Tribe Capital recently appointed Boris Revsin as managing partner of the venture fund. But little has been written about the entrepreneur-turned-investor, who went from college dropout to start his first company at the age of 19, to helping lead investments in a $1.5 billion fund.
We recently sat down for an exclusive interview with Revsin to learn how she was able to level up at every stage of her career with an entrepreneurial mindset, and how she now uses what she’s learned about building businesses to identify the most promising tech startup. founders.
Revsin’s first inkling that college might not be for him was when he noticed that most of the classes he was taking weren’t helping him develop applicable real-world skills.
“I woke up most mornings not really motivated to go to my computer science classes and instead wanted to spend my time building websites and apps,” he said.
He noted that for many of the more privileged students, college was essentially a very expensive way to have a little fun while buying time to get serious and get a real job.
At a time when most of his peers were selecting their majors, he and his co-founders were busy cold-calling local businesses to buy advertising space on their new college directory site and hiring a dozen interns for what was would become his first company, CampusLIVE. .
Eventually, he was so busy building this company that he decided to drop out of school to pursue it full time. The decision ended up paying off, as Revsin and his team raised millions in funding and built the business until the company was acquired and renamed Breaktime Media in 2015.
After a two-year stint as co-founder of his next company, VentureApp (now renamed and spun to HqO), Revsin along with his partner Julian Jung, decided to dive into growth, but at the time in 2016, less hyped. crypto space with their new venture The Game Theory Group, a media and research group that paved the way for them to become experts in the blockchain technology they invest in today.
During his tenure at Game Theory Group, Boris had been building his sourcing network with multiple personal investments in the space. It was then that he met Republic. Republic was interested in creating a parallel product to its existing flagship crowdfunding product, this time for accredited and qualified investors. The Game Theory Group founders agreed to merge their business into this new company, now called Republic Capital, and focus on raising and syndicating investments in crypto and fintech.
One of the benefits of developing a founder-operator mindset, Revsin said, is that you feel comfortable building something without knowing what the finished product will look like. That skill set of constant and rapid experimentation and understanding how to react to what the market is telling you when creating a product gives you the confidence and stamina to do things that other people just wouldn’t do.
While creating the Game Theory Group, and during their tenure at Republic, Revsin and his partner Jung spent their days chasing down the smartest students they could find, those building projects outside of schools like MIT, Harvard, and BU.
“The problem with some consultants and people from big companies going into VCs is that they have little interest in going out of their way to get $50K checks from Limited Partners and looking for deals that others stand to lose,” said Revsin.
But that kind of striving to learn mindset is what helped Revsin and his team at Republic Capital embrace a new investment model in the early-stage crypto and frontier technology investment space through special-purpose vehicles created for specific investments of limited partners, which allows them to be more agile in financing agreements.
What started as a few $50-$100K checks on student-founded companies has grown into a syndicated fund group with nearly $1B under management as of early 2022.
This more flexible investment model also allowed Revsin to invest in opportunities that others might have missed.
In early 2020, when the global pandemic was underway, Revsin had become adept at finding opportunities in legacy industries that were being reinvented. Thinking about his university experience, he became interested in the education sector with little investment and was looking for companies that were on the frontier of developing new models of higher education.
As the pandemic made it clear that online education and micro-credentials were becoming a real alternative to traditional higher education, with enrollment continuing to drop year after year due to skyrocketing tuition costs, Revsin decided to invest in an investment round in the early stage of an alternative technology education company School16.
“I was looking to do more education deals and couldn’t find a single investment opportunity because most EdTech companies were just an enablement for what already exists in the industry, rather than a reimagining of what education will look like. and in the future,” said Revsin.
At the time of Republic’s investment in early 2021, School16 had only been around for about 6 months, but had already successfully launched courses in Sales, Marketing, Operations and Product Management for the new generation of professionals looking to break into lucrative technology careers. without learning to code, or spending years and tens of thousands of dollars on traditional degree-granting programs.
Revsin believes that being a founder and operator gives you an advantage when it comes to finding investment opportunities because you can see around the corner and anticipate the ups and downs of a startup. He learned to find founders who were good at developing a narrative for their worldview, but were open to learning from the market and adapting along the way to reinvent their business.
You would find founders creating products and gaining traction on the frontier of technology, education, cryptocurrencies, and more, and then use data, patterns, and your understanding of market dynamics to put your world view into the context of what the world could look like. future.
This philosophy and the desire to work with entrepreneurs and operators is what attracted Revsin to Tribe Capital.
Founded in 2018, the company developed a data-driven investment strategy by creating its own quantitative analysis tool that takes raw data from startups to help Tribe evaluate deals and, in turn, provide valuable insights for its investors. portfolio companies.
This investment methodology has enabled the hedge fund to deliver top-decile returns to investors and grow their fund to $1.5 billion in capital.
Last month, Revsin joined their team as a managing partner to lead investments in primary and secondary markets, and grow their recently announced incubator called Tribe Crypto Labs.
Throughout his career, Boris Revsin was able to quickly “level up” every few years through self-education by immersing himself in the industries that interested him and learning and quickly reacting to the market to build something that had not existed in the past. past.
He charted his own path outside of the traditional education model by developing skills in communication, sales, and product development, and recognizing opportunities for innovation in industries that had largely remained unchanged for decades.
Although he admitted that he would not be able to achieve what he did without the ability to commit for years to “get over it” with each new venture, his experience is a testament to the new reality that will define the successful careers of the future. not by passive learners, but by builders and entrepreneurial risk takers who have the fortitude to try something new, even when the outcome is uncertain.
Disclaimer: The authors are affiliated with School16, a company mentioned in this article.