Field notes on Elizabeth Yin

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Elizabeth Yin | VC Hunted!

Listen to “ELIZABETH YIN | Hustle Fund – Venture Capital is Broken – A New Culture and Investor Courtesy Must Evolve! – S1E3” on Spreaker.

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Spend a little bit of time with Elizabeth and you know she’s the real deal, more than just a successful founder and entrepreneur, she’s got all the right attributes for a great early-stage-pre-seed advisor. She’s got your back for sure.

#VCHunted Twitter Story with Elizabeth Yin – On Founder Relationships
Elizabeth Yin ripping on bad venture capitalists!

What is so fascinating is that I assumed that she always wanted to get into VC! It couldn’t be further from the truth. She never had dreams of getting into venture capital, but just wanted to build great products and services. It just so happened that after she sold her first company, LaunchBit in 2014… she went on some soul searching for purpose.

What did she find while working at 500 Startups? That venture capital is broken.

“While working at 500 Startups, I found that the problem I wanted to solve is that venture capital is broken. I saw tons of data points and realized the best executors don’t always get funded. The people who do get funded tend to fit a certain pattern. If you fit a certain profile or demographic, race, or gender… you have better chances. I wanted to change that pattern.”

Elizabeth Yin – VC Hunting S1E3
Open to all!

I also loved that Elizabeth didn’t shy away from my hard-ball question of what it’s like to be a woman in tech. We always hear of such stories (usually extreme) of how people who don’t fit the general mold don’t get as much play time as others. Her response was excellent in that she first helped us understand that there is a difference from being a leader of a fund, and working for a fund. This nuance is super important:

“I have a lot of control as a leader of a fund, and much different from working for someone else. At Hustle Fund, we’re trying to find the best executors, regardless of pedigree. We want to find them, and that’s who we’re going after.”

Elizabeth Yin – VC Hunting S1E3
Nope. NO hot tubs with venture peeps!

So much of Elizabeth’s experience reveals itself through the thesis of her fund, Hustle Fund. It’s clear she wants to make an impact and do things differently. Speaking directly to my question about how Hustle Fund does VC differently, she had a great response in that she wants to raise the bar of general courtesy from venture capital firms. Another way to put it, would be to be more situationally aware of your audience. Secondly, you want to create great rapport. You want your investors to treat you with respect, stay true to their commitments and to be involved with the project and not just money.

“Hearing people pitch is not a very informative exercise. I don’t understand how the industry started using pitches and people just decide on that. That’s not a very good way to invest. A much better way to invest is to watch people work and execute and have a seat at that table.”

Elizabeth Yin – VC Hunting S1E3

Elizabeth never forgets her roots. Starting from nothing and learning along the way:

“I’m so grateful for our early investors who came in super early in my project. Very people are willing to take a risk when you have nothing. At Hustle Fund we understand the emotion in that. We’re willing to help those at the earliest stages get traction and be part of that journey.”

Elizabeth Yin – VC Hunting S1E3
We had a great conversation about why it’s important to KNOW the money!

I especially enjoyed our conversation of what Hustle Fund looks for in terms of a startup and how to de-risk a business. You must start with the team first, understanding them fully, then the problem they are trying to solve, and thirdly, can they scale:

“Investors think that if you have a lot of traction, you have de-risked the business. That’s just not true. A startup can have $1M in revenue and NOT have product-market-fit. Having revenue does not de-risk your business! You must get in with your founders and build a relationship and learn to trust each other!”

Elizabeth Yin – VC Hunting S1E3

Our final segment of our conversation was my favorite. How to keep team morale high. It’s something that Elizabeth has a ton of experience in as a founder, but she helps coach new founders in how to keep it together and craft their stories to succeed.

It was 1000% my pleasure to have this conversation. I can’t wait to have more with Elizabeth in the future! To the moon!

Elizabeth Yin Retrospective

All the best,
Peter Saddington

A failed startup… but lots of lessons!

Raw and in the wild!


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