Life as a venture capitalist isn’t always as glamorous as some people think it is. It’s also not something that necessarily comes naturally.
“I learned the venture business over 10 years; it’s truly an apprenticeship business,” said Peter Parker, a scientist-turned-investor and entrepreneur. “You can’t teach it.”
Parker is a chemist by training, but wound up spending 18 years as a general partner at Ampersand Capital Partners before becoming CEO of Cequent Pharmaceuticals, an RNAi drug company that merged with MDRNA in 2010.
He spent nearly two decades in venture capital, but in a conversation with me about the current state of life sciences investing, he said he wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to anyone as a career nowadays. “Generally, on an early stage venture fund you’re on eight or nine boards, so at any one time you’ve got two or three companies that are just melting down. Then you’ve got a few others you can ignore for a while and a few others that are doing well, and you want to put more money into them. Just learning that rhythm–it takes years to internalize it and really feel confident in what you’re doing it.”
He’s still involved with Ampersand as a senior adviser, but spends most of his time leading a life sciences investment and consulting firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He also works with startups through MassChallenge and is part of a team launching LabCentral, a nonprofit to provide communal lab space for life sciences startups slated for a November opening.