Under The Hoodie is a weekly series where we talk to people about their journey into tech. It focuses on the intersection between life and career. UTH Week 15.
Fresh out of the university, Ayobamigbe did not have a clear idea of what he wanted to do, but he believed in the potential of his soft skills to take him places. In this edition of Under The Hoodie, we chat with Ayobamigbe Teriba, a graduate of History and Strategy who currently works at Ingressive Capital as a Relationship Analyst and Ecosystem Engagement Lead.
How did a student of History and Strategy end up in VC?
[laughs] Funny story is that my undergraduate course is what gave me an entry into VC. We had an employability skills training in school called ReadySetWork, which I enrolled for. It was there that I met Sean Burrowes— the Co-founder of Ingressive For Good.
He was essential to my journey because he was the first person to really give me an opportunity. We met for an interview after the training program in 2017, just as I was finishing school.
Naturally, I had read up on Ingressive and what it did. Interestingly, it gave me the advantage. Of everyone who came for the interview, I was the only one who was able to closely describe what Ingressive was doing at the time.
Sean was impressed with the conversation and told Maya that there was someone she should meet. Maya, who wasn’t in the country then, sent me an email to arrange a meeting two weeks later after she would have returned to the country.
Anyway, meeting day came, we spent about 10 minutes working and she told me, “Welcome to the team, talk to Sean, he’ll onboard you”
Haha. What a way to get hired!
[laughs] Yeah. I know. Interestingly, Sean had only just joined Ingressive a month earlier, and I worked as his intern. I was supposed to be Maya’s PA but I enjoyed working more with Sean because he was more “boots-on-ground” and that was more exciting for me at the time. I became the first intern at Ingressive LLC which has now split into Ingressive Cap and Ingressive For Good.
That sounds fantastic. Being able to impress two VCs on your first meeting is not something a lot of people do, much less when you’re just fresh out of school. Did you already know about the VC ecosystem when you were in school?
No. I didn’t know anything about Venture Capital or even about core technology in school. I remember a number of my friends asking what I would do with my history degree after school. I always told them that the skills I already had—soft skills—would make a living for me. I didn’t know how at the time, but I believed it.
I applied for a three-month soft-skill training program after school— ReadySetWork. They taught us all the regular stuff e.g. how to write a cover letter, creating a CV, interviewing etiquette, etc. Then after that, they organised interviews. Prior to the interview date, they sent the list of companies that would be sending representatives. The companies were very diverse, there were banks, consulting firms, agriculture companies, and lots more.
However, we had the option of picking three (3) companies to talk to. I wrote cover targeting 3 companies, of which Ingressive was one. I spent the night before the interview reviewing all the companies, their websites, social media accounts, and coming up with two-liners that I could easily remember.
When I met with Sean on the interview day, he introduced Ingressive and I was able to say some things I remembered about the company. No one else even knew Maya Morgan-Famodu, the founder of Ingressive. I think just being able to move the conversation forward was what got Sean excited.
So, what does your current role at Ingressive entail?
At Ingressive Capital, I’m a Relationship Analyst and Ecosystem Engagement Lead—it’s a name we coined for the role when I was to join Ingressive fully in 2019. Primarily, I lead conversations between the fund and the external community. I also analyse some of the companies (startups) that come into our pipeline.
Hold on, you invented a new role at work?
Well, it was a role created based on the necessity of running a founder-focused fund. It’s not an uncommon role because it exists in different industries.
Companies with enterprise customers typically have an account manager or relationship manager who is empowered to close sales and manage accounts. It’s a similar principle to what I do, just that this time, it’s in VC.
Interesting. What’s your day-to-day as a relationship analyst like?
My day-to-day is quite interesting. I typically start with a cup of coffee or water after which I go through my emails. I check my emails quite often, maybe even every 10 minutes.
Once I’m done with my morning check, I log into social media, which is what I use to check the ecosystem pulse. Then I do some research work— that typically covers research about VC, common themes, interesting trends in bigger markets, and also Nigerian politics.
Then there are the calls. Sometimes I initiate them, other times, my teammates initiate the calls. On a regular day, I can be on up to 6 calls, each spanning 45 minutes to an hour. On slower days, I can do 3 calls while helping out with analysis, and working on investment memos.
I also engage founders that are within my portfolio to see what their needs are and identify opportunities I can help with.
Sounds like a very interesting role. People believe there’s a lot of money in Venture Capital. Is that true?
It’s not really true. It’s just that we’re in a perception market. Life itself is perception and people give you the respect they think you’re worth. I think core startups may be swimming in more money than Venture Capital when you really look at it.
This is how VC works: you talk to Limited Partners (LPs) about your investment hypothesis or structure for raising a fund. Your hypothesis could be sector-focused like Fintech, automation of traditional industries, investing in unsexy technology. Or you could want to invest in underserved founders, people of color, or women in tech.
Anyway, you talk to people who you think will be interested in backing your hypothesis and generate a commitment from them to the fund. That commitment is what determines the size of the fund. Then you do a capital call, which is telling people to send in a portion of their commitment— this can happen quarterly, biannually, or annually as the case may be. Once the money arrives, you invest them in the companies within your portfolio. In return for helping these LPs invest, they pay you a management fee that’s usually between 2% to 2.5%
So, it’s not like there are millions of dollars sitting in one account somewhere. You also have to periodically engage your LPs on the health of the portfolio companies, the economic situation, and market trends.
Oh. Interesting. VC is still a bit of an unknown ecosystem to a lot of people. Some people who want to get in don’t even know where to start. As an insider, what are some ways you think people can get into VC?
When coming into VC as a young person, you need a hunger to learn. There has to be a need to continuously develop yourself. I tell people that the easiest way to get into VC is through Deal Sourcing. If a person sends me five companies and the fund is able to invest in just one, I owe the person a lot and would look to repay it somehow. There are a lot of companies, but the truly exciting ones are very few.
Additionally, you need soft skills to be able to engage founders and be able to source deals. If you have knowledge of financial and economic analysis, that would be the cherry on the cake.
However, the most important thing is to keep an open, teachable, curious mind.