Tina shares her journey from startups through VC to becoming a founder herself at Antler in Canada

Antler was founded on the belief that people innovating is the key to building a better future. In our content series—” It All Starts with People”—we spotlight the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering with worldwide. Each story is a window into their passions, motivations, and vision—the reasons they build and the positive dent they aim to make in the world.

This time, we sat down with Tina Hashemnia, who decided to take on the founder journey with Antler, after years of experience as an operator in startups, scale-ups, and venture capital. Today, Tina shares her past experiences, and how they shaped her thinking, and helped her get ready to become a successful founder.


Klára Vítková

In addition to her bachelor's degree from King’s College London, Klára has pursued her master's degree at WHU in Germany and the University of Toronto in Canada. During her studies, she gained experience in PE from King’s Investment Fund, the only student-led investment fund with real investments. Apart from that she is a skilled journalist with a focus on stock markets, VC, and startups. Klára is also a member of the board at Family Business Network where she supports more than 6,400 young business family members from 65 countries from around the world.

Klára is a skilled journalist with a passion for entrepreneurship and startups. She gained her experience at Forbes magazine and other economic publications in the Czech Republic and the UK where she focused on fiscal policy, economics, as well as startups and VC investments. She has a bachelor's degree in economics and finance from King's College London and is pursuing her MBA at WHU, Germany, and the University of Toronto.

Hi Tina. Please, tell me about yourself and your background.

I grew up in Dubai during its hyper-growth era, which shaped so much of how I see the world today. There was so much innovation, and new ventures emerging - an entirely new city being built from scratch. Coming from an entrepreneurial family that left Iran to find better opportunities for themselves, this was the perfect backdrop for me to fall in love with venture building at a young age.

For university, I moved to Vancouver to study at the University of British Columbia. Initially, I had big, humanitarian ambitions, and thought I was going to join the World Bank or the United Nations and change the world.

After talking to people in the industry, I realized that to make a change I needed to build something myself. I started my professional journey at a Series A Fintech startup, where I developed a passion for the dynamic and ever-changing nature of startup life

I realized that to make a change I needed to build something myself.

Why is now the right time for you to build your own startup?

After 3 years at a growing startup, I joined a seed-stage startup as the Chief of Staff. From there, it only felt right to see what it’s like to be on the other side of the table and I transitioned into venture capital as a Chief of Staff. Being a part of the growth story of two incredible startups and meeting innovative founders every day in VC was infectious, and I realized I needed to start something of my own.

Do you think that being on the VC side has helped you to prepare for your startup journey?

It's a double-edged sword. You're intimately aware of the challenges that founders face and that raising capital doesn’t make life simple. You see all the ups and downs and understand more of the risks. Sometimes there's a certain advantage to going into it a little bit naive, not knowing what to expect and just having to deal with it head-on, versus being aware.

Sometimes there's a certain advantage to going into it a little bit naive, not knowing what to expect and just having to deal with it head-on, versus being aware.

However, the ability to evaluate industry opportunities, foresee the defensibility of a business, and understand its risks are invaluable assets I've gained from working in the VC world.

Why did you decide to build your company with Antler?

When Antler reached out to me, it seemed too good of an opportunity for me to pass on. For ten weeks, you’re surrounded by incredibly ambitious people who all have the goal of creating something amazing. If you end up finding a cofounder and having a great idea, you get their investment and backing as a long-term partner on your startup journey. And even if you don’t manage to find a cofounder or have a great idea, there’s still the benefit of having learned so much more, connected with like-minded people, and hopefully also grown as a professional.

So, it was a no-brainer. Joining Antler meant I could find a great cofounder, and get guidance, mentorship, and possibly capital to start my own venture. It just lined up perfectly.

What was the biggest challenge so far?

Finding a problem statement or problem space that fits into three overlapping circles - something I am equipped to go into, something that I am passionate about working on for the next decade, and lastly, an industry that has enough potential and where there is opportunity to build and scale. After that, it was finding a cofounder whose circles overlapped with mine!

Do you have some recommendations or tips for people who are joining the next Antler cohort?

Come in with a really open mind to a few different areas that you're interested in working on. Do research on industries with a lot of potential and opportunity. It does not necessarily have to be the industries that have buzz around them. Rather try to look 10 years into the future and imagine what industries will emerge, what will still be around, and what will not.

Apart from that, there are two resources that I always recommend to new founders. The first is the Mom Test, which is the Bible for doing customer discovery interviews - every founder should read it. The second resource is the product discovery frameworks by Strategyzer.

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