Adam Besvinick

VC at Deep Fork Capital

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON October 14, 2016

Discussion

Adam Besvinick@besvinick · VC at Anchorage Capital
Hi! I'm Adam Besvinick, a seed investor at Deep Fork Capital. I'm based in NYC but spend a fair amount of time in the Bay Area. Prior to joining Deep Fork, I spent time running biz dev at Wanelo. During business school, I worked with Chris Sacca and Lowercase Capital and worked on biz dev for Gumroad. Prior to business school, I worked in finance for a couple years. Aside from my passion for tech and startups, I'm a diehard Philly sports and Duke fan and run a much-too-intense fantasy football league. Happy to chat about NYC vs. SF, business school, the move from finance to tech, etc. Ask away!
Kevin Siskar@thesiskar · Managing Director, Founder Institute NY
Adam, I know from talking with you on my podcast (episode is listed on the right rail if your on a desktop 😉 ) that you are a relentless hustler. What advice do you have for people to build and leverage their personal branding? How has it played a role in your journey and career?
Adam Besvinick@besvinick · VC at Anchorage Capital
@thesiskar Thanks for the plug! For me, Twitter and blogging have been indispensable. Chris told me that he was "hiring" me to work for him during b-school because he read my Tweets and my blog and didn't feel like he needed to interview me or do a reference check. It continues to be valuable for building a brand and reputation, for building connections with founders and investors, and for my own development. When I put an opinion out there publicly, I better have thought it through and done my homework. And don't worry about having followers or people reading your stuff. Your audience will grow. And when I started writing my blog, I didn't care if people read it immediately. I just wanted it to show up in search results, so people looking me up would get to know me through this archive of content that I had accumulated over time.
Kevin Siskar@thesiskar · Managing Director, Founder Institute NY
@besvinick Great advice! 👏
Niv Dror@nivo0o0 · Words @ProductHunt & @AngelList
For a consumer app is there a base line user number of users you'd like to see to really be interested for a potential investment? In the millions, in the hundreds of thousands, more based on engagement? 📈🚀
Adam Besvinick@besvinick · VC at Anchorage Capital
@nivo0o0 What's up, Niv - thanks for helping to set this up! For me, it's all about engagement. Sure, having a ton of users is great, but I like to see strong DAU/MAU, 30-day retention, and multiple sessions per day, ideally. This doesn't guarantee long-term success, of course, but it means that there's something interesting percolating. I also like to see if there's some interesting "offline" component happening (i.e. are people trying to connect outside of the service).
Bala Murugan@blrbalam · Freelance - Product ideas
who is your mentor and why?
Adam Besvinick@besvinick · VC at Anchorage Capital
@blrbalam I don't have one specific mentor but a group of people that I know I go to with questions and ask for advice depending on what's going on in my life. Some people have called it a "personal board," and I think everyone should have one. Learning from Sacca was and has been invaluable, Semil Shah (whom I met 4.5 years ago) has been an amazing resource and reference and 6-time co-investor, my parents (of course!), my girlfriend. And there are a number of other investors that I reference in this post (https://medium.com/@besvinick/fr...) that were incredibly helpful to me.
Bala Murugan@blrbalam · Freelance - Product ideas
@besvinick Great! :)
Dylan@dylanqian
Hi Adam, thanks for doing this! I wanted to ask, what is a side project you are most proud of completing and what is your current/next side project?
Adam Besvinick@besvinick · VC at Anchorage Capital
@dylanqian Hey Dylan - interesting Q. I view my blog as a continuous side project (and one I need to get better about spending more time on). Without the blog (and to some extent Twitter), I never would have been able to build up a reputation in the startup ecosystem while I was in finance and in b-school.
Alex Hardy@canthardywait · Former investment banker
If you were an entrepreneur thinking about starting a consumer tech co, what city (in the US or the world) would you choose to build in and why?
Adam Besvinick@besvinick · VC at Anchorage Capital
@canthardywait depending on the product / service, I am still very much a fan of LA and NYC. I think they lend themselves well to finding a variety of users to engage and test with. They're huge and diverse. I've written a bit about this in a couple posts: https://medium.com/@besvinick/50... https://medium.com/@besvinick/wa...
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · PMM @Twitter // Previously @ProductHunt
NYC vs. SF ... talk to us :)
Adam Besvinick@besvinick · VC at Anchorage Capital
@andrewett Here's a cop out answer on SF vs NYC. I wrote this after 6 months of VC: https://medium.com/adventures-in... Most of it is still the same, but it may be due for a refresh on its 2-year anniversary
Uhma@deleted-594972 · Brr
Hello Adam, Thank you for giving us an opportunity to ask you anything. Question: Approximately how many pitches a week or a month do you guys sift through normally? Thank you.
