For my entire career as a VC, I was always based in New York at funds that focused on the US market. There was never an incentive to look at markets, funds or founders building abroad.
But then I turned 25 and pulled a 180 on my career, leaving my VC firm to turn my community side hustle into my full-time gig. Within months, I was tackling a global opportunity and pursuing a new thesis on the future of investing at the University of Oxford in the UK.
Suddenly, it was very important that I get to know the European startup ecosystem.
But I had to start from scratch.
I had never spent time in Europe cultivating relationships, so I got creative this summer, heading out on a tour of Europe and meeting founders and VCs across the continent.
There’s a reason why myself and others are all turning an eye towards the opportunity on this side of the pond.
Europe has undoubtedly become a hotspot, with VC funding in the continent up six times over the past decade. Plenty of unicorns have emerged and several massive US firms (Sequoia, General Catalyst, NEA, etc.) have established a presence here.
Gen Z is an entrepreneurial generation, so it makes sense that many young investors are excited about the prospect of being a part of a new office within a fund and moving across the world.
Not to mention the intrigue of the famed “European lifestyle” while in your 20s or early 30s.
Building a new network
One of the main components of any analyst or associate VC role is building a network that can help you with sourcing, diligence and even your portfolio.
But how do you launch and build that network if you’re moving to a new city or country?
As someone who’s just moved from New York to London, here are my two biggest tips.
Content is king
Content is a super-power for our generation. We all live chronically online, and a huge part of our job in VC is to be social and out in the world meeting people, especially as analysts and associates.
Content can be a fantastic way to build relationships with people no matter where they’re based in the world, giving them an opportunity to read your work and reach out if there’s a common thread.
The community I founded, Gen Z VCs, actually stemmed from a tweet that led to an article I wrote interviewing 71 Gen Z investors from all over the world — none of whom I had met in person previously, or even knew. They were all just people I met in the comments section on Twitter or LinkedIn, and at the time I had less than 1,000 followers. Content quite literally kickstarted my network and my career.
My core insight and thesis for that initial article was around the rise of Gen Z, and it turned out a lot of other people were thinking about that as well. It doesn’t matter what your focus area is as long as it’s specific enough, and you include an ask or encourage people to reach out to you.
I replicated that same model in other thematic areas like edtech, pet tech, paid member communities and the metaverse, and with each post, I received tons of DMs from people all over the world wanting to connect with me around their startup, their investment thesis at their fund or just to brainstorm together.
The great thing about content is you don’t need anything to get started other than an idea, a social media platform and a computer. Whatever it is you’re passionate about and excited to invest in, write about it.
And don’t forget to do an announcement post before you move on social media. Over 250k people saw mine and I got a bunch of DMs from people living here in the UK wanting to meet when I arrive.
Aim to host (and attend) events
Prior to this summer, I had not spent time in Europe building out a network in VC because my fund at the time (Lerer Hippeau) was entirely US focused. Any relationships or friendships emerged from personal trips to London, typically meeting up with people I knew from Twitter or LinkedIn.
When I started my European Tour, I reached out to four internet friends with the idea, which turned into eight events bringing together 700+ attendees. And even though I had the opportunity to meet everyone as the organiser, I also implemented an Intros matching tool to help everyone meet new friends based on their location, role and even interest areas.
A network starts from individual relationships you invest in, and it amplifies when you bring a give-first mentality to every conversation. Think about ways you can help the person on the other side of the table and their organisation, and it's almost always a win-win when you can bring together a group of talented people.
You end up walking away with new relationships and ways to connect the dots, scaling your network in the process while helping others.