WIN Wednesdays: Christina A. Brodbeck

This week WIN Wednesdays woman is Christina A. Brodbeck. Christina is the co-founder of theicebreak, an app for couples to make the most out of their relationships. Prior to theicebreak, Christina was a founding team member at YouTube and the company’s first UI Designer. She later went on to lead UI for YouTube Mobile. She is an active angel investor and mentor at various places like 500 Startups and The Designer Fund. Follow Christina and theicebreak on Twitter.

Why do you think there aren’t more women angels/investors?
What do you think can be done to change that?

Women need to take it upon themselves to become more comfortable
with risk. Investing is a risky business, and there are no guarantees you’ll
make a profit or even get your money back. Women need to become
more comfortable with the instability of seed stage investing. I’ve spoken
with a lot of women who are more at ease playing traditional markets
or participating in institutional investment opportunities (e.g. – series A
and B) where there is less risk; they are, however, intimidated by angel
investing. I’ve had many interactions with fellow female investors where
they try to treat angel deals like institutional deals, and expect the founders
to have five year detailed financial projections. This is unrealistic; if you
are investing in an angel deal, their financial projections, and most likely
their entire company idea will change a number of times. Women need to
become comfortable with this risk.

We also need to create more women with wealth in the tech sector. To do
this, we need to get women into start-up companies at very early stages,
either as founders or as early employees, so they can get enough equity to
make money to invest. Traditionally early employees are technical, and so

we need to get more women into science, technology, and design so that
they can fill those roles. In addition, we need more startups and investors
to recognize the value of non-technical roles early on. A great business or
marketing person can make just as good a founder as a great engineer.

What was one of the most helpful pieces of advice you
received during your career?

The best advice I received was that as an entrepreneur, you are both a
person and a company. You are the face of both and you need to be
confident and be able to sell yourself if you’re going to have any hope of
selling your vision.

What was one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made during
your career? What did you learn from it?

Growing up, I mistakenly thought that your career is where you make
money, and your hobbies are where you have fun. Society tends to
encourage this mentality, teaching children that the only way to be
successful is to become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. It took me a bit
longer than it should have to recognize that my hobby of designing Web
sites, something I desperately loved, could also be my career. I was a
history and pre-law major in college. When I made the decision to not apply
to law school and instead pursue design, it was a real turning point. Now
I’m able to do what I love every day and profit from it too!

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a politician or in the CIA. As a teenager, instead of music
posters, my bedroom door was plastered with magazine cutouts of Franklin
Delano Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton, and Bill Clinton. I was actually kind
of obsessed with FDR, and admired his ability to come up with creative
solutions to complicated problems.

How did you become an entrepreneur and angel investor?

I don’t think it was one particular event that led me to become an
entrepreneur and an angel investor. I was always attracted to new and
exciting things and to helping others do the same.

As a kid family stories of my great-grandfather’s life had a huge impact on
me. I was in awe of his courage, his capacity to take huge risks, and his
desire to go on personal adventures. Despite the equivalent of a fifth grade
education and failed attempts at starting various companies (like a lumber
company), he eventually succeeded by founding a brass works foundry and
faucet company that later sold to American Standard.

As far back as I can remember I was always coming up with new business
ideas and schemes, and trying them out. For example, in college I was
working on starting a t-shirt design business. In high school I designed bags
for my grandmother to sew. When I was in elementary school, my friend and I
would regularly charge the neighborhood kids and parents to attend our talent

The real risk and a-ha moment, however, happened when I chose to move
out to California from Illinois without a job in sight to pursue my “hobby” of
designing web sites. I’ll never forget my dad saying at the airport “good luck
little pioneer.”

Do you have any advice for those interested in becoming
angel investors?

Stop thinking about it, and just go out and do it already!

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iOS6 & iPhone 5 App Store Discoverability: What changed? What can you do about it?

This is a post-iOS6 update to a previous guest post by Naoki Shibata, co-founder of, part of our 2nd accelerator batch. SearchMan is SEO for Apps, helping developers with App Store Search tracking and keyword optimization. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for more content.

Problem: Why do developers seem to hate iOS6 App Store Search? In iOS5, you see 5 apps in search results and can get to #25 with one flick of the finger in a second. With iOS6 search, you see only 1 app per page so it’s really difficult for a user to discover which cool apps are in the top 100.

