My passion, my path: How I used my time at Kellogg to focus on VC
By Jordan Roseborough ’22
Manager, Alvarez & Marsal
When I was visiting business schools, I’d ask myself: Would I want to start a business with the people I’m meeting?
On my visit to Kellogg, my answer was a resounding YES.
The atmosphere at Kellogg felt budding and vibrant. The students seemed eager to shape the future of the entrepreneurial world. I saw this — alongside the great curriculum — and I knew that I wanted to study here.
And I’m so glad I did. I started at Kellogg as a consultant wanting to become an entrepreneur. I spent a lot of my time in the Two-Year MBA Program exploring the world of venture capital. After graduation, I accepted a role at a digital agency specializing in new product development, value acceleration and investing. I’m most excited about leading our efforts in creating an early-stage venture ecosystem and investment strategy.
My journey is still just beginning, but I’m endlessly grateful to the great people, programs and classes at Kellogg. They all helped me launch the next chapter of my career.
I hope that some of what I learned along the way can help you make the most of your time at Kellogg.
Build and maintain relationships
You don’t have to look far to meet great people at Kellogg, but it’s useful to work hard to meet as many as you can. I suggest that you use your entrepreneurial spirit to meet as many people as you can, including students, professors, alumni and Chicago entrepreneurs.
I started my time at Kellogg by setting up meetings with second-year students. I wanted to get a sense of their paths and how they could influence my own. I’d also meet anyone I could through student clubs, like Brews and Banter, an ideation club I co-founded during my first quarter at Kellogg.
My advice: Think about expanding your network as a skill to sharpen. At Kellogg, I was training to be an entrepreneur and a venture capitalist, careers built on relationships. I focused on learning how to build and maintain relationships. It was genuinely helpful for my career, both for the skills I improved and the people I met.
Understand your value: Create an investment memo for yourself, so you can better communicate the value you are providing. Five simple categories for framing are:
- People: Why are your passions/skillsets/background right for the career path you want to pursue?
- Product: What type of relevant work products or projects have you worked on in the past?
- Profit: Business model – what specific value are you providing for the firm? How are you generating stronger returns? Add a few startups you have sourced.
- Potential: Map goals and milestones as to what you will achieve as an investor; think of this as your personal go-to-market strategy.
- Portfolio: Why are you a good fit to their team? Listen to podcasts they have been on and research their portfolio companies on PitchBook. Then easily connect the dots for the person who is interviewing you.
Don’t simply use your meetings to check boxes. Take the time to research people’s careers, ask them intentional questions and get as much information as you can. This process helped me to be honest with myself as to where I could best use my skills and how I could fuel my passion. Don’t miss your chance to do the same.
By the way: Follow up with people if you don’t hear back after the first message. Sometimes, busy people forget to respond — 80 percent of networking is consistency of contact. To get the meeting, add a connection point in the initial reach out. It shows you have done your research and moves them towards wanting to take the call. And after the meeting, remember to send thank-you notes!
Connect with great alumni and professors
Beyond my classmates, the professors and alumni network at Kellogg have been an incredible resource for me. Some of my favorite people and resources include:
- The Alumni Mentorship Program was one of the most helpful resources I found. The program pairs you with a new mentor every quarter. One of those alumni mentors connected me to a VC fund where I discussed a job opportunity. The program gives you people who will advocate for you and help you break into the business.
- Sarit Markovich, a strategy professor, was an incredible teacher/mentor. We regularly discussed industry outlooks over lunch, most recently covering the topics of crypto and blockchain.
- Sean Higgins, who teaches Entrepreneurial Finance and Venture Capital, was helpful when navigating multiple job offers. He was personally invested in my success and guided me through the decision process.
MBA classes to take
Here are some classes I’d suggest you take at Kellogg:
- You need good fundamentals, so take Accelerated Corporate Finance or Finance II early. This way, you can take Entrepreneurial Finance and VC soon after.
- Want to better understand how to launch a business? Take the New Venture Discovery, Development and Launch Series; Startup Branding; and Launching and Leading Startups.
- For those interested in VC, I suggest taking: Entrepreneurial Finance & Venture Capital; Intellectual Property for Entrepreneurs; Venture Capital Lab; Advanced Topics in Venture Investing (San Francisco Immersion Program); Negotiations and Selling Yourself and Your Ideas.
- Other helpful classes I took included: Technology and Innovation Strategy; Blockchain Technology, Digital Assets and the Future of Finance; and Strategic Challenges in Emerging Markets.
Keep an open mind
When I started at Kellogg, I wanted to start a business. I took New Venture Discovery, hoping an idea I developed would be part of my next chapter.
While we did successfully move from pain point to value proposition to MVP, I started gaining more data points across different entrepreneurial realms. I had the chance to intern at Chingona Ventures, which enticed me to explore the world of venture capital. Instead of starting the business, I could meet with dreamers and help to make their dream a reality.
This shift prompted me to move out to San Francisco through the Kellogg SF Immersion Program and take on another VC internship. These experiences continued to affirm my new career direction. I was able to find my passion because I experimented.
At Kellogg, you’ll find so many great discoveries, if only you keep an open mind. Start experimenting soon after you enroll. You never know where it could lead you.
— As told to Hal Conick