Brandon Shih: Associate

I first encountered BRV when I presented spiels about how BRV would enable me to make the world a better place through earth-shattering investments in my MBA application. In other words, as you’ve correctly assumed, I did not have any meaningful understanding of BRV at the time. It wasn’t until a few months later, when BRV was brought up again in both my Entrepreneurship Club and High-Tech Club meetings, that I had another much more serious encounter.  

This time around, the colorful experiences and recommendations shared by second years really sparked my interest. I came to Johnson with around 6 years of fintech experience. Although I frequently designed and implemented tech solutions for financial institutions, my responsibilities focused more on relationship-management and business-development. As a BRV associate, I would have opportunities to expand my skillset and examine under the hoods of promising tech startups through detailed due-diligence and close collaborations with investment targets and portfolio companies. I would be given tremendous experiential learning opportunities to deep dive into how tech firms build and launch new products as well as the processes firms undergo in formulating successful go-to-market and scaling strategies. With these goals in mind, I decided to apply.

In the 2 months or so since I joined BRV, I’ve already been presented with a buffet of resources. BRV first kicked off with 3 rounds of comprehensive trainings that walked the new-joiners through entrepreneurship-oriented legal knowledge and startup valuation methods and practices. The new associates were then split into teams of 3-4 to work alongside experienced BRV fund managers in dissecting potential investment candidates. Furthermore, I am now also collaborating with a group of associates in a consulting project that pairs us directly with a portfolio company to assist in raising its next round of funding.  

This has been a busy 2 months for sure, and I only expect to get busier as I continue to find ways to be more involved. You do not necessarily need to be zeroed in on pursuing a VC career. If you are like me and are simply hungry for opportunities to get your hands dirty and to diversify and expand your business skillset by evaluating/partnering with exciting tech startups, then look no further (than our next round of applications)!

Isaac Branaum: Associate

My name is Isaac Branaum, and I joined Big Red Ventures (BRV) as an Associate this year as a first-year MBA student at S.C. Johnson School of Management. Prior to my MBA, I began my career in Seoul, where I spent several years working on technology-based corporate investment into startups, research institutes, and global companies operating in the renewable energy, semiconductor, and specialty chemicals industries for an Asian oil & gas major. Afterwards, I moved to Washington, D.C. and pivoted into management consulting, where I primarily worked in strategy implementation projects as a software product manager. During my MBA, I wanted the chance to synthesize my past experiences and skills while working with technology and startups, and the BRV Associate position presented a one-of-a-kind, unique opportunity to do so through seed-stage investment due diligence. Furthermore, BRV equips Associates and Fund Managers with unique training sessions on seed-level valuations, market analysis, and extensive legal training. While at BRV, I hope to capitalize on my past experience and BRV training while evaluating startups and working with startups owners in conquering the many challenges they face while scaling their businesses.

To help future applicants, I would like to provide some tips regarding the BRV application process. I felt that the BRV application process essentially asks candidates to reflect on their interest in venture capital and think about the challenges confronting startups. I suggest staying abreast of venture capital trends through new articles, newsletters, and blogs, and, perhaps more importantly, voraciously reading up on all things startup, as you will have opportunities to discuss these topics in both your written application and interview. The BRV interview also has a case component, which tests critical thinking skills required for startup evaluation. Be sure to consider the problems facing small businesses and how exactly venture capital firms help seed-level startups. Although venture capital or investment experience is not a prerequisite for BRV, all potential applicants should proactively follow startups and venture capital trends and actively reflect on the hurdles facing both investors and investees. For a starting point, I highly suggest signing up for the CBInsights newsletter!