20VC Investing In The Next Frontiers Of Tech & Harry Potter with Adam Draper, Founder & CEO @ Boost VC



In this engaging conversation on the 20 minutes VC podcast, host Harry Stebbings interviews Adam Draper, founder and CEO of Boost VC, a seed-stage accelerator with a focus on virtual reality and blockchain technology. Adam shares his journey from founding Expert Financial to realizing his passion for mentoring early-stage startups, which led to the creation of Boost VC. He discusses the unique approach of the Draper family in the venture capital space, with each generation adding a new dimension to the industry. Adam also dives into the potential of blockchain technology to revolutionize financial transactions and the significance of verticalizing industries to build strong ecosystems. Despite challenges in fundraising and adoption, Adam maintains a bullish outlook on blockchain's future impact and Boost VC's commitment to investing in transformative, non-incremental technologies.

Summary Notes

Introduction to Adam Draper and Boost VC

  • Adam Draper, Tim Draper's younger son, is the founder and CEO of Boost VC.
  • Boost VC is a seed-stage accelerator focusing on virtual reality and blockchain.
  • Adam Draper's background includes founding Expert Financial, a company aimed at helping later-stage companies raise capital online.
  • After learning from his entrepreneurial mistakes, Adam Draper shifted to mentoring early-stage startups, which led to the creation of Boost VC.
  • Boost VC has run six tribes (three-month programs) and invested in about 120 companies.

"Adam is the founder and CEO at Boost VC, a seed stage accelerator, it focusing on virtual reality and the blockchain space of which we will hear much more from Adam in the show."

This quote introduces Adam Draper and his role at Boost VC, emphasizing the accelerator's focus on emerging technologies like virtual reality and blockchain.

Draper Family's Influence on Venture Capital

  • The Draper family has a history of innovation in venture capital, with each generation adding a unique contribution.
  • Adam Draper's grandfather and great-grandfather were among the first investors in the West Coast around Stanford University.
  • His grandfather was the first to venture into India with Draper International, seeking opportunities where others weren't looking.
  • Adam's father created the DFJ Network, which allowed for a global reach in deal flow.
  • Adam Draper has brought a new model to the family legacy by focusing on bringing people to the U.S. to train in specific industries.

"Each generation of sort of the Draper family, I would say, added a different flair to the venture model."

This quote summarizes the Draper family's tradition of pioneering different approaches to venture capital.

Boost VC's Accelerator Model

  • Boost VC operates as an accelerator, running two tribes per year, each lasting three months.
  • The program provides housing, office space, and invests in participating companies.
  • Boost VC's investment ranges between $10,000 to $25,000 for about 50 deals a year.
  • Adam Draper has raised two funds for Boost VC, with the current fund being around $6.6 million, aiming to invest in approximately 180 to 200 companies.

"It's an accelerator program. So we do two tribes a year, two sessions a year that they're three months long, where we provide housing, office space, and we invest in the companies."

This quote explains the structure and offerings of Boost VC's accelerator program.

Adam Draper's Fundraising Experience

  • Fundraising is acknowledged as a challenging process, but it can also be an opportunity to meet interesting people worldwide.
  • Adam Draper describes his fundraising for Boost VC as a grind, taking twelve months to raise $6.6 million.
  • He reached out to around 3000 investors, met with about 350, and closed with approximately 35 investors, following a "rule of ten" in his fundraising efforts.

"It was about as fun as if you're raising as anyone else. It's not a very fun process."

This quote reflects on the universally challenging nature of fundraising, while also highlighting the perseverance required to succeed in venture capital.

Breakdown of Venture Capitalists and Preferred Sectors

  • Adam Draper discusses the composition of venture capitalists Boost VC works with, including hedge fund related people and individuals interested in future technologies.
  • Boost VC's preferred sectors are specifically blockchain and virtual reality.
  • Adam Draper explains the value add of Boost VC as instilling companies with a network of investors and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.
  • Boost VC employs a strategy of verticalizing industries, building ecosystems around specific sectors like blockchain and virtual reality.

So it's a breakdown of venture capitalists. I have like one or two hedge fund related people, a lot of just individuals who are, whether they're interested in future technology, such as blockchain or virtual.

This quote highlights the diverse range of investors that Boost VC interacts with, including those interested in emerging technologies.

Yeah, so it's definitely, we outwardly say blockchain and virtual reality, which blockchain basically means bitcoin.

Adam Draper clarifies that when they mention blockchain, it predominantly refers to bitcoin or fintech related to the blockchain.

What we do really, really well at boost VC is if you look at our value add, we instill companies with a network of investors and entrepreneurs in the heart of Silicon Valley.

The quote emphasizes Boost VC's strength in connecting companies with a robust network in Silicon Valley.

