Andrew Ryan

Andrew Ryan Rafols
A Journey of Vision, Impact, and Leadership

1990-2008 : A Budding Entrepreneur

Andrew Ryan Rafols‘ childhood was marked by adversity and resilience. Growing up in a poor family with an abusive father and a mother who abandoned him and his sister, Andrew learned early on the harsh realities of life. This challenging upbringing, however, didn’t diminish his spirit; instead, it ignited a fierce entrepreneurial drive within him.

At the tender age of 8, inspired by a Scholastic book-fair book on gemology, Andrew found an unusual yet innovative way to compete with his sister’s lemonade stand. He began sourcing and mining gemstones from a local quarry, tapping into a unique market niche. This early business venture was more than just child’s play; it was a testament to his innate ability to identify and capitalize on market opportunities. While one of many, his early ventures were not merely a means of financial gain but a crucial survival mechanism in his tumultuous childhood environment.

As he entered middle school, Andrew’s entrepreneurial skills evolved. He started buying cases of energy drinks and selling them outside his school every morning, quickly becoming a familiar and enterprising figure among his peers. This business endeavor showcased his understanding of market dynamics and consumer needs. However, it also highlighted the challenges of an evolving business landscape; his success was short-lived as the school, recognizing the potential, installed their own energy drink machines at the end of the semester.

His early entrepreneurial experiences were foundational for Andrew. They were not only about making money but also about understanding the fundamentals of supply and demand, identifying gaps in the market, and creatively responding to challenges. These formative years played a crucial role in shaping Andrew’s resilience, resourcefulness, and innovative mindset. They laid the groundwork for his future endeavors, instilling in him the qualities necessary for a visionary leader dedicated to making a significant positive impact on his community and the planet.

This first chapter of Andrew’s life, marked by family hardship and determination forcing him to graduate high school at 15 and join the service to support his mother and sister at 17, set the stage for a remarkable journey of public advocacy, technological innovation, and entrepreneurial leadership. It was in these early years that the seeds of his future successes were sown, as he learned to navigate and thrive in challenging environments.

2012- 2015 : Advocacy and Public Service

Following an honorable discharge from the Army in 2012, Andrew Ryan Rafols embarked on a new chapter in his life, dedicating himself to advocacy and public service. This period was characterized by his deep commitment to improving the lives of others, particularly veterans and students at that time, and his active involvement in local governance and community development.

Andrew’s passion for advocacy was fueled by his own military experiences and the challenges he witnessed fellow veterans facing upon returning to civilian life. He channeled this passion into lobbying efforts that had a significant and tangible impact. His work in this arena was pivotal in securing $100 million dollars for funding veteran programs across the state, directly contributing to the transformation of Texas college campuses into more veteran-friendly environments. These efforts not only provided much-needed resources but also raised awareness about the importance of supporting those who had served.

In addition to his advocacy and lobbying work for veterans, Andrew took on critical roles in city government. His decade-long tenure as a Redistricting Commissioner for the City of Austin was marked by transparent, fair, and ethical decision-making, a testament to his commitment to good governance. In this role, he played a crucial part in shaping the political landscape of the city for the next 100 years, ensuring that district boundaries were drawn in a way that fairly represented the community’s diverse population.

His involvement didn’t stop there. Andrew also held positions on various oversight and advisory boards, where he used his insights and experience to guide decisions on urban development, business regulations, and community projects such as Pease Park, a project that took many years but is now a crown jewel in the Austin Parks and Recreation community. His efforts in these roles were characterized by a balanced approach, always aiming to align the interests of the city with those of its residents and businesses.

Andrew’s transition to public service and advocacy demonstrated his versatility and his unwavering commitment to making a positive impact beyond the business world. His work during this period showcased his ability to navigate complex political landscapes, advocate for meaningful causes, and contribute to the betterment of his community and beyond. This chapter of his life further solidified his reputation as a leader who not only excelled in the face of challenges but also consistently sought to use his skills and experiences for the greater good.

2015-2016 : Mobile App Tech for Social Good

The tragic murder of Haruka Weister on the UT Campus marked a turning point in Andrew Ryan Rafols’ life, driving him to harness technology for a cause that extended far beyond conventional business objectives. In response to this heart-wrenching incident, Andrew, in collaboration with Gege Fu, Sunny Das, Paolo Soriano, and Freddy Del Barrio, conceived and developed the Campus Watch app. This innovative application was more than just a product; it was a mission to enhance safety and security in educational institutions.

Campus Watch emerged as a pioneering solution at a time when public safety, especially in educational settings, was under intense scrutiny due to rising rates of violent crime on campuses. Andrew and his team recognized the urgent need for a responsive and efficient system to ensure the safety of students and staff. The app they developed was designed to bridge the gap between campus inhabitants and security services, akin to an emergency response system that was accessible, user-friendly, and effective.

The rapid development of Campus Watch was a testament to Andrew’s commitment to using technology for social good. The app reflected his deep understanding of the intersection between technology and societal needs. It was not just about employing cutting-edge technology but also about understanding the human elements of fear, safety, and community. By integrating technological innovation with a compassionate response to a community tragedy, Campus Watch set a new standard for safety applications.

