Alma Mater: Harvard
Hometown: Seoul, South Korea
It's primarily the stage of the process we focus on. The investing role focuses on sourcing companies, then doing the diligence (and ultimately, deciding whether SGE should invest). Portfolio Operations is primarily post-investment - meaning we accelerate growth after the partnership has been forged. Post-investment, we help onboard companies, get to know them, then partner with them to accelerate growth on a variety of strategic topics (like, go-to-market, talent & org, Key Performance Indicators, and customer success).
On the investing side, you've got to enjoy and be good at things like cold-calling and developing relationships with founders from scratch. You then get to evaluate companies, and work with others on the team to make decisions on capital investments. On the growth and ops side, there's an element of relationship building done post-investment. If you like to participate actively in a company's trajectory, then the growth and ops side may be better for you.
I've worked closely with a variety of companies, but most heavily with Poppulo, an internal communications software, and Phorest, a salon scheduling and marketing tool. My favorite projects have been helping put together a multi-year strategy and execution plan, best practices around customer success, and strengthening go-to-market through account-based marketing - all of which were for different companies. I enjoy working in an agile environment that allows me to go between our portfolio companies and use my consulting background to gain direct exposure to high-growth tech companies.
A combination of things made me ready for a position on SGE's Portfolio Growth + Ops team: participating in an entrepreneurial project during my undergrad, working in management consulting, and getting general exposure to the venture capital/private equity industry. Management consulting teaches you to think in an organized, methodical way. You learn to think from a client's perspective to optimize value-add. I learned to strengthen my ability to get up to speed on a business and their issues in order to effectively sift through data and noise, nail pain points, and arrive at recommendations.
Aside from skillset, as much as I loved consulting, I think it also made me want to understand what happened post-consultative services and see the company through its growth.
Network and don't get discouraged. Read VC/PE newsletters. Read about tech, get experience in tech (specifically startups) - if that's the type of VC/PE you're looking to get into. Demonstrate passion in something (like entrepreneurship, consulting, tech, or investing). People notice when students reach out and want to learn about their PE firm. If you don't receive a response, follow up, then keep going. People are super busy; don't let that discourage you.
SGE practices what they preach in terms of ownership and transparency. My feedback is listened to and incorporated. That being said, you need to have a "why" behind your opinion-and be willing to incorporate others' opinions, collaborate, and iterate. The flat org structure really forces everyone-regardless of role-to take ownership of their projects, think critically, and formulate opinions that are defensible. It's a great approach to foster growth and optimal team output.
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