Tyler Norwood, Managing Partner for Antler in the U.S.

Austin has a new venture capital firm, Antler, that is accepting applications for its first cohort, which is expected to kick off next month.

Tyler Norwood is a managing partner for Antler in the U.S. where he oversees the firm’s U.S. operations.

“Our plan was always to start in New York and then to launch across probably what we would consider the top 7 to 10 tech ecosystems in the U.S. and Austin was on that list even before COVID hit, and Austin really became part of the conversation as tech expands outside of the coastal cities,” Norwood said.

When COVID hit, Norwood and all his team were living in New York. He went down to North Carolina to live with his parents. And then he started traveling around the country to scout out Antler’s second location in the  U.S. He stayed in Airbnbs in Los Angeles, Seattle, Boulder, and Austin, and Austin stood out as the best location and it resonated with him the most, he said. He bought a house and moved here last year.

“I think Austin has all the components you need to become a successful tech hub,” Norwood said. Even though many would already consider Austin a tech hub, he said he thinks it has a lot more potential for growth and to get to the next level.

Antler will select about 30 founders to participate in the Austin program which will last six weeks. After that, the founders will pitch their ventures to Antler and the firm will decide whether to invest in them.

Antler invests in the pre-seed stage but it also can offer its portfolio companies follow-on capital as they grow and scale, up to Series C funding rounds.

What makes Antler unusual is that the firm invests in founders with ideas. They don’t have to have a startup, Norwood said. He spoke recently to Silicon Hills News on the Ideas to Invoices podcast about the firm’s local plans.

Antler was founded in Singapore in 2017 as an early-stage VC firm. It has raised $300 million to date and has invested in more than 350 companies globally since 2018. The company gets more than 50,000 applications for its cohorts and only accepts less than 5 percent of them.

When selecting a founder, Norwood said he looks for founders who are curious, have a life-long love of learning, have a strong work ethic, and have integrity.

“Ultimately, I think successful founders have to be really curious, they have to really wonder why are things the way they are, how did we get to where we are, what are we going to have to do to change things. How can I change things? Norwood said.

Antler also gets back to founders within 24 hours of applying on its website. Norwood said Antler is receiving about 20 applications a day for its Austin cohort. When the firm receives an application, he or his team will contact the founder and set up an interview if they are interested in moving forward. The firm is also industry agnostic. It is interested in founders who are solving big problems in a variety of industries, Norwood said.

Antler’s portfolio companies span 30 different industries. And 40 percent of the companies have at least one female co-founder.

Investing in female founders makes financial sense, Norwood said. Female founders bring a different perspective to business, and they have valuable insights, he said.

And even though companies in the U.S. raised $621 billion, a record amount of venture capital in 2021, Norwood thinks there is still a frighteningly low number of founders starting a business. Antler fills a role in helping seed-stage companies launch, he said. Norwood wrote an essay on Medium outlining his thoughts about why the world needs more founders.

To apply for its Austin cohort, go to Antler.co. For more on the interview with Norwood listen to the entire podcast posted below or on Apple iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.