The Hustle

A modest approach to venture capital — who knew? doesn’t chase unicorns.

June 18, 2020

Not every business can — or should — be worth billions.

That’s the philosophy behind As Marker told it, founders Bryce Roberts, Mark Jacobsen, and Tim O’Reilly, all veterans of Silicon Valley, became disillusioned with the MO of traditional venture capital.

They decided to stop chasing unicorns and focus on “real businesses.”

They’re venturing outside the box

In a typical VC deal, a promising business gets millions, and the venture capital firm gets a stake. Over the years, the industry has prioritized high-risk, high-reward investments. Yet the chances of one of these enterprises becoming the next Uber is less than 1%. takes a different approach. Startups receive around $100k to $1m and don’t have to give up a board seat. The company prioritizes businesses looking to become independent, saying they “aim to be the last investment our founders need to take.”

So far, it’s working 

Over 5 years, has funded 34 companies with an average growth rate of 100% the first year, and 300% in the second. Its mortality rate is 10%, compared to the 44% among VC-backed companies in general.

It’s also led to a more diverse profile. Half of the startups has funded are run by women, and 20% are Black-led.

When Angelica Nwandu founded The Shade Room, which covers entertainment news, she said she didn’t even consider pitching to traditional VCs.

But after receiving funding from, she achieved profitability and says she grew her subscriber base considerably (The Shade Room has 19m+ followers on Instagram).

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