Written by Kipras Daujotas.
To start, let me tell you a bit about how I ended up here. Before graduating from university, I founded two startups which, in addition to developing my entrepreneurial skills, helped introduce me to the VC industry. After completing my Bachelor’s degree at the London School of Economics, I was accepted to the Silver Scholars MBA program at Yale, but due to the pandemic, I decided to defer my start date. Suddenly, I had a fantastic opportunity to try something new, and VC felt like a natural extension of my previous experience and education.
Ultimately, I chose byFounders because of its focus on the New Nordics and its merit-driven culture: something that strongly came across during my interview process. Once I had secured the internship, it was time for me to think about what tangible outcomes I was hoping to achieve. There are so many layers in this industry, and you can’t learn everything in six months. I set myself the following goals:
(1) To understand how VCs think and operate: byFounders is the ideal place for learning this. It is a very transparent organization where everyone can contribute and collaborate. The team is also very dynamic, and we have been sharing and discussing ideas and projects non-stop.
(2) To learn more about the New Nordic startup ecosystem: Despite its small size, the New Nordics have generated some of today’s most well-known startups, such as Unity Technologies and Spotify. Since byFounders is one of the most active funds in the region, I could interact with the ecosystem firsthand. To be connected to the byFounders Collective members was also an incredible resource.
(3) To test my professional limits: The whole time I’ve been at byFounders, I have felt out of my comfort zone. I’m incredibly proud to have led the investment in a biotech company from Y Combinator and have genuinely experienced that if you take the initiative and apply yourself to make the fund better in some way, your ideas and projects will always be welcomed.
During my internship, I had the opportunity to assist with the investment process, perform market research and due diligence of potential investments, and work with our existing Portfolio companies.
As the fund was transitioning from Fund I to Fund II and, in the process, expanding its mandate to a scope that does not shy away from climate tech and biotech sectors, I also helped deepen the fund’s knowledge in said areas. I created investment theses for many sub-categories in the sector, and am now focused on reinforcing our internal climate tech knowledge with industry contacts and investor partnerships.
I also spent time sourcing and evaluating possible investment opportunities. It was always fascinating to go down the rabbit hole to understand the most promising startups in the ecosystem and assess whether they would be a good investment and fit for byFounders. In these moments, everything else would disappear, as I’d focus on getting inside the founder’s head and understanding his or her world.
Finally, an essential element of VC is nurturing a strong network. byFounders has a tremendous resource in its Collective: consisting of 65+ of the most accomplished Nordic and Baltic founders and operators. Through my internship, I had the opportunity to connect with many of them and to join and drive calls with prospective investments. I was also encouraged to leverage my own network in my home country, Lithuania, to help byFounders establish a more substantial presence there.
I was also fortunate to have a chance to have weekly chats with Eric, Managing Partner at byFounders. He would provide me with a view from the top, practical advice, and mentorship. The message that stuck with me the most was: even though you can go far alone, you’ll always get further together with others. To me, this embodies the innate value of partnership.
I still have two months left, but as I reflect on my experience so far, here are some of the lessons that have had the most impact on me:
(1) Assume you know nothing: I learned to operate under the assumption that I know nothing. Instead, I focus on listening to every founder, asking better questions, and examining my existing knowledge.
(2) Recognize the importance of speed: I understood the importance of speed and aggressiveness in early-stage investing, especially in competitive deals. I was under the most pressure when we evaluated the biotech company we later invested in. We met the founder on Friday and needed to make our final decision by the following Monday.
(3) Be personable: You don’t need to have a business or finance degree to break into VC. I found that being a good investor comes down to good people skills and building a solid network. There are fewer data points to work with, in early-stage investing. Compared to private equity, for example. I learned that deal flow and research come from conversations with founders, customers, industry experts, and other stakeholders.
Post-MBA, I hope to continue my VC career to invest in companies that solve the world’s biggest problems. At byFounders, I learned a lot about companies attempting to solve climate change and challenges within healthcare. I hope to deepen and broaden my knowledge over the coming years. Simultaneously, I can’t deny my entrepreneurial drive. I’ll probably always continue to be on the lookout for a great business opportunity too!
Some books I learned a lot from:
We're currently recruiting for an investment intern! This is a full-time 3-6 months internship, ideal for someone in their final year of studies or who has recently graduated with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Note that we are open to any discipline; some of our current team members studied Philosophy, Engineering, Politics, Sociology, etc. The position will preferably be based in Copenhagen but can be remote. The internship is paid.
Follow this all-important link for details and application: https://www.notion.so/byfounders/We-re-recruiting-an-investment-intern-8e6921911a3044179cc788ba47620742