Adam Besvinick@besvinick · VC at Anchorage Capital
@victorpolyushko I'm usually meeting with or talking to about 20 companies per week
Greg Blotnick@gregblotnick · Greg Blotnick - Columbia Business School
what made you leave finance during business school to go into venture?
Adam Besvinick@besvinick · VC at Anchorage Capital
@gregblotnick Short answer here: https://medium.com/@besvinick/fr... - this explains my path from finance to startups which started before b-school
Greg Blotnick@gregblotnick · Greg Blotnick - Columbia Business School
@besvinick thanks!
Alex Hardy@canthardywait · Former investment banker
Currently, what areas of consumer tech overhyped, underhyped, accurately hyped?
Adam Besvinick@besvinick · VC at Anchorage Capital
@canthardywait I think bots are overhyped. I don't think that there isn't something there in the long term. I just think that the love went too far earlier this year. I think the same can be said for VR to some extent. I don't think enough attention is being paid to enterprise applications of VR, as I mentioned in another answer here. I think mobile, social products are underhyped at this point. Mainly because people don't think that there's room for any. I am skeptical of that. To the extent that autonomous vehicles are consumer, I think they're accurately hyped. Generally, I think if a sector is overhyped, it's because it's too early.
Ellie Li@li_ellie · Co-Founder@Projections.io #DidYouSeeThat
Adam - As a seed investor, do you have any specific metrics you look at? For some sectors like AI, most seed stage companies aren't making money or even getting enough tractions now, how do you make investment decisions in space like this. Thanks!
Adam Besvinick@besvinick · VC at Anchorage Capital
@li_ellie No specific metrics. I do my best to understand if the team building the company is the best one to do so, and is the market large already or large and growing. I led an investment for us in a company called oneconcern.com, which is applying ML and AI to natural disaster response. There was a prototype-ish thing built for a class project, but it was the right team and the most earnest and authentic founding story. And of course, the market opportunity is there.
Alex Hardy@canthardywait · Former investment banker
Do you have a personal "Request for Startups?" What's a problem you'd fund a consumer tech company to solve Today?
Adam Besvinick@besvinick · VC at Anchorage Capital
@canthardywait Hardy, firing away here! Don't have a consumer tech request other than being intrigued by VR therapy as of late. https://hackernoon.com/what-im-i...
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · PMM @Twitter // Previously @ProductHunt
Does your fantasy football league have any unique/fun rules?
Adam Besvinick@besvinick · VC at Anchorage Capital
@andrewett hmm, my league is pretty overly intense. We have a document that outlines our by-laws, we have a series of meetings every summer where people send in proposals for changes to rules / scoring / etc. that we eventually vote on, we have someone in charge of a master spreadsheet that has all-time records / scores / etc., we have a trophy that has a paraphrased quote from Rudyard Kipling's "If" on it (If you can treat victory and defeat just the same...) As commissioner, I write power rankings every single week, which are immediately torn apart by guys in the league who disagree. I could go on, but yea, it's kind of like an IRL version of the show The League, except with way more fantasy-related vitriol.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · PMM @Twitter // Previously @ProductHunt
@besvinick Wow....what payout structure do you use? We pay out regular season high scorer, 1st, and 2nd. Some years we've paid weekly high score.
Adam Besvinick@besvinick · VC at Anchorage Capital
@andrewett last year we did champ gets everything; this year, I think we settled on champ plus regular season winner based on record. I have been pushing for smaller weekly payouts but it hasn't happened yet. Also, last place in the regular season has to pay extra.
Alex Hardy@canthardywait · Former investment banker
A version of the Peter Thiel question: "Tell me something you know to be true, that nobody agrees with" -- What is your "hottest" (unpopular) take? Tech, Sports, Culture, Life?
Adam Besvinick@besvinick · VC at Anchorage Capital
@canthardywait haha, well my hottest take that all of the guys in my fantasy league are sick of hearing is that I think Ben Simmons has a terrible attitude. I've been saying it since he sat out a game for no reason during NBA summer league. My other answer which is becoming increasingly popular is that you make your own luck and you set yourself up for good things to happen to you.
