?
- What are the most important skills for VC investors?
- Current Job
- What is your most important daily habit?
- How do you evaluate early-stage investments?
- Tell us about a trend you are following right now.
- Where do you want to be in 10 years?
- What's the most important piece of advice you have for aspiring VC investors?
Current: Kickstart Seedfund
Previous: Campus Founders Fund
Where to Find Them
Type of Investing
What was your background before college?
- Sydnie grew up in Pennsylvania. Her family is very musical and she learned to play the violin and acoustic guitar and still performs at shows to this day. As a kid, Sydnie planned on pursuing a career as a professional musician or becoming a marine biologist.
How did you choose your major?
- Sydnie considered a few different majors including psychology and music but settled on business as good major to teach fundamental skills such as communication. After transferring from Penn State to BYU, Sydnie majored in the strategy program in the business school
What was your introduction to investing?
- Sydnie's first job at an investing firm was sourcing for a search fund.
- Next she worked at a student venture fund call Campus Founders Fund
How did you approach the steep learning curve at the beginning of your career?
- Firms have different expectations so the first step in a new job is identifying the ways you can add value that are specific to the way the firm is organized.
- At early-stage venture funds the teams are small and non-hierarchical so you have to take a lot of ownership over projects and your own productivity. Having a curious mindset to motivate tacking new problems also helps
What is your advice to students interested in investing?
- Differentiating between the opportunities that will offer you valuable experiences instead of simple grunt work can be difficult.
- Try to find opportunities that develop relevant skills and where you get to work on stuff that you are intrinsically motived by.
What is your advice on networking?
- Leading with genuine curiosity and a desire to be helpful is key, she thinks people underestimate how easy it is to approach people authentically.
- Leverage platforms like LinkedIn and build a system for yourself to keep track of and nurture your connections.
- Her full-time offer to Kickstart was in part due to her proactiveness years beforehand in leveraging the existing relationship she had with the firm to it's full potential.
What are the most important skills for VC investors?
- In terms of hard skills, being able to build a robust, complex financial model is critical
- For early-stage investing the soft skills are also crucial (active listening, critical thinking, creativity, communication, leadership, etc.)
What is your most important daily habit?
- Taking five minutes at the start of the day to identify the 3-5 things that need to be prioritized in order to call the day a success.
- Simply blocking time in her calendar does the job and keeps her team on the same page.
How do you evaluate early-stage investments?
- At an early stage, the team is the most important factor to evaluate because other aspects of the business will most likely make significant pivots.
Tell us about a trend you are following right now.
- She's been paying attention to marketplace companies. They are difficult and expensive to build but Kickstart has found that if they find the right founder they can become really successful businesses.
Where do you want to be in 10 years?
- Sydnie is naturally a longterm planner but she has found it more useful to make optimize for making sure that her short term plans are aligned with her values.
- Her longterm plan is to stay in VC but she may take some time to get operating experience in order to develop another set of skills that would complement her investing experience.
What's the most important piece of advice you have for aspiring VC investors?
- Venture capital is fundamentally a trust-based business because the relationships last so long. Learning how to have empathy and develop authentic relationships are important skills in the industry (and your personal life).