Former YC Continuity head targets $350 million growth-stage fund

Former YC Continuity head targets $350 million growth-stage fund

Anu Hariharan, who led YC Continuity before the storied accelerator scrapped the program, has partnered with two of her former colleagues and former Brex executive Lucas Fox to launch a new fund that is targeting raising about $350 million and operating a program that some peg as “YC for growth,” four sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

The new fund, whose name is Avra, plans to operate an eight-week program with a cohort of about a dozen post-Series A startups each quarter. The invite-only program will pick startups with strong product market fit and generating at least a few million dollars in revenue, people briefed on the matter told TechCrunch.

Resembling Y Combinator’s approach, the initiative aims to connect startup founders with experienced entrepreneurs at the late stage. Together with Avra’s partners — besides Hariharan and Fox, another two former YC executives are founding members of Avra, according to sources — these seasoned business leaders will guide the newer CEOs through various challenges, including how to mature in the leadership role, and assist them in steering clear of common mistakes.

Avra recently concluded its maiden eight-week program. It plans to offer to invest in some of the startups in each cohort, some of the sources said, requesting anonymity as the details are private.

Hariharan and Fox declined to comment.

The first cohort of startups included Runway, Supabase, Roboflow and Hex Technologies, the sources said. Barry McCardel, co-founder and chief executive of Hex, confirmed that his startup participated in Avra’s maiden program. Tony Xu of DoorDash and Parker Conrad of Rippling were among the mentors in the first cohort.

“The thing that sold me on Avra was the caliber of guests they had come in to speak with us. It was remarkably useful and inspiring to hear from other founders, CEOs, and operators about how they built their companies. I am usually pretty skeptical of VC programming – but Anu’s insight and the quality of the guests made it truly useful and worthwhile,” McCardel told TechCrunch in an email.

Cristobal Valenzuela of Runway also confirmed the startup’s participation in Avra’s first cohort.

“The program was excellent,” he told TechCrunch. “Primarily they invited some of the most exceptional CEOs who have faced similar challenges that we are going through now. The program is well-structured, filling in a lot of the blind spots we had over the next 24 month horizon.” Supabase and Roboflow didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

YC’s abrupt move earlier this year to abandon its growth-stage fund caught several executives off guard, including Hariharan and Ali Rowghani, who jointly managed the late-stage fund. This unexpected shift also left a gap in the growth and late-stage venture sphere, particularly for a fund capable of providing resources and connections akin to YC’s style.

Over the years, Hariharan has built a strong reputation for being incredibly supportive of founders, a trait evident in her continued board membership in numerous YC Continuity portfolio startups. Just two months after YC shut Continuity fund, she had finalized plans for launching Avra, according to individuals who interacted with her in May.

“‘Early growth’ companies are in an awkward phase: you may have PMF, but still have a lot to figure out. [Avra’s] program hit all the biggest, hardest challenges we are dealing with, and gives us a chance to spend time with experts and peers who have gone through the same thing. It was super useful. My only feedback is that I wish the program went longer,” said Hex’s McCardel.

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