Alex Hardy@canthardywait · Former investment banker
@besvinick 🔥🔥🔥
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · PMM @Twitter // Previously @ProductHunt
Which investment that you've made are you most proud of? Similarly, which are you most excited about? Slightly different questions.
Adam Besvinick@besvinick · VC at Anchorage Capital
@andrewett hmm, I don't think I'm necessarily most proud of one vs another. I only want to invest in things that I'm proud to back and proud to say that I support. This goes for the founder of the company as well as whatever problem they're tackling. I mentioned it earlier, but I'm particularly excited about One Concern because I think they're on to something absolutely massive and they're solving a global problem with social implications in a deeply technical manner. I'm also particularly excited about Winnie. Sara Mauskopf is one of the most amazing people I've met and what that team and she have been able to accomplish with all that's been going on in her life outside of Winnie is nothing short of phenomenal.
Alex Hardy@canthardywait · Former investment banker
What are the best lessons / learnings / systems you bring from other areas of life (Sports / Pop Culture / Academia / Finance) that have helped you succeed as a VC?
Adam Besvinick@besvinick · VC at Anchorage Capital
@canthardywait not sure of any particular lesson, but I always felt like startups were a team sport and VC was an individual sport. Sure, you're at a fund with colleagues, but it's a pretty solitary gig. I sucked at team sports growing up, but I did well at and still play individual sports. I gravitated towards them partially because I liked the pressure on myself to succeed and because it seemed to have a more of a mental element.
ZhangJoooy@zhangjoooy
Hello Adam, thanks for doing this! Question: What do you think of Angellist? Will Angellist be a threat to your career? Thank you!
Adam Besvinick@besvinick · VC at Anchorage Capital
@zhangjoooy I am a huge AL fan. I think it's the best recruiting tool out there, and I think all startups should spend time recruiting talent in their early days on that site. I think AL can do a great job of filling out rounds and for some companies, it can fill the entire round. However, I still think early stage venture is a people and relationship-driven business, and nothing replaces being able to build that connection with a founder. And that connection also leads to an investor being able to serve as a trusted ally for the entrepreneur over time.
Sar Haribhakti@sarthakgh · Learning
Hey Adam! Two questions (Feel free to ignore the second question if you don't have enough time) - - What things do you do to learn a little on a daily basis? - What is the most interesting method you have seen for driving adoption and building a social graph from scratch in the last 12-16 months in the social products?
Adam Besvinick@besvinick · VC at Anchorage Capital
@sarthakgh Hey Sar (congrats again on the Assist gig)! Twitter is an invaluable tool for my learning. Reading as much as I can based on what people are sharing there is critical to my professional development and my ability to learn about other industries / sectors / etc. I've always been a trivia fan, so I am innately curious to read about random things that I find online all time time, too. Even if they don't directly move the needle for my career, per se. Regarding your 2nd Q, that requires more time than I have here haha, but I have seen some interesting tactics by companies to siphon off influential users from one social network and bring them over to engage with their audience on another in a way that they can't on the original one.
Anthony Stylianou@anthony_stylianou · Social Media Manager, CatchApp
During your finance years, was it always in your plan to eventually move into the world of VCs and be closer towards the tech/startup scene? Or was it the case that opportunities came along and you seized the moment? Finally, how do you think the Sixers will do this season :) ?
Adam Besvinick@besvinick · VC at Anchorage Capital
@anthony_stylianou I was involved in startups as an undergrad but didn't pursue it after school for some reason. Then I lucked out and was in NYC during a time when startups were having a resurgence, and I rediscovered that love for early stage tech. This post describes some of that: https://medium.com/@besvinick/fr... I hope we win at least 25 games haha (we are cursed!)
David Bozin@davidbozin · STARTUP Growth | BD | Op's
What are the spaces that Deep Fork is interested in now (i.e. AI, MI), and what are the spaces that you are looking into that will be a thing in several years?
Adam Besvinick@besvinick · VC at Anchorage Capital
@davidbozin I wrote this post recently about how I think it's hard to be too thesis or sector-driven as a seed stage VC. But an area I'm just generally curious about is VR therapy and other enterprises uses for VR. https://hackernoon.com/what-im-i... I still think there's a TON to do in mobile, and we're just scratching the surface as smartphones become increasingly intelligent and have more and more sensors, which put even more power in the hands of developers. I have some thoughts on VR vs. AR, but Jerry Neumann did a good job recently of summarizing generally how I feel: http://reactionwheel.net/2016/07...
Francisco Martinez@thefranc · Genius
@besvinick @davidbozin Hey I like that Adam, very resourceful and ready with the links.