Solution: If you assume that web user behavior will transfer to mobile, then when it gets cumbersome for users to browse results, they will enter more descriptive phrases to get relevant results fast. eg search for “free video poker game” vs. “poker”. Longer phrases are 70% of search volume on the web (as an indicator), they’re less competitive, & and probably see higher post-click conversion (download) rates because the user explicitly searched for “free video poker game”.

Therefore, developers have a chance of capitalizing on this and taking steps to rank #1 under each of their long tail keywords and phrases.

For developers without access to a giant ad budget to boost-market their App into the Top Apple Charts, App Store SEO might be the best bet to improve discoverability inside the over crowded App Store.

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Co-Founding Love: Lifelong Business Partners

This story is by Oguz Serdar, co-founder of Limk. This story is on how he met his fellow co-founder Ozer Dolekoglu. Limk aims to cut through web noise intelligently by checking the social graph of every single user and offer them related deals or goodies. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Ozer Dolekoglu, Product Guy (left) and Oguz Serdar, Chief Hustler (right)

In early 2009, I was trying to learn more about the tech scene of Adana (a southern city in Turkey that I moved for my civil engineering major). After few months of non-stop searching for individuals by attending related university clubs, participating online communities, etc., I was getting nervous whether I’d find any new people who are into startups at my new city. The moment when I was ready to quit that search, I decided to take a look at Twitter (it was really unpopular in Turkey) by listing accounts from Adana. Surprisingly, I noticed one of my favorite bookmarking services name: Limk. That was a moment of surprise when I found out that Ozer, the founder of Limk, was living in Adana like me. After checking his social networks, I also noticed that he was rocking with his band as a hobby.

I sent him a message explaining my situation. We met, talked about lots of stuff after his performance. From that day on, as two guys (with 14 year age gap!), who earned their life on various internet businesses became inseparable.

We started Adana chapter of Likemind events to fix  the lack of attention. It was our first attempt together. Turns out, not a lot of tech people exist in our city and we decided to let it go. We focused our attention on implementing new ideas to Limk and hosted the first WordCamp Turkey event by bringing Matt Mullenweg and Tim Ferriss to Istanbul. We hustle hard! Later, we contacted big players of the startup scene including TheNextWeb Blog.  After long conversations over Skype with the founders, we launched a local TNW Blog in Turkish. That later led the blog team to scale growth by focusing on different channels & languages. After working six to seven months together for TNW, we plunged into developing the new idea forming the media network Limk. Shortly after deferring my enrollment for Civil Engineering (Cukurova University) and Business Administration (Anadolu University), I found myself in Chile with no time to lose in the Start-Up Chile program. Graduating from the program, Limk is almost ready to launch with over 70,000 users on the waiting list, and we’re definitely relocating to San Francisco.

Reflecting back on the last three years, we’re definitely believers in the saying “being co-founders is like being married without sex”. We experienced a lot of ups and downs together. I saw Ozer cry when he became a dad for the first time, and he has helped me so many times through my personal struggles. We have our share of fights along the way too. Solid relationships are built on trust, clear communication, and compassion over an extended period of time. It’s a very difficult journey, but having co-founders that believe in you and share your vision, that makes the journey more manageable. I feel really lucky to have Ozer as a lifelong friend, business partner, and I am grateful for that day we met.

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Inbox Love – Back by Popular Demand!

Inbox Love – Back by Popular Demand!



A 1-day conference on the future of email + the inbox as a platform, produced by 500 Startups, Jared Goralnick (AwayFind) & Josh Baer (OtherInbox).


Wednesday, October 24th: Mountain View, California


$75 OFF WITH CODE:   500InboxLover




In 2011, Inbox Love drew 400+ startups, executives, and investors from companies like:



    • Facebook


    • Yahoo


    • SendGrid


    • MailChimp


    • Google


    • Constant Contact


    • Xobni


    • Twilio


    • Flowtown


    • VMware Zimbra


    • RapLeaf


    • AOL





2012 Inbox Love will feature speakers who lead platforms like:



    • Greg Gould, Group Product Manager, Return Path


    • Josh Baer, Platform Partnership, Other Inbox


    • Jared Goralnick, Founder & CEO, Away


    • Gloria Mark, Professor at Department of Informatics, UC Irvine


    • Alexander Moore, CEO, Baydin


    • Rahul Vohra, CEO, Rapportive


    • Tawheed Kader, Founder, Toutapp


    • Vivek Sharma, CEO, Movable Ink


    • David Troy, CEO, 410 Labs


    • Chris McGarry, VP Strategic Solutions, Cloud Sherpas


    • + Gmail, Outlook, YahooMail & more!



