Andover alumnus and current private investor David Kwon ’17 has been named in the 2024 Forbes 30 Under 30 list, in the Venture Capital sector. After graduating from Andover and then the University of California, Berkeley, he landed a job as a Partner at Abstract Ventures. He reflected on what initially sparked his passion for technology and investing.
“I went to Berkeley University in California, so it was very different [from] Andover. It was a great experience because it was right next to San Francisco, and [it] made me realize that I really wanted to pursue technology. During college, I interned at a few different investment banks, and ended up pursuing what would later be my full-time career,” said Kwon.
He continued, “I joined a growth stage venture capital firm out of college. After [that], I was considering a few options in terms of places I would potentially go. A mentor of mine, who I had gotten in touch with after college, ended up putting me in touch with my current firm. I ended up going to Abstract [Ventures], my current firm, which does very early stage investing, [or] venture capitalism.”
As one of the “600 of the brightest young entrepreneurs, leaders, and stars,” Kwon expressed extensive gratitude for the award and recognition. On top of this, he also made sure to recognize the sheer quantity of both students and other adults around the world who are equally deserving of the award.
“It was super rewarding and awesome. [But] I had the classic high parent bar of, ‘What does it actually do for you besides put your name on some website out there?’… [Furthermore], there are so many people around me, including students from Andover, that I know are doing much cooler things than I am that will benefit the world in a more meaningful way. [There’s] also other people only a couple of years older than me that are significantly more successful. I think it is really encouraging to try to further challenge myself to be as good as some [of the] other people around me,” said Kwon.
Kwon noted that attending Andover helped him to perceive the world with a broader view and be capable of encompassing and understanding opinions that dissented from his own. He noted how this skill is valuable in the workforce.
“I think being mentally pliable, appreciat[ive] what other people believe in, and to empathize…is a skill that I only first started learning at Andover. I think that in business and in investing, there are so many instances where you come across a company that greatly differs from a world view that you personally hold, but potentially is correct versus what you believe in,” said Kwon.
Although he mentioned various leadership roles that he believed prepared him for his current profession, Kwon emphasized the importance of his time in a leadership position in Pine Knoll Cluster.
“I was a part of the Pine Knoll Leadership, and I think what the students there were really thoughtful about was making sure that we were a well-run organization. We communicated well with not just other students, but also made sure that the faculty were on board with everything around the table. It was kind of my first little foray into helping organize a group of people, and I think that helped me realize the importance of communication,” said Kwon.
In retrospect, Kwon acknowledged how Andover’s competitiveness and high-caliber students pushed him to be his best self. Although he noted that it can be discouraging at times, he also reiterated that such an environment prompts paramount success.
“After going to Berkeley and fairly prestigious organizations, I still haven’t encountered a community with as high of a concentration of kind, smart students as Andover, and it makes me realize what a privilege it was to be an Andover student. I think going to Andover makes you realize, ‘Wow, the global peak is much higher than I thought it was.’ You’re kind of the big fish in a small pond at your previous school, and you get there, and you realize you’re [surrounded by] other really incredibly bright people. It’s easy to see how special everyone is around you except yourself,” said Kwon.
Kwon continued, “I think that really inspired me personally to take it seriously, and I think [it] encourages [students] to try to match or go beyond their fellow students. I would love for one of the current Andover students to be the youngest person ever listed in one of these publications. I think that’ll be super impressive.”