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What does a Venture Capitalist do?

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It’s a common area of query: “What is a venture capitalist and how might a finance degree relate to this line of work?” For those curious about this subject, there is plenty to learn. Here’s the basic scoop on venture capital today.

The Basics

The financial sector occupied by venture capital is one of investment. More specifically, it is investment that is also a “venture” or a sort of unknown and possibly quite risky proposition in financial terms. More concisely defined, venture capital is the area of investment in which the investor invests in an unproven, new venture. That venture may be a new service, product, or even an idea.

So, what does it take to be a venture capitalist, one of those who invests in these risky, new concepts with the hope for a big turnaround later? While some keen investing and market knowledge do bolster the success rates of these investors, in reality, only investable funds and the will to hold to one’s own end of the deal, even if the risk doesn’t pay off, that are required. This means that while that finance degree may certainly be helpful, it is not needed in order to be successful in this particular area of financial action. Minors, however, are often restricted from participation per applicable laws.

See our ranking of the 30 Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s In Finance.

Recognizable Examples

There are actually many well-known examples of venture capitalists at work in many venture opportunities throughout greater society. In fact, some of the most recognized areas of venture capital come by way of crowdfunding efforts. In crowdfunding, anyone can become a venture capital investor in any number of emerging concepts and startups.

Some of the most publicly-recognized venues here include:

  • Kickstarter
  • CrowdFundUSA
  • GoFundMe
  • IndieGoGo

Top Figures in Venture Capital Today

As in any other specialty or sport, this specialized area of investment has its own stars and rising stars. These individuals have become renowned for their ability to sniff out a good investment and avoid the bad ones and subsequently become incredibly successful. Here are some of those figures and their associated top investment successes as reported by The New York Times and CB Insights.

Bill Gurley

Invested in GrubHub, OpenTable, Zillow, Uber, Stitch Fix, and Nextdoor.

Robert Nelsen

Invested in Juno Therapeutics, Denali Therapeutics, and GRAIL.

Chris Sacca

Invested in Twilio, Twitter, Stripe, and Uber.

Jeff Jordan

Invested in Tilt, Airbnb, Instacart, Pinterest, and OfferUp.

Women in Venture Capital

Additionally, while this field of investment has been historically dominated by men, women have become a rising and quite formidable component to the list of greats here as well. Joanne Wilson, one of tech’s rising stars has quickly become a capital investment leader with an estimated 90 investments in her portfolio. Laurel Tougy, managing partner of Supernode Ventures, has also astounded with game-changing investments in companies like Braze, LaunchMetrics, PeerIQ, and Credijusto. Business Insider also notes rising greats like Karin Klein, Sutian Dong, Alicia Syrett, and Maya Baratz.

Venture capital, in some form or other, has truly been around for quite a long time. In its modernized and more organized form, however, this investment practice has become a major fertilizer in the soil of business growth and opportunity today. These are the basics of what a venture capitalist is today – finance degree helpful but not necessary.