Li Jin @ljin18 Consumer investing @a16z. Beijing born + Midwest bred. MBA dropout. Alum: Product @shopkick, stats & English lit @Harvard. Lifelong artist. Loves tech & corgis. Dec. 09, 2019 1 min read

Many people ask me about my path to VC. The truth is - I actually *COLD* applied to @a16z.

Story time 👇

I didn't network my way in or know anyone who worked at the firm. I literally dropped my resume in on a16z's jobs website, expecting it to go into an abyss.

To my surprise, @withfries2 emailed me a few days later and invited me to meet him at the office!

I am eternally grateful for this, because 6 months later (+countless more convos, market maps, & deep dives), I joined the investment team.

This story totally flies in the face of the referral regimen in the VC industry.

The common wisdom is that you need to network in, because warm intros are such an effective filter that many VCs discount cold messages entirely.

But not everyone has access to connections. There's always someone who first takes a chance on you. I grew up with 0 connections: my dad is from a rural village in China & my mom is an art teacher who, to this day, thinks I work at a mutual fund (I find it adorable & refreshing)

There were so many times in college that I reached out to people cold--professors I admired to invite them to faculty dinner, senior folks in various industries for career advice, etc.--and was surprised at how often they were beyond generous with access and time.

I keep my DMs open for this reason--because you never know! I can't respond to everything, but I open and read every single one.

Sometimes there are gems: recently, a PM at a startup sent me a heartfelt video introducing himself, showed his marked-up printout of my blog post about the Passion Economy, and asked if I would give him feedback on an idea in this space. My answer: emphatically yes!

The moral of the story: warm intros are helpful, but shouldn't be necessary.

Talent is universal, but opportunities to connect to people aren’t.

To quote Ratatouille: "Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere."

You can follow @ljin18.


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