Anissa Zeghdoudi interned with Augmentum as an Analyst for three months over the Summer. Here, she shares her experiences:
One of the main reasons I was excited about interning in the venture capital industry was because I was hoping to meet very smart people. I had formed an image of what Venture Capitalists were like based on my readings of Paul Graham essays: excellent analysts, able to acutely dissect an abstract concept and rationalise it with scientific rigor.
I was surprised to see these analytical skills applied to human feelings as well as the numbers behind a business. At Augmentum I met people with incredibly high levels of emotional intelligence, who were able to interact with founders, team members and other stakeholders with a degree of empathy I hadn’t come across before.
I had thought the main learnings of this internship would relate to the technical aspects of VC investing. While I certainly did learn a lot in this area, my main discovery was in meeting investors who inspired me to develop my interpersonal skills. Unlike the traditional VC stereotype, the Augmentum team were patient, gave the benefit of doubt and freely gave their time and expertise without expecting anything in return. This was the case with me, but I also observed these characteristics in the team’s exchanges with founders looking for investment.
Every entrepreneur is different
As a former entrepreneur myself, I had an idea of the skills and personality traits needed to be a successful entrepreneur. Meeting so many entrepreneurs during my time at Augmentum opened my eyes wider to how diverse entrepreneurs can be however, in approach, age and experience. From the tattooed ex-rocker to the introverted “techie”, successful entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, yet all embody the characteristics of ambition, grit, a deep understanding of their customer and sector, and a relentless belief for the problem they’re attempting to solve… They just display these in very different ways. My time at Augmentum taught me how to identify these – while it’s crucial to assess certain elements, there’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all model.
Augmentum is an ideal place to get a first experience in VC
I genuinely believe that Augmentum is an ideal place to immerse oneself into VC (they haven’t told me to write this!), based on two key reasons:
1) The team culture
There were nine people working at Augmentum during my time at the fund, with complimentary skillsets and experience. Despite their immense experience, the team operates with the positive elements of a ‘startup’-like culture, no doubt in part as a result of most team members having founded or taken leadership positions in startups over the years. Unlike the VC stereotype, at Augmentum there is little bureaucracy, instead there is fluid, regular communication between every member of the team. Every voice matters and the team have strong yet open minds, which is important for avoiding an echo-chamber in investment meetings.
I was able to get involved in a wide variety of projects which has given me a thorough overview of the various elements of the business, and how these interact. The team welcomed me to join all the Investment Team meetings and as well as market-mapping and financial analysis I got involved in things such as organising a women in fintech networking event and fund marketing. I felt that the diversity of opinion was sought and I was allowed a good dose of autonomy. Add to this a friendly and fun team and you really feel like you’re hitting the jackpot in terms of a work atmosphere!
2) The fintech focus of the fund
During my internship I reviewed a vast number of fintech startups and dug into many competing in the same category. While many startups seem promising when considered in isolation, having a solid understanding of the particular vertical it operates within, along with the leading players tackling the segment means you can form a more accurate, data-backed opinion on who seems best-placed. There was constant debriefing amongst the team, and being able to intensively learn about these startups allowed me to build confidence in quickly asking relevant questions and spotting potential red flags in a given business model.
Upon completing their internships at other VC funds, some people I’ve spoken with have felt like they have scratched the surface in a wider range of industries, whereas thanks to Augmentum’s fintech sector focus I feel like I have learned a huge amount about fintech across the spectrum, and some segments in particular, such as insurtech. I now feel comfortable and competent forming investment theses that I am happy to discuss.
Finally, I learned that fintech fever is contagious – the more I learned about it, the more interested I was! I will continue to immerse myself in the industry in the months to come while completing my studies and look forward to exploring a career in VC afterwards.
Anissa is now studying for her Msc in International Finance at HEC in Paris and we wish her all the best!