April 24, 2020
BoostVC has been an accelerator known for the unconventional bets it has chased — and is still chasing — trends like blockchain and AR/VR that other investors have long sworn off. Its accelerator program has been as classical as it comes, offering perks like office space and living quarters for a relatively tight group of admitted founders.
With the pandemic crisis, BoostVC founder Adam Draper has had to make some adjustments to his latest batch, including a digital demo day taking place next week. Venture capital firms have proven reticent in the past to invest in founders they hadn't met in person, but the quarantine has forced early-stage investors to step out of comfort zones. Draper hopes that a Zoom-based Demo Day focused on allowing the 13 companies to present and then break off into their own smaller Q&A subgroups will allow investors to feel more comfortable backing the startups remotely.
BoostVC's digital demo day takes place on April 28.
A smaller group of 13 startups will certainly make logistics easier for Boost; Y Combinator's latest batch tapped out at 240 companies. The current class is BoostVC's smallest in recent memory, the result of a format change last year that boosted individual investments to $500K per startup (for a 15% equity chunk) and shrunk the total pool. The change was an attempt by Draper and his team to differentiate the accelerator's offering and attract founders solving more capital-intensive problems.
The pandemic threw them a curveball, but Draper hopes their tighter group can sell investors next week.
"I can't say it's all gone according to plan, we're a very physical accelerator and we've had to completely adapt," Draper says. "But we've gotten the value of getting to see how Y Combinator and 500 Startups did their demo days."
The latest group includes plenty of bets in Boost's familiar zones — blockchain, AR/VR, hardware and logistics. Boost has invested more than $50 million in startups since its founding in 2013.
An ebullient Draper tells TechCrunch that BoostVC has just closed a $40 million fund — its fourth and largest to date — to bankroll future batches of startups going through its accelerator. The new fund is backed by Devonshire Investors and ECMC Group. The firm's last fund, which clocked in at around $38 million, closed in 2018.
Draper is hopeful that Boost's next "tribe" can shift back to its in-person format when in kicks off in late August. If not, he hopes his team can apply what they've learned to help incubate a new class of startups and ready them for an uncertain market.