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Standing out as a startup with Hyper’s Malika Cantor

Xoogler.co Event Recaps

On May 16, Malika Cantor joined the Xoogler.co community to discuss Hyper, an early-stage venture firm focused on helping startups grow through a four-week accelerator program. Prior to launching Hyper, Malika was at Sequoia Capital and Google. In this Q&A, Malika talks about how Hyper adds value to startups and how startups can stand out. This article highlights the key points in the talk and all quotes are from Malika.

About Hyper:

Hyper is an early-stage venture firm that focuses on helping startups with distribution, community, talent, and fundraising. They invest in a small number of startups at a time, where each company gets $300k in funding along with access to Hyper’s partner and mentor network as well as participation in the founder program. Hyper has partnered with great investors and powerful platforms — including Andreessen Horowitz, AngelList, Product Hunt, the 20min VC, and Sequoia Capital — to help Hyper companies break through the noise. The typical Hyper investment is $300k for 5% on a SAFE. Learn more here.

Key Takeaways

Bringing value to startups

  • Building a distribution empire. Hyper looks to bring value to startups through a unique model that focuses strongly on helping startups with distribution — ie. acquiring users, customers and talent. They’ve done this by building a parent company called Prologue that owns both Hyper and Product Hunt with the intention of building a media empire.
  • “We want every company to stage up. This looks different for every startup. This can take the form of building out a leadership team, raising a successful round, recruiting a co-founder, hitting metrics like acquiring users, or launching a beta program. Hyper looks at specific areas a company can grow and provides the resources and guidance to move the needle.
  • Demo days. Hyper hosts demo days for its founders based on where the companies are in their stage. They host a small, invite-only demo day where investors are hand-picked for the specific companies twice a year.

Standing out as a startup

  • In general, Hyper looks for billion-dollar opportunities that have the potential to be a “lasting” company that can survive the test of time. The company cannot be taking advantage of a trend; it has to be something that can change the world in ten years. Hyper looks for teams with founders that can “sell the vision and hire well” and tend to prefer having a technical person on the founding team.
  • A focus on distribution. Hyper looks for founders that are actively thinking of developing their distribution capabilities. Through Hyper’s partnership with Product Hunt, Hyper is in a unique position to create an impact.
  • Why now? Why should your startup succeed now versus 5 years ago or 5 years in the future? Hyper looks for startups and founders that are especially positioned to thrive in the current / developing market.

Additional Points

  • Thoughts on founders from big tech vs startups. Founders from big tech companies tend to have big visions and an understanding of what excellent looks like, but they have much less of a sense of what it takes to go-to-market as a startup. Founders from early-stage startups tend to be gritty and have a sense of knowing how to get things done resourcefully. Hyper looks for both founders as there are benefits to both backgrounds.
  • Thoughts on the VC market. There is a correction taking place in the later stage VC market, but early stage valuations have effectively plateaued. Many early stage funds (including Hyper) raised their funds in the last year and a half, so there is still a lot of money that needs to be deployed. Additionally, many great companies were built following the ’08 crash, so Hyper is looking to find these companies. For founders, there can be an advantage here because there are less companies pitching and hiring right now which can result in less competition. I think there is little need to get caught in the nervousness on VC Twitter– now is a great time to build a company.

Thank you Malika for joining the Xoogler.co community for an insightful event! If you found this article interesting, check out Hyper (if you are an early-stage startup founder, apply for the Hyper program now) and check out the Xoogler.co collection of event recaps.



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