meet the brothers who refine venture capital

In an era when venture capitalists flock to Twitter to spread their wisdom to the masses via threads, newsletters, podcasts and every other medium imaginable, Mohammed and Ammar Amdani – brothers and co-founders of Adapt Ventures, a one-year venture capital firm with $ 10 million to deploy and over 40 investments to its name – are refreshing and low-key. Their approach to adventure is refined. It is not designed to compete with, but to complement that of the Sequoia and a16z of the world.

As an early start-up, having the backing of a Silicon Valley incumbent is like being handed the keys to a shiny new kingdom where money is easier to collect, employees are more. easy to hire and customers are easier to sell. But that can leave “a void in your needs as a nascent founder,” says Mohammed, who is in San Francisco most of the time, but both are on the move, they concede.

“If an investor is leading your round, you just want to do the best you can. This keeps you from sharing your vulnerabilities, and generally vulnerabilities are the things you need to devote more time and attention to.

Mohammed and Ammar built Adapt Ventures to bridge this chasm. The brothers, 25 and 23, describe Adapt Ventures as a “boutique venture capital fund”; a fund that cuts small checks but gives founders the space to be transparent about the cracks and threats occurring below the surface.

Part of the appeal of Adapt Venture lies in the authenticity of Mohammed and Ammar. Instead of conforming to the meme of a VC wearing a Patagonia vest, scrolling through Twitter that ends each meeting with the slogan “how can I be of help” – popularized both in reality by fund VCs like a16z and in fiction by shows like Silicon Valley – Mohammed and Ammar are actually helpful.

Before making their first investment in 2020, they spent months supporting founders around the world, researching business development opportunities, and channeling partnerships without expecting any tax rewards.

Playing a positive sum game has paid off. “Our reputation started to precede us and we started to receive an influx of warm introductions from other founders,” says Ammar, largely based in London. As a result, the brothers have made their way to some great deals over the past year – like Matter, a reading app backed by Y Combinator, and PartyRound, a startup that went viral for paying people $ 50,000. to quit their jobs and build a business.

Despite their accomplishments, Mohammed and Ammar’s service-centric philosophy remains intact. The stories they tell me of founders feeling comfortable enough to call them at 3 a.m. are reinforced by testimonials on the Adapt website, where words like “friendly” and “humble” are used. to describe the brothers by the founders of their portfolio.

This act of building goodwill dates back to Mohammed and Ammar’s childhood. The brothers grew up in Dubai as a family business. As their peers raced towards good grades and traditional careers, Mohammed and Ammar tell me they were exposed to an alternate reality: one where it was possible to follow one’s curiosities.

“Our father and uncle have always been involved in various projects, so we thought it was normal,” says Mohammed. What seemed less normal was formal education. “We were like lunar eclipses,” he laughs. “When we showed up to class, it was a rare sighting. We preferred to learn things that interested us.

This interest has been funneled into a proliferation of side projects: from Ammar selling imported candy in primary school toilets, to Mohammed selling tea in his dorm room, to the two brothers co-founding an e-commerce brand. at University. “We have built a reputation for each of these things,” says Mohammed. As a by-product of these entrepreneurial surges, Mohammed and Ammar bring more than money and a shoulder to lean on when investing in founders. They bring a deeper understanding than your average investor – an understanding based on shared experience of the difficulty of doing something out of thin air.

At a time when investors compete for stakes in companies, Mohammed and Ammar thought deeply about the art of identifying who to trust. Sifting through pitch decks, the brothers look for founders who are dedicated to problem solving rather than building businesses.

“Some of the best founders aren’t the most experienced people, but they make up for that with their intellectual curiosity. They are willing to go out and absorb as much as they can, and are open to making better decisions based on new information. When that curiosity is combined with humility, domain expertise and a great founding team, Adapt Ventures grows quickly. Mohammed and Ammar went from initial calls to wired investments in less than 24 hours.

Throughout our call, Mohammed and Ammar make it easier to work with a brother or sister; they’re in sync, exchanging responses without any of the awkward pauses that typically puncture Zoom conversations. It is the result of a year of trial and error.

“There will always be egos involved when working with family. We had to work on not taking things personally, ”says Mohammed. “Venture capital is inherently individualistic and we are trying to change that. It’s not that I did this or that he did that. It wasn’t until we started working through a team lens that we saw results. “

I ask them if they ever want to boost their growth and turn Adapt Ventures into a gargantuan fund that tours. For now, Mohammed and Ammar tell me that they are well established in their niche: a boutique fund supporting interesting people with interesting ideas not only in the United States, but also outside of Silicon Valley – in the United Kingdom. United, in Latin America, India and Indonesia.

Update: December 12, 2021, 4:30 a.m.

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