GRIP, Internships Abroad Learning on the Job: Venture Capital

September 14, 2021
By Philip Pan, WHARTON/CAS '24

KK Fund - Singapore

One of my most fundamental responsibilities as a KK Fund intern is to attend investment screening meetings with startups. These meetings are a critical component of the investment process—they comprise the initial segment of the venture capital funnel. That is, investment screening meetings allow venture capitalists to quickly formulate an assessment of a startup which then informs their decision of whether or not to proceed with further due diligence.

The discussions in each meeting vary widely. Whereas some merely entail high-level questions regarding the startup’s product, others will involve a preliminary dive into the traction metrics of the startup. It is in the latter type of meeting that I frequently encounter what I consider to be the most difficult aspect of my internship.

As a freshman, I have not yet been exposed to the complex metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) of venture capital. Accordingly, when it comes to asking finance-specific questions to startups, like ones which concern Customer Acquisition, Financial Projections, and Performance Metrics, it is challenging for me to identify the appropriate questions to ask. This challenge is compounded by the fast pace of the Southeast Asian venture capital ecosystem, in which the ability to quickly develop a complete picture of a startup is critical.

I have approached this aspect of my internship with a growth mindset. Rather than accepting my knowledge disparity as is, I’ve dedicated time to expand my understanding of venture capital and its technical components. From browsing through courses on Coursera to attending technical webinars, I’ve actively worked to enrich my pool of knowledge. My associate and fellow interns’ receptiveness to questions have also enabled me to rapidly enhance my grasp of the intricacies of venture capital.

In preparation for each investment screening meeting, I now dedicate 30 minutes to a deeper analysis of the startup’s pitch deck, prior to their live presentation, so that I can take note of the metrics for which additional questions may be necessary. Because each startup’s business model is unique, I also ensure that researching the critical KPIs pertaining to the broader type of business model that the startup employs is part of my preparations. Following each meeting, I work closely with my peers to brainstorm questions that allow us to develop a more holistic picture of the startup—particularly ones that we might have missed in the discussion.

Through both an open mind and an eagerness to learn, I will continue to work towards improving my understanding of venture capital during my time at KK Fund and beyond.

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The Global Research and Internship Program (GRIP) provides outstanding undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to intern or conduct research abroad for 8 to 12 weeks over the summer. Participants gain career-enhancing experience and global exposure that is essential in a global workforce.