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Union Square Ventures backs growing startups like Twitter, Tumblr and Etsy and can claim successful exits from, FeedBurner and Tacoda. All that success could make partner Fred Wilson's career a model for any aspiring VC. It shouldn't. At least, not according to Wilson. "I did it all wrong and got lucky," Wilson writes in post explaining how he got into the business. Wilson landed his first VC gig as an associate out of Wharton. By his reckoning, "for the next 10 years I kind of stumbled around the venture capital business." He couldn't find a sector to call his own until "I got lucky. The Internet came along. I didn't know anything about the business of the Internet. But then nobody else did either."

Then Wilson and Jerry Colonna founded Flatiron Partners and turned $150 million into $750 million. Says Wilson:

I don't recommend anyone reading this to try it the way I did it. If you choose to get an MBA, get a real job out of business school. Help to build a few businesses in an industry sector you really like. Become an expert in that industry. Then try your hand at venture capital. You'll be much better at it than I was my first ten years in the business.