Antler Announces New US Terms
Tyler Norwood reflects on the past four years building Antler in the US and what comes next.
In 2019, I packed up two suitcases and two dogs and flew from Singapore to NYC to launch Antler in the US. I was part of the team that had launched the inaugural Antler program in Singapore back in 2018. By 2019, we had successfully launched in Singapore and opened locations in Stockholm, Sydney, and Nairobi. We were entering a period of unprecedented growth and I wanted to remain at the tip of the spear.
At the time I knew building this in the US was taking on a tremendous challenge, but I could have never predicted quite how challenging—and fulfilling—it would be. Since then, we have:
- Built the most exceptional team of human beings I have ever worked with, growing from one to 15 full-time employees across New York City, Austin, and Boulder.
- We raised our first fund (on Zoom in the middle of COVID—don’t recommend).
- We’ve received and reviewed 17K+ applications for Antler’s US residency to date.
- We’ve invited 700+ founders into the Antler US residency.
- We’ve invested in 137 exceptional teams and completed the deployment of our maiden fund.
Those teams have gone to market and raised capital from the likes of Craft Ventures, Caffeinated Capital, Lerer Hippeau, Struck Capital, LMNT, SOMA, Serena Ventures, Zigg, Bank Tech Ventures, Goodwater, Touchdown Ventures, AlleyCorp, leAD Sports, and more.
From 2019 to 2023, we’ve learned, adapted, pivoted, backtracked, retracked, won, lost, and tested countless ways to provide the absolute best experience for founders and to build a successful portfolio for our investors.
Along with the rest of the world, we transitioned to a work-from-home reality overnight in 2020 (just months after first NYC residency) and lived through COVID with our founders, investors, and Antler team.
We re-launched our in-person residency in 2022, and re-committed to the magic of bringing exceptional people together, in real life, to launch startups. What makes Antler unique is that we spend eight weeks with founders before investing. From our perspective, this is a crucial aspect of our due diligence process. We back founders earlier than any other investor; we bring founders into our residency pre-idea and will invest in them pre-pitch deck. It is pivotal to spend real time with our founders before making an investment decision and equally for them to spend time with us before taking our investment.
I look back with pride on our journey so far, but most of all, I look forward with resolve and excitement to keep providing the infrastructure founders need—but are so often missing—in the first six months of building a startup. We want to be the best place on the planet for founders to find co-founders, build exceptional teams, test ideas, and rapidly launch their startups.
As we come to the close of our first fund, we applied everything we’ve learned and re-evaluated the first principles of our business. To deliver on our commitment to founders, we are excited to announce some big changes to Antler’s US investment terms taking effect this Fall 2023.
A New Deal
We rebuilt the structure of our investment with the aim of providing a comprehensive financing package that sets founders up for long-term success, while providing meaningful upside for our investors in a portfolio of companies that will change the world. These terms will be available to founders starting in our October 2023 Fall residencies in Austin, Boulder, and New York City.
Here are the key features of our New Deal; additional detail on each component is provided below:
- Founder Grant: If you are relocating to participate in our founder residency, you are eligible for a $2.5K Founder Grant to cover living expenses.
- Revised Investment: If you participate in our founder residency, you have the opportunity to pitch our US Investment Committee for a $250K investment at $2.75M post (giving us a 9.09% ownership stake).
- Access to Follow-On Capital: We now have dedicated funds reserved for follow-on investment in your seed round.
One of the most unique aspects of the Antler residency is that we require founders to come and work with us in person for eight weeks before making a final investment decision. This gives founders the ability to really get to know us before taking our money, and gives us the ability to make investment decisions based on the merits of a founder in action as opposed to a pitch deck.
A large percentage of our founders actually travel from other cities to join our residencies in Austin, Boulder, and NYC. We have been pleasantly surprised at how many founders travel to participate in our residencies, but it has created a barrier we hadn’t previously considered: the cost of living in another city for eight weeks.
When founders join our residency, they aren’t guaranteed investment at the end. But, starting this Fall, all founders relocating for the Antler US residency will be eligible for a $2,500 grant to cover the travel and basic living expenses associated with joining our program, no strings attached. For founders who do not receive investment from Antler at the end of the residency, this grant is theirs to keep. And for those who do receive investment? The grant is also entirely theirs to keep. No small print, hidden text, or shenanigans. We believe in building better infrastructure for exceptional people to start companies. This ensures that choosing to join the Antler US residency is a truly risk-free endeavor for all founders.
At the end of our eight-week residency, all founders have an opportunity to pitch to our US Investment Committee to receive pre-seed funding for a $250K investment at a $2.75M post money valuation in the form of a SAFE (giving us 9.09% ownership of your new company).
Founders are best equipped for success with a runway of 12 months or more during the pre-seed stage. Conservatively, if a team is burning $20K per month with our new $250K investment amount, they’ll have exactly 12 months of runway to find product-market-fit. Realistically we’ve seen teams build successfully while burning much less than $20K, making the effective runway of our check size closer to 18 months.
The path from pre-seed to seed rounds is not straightforward. Founders spend a lot of time testing, experimenting, talking to customers, pivoting, then pivoting again before a company really finds its feet in between these two rounds. David Sacks aptly dubbed this the “wilderness period.” Attempting to raise additional VC funding during this vulnerable period is an unnecessary distraction. We’ve revised our terms to alleviate this concern and allow founders to focus 100% of their energy on their customers.
On this SAFE investment we have two rights that we ask founders for: pro-rata and information rights. This allows us to continue investing into and advocating for our founders as their companies grow and mature.
Dedicated Follow-On Reserves
While the first check into a nascent company matters, securing follow-on investment from your early investors demonstrates their conviction in your company and is an important part of catalyzing your subsequent funding rounds. For this reason, we are announcing that after receiving our initial investment, founders in our portfolio are now also eligible to access a reserve follow-on investment from the Antler US team into their seed round, powering your growth as you continue to scale.
If you’re an aspiring founder or exceptional individual looking to find your co-founder(s), build a business from day zero, and secure funding from our eight-week residency, you can learn more about Antler's residency in the US here or apply to Antler today.