Halah Rejoins Xfund Full-Time

HKQ - 2015 (2)

I am thrilled to join Xfund full-time to support our mission to seek out and support liberal arts founders, and to spearhead some exciting new initiatives on the East Coast.

Hugo and I first met through Harvard when SEAS faculty collaborated with the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s first-ever state-of-the-art cultural center. I joined Xfund in 2011 and have now worked with Hugo, and our Xfund 1 partners Jim, Harry, Alan and Patrick, for almost half a decade. In that time, Xfund has blossomed from a handful of Cambridge-based investments to an impressive family of portfolio companies based all over the U.S. We’ve held three Experiment Assemblies, hosted 22 Experiment Tea events, raised $100 million in our second fund, and evaluated more than 3,000 inbound deals.

In 2014, I decided pursued a full-time masters degree in Technology Innovation and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, while working at Xfund part-time. This experience strengthened my passion for education and entrepreneurship, while allowing me to study the role of the entrepreneurial leader, and more specifically the educational pathways of those leaders and their driving force in the venture economy. It also allowed me to see Harvard from the student perspective.

I am now returning to Xfund full-time in part to manage Xfund’s education initiatives and to support Xfund’s east coast activities.

Xfund’s unique position at the intersection of leading universities and venture firms brings a world of learning and development, the most formative thinkers, new talent, and unparalleled resources to our founders and teams.  To work everyday alongside these faculty and students is to create new models of learning and value creation.

I am very excited to continue working with the Xfund team, our family of founders and teams, and the inaugural class of Experiment Fellows, all at the intersection of education and entrepreneurship.


Kristen Ostro Joins Xfund

Kristine Ostro

The holidays and new year bring about a time of change, fresh starts, and a few unexpected gifts.  As 2014 came to a close, no gift was more unexpected than a call from Patrick and Hugo asking if I’d be interested in joining them at Xfund.  After a flurry of calls, emails, and Google Hangouts, I was thrilled to come back into their lives and help them build the incredible firm they founded in 2011.

Patrick and I spent many years working together at NEA.  It’s exciting to be back in the fold with Hugo, whom I’ve had the pleasure of seeing during the years that he and NEA (and Accel and Polaris Partners) incubated—and eventually spun off—Xfund.  Now the band is back together as Xfund 2 launches in earnest.

Xfund’s deep connection to the best university towns in the nation is truly exciting to me.  I hail from the small town of Sonoma, California, and attended Towson University in Maryland, where I was recruited to play on their Division One Women’s Volleyball team while majoring in Business Administration.  Spending those formative years back east, followed by over a decade in the Silicon Valley, drew a very bright line in my mind between the universities that identify, develop, and seed young minds and teams, and the fertile soils within startups that help them to achieve their greatest creative expression and impact.  Being at the nexus of these two worlds is an incredible thesis for a new type of venture firm—there’s nothing else like it. Harvard’s founding role in Xfund, and the firm’s close ties to MIT, and other great birthplaces of extraordinary companies, means that our founders have access to people, knowledge, and capital that just aren’t available anywhere else.

I will be leading Xfund’s operations—helping to mobilize our unparalleled network of extraordinary people, resources, and institutions in service of the founders and companies we are fortunate enough to work with.  This is familiar territory for me: I was lucky to be the first employee and Director of Operations at Homebrew, where I helped Hunter Walk and Satya Patel build the firm from the ground up and successfully invest in over 30 exciting seed stage companies, such as Shyp, Layer, and theSkimm.  Before Homebrew, I ran many of NEA’s west coast events and marketing programs.  I’ve been fortunate to be a part of many dynamic and impactful teams in my career, and am thrilled to join the all-star line-up at Xfund.

I can’t wait to meet all of you and show you what this firm can do.  More exciting announcements from us to follow!


Announcing Xfund 2

We are thrilled to announce the close of Xfund 2. But we really think of it as a new opening.

Formed in January 2011, Experiment Fund, LLC, was the first ever partnership between four of the nation’s most successful venture capital firms—NEA, Breyer Capital, Accel Partners and Polaris Partners. Experiment Fund, LLC was anchored  at Harvard.*  Since our founding we’ve been an early-stage venture capital firm dedicated to investing in technically-gifted liberal arts entrepreneurs.  Xfund has always been open to everyone, whether or not you went to Harvard or MIT (or to college).

