Internship Experience with Plug and Play — Darius Teo

I have enjoyed reflecting on all the cool things I have learned over the past year, and I have managed to dip my toes into the world of Venture Capital (VC) thanks to the opportunity presented to me by Plug and Play.

As few of my university peers are exposed to the life of VCs, I will be sharing the 3 key takeaways I have captured from my short adventure as a venture capitalist.

Being at the forefront of Innovation

Venture capitalists are at the forefront of innovation, and it is filled with the smartest minds to help drive these changes. You will also get to meet the most inspiring founders that give their all to solve problems that will make the world a better place. Being exposed to such an environment can help venture capitalists better understand the emerging innovative trends, which could be highly disruptive since startups are extremely agile and can innovate much quicker than established firms.

I am grateful to be able to intern and experience different work cultures in multinational corporations as well as at VC companies. I have observed that when it comes to innovation in a huge organisation — by the time a proposed innovation is executed, its competitive edge may have been diminished by smaller and nimbler organizations which can execute and scale their innovations much faster. Many corporations, therefore, establish their own corporate VC arm, invest in other VC funds, or partner with VCs to conduct strategic investments in innovative startups towards their corporate goals.

Investing is just the beginning

Regardless of being a VC or a corporate VC, committing capital in a startup is only the beginning of a venture capitalist journey. Some of us may know investing as simply buying, selling, or holding shares of a company as we deem fit. However, investing in the private market as a VC is a different business altogether, which involves a relational element where a VC will only invest if they feel connected to the founders. This is crucial because the investments may only bear fruits in 5 to 10 years.

Upon investment, the VC will then act as the startups’ consultant to provide value through networks, recruitments, and experiences to help them scale and succeed. It is important to note that these investments come with great risk, but also hold the highest potential of returns since they are hidden gems undiscovered by the public that are in their early stages of business.

One of the most exciting fields around

From innovations, investments, to consultancy, you would have realised that being a venture capitalist is not your typical office desk job. The job entails nonroutine work that requires one to meet the most inspiring and driven people, learn about multiple industry trends and business models to remain relevant in today’s dynamic world. If you are entrepreneurial, adaptable, curious, and cannot tolerate a routine 9-to-5 job, you will definitely have a blast working in a VC. Best of all, there is no traditional route to a VC, and they hire people from different backgrounds.

To end off, this sharing serves as my opinion, and I strongly recommend any of my peers with the traits above-mentioned to consider joining a VC or a startup at one point in your career, to experience this exciting journey for yourself.

In addition, if you are ready to venture into your own startup, I would quote what Jie Lun, Director of Ventures at Plug and Play used to say — Start young — because there is a higher opportunity cost if you start a company at a later age, such as huge pay cuts off your comfortable corporate salaries and a family to feed.

Thank you for reading.

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Darius Teo was an Investment Analyst intern at Plug and Play Tech Center, which does private investments, accelerator programmes, along with corporate innovation programmes to connect industry incumbents with the brightest startups for innovations and strategic alliances. Darius is also an Investment Associate at Protégé Ventures where they scout for the most talented student entrepreneurs to provide them with investment and strategic advice.