You could say that venture capitalism is in Koh Shiyan’s blood: She was inspired to join the industry by her mother, herself a venture capitalist for the past three decades. Koh has spent the last 15 years in a mix of investing and operating roles – in companies such as J.P. Morgan, Institutional Venture Partners and Bridgewater Associates. With Hustle Fund, it was a natural transition back to investing.
This is, however, far from Koh’s first foray into entrepreneurship. That journey began in 2012, when she joined San Francisco-based NerdWallet – a website and app that assists users in making personal financial decisions – as its 10th employee, where she helped it raise US$69 million in Series A funding. By the time she left the business to move home to Singapore last year, NerdWallet had over 300 employees and was generating about US$150 million in annual revenue. “My time with NerdWallet, coupled with prior investing experience, gave me the confidence to add value to early‐stage entrepreneurs,” she says.
Koh explains that the current trend in the venture capital industry is tending towards seed funds raising larger amounts at a later stage, creating a gap in the earlier stage of the market. “This had traditionally been the seed stage, but is now what we call ‘pre‐seed’,” explains Koh. “This is where Hustle Fund comes in. We want to write fast cheques, then really get in and work with the founding team on a growth project that can last between four to six weeks, giving founders the chance to assess us as investors and for us to get a feel for the team as well.”