The Potential of Blockchain

  • Adam Draper believes blockchain will fundamentally change how people interact with money and reduce friction in transactions.
  • The excitement around blockchain stems from its ability to handle currency-based transactions, contract-based transactions, and its potential as a time creation technology.
  • Boost VC has observed the maturation of the blockchain industry, with products of higher quality emerging and real-world problems being addressed.

I believe blockchain will fundamentally change the way everyone on the planet interacts with money.

Adam Draper expresses his belief in the transformative potential of blockchain on global financial interactions.

It's a hugely time creation technology and we're just really excited about it.

This quote conveys the enthusiasm for blockchain as a technology that can create efficiencies in time management for transactions.

Understanding Bitcoin and Blockchain

  • Adam Draper explains the relationship between bitcoin and blockchain, with bitcoin being the first application on the blockchain.
  • The blockchain serves as a ledger for all transactions in a currency but has broader applications beyond bitcoin, such as smart contracts and digital assets.
  • The term "blockchain" is preferred by Adam Draper, although it often refers to bitcoin in their discussions.

So bitcoin is the first application on the blockchain, and that application relates to currency.

This quote clarifies that bitcoin is an application that runs on the blockchain technology, primarily concerning currency.

You can transact anything in this new tool called the blockchain, and it's all encompassing.

Adam Draper highlights the versatility of blockchain technology in transacting various types of digital assets.

Challenges and Adoption of Bitcoin and Blockchain

  • Adam Draper does not view regulation as a significant barrier to blockchain adoption, instead seeing it as a legitimizing factor.
  • The main challenges to adoption are the usefulness and application of blockchain technology in solving real-world problems.
  • Boost VC identifies key use cases for bitcoin, including border-to-border money transfer, microtransactions, and as a store of value for economies experiencing inflation.
  • Adam Draper predicts that blockchain adoption will become ubiquitous in transactions without people explicitly noticing it, possibly within five years.

What's halting adoption? It's really being useful, really.

The quote suggests that the practical application and usefulness of bitcoin and blockchain are the main factors influencing their adoption.

I think it's going to be something where you don't notice that all of a sudden every transaction you're doing is on top of the blockchain or by using bitcoin's payment channels.

Adam Draper predicts a seamless integration of blockchain into everyday transactions, leading to widespread adoption without explicit awareness.

Bitcoin's Significance and Transactional Simplicity

  • Bitcoin provides a simple method for transacting money on the Internet, especially for those with limited access to traditional banking.
  • Adam Draper views Bitcoin as one of the most revolutionary technologies currently in existence.
  • The timeline for Bitcoin's widespread adoption is uncertain, but the momentum is noticeable.

"And bitcoin is a very simple way to get that to happen time wise. I said five years, but I don't want to make a specific guess. Sometimes it takes longer, sometimes it takes shorter. I do see the tides rolling in, and I'm still a true believer that it is probably one of the most revolutionary technologies that's in existence today."

The quote emphasizes the ease of use Bitcoin offers for online transactions and Adam Draper's belief in its revolutionary potential, despite the difficulty in predicting the exact timeline for its adoption.

Investor Attitudes Toward Bitcoin and Blockchain

  • There is a common investor sentiment that favors blockchain technology over Bitcoin itself.
  • Adam Draper explains that Bitcoin and blockchain are integrated, with Bitcoin incentivizing the operation of the blockchain ledger.
  • The blockchain network is vast and maintained by a distributed system of miners.

"I mean, the common phrase is, oh, I'm not interested in bitcoin, but I really love the blockchain. And to me, they're completely integrated."

This quote addresses a common misconception among investors who express interest in blockchain technology but not in Bitcoin, despite their interdependence.

Startup Valuations in the Bitcoin and Blockchain Space

  • Some startups in the Bitcoin and blockchain sector are able to raise significant funds, often due to the founders' past successes and established relationships.
  • Adam Draper suggests that high valuations can be justified if one believes in the future dominance of Bitcoin and blockchain.

"I would say some companies are really being able to raise a lot of money, but most of those raises are based off of previous entrepreneurs or who have previous relationships."

The quote reflects on the fundraising landscape within the Bitcoin and blockchain ecosystem, highlighting the role of entrepreneurial track records and network connections in securing investment.

Adam Draper's Investment Preferences

  • Adam Draper is interested in investing in groundbreaking technologies rather than incremental changes.
  • Boost VC, Adam Draper's venture capital firm, focuses on emerging technologies like space, Bitcoin, virtual reality, biohacking, and artificial intelligence.
  • The firm's investment portfolio is diverse, ranging from auditing software to rockets, but it emphasizes frontier tech.

"I'd really love to see more of the, we invest in the future. I'd love to see more crazy stuff, not incremental changes."

