Sophia Amoruso launches Trust Fund for founders • TechCrunch

Sophie Amorousothem creator of Nasty Gal and Girlboss, started a movement, empowered generations of women and made the entrepreneur victory lap — the latest of which she doesn’t necessarily recommend to other founders because “it’s a distraction.” She also increased her rounds, ran out of venture capital funding, filed for bankruptcy and was sued.

“I’ve seen the full gamut of what worked and what didn’t,” the entrepreneur said in an interview with TechCrunch. “It’s the not-so-great stuff that I can often help founders anticipate, or just avoid.”

It was his high-profile and turbulent experience in the Silicon Valley spotlight that ultimately gave Amoruso the operational experience needed to launch his own venture capital firm, Trust Fund.

Trust Fund, named ironically, says Amoruso, because “nobody gave him anything”, is launched with a goal of $5 million, targeting a check amount between $50,000 and $150,000. She’s already landed checks from the tech who’s who. Prominent investors include a host of a16z partners such as Marc Andreessen, Andrew Chen and Chris Dixon, entrepreneur Ev Williams and icon Paris Hilton, and backing from investors Ryan Hoover and Sarah Kunst of Cleo Capital.

Trust Fund seeks to support digital consumer businesses and has previously invested in an undisclosed workplace collaboration tool. Amoruso has been an angel investor for four years and has invested $1 million of his own capital in 23 startups, including Pipe, Liquid Death and Public.

“As a small fund, I’m not necessarily looking for rough diamonds,” Amoruso said. She noted that other funds have the resources to do more due diligence and legitimize companies, while Trust Fund will seek social proof one way or another. She prefers lean businesses that make money and behave like they’ve started.

Along with the launch, Amoruso tells TechCrunch that she is dedicating a $1 million allocation from the fund to people outside of her network. Accredited investors are invited to apply to write checks, between $2,000 and $10,000, in the first investment vehicle.

She looks for diversity on her cap table — “because there are a lot more women who can write $2,000 checks than there are who can write $200,000 checks.” Aside from community outreach, it does not have a portfolio-building diversity mandate.

“I plan to invest in men and women, and everything in between. And if anything, like why not invest in privilege and ride a dude’s tails? says Amoruso “As a woman, why wouldn’t I want to invest in the advantage that a man has, like, feel free to post this – it’s true.”

While the entrepreneur certainly looks outward to fuel her next venture, she also looks inward. Much of Amoruso’s brand is associated with Girlboss, a word she coined to describe self-made, entrepreneurial women. Girlboss became a memoir, a business, a Netflix show and a movement associated with empowerment – ​​before it morphed into a sexist trope, used to describe controversies around high profile women in leadership, often quitting of their positions.

Amoruso is no exception to this volatility. The entrepreneur quit her company, Nasty Gal, in 2015 after being embroiled in multiple lawsuits, as well as the struggles of a growth-at-all-costs mindset. “I raised a valuation too high at Nasty Gal, we were making $12 million in revenue profitably when Index valued us at $350 million. The expectation for the next raise had to be at a valuation of more than a billion dollars was unrealistic.

When asked about Girlboss, Amoruso said that “it was a big part of my story. But also… when can I tell a new story?

The entrepreneur sees her past as both a fading story and a competitive advantage, adding that she doesn’t “consider honesty a risk”. Among the attributes the Trust Fund advertises as added value, she has included: “building a culture that isn’t shitty because we did it wrong…and right” and “navigating the media when they like you and when they don’t.” don’t like”. .”

What is clear is that, like its past efforts, the Amoruso brand is what keeps people betting on it again. She has over 120,000 newsletter subscribers, over 100,000 Twitter followers and over half a million Instagram followers. It’s a sequel she thinks she can use to “evangelize” her portfolio companies, similar to celebrities, but also with operating experience founders appreciate in a downturn.

A16z Andre Chenwho says she personally invested in Amoruso’s new fund, described her as a “0-1 founder who has seen it all and done it all…[there are] very few people have done all of this and want to dedicate their career to helping the next generation of founders.