How Elizabeth Yin Found Success in Launching a VC Fund for ‘Hilariously Early’ Startups

A behind the scenes look at raising capital for Hustle Fund

Nathan Beckord
The Startup
Published in
5 min readJun 23, 2020

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Elizabeth Yin is one of the more interesting VCs operating today. Before she co-founded Hustle Fund, she reviewed over 20,000 pitch decks as a partner at 500 Startups. (One of those was mine — although she didn’t invest.) I checked in with her recently while surveying new funds, and she had some fascinating things to say about how to effectively fund extremely young startups.

While at 500 Startups, Yin noticed a gap in the funding process: investors were mainly interested in investing in founders who already had a steady flow of revenue or product-market fit. Those who did receive funding at the very early, pre-seed stage all fit certain patterns: They had a particular kind of resume or were from certain geographical areas of the United States.

Elizabeth saw a missed opportunity.

“That was what I wanted to solve: how can we solve the really, really early-stage funding to make it fairer for everyone and also find signal where there generally isn’t any?” Elizabeth says. “How can we democratize pre-seed funding?”

Together with former 500 Startups partner Eric Bahn and NerdWallet veteran Shiyan Koh, Elizabeth launched the Hustle Fund in 2017 — the venture firm focuses on pre-seed investing in the United States, Canada, and Southeast Asia.

They invest in “hilariously early” startups and generally make decisions on companies within 48 hours of meeting with founders. Those who get a thumbs up receive $25,000 in funding from Hustle Fund, as well as one-on-one coaching for four to six weeks.

In a recent interview, Elizabeth talked about launching Hustle Fund and the strategies that streamlined their fundraising.

Hustle Fund founder Elizabeth Yin

On fundraising for a VC firm for the first time: When Elizabeth first started raising money for Hustle Fund, she found it more challenging than when she’d fundraised for past…

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Nathan Beckord
The Startup

CEO of www.Foundersuite.com. Fanatical about helping startups raise capital. Sailing and motorcycle junkie.