This quote conveys Adam Draper's desire to invest in innovative and potentially disruptive technologies that offer more than just minor improvements over existing solutions.

Perspectives on Angel Investing and Technological Impact

  • Adam Draper believes that in angel investing, it's important to support entrepreneurs' dreams and visions for the future.
  • He considers that betting on the entrepreneur is crucial, and while incremental technologies may not be as impactful, they can still be successful businesses.

"At our stage, you're making such a bet on the person. Whatever they're working on, they truly believe what they're saying, and they truly believe that their idea over the next seven to ten years is going to change the world."

The quote highlights the angel investment philosophy of placing trust in the entrepreneur's belief in their vision and the potential of their ideas to change the world over time.

Personal Anecdotes and Advice

  • Adam Draper shares personal experiences and advice, including the importance of stepping out of one's comfort zone daily and aiming for mutually beneficial deals.
  • He mentions his competitive experiences with his father in tennis and chess, indicating a close and playful relationship.

"Do something out of your comfort zone once a day. So you just try to drive yourself to. It's not like you need to be uncomfortable with it, but it should be pushing your limits a little bit."

The quote reflects the advice given by Adam Draper's sister, which encourages personal growth through daily challenges that push one's limits.

Adam Draper's Reading Preferences

  • Adam Draper reads Techcrunch regularly and is a self-proclaimed huge Harry Potter fan, following Mugglenet, a Harry Potter blog.

"Mugglenet. The Harry Potter blog. No, I probably read Techcrunch the most of any of the blog publications."

The quote reveals Adam Draper's interest in technology news, as well as his lighter side as a fan of Harry Potter, indicating his diverse range of interests.

Harry Potter Enthusiasm

  • Adam Draper expresses a strong interest in Harry Potter.
  • He is eager to meet J.K. Rowling and considers visiting Edinburgh for a Harry Potter tour.
  • Adam has not visited the World of Harry Potter but is excited about one being built in LA.

I'm, like, a huge Harry Potter fan. I really want to meet JK Rowling. I bet they have some sort of Harry Potter tour that I could go on.

Adam's quotes reflect his enthusiasm for the Harry Potter universe, indicating a personal interest that goes beyond casual fandom.

Signed Harry Potter Book

  • Adam is offered a signed Harry Potter book in exchange for his time.
  • The book is a token of appreciation for participating in the interview.

Would you like a signed book? I will send you a signed book. Thank you. I really appreciate that. That is awesome.

The exchange about the signed book serves as a friendly interaction and a way to show gratitude for Adam's participation in the interview.

Thought Leadership

  • Adam Draper identifies his father as a thought leader.
  • He admires his father's ability to recognize transformative ideas.
  • Adam's father has been in the venture capital space for 30 years.

My dad, I actually truly believe he has this way of seeing things that other people don't.

Adam's quote highlights his father's influence and expertise in identifying innovative ideas, emphasizing the respect he has for his father's vision in the industry.

Personal Anecdotes

  • Adam shares that he played tennis in Australia between high school and college.
  • He reveals that he and his co-founder are skilled Super Smash Bros. players.
  • Playing Super Smash Bros. was a form of break during their workday at Boost VC.

I played tennis in Australia between high school and college. My co founder and I are probably two of the best super Smash bros. For n 64 video game players on earth.

Adam's quotes offer personal insights into his past experiences and hobbies, which humanize him and provide a glimpse into his life outside of work.

Favorite Book and Business Lessons from Fiction

  • Adam Draper enjoys fantasy and Sci-Fi books.
  • He appreciates "The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss.
  • Adam looks for business lessons in non-business books, such as leadership lessons from "Ender's Game."

I've read all of the Harry Potter's many, many times. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Ender's game, I think is one of the best books on leadership.

Adam's quotes reveal his preference for fiction as a source of inspiration and learning, and his ability to draw parallels between fictional narratives and business concepts.

Recent Investment Excitement

  • Adam discusses his reluctance to single out one investment.
  • He highlights Joystream, a company merging BitTorrent with Bitcoin technology.
  • Adam is intrigued by the potential of legitimizing the BitTorrent space through incentivization.

We have one company in this tribe that's called Joystream. Trying to merge two technologies that have never been merged before.

Adam's quote underscores his interest in innovative and boundary-pushing startups, reflecting his investment philosophy and what excites him in the venture capital space.

Conclusion and Gratitude

  • Adam Draper expresses gratitude for the interview.
  • Harry Stebbings thanks Adam for sharing his story with Boost VC.
  • Harry promotes the 20 Minute VC platform and expresses appreciation for his role and audience support.

It's been really great. Thanks a lot, Harry. Thank you so much, and we look forward to bringing you founders Friday.

The concluding quotes signify the mutual appreciation between the host and the guest for the conversation and the broader context of the podcast series.

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