From starting companies to launching a Bitcoin fund to dreaming up an Iron Man suit, the story of Adam Draper
Sunday December 22, 2013,
8 min Read
At a young age of 26, Adam Draper wears multiple hats. From working in a startup to starting a company, founding an accelerator program and now starting a Bitcoin fund, it seems he has done it all. When I met him earlier this year, he speculated that Bitcoin will hit $1000 before the year end, and his prediction came true.
Adam Draper is a fourth generation VC who loves finding passionate people and helping them in achieving their dreams. His second dream is to build an Iron Man suit (we will save that for later)! Adam has been working diligently to empower entrepreneurs to create great technology companies and provide them with resources to make their journey easy.YourStory caught up with Adam Draper as he was working on finalizing his next batch of startups for Boost Accelerator Program. Here are the excerpts, including his vision for Bitcoin.
YS: What do you remember from your childhood that shaped you most as a person?
AD: I grew up with three siblings and my family is a big part of my life. My dad, Tim Draper, ingrained a feeling of competition in all of us through games like chess and monopoly. He taught us about payments, but not with money. For instance, I use to collect comic book cards as a kid. He told me that I needed to do 100 laps in the swimming pool to get access to those cards. Money is nothing but a form of payment, and for me it was about getting access to those cards. So I started practicing and I finished the challenge, in the process I became a good swimmer. Growing up in one of the prominent VC families in Silicon Valley was a lot of learning at an early age. When I was a kid, my dad would come home from work and talk about the new startups like Hotmail and Skype. Many entrepreneurs would come to meet him and I would learn a lot by observing them. I saw all these entrepreneurs venturing out of their comfort zones to start these companies. As a result, I decided to apply for boarding school to venture outside my comfort zone and learn from different experiences.
In boarding school, I created some lifelong friendships. This experience taught me that surrounding yourself with smart people could lead to a very constructive environment. I have implemented the same model in Boost Accelerator Program.
I always wanted to try different things. So I decided to take a break for a year before joining college and focused on learning tennis and moved to Australia for that year. I joined UCLA to go for my undergrad the next year and moved to LA.
During that time, I worked with a friend to start Xpert Financial – which was focused on creating private stock exchange so that these private companies can attain some level of liquidity. I was managing business development and learned a lot by talking to many people. I was so excited that I would finish my homework to start working on this everyday. This startup was in a highly regulated market and we applied for a license to become a broker dealer. It took us 18 months instead of six months, longer than we had originally planned and we also spent a lot of money on this. This startup experience taught me a lot during my initial years. I made many mistakes during those months and as a result started helping my friends to build their product and to raise money. It was very fulfilling to help my friends with my knowledge that I acquired at Xpert Financial.
As a result of this experience, I realized that I wanted to work with early stage startups. I moved on after about three plus years at my first company and launched Boost Funder, a startup that matched early stage companies with investors to raise capital. It was working great but as a team, we realized that we could add more value than just helping startup raise capital. We started Boost Accelerator Program in six weeks and put everything together to launch it.
The best advice that I received while I was interviewing various accelerator programs was from David Tisch. He said “always pick the winners.”And that’s how we launched the Boost Accelerator Program.
YS: How is Boost.vc different from other incubator or accelerator programs?
AD: I believe in vertical accelerator programs since it helps in developing strong focus and marketing. I describe Boost.vc as ‘live-in work-in fraternity of geeks’. I strongly believe that great minds learn from each other. With Boost.vc, I am focusing on creating a great environment that facilitates exchange of ideas among really smart people, who can challenge each other, help one another and learn from each other. We provide money, space, mentors, speakers – but we also go the extra mile to provide residential space for these entrepreneurs to live and have conversations on a daily basis.
’Bang with friends’ is a perfect example of this immersive accelerator experience, where founders of three different companies came up with the idea of another company while cross-questioning assumptions. I agree that the idea might be controversial but the growth of this company from zero users to 800K users in three weeks identifies the marketplace within the dating industry that was not fulfilled before.
YS: How did you decide to start Boost Bitcoin fund?AD: Ten months ago, Coinbase CEO, Brian Armstrong, pitched to me that they wanted to make it easier for the average person and businesses to use the digital currency Bitcoin. I really like two things about Bitcoin:
- There is no single digital currency that ties the entire world together. Bitcoin makes this idea possible. The idea of traveling globally using only one currency is very disruptive. Bitcoin has a strong community behind it and this was proved when Bitcoin went from $30 to $0 and then bounced back again in last couple of years.
This idea of revolutionizing currency was one of the most innovative ideas that I had seen in my last four years of Angel investing. So we decided to choose certain companies focused on Bitcoin in our second class. We have five companies which are innovating around Bitcoin.
I met 200 investors and entrepreneurs to gauge their interest and to increase the investor confidence in these startups. I was surprised to see the amount of support from the investor community. After successful conversations, I founded Boost Bitcoin fund that will invest $50K in the Bitcoin companies coming out of my accelerator program.
YS: You seem to be interested in gaming. You are a co-founder of Enders Fund and you have invested in couple of gaming startups. Can you talk about that?
AD: This is how I describe my approach to investing in various types of games:
- Mino Monsters – It is one game focused on doing one thing and Josh Buckley is an amazing CEO to run that business.
- Makegameswith.us – It is focused on mentoring and coaching high school and college students on how to make games and at the same time, do mass manufacturing of different games. It is sort of a distribution play.
- Enders Game – It is a very sector-focused gaming studio that isbuilding asynchronous games.
YS: You have been an entrepreneur, an advisor, a VC and now running an accelerator. What has been your biggest learning so far?
- Surround yourself with great people who are smarter than you and create a constructive environment that allows for exchange of ideas.
- Failing fast and moving on.
YS: What wakes you up in the morning?AD: I wake up every morning to help passionate, driven individuals who are running 17 companies that are incubated at Boost.vc. These people are passionate about changing something in the world and I want to help them in making a difference.
YS: “I was put on this earth to help people find what they are passionate about and build an Iron Man suit” –Can you share what is the current status of these two goals that you have set for yourself?
AD: I have converted my passion into a job – to find passionate people and help them build great companies through Boost.
Regarding the second point, Iron Man suit to me means flying individual suit. My dream in the next three years is to start another vertical within Boost focused on building Iron Man technologies and parts.
YS: What message do you want to deliver to international entrepreneurs who are building products for the US market?
AD: “Do what you love.” Your work life is too large a part of your overall life and people should not waste this opportunity.
If you are thinking about starting a business, it takes seven years to become an overnight success! Solve a problem that you are passionate about. All startups are solving problems, but the difference between the successful and failure of startups is the passion of the founding team.
If you want to know more about accelerator program, please visit Boost.vc.