Day One Ventures, a venture firm launched in 2018 with the goal of combining venture capital acumen with marketing and communications support, has launched a program specifically aimed at those impacted by this year’s tech layoffs.
The program, titled “Funded Not Fired,” will write $100,000 checks to 20 startup teams by the end of the year. The top businesses from the cohort will get follow-up capital from Day One Ventures who committed to lead their pre-seed round with a $1 million check. In total, the company is allocating at least $5 million from its $52.5 million fund to support founders spinning off troubled startups.
Founder and GP Masha Bucher, who left his former life in Russia as a politician and TV reporter to become a venture capitalist, initiated the program in the wake of layoffs at Stripe and Twitter last week. His bet? At least 0.1% to 1% of the thousands of employees affected by tech layoffs this year could be incredible founders.
The program is essentially a formal double-click on the venture’s fascination with mafia founders, aka people who quit high-profile gigs at even higher-profile companies to start their own businesses. An additional layer of complexity, however, is the downturn that somewhat defined 2022 in tech. For example, if I was fired from my job, I don’t know if my first thought would be to bet on myself and start a risky business that is likely to fail. According to Bucher, however, that mindset is exactly what will drive me (and probably many laid-off tech employees) out of the world of entrepreneurship anyway.
“I think if you’re afraid of risk, you’re just not going to be a good founder,” Bucher said. “Don’t get me wrong, starting a company in this era when so many changes have happened in the last three years,” is difficult, he added, saying that it certainly makes sense if people want to find work or work with the founders instead of being one. Other examples of programs created to help activate the next generation of entrepreneurs include Z Fellows and Cleo Capital’s former fellowship for layoffs.
He made sure to emphasize that the program is “not a charity” and that people from Stripe and Twitter won’t get preferential treatment when building Day One Ventures (even though they were the inspiration for the program).
Aspiring founders don’t need an incorporated company, or even a fully flushed startup idea, to apply to the program. The form asks for the founders’ background, top ideas, metrics and why behind their entrepreneurial journey. To qualify for the accelerator, at least one co-founder must have been recently laid off, they must work full time at the startup and can show three references.
The deadline to apply is November 25, 2022 and final decisions will be made by December 20, 2022.
“Compared to all the other VCs that take until next year, we will work until December 31 – which is perfectly fine,” Bucher said. “I just feel that times like this are a perfect opportunity for us to do a little bit more, to go the extra mile, to not rest and hopefully come back to some companies that in the future will be as big as Coinbase , Airbnb and Stripe.”