Andrew’s role in this venture went beyond the realms of a typical entrepreneur or technologist as it started from his role as a community leader and an advocate for campus safety, using his skills, resources, and network to make a tangible difference in the lives of countless individuals. The success of Campus Watch demonstrated Andrew’s ability to channel his entrepreneurial and technical prowess into initiatives that significantly impact society positively.

The development and launch of Campus Watch, while only a short chapter in his life, stand as a crucial chapter in Andrew’s life that leapfrogged him to his next venture. It highlighted his versatility as a leader who not only excels in the face of business challenges but also rises to the occasion when it comes to addressing critical social issues. His journey through the conception and realization of Campus Watch is a powerful example of how technology, when aligned with a noble cause, can create lasting and meaningful change.

2016-2023 : Empowering Entrepreneurs

Shortly after the exit of Campus Watch, Andrew Ryan Rafols’ entrepreneurial journey took a significant leap forward with the creation of the Newchip investment app due to the passing of the Jobs Act in 2016. This venture was a manifestation of his deep-rooted passion for entrepreneurship and his unwavering commitment to empowering others in this field.

The Newchip app, under Andrew’s visionary leadership, rapidly ascended to become one of the top 100 finance apps on the Apple App Store, attracting hundreds of thousands of monthly active users and $100M in investments. Its success was a clear indicator of Andrew’s acute understanding of market needs and his ability to innovatively meet these demands.

The app’s success story did not end with its impressive user statistics and rankings. In 2018, the Newchip app was acquired, a milestone that served as a testament to its value and impact in the financial technology sector. However, Andrew’s entrepreneurial spirit sought more than just business success; he aimed to create a larger, more impactful platform for aspiring entrepreneurs. Retaining the influential name in the space ‘Newchip’, he expanded the brand into an accelerator, housed under the new ASTRALABS venture studio.

This new venture under the Newchip banner was not just an accelerator in name. It was a hub for nurturing, guiding, and empowering thousands of entrepreneurs, especially during the most challenging economic time in recent history where every in-person accelerator had been forced to shut their doors. The Covid crisis and the subsequent global recession posed unprecedented challenges for startups and established businesses alike. Newchip, under Andrew’s leadership, became a beacon of support and guidance for entrepreneurs navigating these turbulent waters for years to come.

The Newchip Accelerator provided a comprehensive suite of resources, mentorship, and support to its cohorts around the globe. Entrepreneurs found not only financial backing but also valuable insights and strategies to pivot, adapt, and thrive despite the economic downturn. Andrew’s role in this endeavor was not merely as a founder but as a mentor, leveraging his vast experience and knowledge to help other entrepreneurs realize their visions.

It was during this time that Andrew had decided to finally part with his father’s last name, a name that was the symbol of a man whom he had not spoken to in years, and that had terrorized Andrew and his family during his youth.

Andrew’s tenure at Newchip is a vivid illustration of his commitment to nurturing entrepreneurial skills and his conviction in the transformative impact of startups. This phase in his professional journey stands as a powerful testament to his foresight in anticipating market shifts and his eagerness to make a significant contribution to the entrepreneurial landscape.

Under his leadership, Newchip emerged as a success story characterized by innovation, resilience, and the enablement of a new wave of entrepreneurs. This narrative not only underscores Andrew’s strategic acumen but also his role in empowering the next generation of business innovators.

2023 & Beyond >

The downfall of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) signified a turbulent period in Andrew Ryan’s career, bringing forth challenges that put his resilience, integrity, and leadership skills to the test. During this economic turmoil, Andrew confronted a bold move by an opportunistic investor who sought to take over his company in a hostile bid, underpinned by a slew of unfounded accusations they propagated. This era transcended beyond a mere corporate struggle; it evolved into a defense of reputation, a pursuit of justice, and a stand for ethical business conduct.

Andrew’s response to these challenges was exemplary of his character. Instead of succumbing to the pressure, he confronted the situation with remarkable fortitude and focus on putting his shareholders and employees first. His resilience during this period was a true display of his strength as a leader and entrepreneur. The legal battles that ensued were complex and demanding, but Andrew navigated them with unwavering determination.

Andrew’s complete exoneration after a nine month battle served as a profound vindication, resonating both within and beyond the courtroom. This outcome did more than just clear his name; it solidified his standing as a leader dedicated to ethical practices and transparency. However, this legal triumph was not the culmination of his quest for justice. Andrew persist in his efforts and advocacy, aiming not only to safeguard his own integrity but also to establish a benchmark for ethical behavior in the business realm.

Andrew’s story is a compelling narrative of relentless pursuit of excellence, resilience in the face of adversity, and unwavering ethical leadership. His journey, rich with diverse experiences in military service, public advocacy, technological innovation, and empowering entrepreneurs, paints the picture of a visionary dedicated to making a significant and positive impact in the world.

His experiences, particularly during the challenging times of the SVB collapse and post-Covid tech recession, have fortified his resolve and underscored his commitment to ethical leadership. Andrew’s life story serves as an inspiration, demonstrating that even in the most challenging circumstances, it is possible to uphold integrity, fight for justice, and emerge stronger.

In conclusion, Andrew Ryan’s life journey encapsulates the essence of a leader who is not only successful in his entrepreneurial and technological endeavors but also deeply committed to making a lasting positive impact on the world. His story is a testament to the power of resilience, ethical leadership, and the relentless pursuit of excellence in every endeavor.

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

Andrew’s 2024 schedule has not been finalized. 

Come back soon for more details.