Will Robbins

Hi, I’m Will!

I’m an investor at Contrary Capital, a university-focused VC fund backed by founders from Tesla, Reddit, Twitch, and more. I’m also a campus ambassador for Sequoia and summer intern at Umbrella.

You can learn more about me through Twitter, email, LinkedIn, and GitHub.

I sometimes write about things that interest me. Get my writings to your inbox here.

Broadly speaking, that includes startups, investing, software, psychology, evolutionary biology, modern philosophy, 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 2 states), and read.

I love unsolicited feedback. Please send me some!


Posts

Competition Matters Less in Software what makes tech companies unique?

Senior: My Summer at Umbrella some learnings from interning at Umbrella

When Insiders Were Outsiders stories of people who hustled and struggled their way to where they are now

Notes on The Elephant in the Brain some context and notes on one of my favorite reads

Concise Ideas are One-Dimensional should we think about nuanced ideas where concision rules?

Worldview as Competitive Advantage do the typical value-add dimensions really matter for most investors?

Degrees of Freedom don’t make your startup’s gameplan needlessly complex

Buying IBM examples of upside/downside asymmetry

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 living 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


Projects

V.F.S. Volume 1 – my first ever mixtape. Inspired by ODESZA’s NO.SLEEP mixes.

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).


 

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