Forbes’s “30 Under 30”: Billy Draper ’07 Reflects on Andover Career and Venture Capitalism

As an Andover student, Billy Draper ’07 spent many late nights ordering chicken and broccoli – with extra garlic sauce – from Golden Chopstick, a Chinese restaurant in Lawrence, Mass. Upon graduation, Draper started his own social company, Mobber, worked as a platform operations analyst at Facebook and eventually became an investor for Draper Associates.

Draper was featured on the 2016 Forbes’s “30 Under 30” list in the Venture Capital category.

“I started a company called Mobber the summer after graduating from [the University of California, Los Angeles]. In concept, it was similar to Kickstarter or IndieGogo – but instead of donating money, supporters would donate a tweet or Facebook status update. When a ‘mob’ had enough supporters, all of those tweets and status updates would be released at once, causing a sort of high-impact marketing wave,” wrote Draper in an email to The Phillipian.

Draper was initially connected to Draper Associates through his father. An early-stage venture capital firm, Draper Associates invests in start-up companies in the hope that they burgeon into prosperous corporations. Draper Associates has invested in both Skype and Tesla.
“In mid-2014, my dad mentioned he was considering raising an early-stage venture capital fund, Draper Associates, and asked me to join him. I saw this as an incredible opportunity to learn from my dad, and to work with highly ambitious entrepreneurs at the inception of their vision,” said Draper.

“This is the most incredible job in the world – maybe I’d rather play in the N.B.A., but this is up there. Last week, we met with a company that is using positron reactions to propel micro-satellites through space – and yes, that’s a real thing. I also enjoy our alignment with entrepreneurs; after we make an investment, there’s a feeling of comradery, that we’re all in this together,” he continued.
Arriving on campus at the age of 14 from California, Draper found that the Andover experience pushed him out of his comfort zone and challenged his sense of confidence.

“It’s impossible to quantify the impact that Andover has had on my life – that’s where I learned to tie a tie, that’s where I learned to speak in front of people, that’s where I learned how to prioritize (sort of). I think a lot of the takeaways from Andover happen between the lines – the things you don’t realize you’re learning while you’re learning them,” said Draper.

Draper established personal connections with several faculty members, including Stephanie Curci, Instructor in English; Shirley Veenema, former Instructor in Art; Andrea Thorn, former House Counselor of Thompson House; Albert Cauz, former Abbot Cluster Dean and Instructor in Spanish; Bobby Edwards, former Dean of Community and Multicultural Development; and David Fox, Instructor in English and Art History.
Draper was in Fox’s English 200 class and played on Andover Boys Water Polo, which Fox coached.

Fox wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “I remember [Draper] as a rare amalgamation of seeming oppositions: rebellious and deferential, driven and carefree, intense and hilarious. As the most memorable students do, he took intellectual risks and didn’t spend his time trying to discern what I wanted but rather he just did what he wanted. He always had a healthy disregard for convention, yet he was highly teachable and coachable.”

Curci taught Draper in English 300 and recalled Draper’s notable sense of humor.

“We read a piece by Jack Handey from ‘The New Yorker’ in class. He read it aloud perfectly and got the humor immediately. I tried it with other classes that year and the next, and no one ever got the jokes in the same way. That felt like such a telling moment,” wrote Curci in an email to The Phillipian.

Draper said, “I spent 99 percent of my available brain capacity during high school thinking about girls, so anyone who could squeeze into that last one percent had to be a highly effective teacher or mentor.”

To current students, Draper emphasized making the most of the time on campus and utilizing all the resources Andover has to offer.

“Do stuff. Just do stuff. Make movies, record music, plan an event, host a radio show, join the improv group, try out for SLAM, start a small business. You are a teenager living in a time when it has never been easier to create, and never been easier to share, and you are a node in one of the most powerful networks in the world,” said Draper.

Draper added, “Am I going to get censored for dropping too much real knowledge here?”