Happy 5th birthday Hustle Fund!

Wow, it’s hard to believe it’s been 5 years since we started Hustle Fund! In the last 5 years, we have: 

  • Raised and deployed ~$130m
  • Brought on 25 team members at Hustle Fund
  • Built a community of nearly ~1000 Angel Squad members
  • Funded ~400 portfolio companies
  • Worked with ~300 LPs
  • Grown to 100k+ followers on my Twitter acct

I’ll let you know how it’s going in about another 5 years! 😀

For all of this, I am so grateful. All that we have achieved has been a community team effort. Hustle Fund is so much more than a VC fund. It has become a movement.

I say this because movements are about values. Movements are about being mission-aligned. When we started Hustle Fund, we didn’t set out to build a VC fund per se. We set out to solve a problem that we personally understood well that we could work on solving over the rest of our careers of 30+ years. The mission that we are on is to democratize wealth via startups by helping startups with capital, knowledge, and networks.

In our first inning of Hustle Fund, we focused just on the capital problem. Specifically, how can we help more fantastic startups who may not have a rich uncle get capital at the pre-revenue stage? Without a warm intro and without needing to be in Silicon Valley. 

This is the hardest stage to raise money, and five years ago, there were only a handful of VCs addressing this stage. Fast forward to today, we have raised 3 funds. The latest one we are announcing today is a $46m fund to continue to address the pre-seed stage.

But perhaps, something I’m even more proud of is the informal influence we’ve had on so many other funds and angels who now invest at pre-seed, especially those who are willing to make a bet on founders they don’t know. Pre-seed funding is far from being solved, but I’m proud of the work we have done — the work we all have done — in making a dent in this problem in just the last 5 years. And, we will all continue to keep working on improving capital at this pre-seed stage.

Giving thanks

I’m particularly thankful to our LPs and founders. It took us 700+ meetings to raise our Fund 1, and I will never forget those early believers. Thank you for saying yes to us. Without you – literally without our founders and LPs – we would not be here. We have been so fortunate to be able to work with a ton of amazing founders around the globe.

When Eric and I started Hustle Fund, we thought that we might just form a small team of people in the Bay Area. That idea went out the window immediately when we realized we really wanted to bring Shiyan onto the team (and she was moving back to Singapore)! From there, we have recruited a phenomenal team of entrepreneurial, sharp, and also kind people. Special thanks to Jason, Thenuka, George, Kera, Tam, Haley, Will, Lidia, Chloe, Hung, Susan, Ha, Brian, Janel, Jamie, Nicole, Kabe, Andy, Todd, EJ, Erica, Mike, Jasmin, Maria, Karuna, Melanie, Amelia, Audrey, Anthony, Kenn, Davyn, Joseph, Wilson, Christine, Cjin and Chels for getting this off the ground. There was very little reason to join this ship when it was just a dream, so thank you for joining.

One of my early lessons in starting a company years ago was that you don’t start a company with a co-founder. You start a company with a co-founder AND his/her entire family. Thank you Eric and Shiyan — I couldn’t have asked for better co-founders in this journey. And, also to our families, too, who have been so patient and supportive of us. Special thanks to B, K, and JJJS who aren’t in the limelight but have been so critical to Hustle Fund becoming reality.

The next inning of Hustle Fund that we started last year was to address capital in other ways as well as to make an impact on spreading startup knowledge and increasing networking opportunities for great founders. While my partners and I have been focused on our fund, last January, Brian Nichols, who is the General Manager for Angel Squad assembled an amazing community of angel investors from all over the world. Many of these wonderful people were completely new to angel investing, bringing new capital and expertise into startup ecosystems. These people come from large tech companies and their own startups but also many other professions. We have doctors, lawyers, professional athletes, a poker player, a professional chef, and many other occupations represented from all over the globe. This diverse group of nearly 1000 angel investors are active, engaged, and want to help startups. They move quickly, are smart, and have conviction. I’m biased, but this is probably the best angel investing community you will find anywhere — all because of the amazing, humble, and kind angel investors who have joined. I’m so proud of this community because of who the people are.

What has surprised me most about Angel Squad is though it’s less than 2 years old, they have deployed way more capital than our Fund 1! So while many people are fixated on trying to raise VC funds or raise money from VC funds, sometimes the better solution to mobilize capital is by empowering angel investors and cultivating new ones. There is so much money in the world — it just needs to be catalyzed. Beyond capital, I am also thankful that many people within Angel Squad have provided our startups with valuable advice in areas like design, engineering, hiring, sales, and business development. I’m floored and thankful that there are such helpful people in the world who are so generous with their time.

Beyond Angel Squad, we’ve also been partnering with other General Managers on our team who have launched initiatives that are also trying to make a big impact on capital, knowledge, and networks in startups in other ways. More to come. The next few years will be exciting.

I think many people think that being a VC is easy. But, truth be told, being an emerging fund manager is akin to starting a company. You have to raise money with nothing to show. And you have to market yourself like crazy. In the last 5 years, in order to get to this point, we’ve burned the midnight oil so many nights. But if effecting change were easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing. So for those of you who have “hustled hard” on a startup or a new fund, I see you. I know it’s a tough road of ups and downs (and honestly, mostly downs). But, if you cut out all the noise of who is becoming a unicorn or who raised what funding and really dig deep as to why you’re doing what you do, I hope you find the courage to keep going and wish you tremendous success.

It has been a privilege and a dream to be able to do this work and work on a mission that means a lot to mean, and I look forward to the next 25 years. Thank you so much, Hustle Fund fam!

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