Hustle Fund closes $11.5 million fund

Hustle Fund, the pre-seed firm founded by former 500 Startups partners Elizabeth Yin and Eric Bahn investing in Southeast Asia and North America, has closed their first fund, coming in at the tune of $11.5 million.

The round was led by Shanda, the China’s online gaming company; LINE, and Naver, Korea’s largest search engine with participation from founders and executives of Zappos, Optimizely, and NerdWallet.

The announcement is also followed by the appointment of Shiyan Koh, a Singapore-born who was the Vice-President of Business Operations and Corporate Development at NerdWallet, as Managing Partner.Shiyan has spent the last 18 years in Silicon Valley and has helped to grow a business from less than $1 million to $150 million in revenue. At Hustle Fund, Koh will be based in Singapore to focus on expanding the firm’s reach in Southeast Asia.

The fund initially hoped to raise $50 million, according to an SEC filing last October, but felt confident it could prove its investing hypothesis with $11.5 million, Koh said in an email to TechCrunch.

“This has allowed us to get to the business of backing founders faster,” Koh said. “We want to be in this business for decades to come, so Fund 1 is just the beginning!”

Hustle Fund wants to be different from its peers in the venture capital community. Instead of backing founders with degrees from Stanford or some Ivy League school, the goal is to level the playing field for founders by focusing on potential impact.

The firm operates by investing $25,000 in pre-seed startups, and then undertakes a four to six-week growth period with each company. The idea is to work alongside the team and then determine if the fund will follow on with additional monetary investment.

Prior to Hustle Fund, Elizabeth Yin was previously an investment partner at 500 Startups and led their Mountain View accelerator for nearly three years, and Eric Bahn was previously a product manager for Facebook and Instagram’s ad products.

Since September 2017, Hustle Fund has invested in 40 companies across the US and Canada.

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