Since we began operations just under two years ago, over 3,500 founding teams from around the world have sought Xfund’s help. We managed to meet about a third of these teams and were privileged to work directly with a handful as investors, board members, and friends. With this new round of funding we’ve got the resources to help even more teams.

We are often asked what makes Xfund different from other venture capital firms. First, we have a unique structure—a combination of the nation’s top-tier venture firms and strong relationships with leading university faculty.

However, we stand out the most in the quality and type of founders we back.

At Xfund we believe technical talent is necessary, but not sufficient, to build incredible companies—that entrepreneurs with grounding in the liberal arts often make more insightful innovators and entrepreneurs.  Cherry Murray, Dean of Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, tells a great story of a team of scientists who sought to build the perfect mosquito net: they painstakingly optimized the net’s mesh size, tensile strength, and concentration of insecticide to create an inarguably amazing product.  But when they manufactured and distributed thousands of them to villages in Uganda and Kenya, the nets went entirely unused: they were colored white, which in those cultures is the color of death.

The liberal arts cultivate thinking that is both practical and magical.  As Steve Jobs said, “technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our hearts sing.” With us you can be a hacker and a historian. You can be a techno-utopian and an aesthete.  We look for minds that stretch laterally and not just linearly.  We want the innovator who knows how to design an incredible mosquito net, and knows to make it black.

So if you’re able to connect to a real human problem and have an idea of how to solve it, here’s what you’ll get from Xfund: the support of a partnership of the nation’s most renowned investing groups, and with the launch of Xfund 2, a significant pool of capital powering a new class of companies that will make all our hearts sing. Drop us a line or come visit us in our original office in Cambridge or our new office in Silicon Valley and find out how differently we think.  And how differently we act.

Patrick and Hugo

* Xfund is a separate legal entity from Harvard and actively supports teams with no Harvard affiliation.  Harvard does not influence Xfund’s investment decisions.  

See our FAQ and read the official Xfund 2 Press Release.

Patrick joins Xfund full-time

Patrick Chung

It has been a busy summer at Xfund and as some of you many know, we are excited to officially announce that Patrick will be joining me at Xfund full-time.

Patrick and I first met in 2008 and during the intervening years our friendship strengthened and evolved into a shared vision for university entrepreneurship. Four years ago, when I conceived of Xfund with our co-founders David Edwards, Accel, Breyer Capital, NEA, and Polaris, I knew that we not only had a tremendous opportunity, but also a great responsibility to our entrepreneurs, investors, and community partners.

It was not long before our seed experiment began bearing fruit and feeding a community of founders and faculty who shared our vision. Xfund’s growth exceeded our wildest expectations.

Patrick will remain on the west coast alongside Xfund’s portfolio there, and to invest in San Francisco and the university towns of Palo Alto and Berkeley.

More exciting announcements to follow later in the fall.

For now, welcome Patrick!


Accel and Polaris Partners Join Xfund

Today, Accel Partners, Breyer Capital, and Polaris Venture Partners join New Enterprise Associates (NEA) as partners of The Experiment Fund (www.Xfund.com), a seed-stage venture capital fund anchored at Harvard and designed to cultivate innovation and bold experimentation in the Boston area. Jim Breyer (Accel) and Alan Crane (Polaris) will join the Experiment Fund’s Investment Board.

Also announced today are several new advisers to the Fund, including former Harvard Law School professor and former Director of the Berkman Center John Palfrey, Facebook co-founder Andrew McCollum, noted entrepreneur and MIT researcher Hugo Liu, and an ex-officio post created for the President of Harvard Student Agencies. The Experiment Fund will be lead by Harvard-based partner and co-founder Hugo Van Vuuren.

Launched by Cherry A. Murray, Dean of Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) in January 2012, The Experiment Fund will increase its fund size to further its mission to seek out and support the best engineers, entrepreneurs and designers starting their companies and careers in Cambridge, MA.