Don't overlook the less prominent, less competitive geographic areas with high entrepreneurial growth like Minnesota, North Carolina, Utah, Colorado, Washington state, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Chicago. The growth of these venture capital communities is not far behind the rise of the entrepreneurs, and you can get in on the ground floor. Other reasons to check these locations out include:
- It might be easier to get a job
- The day-to-day job is the same or better (because you'll end up having more responsibility)
- Quality of life will be better because of lower pressure and less constraints on your behavior
Don't just target the high-prestige, private funds. Look at university funds, SBICs and venture divisions of corporations. If your ultimate goal is to work for the better known firms, your best bet might be to pursue the lower profile firms, prove yourself for a few years, and then move to the big leagues later.
On the other hand, working at the most prestigious firms gives you:
- More job opportunities down the road
- Higher name recognition
- A better platform from which to meet people in the industries you follow
- A front row seat on how the best minds in the business think
The most prominent and traditional venture firms are located in the San Francisco area and Boston. New York tends to have later stage, lower-technology firms with more capital deployed per transaction, and, as a venture capital city, follows closely behind the top two. Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Los Angeles are the next tier (along with Texas and the Southeast) but are also very strong. Most larger cities have at least a few firms that place themselves in the venture capital category.