2021 EVCA Fellowship

For the folks who don’t know about my background - a week after graduating from Texas A&M, I moved to Silicon Valley with a suitcase, an internship, and only temporary places to stay. I also didn’t know a soul in California.

If I failed and couldn’t find a job at the end of the summer, I’d need to move home to Texas. It was stressful but also exciting, and I was fortunate that after a cold email, Eric Benhamou and the team at Benhamou Global Ventures were willing to take a chance on me and welcome me to the team for the summer. A few weeks in, I got another break when Amir Nayyerhabibi, one of BGV’s partners, connected me with what would become my first full-time venture job (thank you again Amir).

Roughly a year after that, I got another break through meeting Ben Yu, MD at Sierra Ventures. Ben, along with the rest of the Sierra team, offered me the opportunity to join the firm and continue to pursue my passion for supporting early-stage technology companies. They’ve taught me the fundamentals of what makes a great investor. 

In each of these opportunities, it took meeting just one person who was willing to take a chance on me, and I probably don’t tell them enough how grateful I am. 

Despite Texas A&M graduating over 500,000 students, only 7 alumni at the time (4 years ago), were venture capitalists. For someone at a school like Texas A&M, getting into such a tightly networked industry like venture capital is virtually impossible, especially doing it directly out of undergrad. This unfortunate reality is reflected in the fact that the majority of venture capitalists have attended ivy league universities. 

Now to the point - the EVCA Fellowship holds a special place in my heart as it’s the fellowship that I wish I had when I was in school. 

Last year, we launched the first iteration of this fellowship open to only Stanford students. Somehow Kevin Wu, a junior at UC Berkeley, found the application and applied. His passion for venture capital blew us away so we admitted him along with 24 Stanford students, out of over 400 applications. 

I then met Kevin when we hosted an early morning Fellow’s breakfast on Stanford’s campus with Sierra’s MD, Tim Guleri. Kevin woke up at 5am to drive over an hour from Berkeley. Most college students wouldn't do that.

After the fellowship concluded, we invited Kevin to remain involved with the EVCA community in a Chief of Staff role as he finishes his studies. During the fellowship, Kevin met one of our members at Signia Venture Partners who ended up inviting Kevin to join the Signia team during the school year.

Kevin’s an invaluable member of the EVCA team and is one of the most driven undergrads I’ve met. His hustle put him in the position to meet myself and now many of our members. Again, it takes meeting just one person to catch a break. 

The goal of this fellowship is to give students who are willing to hustle the opportunity to build their network and create opportunities for themselves, like Kevin has. If you or someone you know is passionate about venture capital - please apply or pass this application along to them. More information on the program can be found on our website.

Lastly, thank you to the wonderful fellowship committee - Cindy Chen, Courtney Chow, Kevin Lynch, Henry Magun, Gwendolyn Umbach and Kevin Wu, who are helping to make this fellowship a reality. 

Adam