Hi, I’m Will!
I’m the Managing Partner at Contrary Capital, a university-focused VC fund spanning 40+ universities. We’re backed primarily by entrepreneurs — 80 percent of our LPs have started $1B+ companies. Previously I was an engineering intern at Yelp, RetailMeNot, and Dayaway Careers. I also started techwurk.org.
I sometimes write about things that interest me.
Broadly speaking, that includes startups, investing, software, psychology, evolutionary biology, philosophy (ethical and political), and AI/ML.
In my free time I discover new music (check out one of my 50+ public playlists), travel (I’ve set foot in all but 3 states), and read.
Go-To Essays and Books what I like to re-read and recommend
Getting Positive Feedback tips for founders who get really positive feedback in early validation efforts
Psychology in Product and Sales a list of concepts in social psychology with examples
Decision Making and Mental Models a toolkit for thinking more clearly and making better decisions
What Do You Optimize For? my way of thinking about organizing my life
Simpson’s Paradox and Thinking Rationally in Venture Capital how empiricism and pattern recognition can go wrong
An Intro to Contrary Capital a quick explanation of what we’re all about at Contrary
Existential Risk and Effective Altruism a primer on a fascinating concept in ethical philosophy
Impact of Blockchain: Smart Contract Based Incentive Compensation a quick example of how blockchain tech can make structural improvements to the financial system
Analyzing Venture Opportunities Part 1: The Product and Market a list of things founders should always touch on when explaining their startup
The Flawed Economics of Robinhood: Why Users Are Better Off Without It the reasons why Robinhood’s business model is misaligned with users’ needs
A Clever Malware Tactic and Why There’s Nothing You Can Do About It how I came across an innovative scam
My App Marketing Story: 0 to 100k Downloads the strategy and tactics I used to successfully publish an Android app
Twitter-Tools – A Twitter API wrapper that makes basic analytics and data munging easier
Brick Breaker Free – in high school I taught myself Android and wrote Brick Breaker Free, a clone of the classic game Breakout. It was downloaded over 100k times. (Has since been taken offline for having an ancient Google-non-compliant ad library…)
Techwurk.org – I cofounded Techwurk in high school with the goal of helping local charities catch up to the digital age by connecting them with students interested in web design. Through my school’s “startup incubator” program, I successfully pitched the idea to a panel of investors, winning a grant to fund the business model’s development.
Perspective – a Chrome extension that parses a web page looking for textual represenations of dollar amounts. It then manipulates the DOM to replace each dollar value with a phrase representing potential charitable impact. For example, a page saying “buy now for $4.99!” would be changed to something like “buy now for enough money to donate an anti-malarial mosquito net!” This (small) project was inspired by FlipWord and Peter Singer’s book The Most Good You Can Do. If you’re intrigued by this project, I’d check out Singer’s book!
Neural Network Text Generator – a recurrent neural network architecture to generate coherent English based on a seed phrase (independent final project for PSYC 489 so ask me for source).
Interest Matcher – a location-based web app that facilitates the discovery of events on campus. Chill shares a lot of functionality with Yik Yak, but it is not anonymous. I collaborated with other students to build it during Fall Semester 2015 (now it’s been taken offline – ask me for source).