Ex-500 Startups partners launch Hustle Fund to level the playing field for founders

Megan Rose Dickey
Right now if you want financial guidance and planning help you basically have two options - shell out thousands (or more) a year for an old-school Wall Street-affiliated advisor, or test your luck with one of the free financial planning chatbot startups that have been popping up over the past few years.

Ex-500 Startups partners Elizabeth Yin and Eric Bahn want to focus on potential impact, not on whether or not founders have a degree from Stanford or some Ivy League school. Their goal with Hustle Fund, according to sources, is to level the playing the field for entrepreneurs in an industry where pedigree is not a good proxy for success. Hustle Fund ultimately wants to create a true meritocracy in the venture capital world.

The fund is seeking to raise $50 million, according to an SEC filing. The intention of the fund, according to sources, is to invest in between 150 to 200 pre-seed companies with small checks of about $25,000 each. Next Thursday, the fund will officially launch and start making investments.

The website is pretty bare-bones right now, but by next week, there will be some founder-oriented materials on the site explaining why founders should want to work with Hustle Fund. In addition to funding, sources say Yin and Bahn will help founders with customer development, sales funnel development, metrics, measurement and lead generation through one-on-one coaching for two to six weeks.

Hustle Fund plans to invest quickly and in exchange, they'll expect the founders to work fast and hustle. If they hustle to Yin and Bahn's liking, the fund may invest additional money. How much equity Hustle Fund takes will vary from company to company.

Though Yin and Bahn's departures from 500 Startups came in the midst of the drama surrounding 500 Startups founder Dave McClure's alleged sexual misconduct, the pair was already planning on leaving the troubled the accelerator to start their own fund. Before Yin and Bahn joined 500 Startups, they had their own respective careers as founders. Now, they're combining their experiences as founders and investors to help small, scrappy startups.