How to become a 99th percentile VC with Sakib Jamal, VP of Crossbeam Venture Partners

In this week's episode of NY Seed Round, we chatted with VP and author Sakib Jamal about making a splash as an associate VC.
Luis Gonzalez
Senior Manager, Content Marketing
June 27, 2024
read time
1 minute
Reviewed by
June 28, 2024

"It's very important to be genuine to yourself and have your own voice. Because it's very easy to regurgitate what other people say."

In this week's episode of NY Seed Round, Justin Wolz sat down with Sakib Jamal, VP at Crossbeam Venture Partners, to explore how associate VCs can make an outsized impact and be a true value add.

But if you're a startup founder, don't skip this one. If you ever wanted to get into the mind of an all-star VC, here's your chance. Plus, there's tons of advice that Sakib shares that's applicable for up and coming founders who are trying to be disruptors in their space.

In our conversation, Sakib shares valuable lessons from his book, "The Young VC's Handbook," which aims to guide VC associates in making meaningful contributions to their firms and the startups they support.

Here, we share snapshots of our conversation about the value VC associates can bring, why they should focus on building a personal brand, and strategic advice for budding venture capitalists (and first-time founders, too).

But be sure to check out the full conversation below.

Adding value to founders

One of the top line messages from Sakib about being an associate VC was this: it's important to identify how you can uniquely add value to both the firm and the founders you work with. To do this, Sakib emphasized the need to go beyond the initial networking staples of meetings and happy hours.

"I think over time that FOMO of 'Oh my God, if I don't take this call or if I don't dive deep here...I'll miss out on the next big company...' is probably not the most useful way to spend your time."

Instead, Sakib suggests that focusing on deepening your knowledge in specific sectors and providing unique market data can set you apart. This specialized knowledge not only makes you indispensable but also builds lasting relationships with founders who will, in turn, see you as a valuable resource.

"Once you figure out what that is...whether it's a database you create, or some sort of knowledge book that you share with your founders, that can become your edge."

Building a personal brand

For Sakib, investing time in building a personal brand can have an outsized impact for young VCs. But in many ways, this same advice is applicable to startup founders, too.

In our conversation, Sakib stressed the significance of being genuine, finding one's unique voice, and sharing perspectives that can't necessarily be found elsewhere.

"I started blogging about what it was like for me to like pass on a company that I really wanted...but there was really good data as to why I shouldn't do the deal. So I blogged about that."

By documenting your journey and the lessons you learn, you not only build credibility but also connect with a broader audience. This makes you more than just an associate at a VC firm; it turns you into a thought leader in the industry.

The power of digging deeper

In the world of venture capital, time is money—for both VCs and founders. Despite this, sometimes it's best to spend the time to dig deeper, ask questions, and rationalize your decisions with founders.

"I think a lot of times, VCs will make a judgment and not even give an opportunity to the founder to counteract that and ask questions."

While it is true that VCs will spend a lot of time listening to pitches and, subsequently, have to optimize for speed, for Sakib, showing humility goes a long way towards building rapport. "I think, just taking that extra couple of minutes to just dig in or even on the call, be like, 'Hey, by the way, this was a great call. Here are my two concerns. What are your thoughts?'"

Transparency can foster respect and potentially nurture long-term relationships. And being upfront about the reasons behind a decision not only saves time but also provides founders with constructive feedback.

Check out the full conversation with Sakib:

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