Hustle Fund, founded by two ex-500 Startups partners, closes $11.5 million fund

Hustle Fund, the pre-seed firm founded by former 500 Startups partners Elizabeth Yin and Eric Bahn, has closed their first fund, coming in at the tune of $11.5 million.

Hustle Fund also recently brought on Shiyan Koh to its team of general partners. Before joining the firm, Koh was the VP of business operations and corporate development at personal finance company NerdWallet. She formerly worked as an investment professional at Bridgewater Associates and Institutional Venture Partners. At Hustle Fund, Koh will be based in Singapore to focus on expanding the firm’s reach in Southeast Asia.

The fund initially hoped to raise $50 million, according to an SEC filing last October, but felt confident it could prove its investing hypothesis with $11.5 million, Koh said in an email to TechCrunch.

“This has allowed us to get to the business of backing founders faster,” Koh said. “We want to be in this business for decades to come, so Fund 1 is just the beginning!”

Limited partners in the fund include Shanda, a global investment firm focused on the online gaming industry, messaging and communications company LINE, Korean search engine Naver and others.

Hustle Fund wants to be different from its peers in the venture capital community. Instead of backing founders with degrees from Stanford or some Ivy League school, the goal is to level the playing field for founders by focusing on potential impact.

The firm operates by investing $25,000 in pre-seed startups, and then undertakes a four to six-week growth period with each company. The idea is to work alongside the team and then determine if the fund will follow on with additional monetary investment.

“One of the fascinating things I learned while running the 500 Startups accelerator is that I understood so much more about our investments once they came into the batch, and I could see them work,” Yin said in a press release. “Not surprisingly, I noticed that the best teams were the ones who could execute with speed. It’s from this observation, we built Hustle Fund to back founders who can execute with high velocity by observing founders work.”

Since Hustle Fund’s launch last September, the firm has invested in 40 companies, including Setter, Thank You Kindly, FleetPanda and ClaimCompass.

Although Yin and Bahn’s departures from 500 Startups came in the midst of the drama surrounding 500 Startups founder Dave McClure’s alleged sexual misconduct, the pair was already planning on leaving the troubled accelerator to start their own fund. Before Yin and Bahn joined 500 Startups, they had their own respective careers as founders. Now, they’re combining their experiences as founders and investors to help small, scrappy startups.