$75 OFF WITH CODE:  500InboxLover



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WIN Wednesdays: Linda Bernardi

This week’s WIN Wednesday Woman is Linda Benardi. Linda is the author of ProVoke, a book that stirs discussion on the critical importance of global disruption. She also lectures at The University of Washington Bothell MBA program and serves as the CEO ofStraTerra Partners, a technology strategy consulting firm.  Linda also carries the roles of angel investor, board member, and advisor in a number of tech companies as well as not-for-profits globally. Previously, she founded and ran a company called ConnecTerra Inc, a software company in the RFID arena that was acquired in 2005. Follow her on Twitter here.

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JUST ANNOUNCED: Geeks on a Plane’s next tour to…








So far GOAP has...


> Visited over 21 cities in 15 countries across 4 continents
> Connected more than 6000+ entrepreneurs worldwide
> Been covered by 100+ press outlets including CNN, BusinessWeek, TechCrunch & GigaOm


If selected, you will…


> BUILD strategic alliances with the tech + startup community in the Middle East
> MEET key influencers driving innovation – startups, investors, corporations, & government leaders
> LEARN about growth markets, challenges, and opportunities
> DEVELOP lifelong friendships and business contacts with locals & other GOAPers


What is Geeks on a Plane?


Geeks on a Plane (#GOAP) has become one of the most recognized global technology and startup programs. A private, invite-only tour for selected startups, investors, and executives, GOAP is an exploratory program to learn about business opportunities in burgeoning international technology markets. We review hundreds of applications and then hand-pick an influential group who travel by planes, trains, and automobiles to meet with thousands of local entrepreneurs, companies, and government officials to share experiences and learn how we can work together to move technology innovation forward. The result: a lifelong bond with fellow travelers, a wealth of new friends and business contacts in exploding technology markets, and a stronger appreciation for the cultural and economic ties that bind us globally.
Our next tour is GOAP Middle East from November 1st – 12th, making stops in Dubai, Tel Aviv, Istanbul & Amman.


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500 FAQ

What is 500 Startups?

We’re a hybrid between an accelerator and seed fund. We run our accelerator program twice a year offering funding, hands on programming, office hours, mentorship, bootcamps, and the tools needed to blow up your startup. Additionally, we invest in startups outside of our accelerator, host series of conferences and events such as unSEXY, Inbox Love, Geeks on a Plane, and more. You can learn more about us through this video and this video.

What kind of investments does 500 Startups make?

We make seed stage investments ranging from $25K to $250K (roughly). We invest in companies via the following:

– Participating in companies’ seed rounds
– Investing in companies that go through our accelerator program.

How do I get funded by 500 Startups?

Currently, there are two methods to get into 500 Startups.
To be funded through our accelerator program, you can:

Apply through AngelList: If you don’t have one already, create an AngelList profile and apply for the accelerator here. Pro tip: read through what we look for before applying. (Scroll down to Question #8)
Referrals: We source out recommendations for startups through referrals from our network. This includes mentors and founders from the 500 family. We trust people in our network to help us filter, evaluate, and find the type of companies that we want to join our family. Not all opinions are weighed the same. Careful referrals with a lot of thought and consideration are weighed more heavily. Referrals along the lines of “Hey, meet my {new} friend X! Thx!” less so.

For seed investment only (not accelerator):

Referrals: We value referrals from our network. Intros and recommendations for startups will be evaluated by our investment team. (See above regarding referrals.) Pro tip: Be open to hearing why someone may not want to recommend you. Don’t expect someone to refer you just because you’re friends.

What’s the difference between the 500 Accelerator Program and 500’s seed investments?

Accelerator Program: It’s a structured program with about 25 – 35 startups hosted in the 500S headquarters for 4 months. At the end of the program, we hold three Demo Days in Mountain View, San Francisco and New York, respectively. (Although we don’t limit ourselves!) During Demo Days startups pitch to potential investors (and press). To get an idea of what happens, check out previous pitches via this video and this video.

Seed Investments: We also invest outside the program by making seed investments. Seed companies do not work from our office space, but they have access to our mentor and founder networks.

