Name: SputnikATX

Location: Austin, Texas

Web site:

What it is: The firm looks for early stage maker-founders who solve real problems. It incubates and invests in eight to 12 startups a year. Each startup receives $100K via a SAFE note and follow-on funding is $500K. There are 47 founders in its portfolio as of this spring, leading companies including those focused on podcasting analytics to cat care to oil pipeline corrosion.

Leadership: Oksana Malysheva, a physicist who immigrated to the United States from Ukraine. She also worked for McKinsey and Motorola. Joe Merrill is a former diplomat and startup founder. Oksana is managing partner at the Linden Venture Fund; Merrill remains a partner there, too.

Investment style/track record: The firm has invested $5 million over two and a half years. In the spring, Malysheva asked for founders working on projects that combat police brutality.  “I’m not promising to fund every idea that comes my way,” says Malysheva, “but I am promising to go and dig and look for this.” She is also looking for LatinX founders.

Quote: “It’s useful not to have any preconceived notions,” Malysheva told Nina Kaarina Roberts, reporting for Times of E.  Malysheva grew up, she describes as, “extremely poor.”

Note: This article was changed 8/15/20 to correct the founders’ continuing roles with the Linden funds.

This story and others on New Builders Dispatch are made possible by a sponsorship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that provides access to opportunities that help people achieve financial stability, upward mobility, and economic prosperity – regardless of race, gender, or geography. The Kansas City, Mo.-based foundation uses its grantmaking, research, programs, and initiatives to support the start and growth of new businesses, a more prepared workforce, and stronger communities. For more information, visit and connect with and

A business journalist for 20 years, am the founder of Times of Entrepreneurship and the co-author of The New Builders.