Today we’re announcing Spearhead, a program dedicated to founders backing founders by providing funding and mentorship to create a new community of angel investors. You can read all about it on Spearhead’s blog.
Spearhead is a partnership between us and AngelList, one of many that we’ve taken on as we’ve tweaked the craft. We were the founding investor in AngelList in 2008, which began as a blog called VentureHacks that shined light into the black box of venture capital. The founders, Naval Ravikant and Nivi, were serial entrepreneurs who wanted to make venture accessible and approachable to everyone. AngelList made investing less of an insiders’ club than ever before and reduced much of the friction in starting a company.
We created Boston Syndicates (BOSS) on the back of a napkin in a bar in 2013 to experiment with AngelList’s introduction of Syndicates and to stimulate a lackluster angel community in New England. Through BOSS, we’ve now backed 50 leads who invested in 50 Boston-based tech companies over three years. The premise has worked with more experienced founders backing newer founders and getting paid for their mentorship.
We continued by launching Maiden Lane in 2014, a separate, online-only venture fund, to back the best syndicate opportunities on AngelList. Maiden Lane was a $25M fund that invested early in the likes of Cruise, OpenDoor, Brave, Clutter, and Branch.
AngelList’s most recent investment product is Angel Funds, easy venture funds for angels. AngelList takes care of all of the back office hassles, like wiring money and incorporation paperwork, allowing angels to run micro VC funds while keeping their day jobs. These pop-up venture funds are a perfect vehicle for Spearhead, which brings us to today.
Spearhead leverages a key learning from five years of tinkering: younger, non-accredited founders often have the best access and judgement on early startups. Much of the time these individuals are simply helping and investing in their most talented peers, which is often a winning investment thesis. The problem is that many of these founders can’t invest because they don’t have capital or they’re not accredited. Spearhead solves this problem, providing founders with capital and thereby making angel investing a little more meritocratic and inclusive, instead of being limited to the wealthy.
Spearhead is a $35M initial fund. Each Spearhead founder gets his or her own fund and the mentorship and community to start angel investing. We hope to create hundreds of new angels through this unique approach.
Spearhead is the culmination of years of learning and improving upon the thesis that founders backing founders is an approach that works for the earliest stages of investing. We’ll keep evolving the details alongside AngelList, but we think we’ve arrived on something special. Please apply here if you’re a founder who wants to be part of the first Spearhead cohort.