Sabrina Hadinoto relishes the “incredible variety and continual learning” a career in venture capital offers. So when the MVCA Venture Fellows Program made it possible for her to join Ann Arbor-based Venture Investors full time, she didn’t hesitate. Sabrina tells us why she’s choosing Michigan to build her career and the legacy she hopes to leave on the state.
How did you find out about the Fellows program?
As a graduate student in the Michigan Law School’s Venture Capital Lab, I met a few MVCA Venture Fellows at MVCA networking events who shared their positive fellowship experiences with me. Then, I was introduced to Jim Adox by Martin Dober, whom I previously worked with at Invest Detroit. I jumped at the opportunity to work on a consulting project for a new deal Jim was working on at Venture Investors. By the time fall rolled around, we saw the MVCA Venture Fellows program as a fantastic opportunity to continue working together.
Why build your career in Michigan?
As I’ve experienced firsthand, Michigan has a tight-knit investment community that is extraordinarily welcoming to newcomers. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow here.
From a business perspective, our firm’s proximity to several national research universities ensures that our pipeline is continually full of strong candidates. As MVCA’s Annual Report notes, “Michigan ranks 7th in the nation in number of science and engineering PhDs, and 6th in the number of patents issued,” making it a great stomping ground for venture capitalists.
What advantage do you think the Fellows Program gives younger professionals and venture firms when trying to make a match?
In contrast to other professions that have established recruiting channels, every VC has a different story on “how they got into venture capital.” There isn’t always a clear path for young professionals seeking to pursue a career in venture capital.
MVCA’s Venture Fellows Program addresses this issue. For venture firms, the program ensures that they are able to recruit and train promising new talent. For Fellows, it gives motivated young professionals a clear entry point into venture capital, while simultaneously providing them with a strong network of peers, and a cohort of like-minded individuals.
What are you most looking forward to about being a Fellow?
As a Fellow, I look forward to establishing a strong network among other young venture professionals, growing my skill-set, and contributing to the economic growth of Michigan.
What will you be doing at your new firm?
In addition to driving diligence and establishing strong deal-flow channels for our firm, I will develop the skills to manage our deals throughout the entire lifecycle of our investment. Through working with, and learning from, my colleagues at Venture Investors, I aim to evolve my core competencies to address what comes after diligence: from deal execution, to working with our portfolio companies to ensure they have the best platform for success.
What do you hope to be doing in 10 years?
In ten years, I hope to leverage the skills I’ve learned from my mentors to start my own fund, hopefully in Michigan.
What attracts you to the venture capital industry?
Two things jump to the forefront of my mind. First, venture capital is arguably the best training ground for a founder. You get exposure to different industries, as well as the opportunity to work closely with and influence the direction of early stage companies. Ideally, you learn from their successes and failures, and use that knowledge to inform your thinking and guide future companies. From an intellectual perspective, I love the analytical rigor of looking at a landscape and thinking about where the meaningful gaps are.
Second, from a day-to-day perspective, the job is just plain interesting. It entails incredible variety and continual learning. So far this week, I’ve parsed financial models, met with some of the University of Michigan’s leading researchers on behalf of our firm, and driven to a wind farm to watch a drone inspect a 200-foot turbine.
What’s your dream deal (the venture backed firm you wish YOU had spotted first!)?
My dream deal would be Airbnb, a platform that allows homeowners and renters to monetize an untapped resource, while simultaneously giving travelers the opportunity to move through cities in a more personal and economical way. Four years ago, my friends and I backpacked through Europe as newly-minted graduates on shoestring budgets. We couldn’t afford to pay full price for Rome pensiones, but we wanted something better than a hostel with 16 bunk-beds to a room. In meeting this market need, Airbnb has grown exponentially. As indicated by their audacious recent valuation, and the regulatory backlash they’ve experienced in various cities, the company has been paradigm-shifting in the hospitality industry.