Meet Rob Adams, Managing Partner at Congress Avenue Ventures
October 2, 2019 | Scott Murphy
We are pleased to welcome Rob Adams as Managing Partner of Congress Avenue Ventures, Alumni Ventures Group’s fund for UT Austin alums. Throughout his extensive career in venture capital, Rob has raised several funds and helped put Austin on the startup map. Read more about his investment background and why he decided to join AVG.
What’s your connection to UT Austin?
I’ve taught in the MBA program for McCombs for more than a decade. I started Texas Venture Labs at McCombs and helped many of my students launch and fund successful companies.
Tell us about your investment background. What roles did you hold prior to joining Congress Avenue Ventures?
That’s a big question! My first job was at Lotus Development, for those of you who remember Lotus 1-2-3, where I was an early employee. I worked my way up the organization and built or acquired a lot of their product line. From there I founded and was CEO of my first venture-backed start up, Business Matters, which was backed by NEA. A company called Pervasive Software got me to Austin, where we raised venture capital and took the company public.
After that I was the general partner for AVLabs, which was affiliated with Austin Ventures, where I raised several funds and help put Austin on the startup map. After teaching for a decade, I wanted to start backing some of the companies my students were founding and successfully launching. While figuring out how to do this I ran into Alumni Ventures Group, and the rest, as the say, is now history.
What sparked your interest in venture investing and working for Congress Avenue Ventures?
I was working on doing exactly what Alumni Ventures Group was doing when I crossed paths with them. We both wanted to do what has turned into Congress Avenue Ventures so it’s a great fit.
Which trends are you most excited about in venture investing?
I am most excited about and like investing in businesses that are using technology to give them competitive advantage to disrupt status-quo business models. All successful businesses in the 21st century need to leverage technology to give them either a superior offering or become the low cost provider. This is really exciting because it is now permeating all business categories. The fun part is finding the investments that have figured this out and will benefit from it.
What are the three most important lessons you’ve learned on your VC journey?
Be open-minded. The deals that work are the ones that aren’t intuitively obvious today but will become so in time. Being in the right place at the right time is as important as the right offering.
Diversify, diversify, diversify. The odds are against any one deal working so diversify to the full extent possible over time, geography, stage, and market categories.
Develop a network. Good investments come from smart people from all industries, backgrounds and walks of life. Surround yourself with smart, ambitious people and work hard to expand your tribe of trusted connections.
Which resources or sources of inspiration (podcasts, books, blogs, mentors, etc.) are most useful to you on a regular basis?
Since I’ve published three books, I’m a big reader and audio book fan. I also like to follow business news in general and technology in particular. I appreciate that good business and technology media sources focus on objective business issues which is refreshing right now as general news tends towards being politically divisive.
What else would you like to share about yourself?
I’m a long time Austin resident and have seen the city grow exponentially and also have funded a lot of the technology boom behind it. In my spare time I’m a masters level rower, a sport I competed in as an undergraduate, I’m an avid skier and I do a lot of cross country motorcycle riding in the United States.