First off, congratulations on getting an interview! At this time of writing, we interview only ~10% of companies we receive applications from. So getting to this stage is HUGE in itself.
What is the process?
Now that you've received an interview, the process will be quite fast from this point on.
As a next step, we will set up a 30-60 minute call with you either by phone or video conference. 99% of our interviews are remote -- meaning we do not meet with teams in person. We did this pre-COVID-19 and will continue to do so. This makes the interview process more fair to all entrepreneurs who cannot fly to one of our offices.
If your initial call is with a Venture Partner or an Investment Fellow, the final step will be to do one more 30-60 minute call with a General Partner.
After your call with a General Partner, we will assess usually within 48 hours after the call whether we would like to invest $25,000 USD.
That seems fast...what's the catch?
Because we are only investing $25,000 USD AND are investing at the pre-seed stage (i.e. not much data to dig into), we can have a fast process. At Hustle Fund, we have a champion model - meaning we don't need to do all-partner meetings to get consensus around a deal. A General Partner will simply consult the Venture Partner or Investment Fellow you met with and will make a decision.
I'm nervous...what is the format of the interview?
We try to make this as casual of a conversation as we can! And, please don't worry about dressing up.
This should be a two-way street conversation. We will ask you questions about your business, but you should also feel free to ask us questions as well to make sure that *we* are also a good fit.
This is not a presentation or a speech. Just a conversation that you might have over lunch with a friend.
What questions will you ask me?
Here's a list of questions that will help you prepare. We will likely ask a subset of those questions - especially those highlighted in blue - but as we chat in more detail about your business, we may also ask other questions that are not on the list.
Do you need materials from me?
You can feel free to send materials, but because we invest so early, we do not expect companies to have anything more than an email-deck or equivalent. We do not care about projections modeled in Excel or whatnot, because we generally believe they will be wildly off (one way or the other).
How will I hear back from you after my interview?
Most of the time, we will email you directly with our thoughts on what we would like to do.
If we decide to move forward, and if you don't already have terms set for your fundraise, we will propose high-level terms in that email.
How often do you invest in companies whom you interview?
As a small fund, we cannot invest in as many companies as we would like. We only invest in ~20% of the companies we interview. Our overall acceptance rate from application to investment is approximately 2%, and so unfortunately, we have to pass on many great companies.
What happens if I'm rejected? Can I re-apply with the same business after I get more traction?
Because we are a pre-seed fund and invest at the pre-seed stage, unfortunately, it will be quite rare / near impossible for us to invest later. Almost by definition, once you've proven that we've made a big mistake and have achieved massive traction, you'll no longer be in the pre-seed stage (i.e. valuation has gone up a LOT), and so we would not be able to invest for that reason. We are often wrong, so unfortunately, this will just be our loss.
That being said, never say never, we have invested in 2 companies whom we initially saw at the pre-seed stage and said no to AND a few months later ended up investing at the seed / just before seed stage. So, if you are still open to working with us, we would welcome updates and communications (deals at hustlefund dot vc). Please note that in 99% of cases, while we read emails, we unfortunately don't have bandwidth to respond.
What if I'm rejected and I pivot my business? Can I apply with the new business?
Yes! Definitely - we would love to hear about your new business!
Please apply at hustlefund.vc with the new business so that we can evaluate it. We have often said no to a number of companies initially before backing their new business. This is very common.
Leslie Feinzaig has a great tweetstorm on why VCs pass - it's not personal. The business idea matters a lot - so if you have a new business, we'd love to hear about it. One thing to keep in mind is our sweet spot is post-product, so coming up with just a new idea in itself is not going to be sufficient for us to consider it.
Who are other investors I can approach?
As of this writing, here are a few resources to check out as a pre-seed / seed company: