Member Profile: Ash Rust

Ash Rust Headshot

Ash Rust is an entrepreneur turned investor. He is the Managing Partner of Sterling Road, a venture fund focused on pre-seed stage B2B companies. He was an advisor to Bullpen Capital and previously worked at Trinity Ventures. Ash has mentored hundreds of startups through accelerator programs including Y-Combinator, Techstars, Alchemist, and universities such as Stanford, UC Berkeley, and Oxford. Before investing, Ash was Cofounder and CEO of SendHub (acquired: Cameo Global, Y-Combinator W12) and Director of Ranking at Klout (acquired: Lithium). Ash earned a Masters in Computer Science from Oxford, served as an Officer in the British Army, and currently resides in San Francisco.


Sterling Road:

Founded in 2017, Sterling Road spends time before investing money. We coach pre-seed, B2B founders for months before investing. We want to know that both sides are excited to work together for years. Because that’s often how long it often takes to build a great business.


Tell us about how you founded Sterling Road?

As an entrepreneur with a few good acquisitions under my belt, I was spending time with a lot of different Venture Capital funds. I enjoyed helping out early stage founders but not a lot of the other aspects of working at a VC firm. Especially the mad rush when every firm suddenly gets excited about a company. Seeing that happen a few times with all the transactional behavior it creates on both sides got me thinking that there must be a different approach. That’s why in 2016 I started Sterling Road, working hard to establish a relationship with a founding team before money is involved.


What have been the biggest challenges in scaling?

Right now, I’m the only investor on the team, so I would love to find someone committed to founder coaching, who also wants to take the risk of being a partner in a pre-seed fund. Not the easiest person to find but the search continues!


What does the future hold for you?

We will continue to build out Sterling Road’s international footprint. We just started investing in the UK in the last year and British founders account for nearly half of our current fund. I think that trend will continue and we will expand into European investments too.


Do you have any advice for future founding partners?

Fundraising for your first fund can take at least 1 year. For most of the GPs I talk to, the average is 12-18 months, so you need to have ample runway and ensure your team is ready for the long road ahead.


On a closing note, what’s the best business book you’ve read?

Hands down: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, by Noah Goldstein.