Please feel free to subscribe to my newsletter or follow me at @blakeir

Initially published on Medium — May 9, 2016


How I Became a VC in Detroit at 22

As of last week, I have been at Ludlow full-time for a little over 3 months. I wrote a small post announcing that I was joining the team; however, I wanted to take the time to explain how I somehow ended up in the VC world as a 22 year-old from a relatively small suburb of Detroit, Michigan.

I’ve talked to a lot of people that want to get into VC, and they all ask me how I did it, so I figured I’d share my story, in case anyone finds it useful.

I’d like to think that I defied a lot of odds, but truthfully I was so heads down focused on achieving my dreams that I didn’t ever notice what the odds were.

My Twitter bio does a fair job of showing on a high-level what I’ve done to get to this point, but I’d like to think my story is much deeper than just a couple of @handles in a Twitter bio.

Below is a timeline of some major milestones, risks, etc. and how it all played a factor into where I am today.

Freshman Year (2011–2012)

January 2012 (Found my mentor):

Shortly after starting classes at Michigan State, I had decided that I was going to get an internship my freshman year. I don’t know why I was so determined or focused, but it probably stemmed from the fact that everyone said it was virtually impossible. Two months into my freshman year, I attended my first career fair. Unsurprisingly, I was shut down by every company I approached.

I knew that if I wanted an internship I had to get creative. I had always been interested in technology companies and quietly dreamed of working at Google one day. Naturally, that meant I frequently checked TechCrunch, GigaOm, VentureBeat, etc.

One day, I decided to cold e-mail and tweet every startup company that piqued my interest on the front page of TechCrunch.

The top story was about a company called: Zaarly, which had just announced their Series A fundraising for $14.1M.

After researching Zaarly and their team extensively, I noticed that their first employee — Eric Jorgenson — had graduated from Michigan State. I remember being so excited to see someone else from Michigan State in the startup world. I immediately cold-tweeted Eric asking if I could e-mail him some questions.

Shockingly, he replied super fast and said:

Note: I used to be @blakeirobbins on Twitter, now I’m @blakeir

Out of sheer excitement, I wrote him one of the cringiest e-mails ever. It was just paragraphs full of questions.

https://cdn.substack.com/image/fetch/w_1456,c_limit,f_auto,q_auto:good,fl_progressive:steep/https%3A%2F%2Fbucketeer-e05bbc84-baa3-437e-9518-adb32be77984.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fpublic%2Fimages%2F9367b619-812d-4463-af1f-8d698a992253_800x407.png

Powered by Fruition