sofia amorusothe creator of Nasty Gal and Girlboss, she has started a movement, empowered generations of women, and turned around entrepreneurial victory, the latter of which she doesn’t necessarily recommend to other founders because “it’s distracting.” She also increased rounds, ran out of VC funds, filed for bankruptcy, and was sued.
“I’ve seen the 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’s his high-profile and difficult experience in the Silicon Valley spotlight that has ultimately given Amoruso the operating experience needed to launch his own venture firm, Trust Fund.
The Trust Fund, named ironically, Amoruso says, because “nobody handed anything” to it, launches with a goal of $5 million, aiming for a check size between $50,000 and $150,000. She’s already gotten checks from who’s who in tech. Notable investors include a host of a16z partners such as Marc Andreessen, Andrew Chen and Chris Dixon, entrepreneur Ev Williams and icon Paris Hilton, as well as support from investors Ryan Hoover and Sarah Kunst of Cleo Capital.
The Trust Fund seeks to back digital consumer businesses and has already invested money in an undisclosed workplace collaboration tool. Amoruso has been an angel investor for four years, investing $1 million of his own equity in 23 startups, including Pipe, Liquid Death and Public.
“As a small fund, I don’t necessarily look for diamonds in the rough,” Amoruso said. He noted that other funds have the resources to do more due diligence and legitimize the companies, while the Trust Fund will seek social proof in some way. He prefers lean companies that make money and behave like they’re ripped off.
Along with the release, Amoruso tells TechCrunch that he is dedicating a $1 million allocation from the fund to people outside of his network. Accredited investors are invited to apply to write checks, between $2,000 and $10,000, on the debut investment vehicle.
She’s looking for diversity in her cap table, “because there are a lot more women who can write $2,000 checks than there can write $200,000 checks.” Community surge aside, she doesn’t have a diversity mandate when it comes to portfolio building.
“I plan to invest in men and women, and everything else. And if anything, why not invest in the privilege and ride the coattails of a guy? Amoruso said. “As a woman, why wouldn’t you want to invest in a man’s advantage? Feel free to post that, it’s true.”
While the entrepreneur is certainly looking outward to fuel her next venture, she is also looking inward. A large part of Amoruso’s brand is associated with Girlboss, a word she coined to describe self-made female entrepreneurs. Girlboss became a memoir, a company, a Netflix show, and a movement associated with empowerment, before becoming a sexist trope, used to describe controversies surrounding high-profile women in leadership, who often they resign their positions.
Amoruso does not escape this volatility. The entrepreneur left her company, Nasty Gal, in 2015 after being embroiled in multiple lawsuits, as well as the difficulties of a growth-at-all-costs mindset. “I have raised a valuation too high on Nasty Gal, we were profitably earning $12 million in revenue when Index valued us at $350 million. The expectation that the next increase would be at a $1 billion-plus valuation was unrealistic.”
When asked about Girlboss, Amoruso said that “it was a big part of my story. But also… at what point can I tell a new story?”
The businesswoman sees her past as a fading story and a competitive advantage, adding that she doesn’t “consider honesty as a risk.” Among the attributes the Trust Fund advertises as value-add, she included: “building a culture that doesn’t suck because we’ve done it wrong… and right” and “navigate the media when they love you and when they don’t.” .”
What is clear is that, like his previous efforts, the Amoruso brand is what is bringing people back. He has more than 120,000 newsletter subscribers, more than 100,000 followers on Twitter, and more than half a million followers on Instagram. It’s a track he thinks he can use to “evangelize” his portfolio companies, similar to celebrities, but also with operating experience founders value during a downturn.
A16z andres chenwho says he personally invested in Amoruso’s new fund, described her as an “0-1 founder who has seen and done it all…[there are] very few people who have done all of this and want to dedicate their careers to helping the next generation of founders.”