Investor tweets founder-funder relationship advice

Here at the Tech Trailblazers Awards we are always on the lookout for ways to help you on your enterprise startup journey. Good advice can pop up anywhere, for example Eric Bahn, the co-founder and GP of Hustle Fund, shared a set of tweets earlier this month all about setting a ‘social contract’ with anyone new that he works with.

Hustle Fund invests in “hilariously early” startups, as their website proclaims. This means that they concentrate on pre-seed investing. Although they refer to themselves as software generalists, the vast majority of their portfolio companies are in B2B, Fintech, and consumer digital health. If you think that sounds like the situation you are in then check them out here:

Sound advice

So, Eric provided a simple set of rules that he wanted to share with founders who were thinking of working with him and Hustle Fund, to set some expectations of how a working relationship should work. However, there are some nuggets of wisdom which apply across the world of tech startups.

  • “The first thing I commit to is blunt honesty – but always assuming that the direct feedback is coming from a good place in our hearts. I don’t like being surprised or surprising anyone else, so committing to hard/fast honesty is a solid means of getting to transparency.”
  • “Next, I assume that whenever I speak to founders, things are going badly. Why? Because every company I ever ran felt like a sh*t show: I am an imposter; not good enough; building a house of cards. This is what winning looks like. And, I am here to help you problem solve.”
  • “Finally, I tell founders that I give them permission to lose our money. If they lose honorably but we gain conviction in each other as a team, then let’s try it again with another company. Life is a multi-turn game. Eventually winners will win.”

Eric says his goal in defining a VC-to-founder social contract like this is to feel safe, honest, and “authentic to one another”. He feels the startup journey is already fraught with stress. “So why layer on more stress of NOT feeling like you can bring your true self to our relationship?,” he concludes.

For more, follow Eric Bahn at @ericbahn and Hustle Fund at @hustlefundvc.