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Do VC or startup firms hire technologists?

I've been in and around development technology for a long time and I have always enjoyed exploring new technologies and studying their effects on technology and business as a whole far more than focusing on a single thing. For the sake of survival I've been a coder for the last 10 years but have been frequently involved with startups of my own or others and operated a software consultancy of my own for several years. At this point writing 8 hours a day of coding has become all but boring and while I am still working on startups and inventions in my free time but career wise I need to move into something that maintains my interest and perhaps has more to do with the strategy side of business and technology (for the sake of my own sanity). I think a dream job for me would be to assist VC firms in choosing viable startups based on industry trends and then helping those startups with critical early stage technology decisions or strategies. I have probably spent nearly ever free moment I have had since 1990 studying various facets of computer and hardware technology and I seem to be able to cast many accurate predictions about those innovations that eventually become a household name. I'm not saying that I'm at this point unequivocally suited for the job by any means but its something that I'd like to strive towards. I'd love to hear any advice on how to get set on a path for something like this if one exists.

Thanks everyone!

5 Replies

Thomas Knoll
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Thomas Knoll Entrepreneur • Advisor
Executive Advisor & Business Coach. I help entrepreneurs survive and thrive at building their teams and businesses.
This is normally called, EIR. Entrepreneur in Residence. Once you google it a bit and get a feel for how *they* talk about it, happy to intro to a friend or two who has worked in this role.
Ginger Zumaeta
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Ginger Zumaeta Entrepreneur • Advisor
Integrated Marketing & Content Strategy | Brand Story | Building Marketing Programs that Attract, Retain & Build Loyalty
Also, we're not a VC, but I manage a new startup accelerator and we're looking for awesome mentors and will be adding to our in-house team in the future. Check out http://www.hub101.co, and reach out if you're interested in a chat.
Ben Griffin
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Ben Griffin Entrepreneur • Advisor
CEO Peer Group Facilitator | Executive Coach | Board of Directors | Strategic Thinking | Ben.Griffin@CEOIQ.com
Ian:
VC's and PE firms do engage people in the role you're describing. And, they are a pretty 'clubby' group, getting access and 'breaking-in' is challenging...will take time to make happen. You've got to demonstrate your 'chops' for sure.

1. Use Founder Dating network to meet a couple of VC's out here and see if you can get a discussion going with them.
2. Look for a chapter of Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) in your area - it's a good networking opportunity to meet people who can help you meet people.
3. Get your elevator pitch really down - and I'd suggest you dump any language that talks about being bored...survival...etc. Create a positive 10-15 second intro for yourself that emphasizes what you are 'running to' not running away from, which is what you sound like in the original post - VC's and PE people are generally quite successful and want to associate with people who are equally successful - you want to create an 'eyes level relationship.
4. Have a good 'profile' document - you may need a several - one that is more 'traditional resume' formatted; one that is 'web bio' formatted to tell your story on paper succintly
5. As someone else suggested - connect with a business incubator in the area - often they are strapped for budget and it's a place where you can 'earn some stripes' in this area by contributing your time / energy there and build a profile for yourself that can extend ultimately to VC / PE people.

Again, give it time...this is NOT going to happen overnight, despite what all the media hype says about rapid rises to success...Remember that Rovio had more than 50 failed games over years before Angry Birds 'hit big;.
One book I recommend to a lot of people in similar positions is "Get Clients Now" - it's a good primer on setting up a process for yourself and sticking to it over time.
Harrison Magun
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Harrison Magun Entrepreneur
Digital Media & Tech / Sales and Marketing
I'm not sure I'm in complete agreement with Thomas or Ben. Being a "technology futurist" is only one attribute of an EIR; however, the role is a transitional role towards founding CEO of a venture backed company or appointed head/exec of a portfolio company (usually). With respect to 'technology futurist' as a permanent role in a company, I have never seen a start-up with a role like this; start-ups tend to invest in do-ers, not predictors or 'talkers'. Again, being this kind of technological oracle is more of an attribute of a great CTO, founder, or head of product than a separate role.

The place I HAVE seen this role is in large organization, like Microsoft. They are commonly called "Evangelists." Smart and compelling people who get put in front of clients to tell them where the industry is going. Most of these roles spend most of their time outwardly facing, and impact internal strategy and execution a lot less than outward-facing business development and industry punditry.

My $.02 is that the "technologist" skill-set you describe is more of an attribute of a great head of product, CTO, lead developer, CEO, etc. In your shoes, I might look for a role where your skills as a coder would be in demand, and your skills and passion as "technology futurist" appreciated and rewarded. Your value will be determined in your ability to convince others in the organization to let you write the code you want (or build the products you want) that will move the company toward the technological future you imagine and predict. As a founding CEO, I know that is a skill-set I'd be super excited to have (and pretty rare.)
Ian McLean
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Ian McLean Entrepreneur
Developing Startup Grunt, Tech Co-Founder
Thanks everyone. Definitely great advice to be had here and plenty of research awaits me.
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