When is the deadline to apply for the Fall 2012 Accelerator batch?

Sunday September 23 11:59PM Pacific. You can apply here.

When can we expect to hear back after we apply?

Given the anticipated volume of applications, we can’t promise that we will respond to everyone. (Sorry!) But if we’re interested in you, you’ll definitely hear from us. Again, increase your chances by checking out question eight.

What are the dates for the next 500 Accelerator Batch?

The next accelerator class will begin Oct 4th, 2012 and conclude at the end of January/early February 2013.

What type of companies does 500 Startups look for?

There’s an visual overview here: Awesome Infographic

Generally, though, we look for the following:

Strong Team: A solid team is the foundation for all great companies. We usually look for a small cross-functional team with the combination of technical skills, design talent, marketing know-how, or at least a combination of two out of the three. We look for smart, passionate people who work well together, and are driven to solve problems for a target customer group. Founders who have worked together for at least a few months are a bonus.
Investment Themes:The startups we invest in all have an internet-based form of distribution. They typically fall under the common theme of:

– Consumer E-Commerce
– SMB Productivity & Cloud Services
– Mobile + Tablet (iOS & Android)
– Payments & Financial Services
– “Family Tech” & Education
– International + Cross-border, Language
– Healthcare/Wellness; Food Tech

Product: We have a strong preference for companies whose products are launched and have demonstrated some usage validation (beyond just friends and family). The product should address a problem for a specific target customer and rely primarily on scalable methods of distribution, particularly using online platforms (search, social, mobile, local).
Traction: Having traction is a demonstration of proof of concept. If the data suggests things are moving in the right direction, it will help your chances of being accepted to 500.
Business model: We prefer simple and straightforward revenue models. Examples include subscription, lead generation, transaction/SaaS, etc. We also like capital efficient businesses. We look for companies that can be operational with less than $1M in funding.

What value will I get out of being in the 500 Accelerator Program?

Mentorship: One of the biggest benefits of going through the 500 Startups Accelerator program is having access to knowledgeable mentors. As founders going through the program, you will have access to the 500 Partners, seasoned entrepreneurs, experienced investors, or individuals with considerable expertise in their field to give feedback and offer you guidance. The 500 Accelerator also hosts talks and fireside chats. These speakers include top domain experts on important topics such as distribution, design, data, fundraising, and more. Learn more through this video.
500 Network: The 500 Startups network consists of a growing list, several hundred founders and mentors strong. They come from diverse backgrounds, expertise, and locations. You’ll be connected to a growing list of growth hackers, engineers, designers, marketers, and founders from not just Silicon Valley or other parts of the U.S., but also Brazil, China, India, Japan, Russia, and other international markets. It is a tight-knit community that actively communicates with each other and provides support. We really are a big global entrepreneurial family.
Brand and PR: 500 Startups has a strong brand as one of the top accelerators in the world. Associating your startup with the 500 Startups brand is valuable. Our brand helps us attract an impressive group of tech investors and press to our Demo Days as well as the ability to continually build our network.
Funding: Accelerator companies receive $50K in funding for 5% of the company. We also participate in follow-on investments up to $250k for companies we think are doing well.
Office space: We have a 10,000 sq ft office space in Mountain View overlooking a stunning view of Silicon Valley. During your time in the accelerator you will work in our office along with about 25-30 other startups (mostly your classmates!). We feel the space is necessary in order to foster an environment of collaboration. Being here with other founders will encourage a sense of camaraderie as you are all facing the same types of challenges; they understand what you’re going through. Each of you can offer help, advice and encouragement and sometimes just support. Previous classes have likened it to summer camp. You get to be very close over your time here.
Fun:The 500 Startups culture encourages collaboration, innovation, creativity, taking risks, having fun, and being authentic. You’ll be working hard but it will be crazy, fun and like nothing else. Each batch has their own personality, but the most common result of the program is that companies within each batch bond with each other and maintain great connections even beyond the program.

What are examples of companies that have gone through the 500 accelerator program?
Examples include Punchd (acquired by Google), InternMatch, 9GAG, Snapette, ToutApp,Vayable, Cardinal Blue, LaunchRock, Fameron, BrandBoards, Fitocracy, SafeShepherd,Spinnakr, Intercom, 72lux, Chalkable, Wanderable, PublikDemand, TokyoOtakuMode, andHappyInspector. For a complete list, go here.

What is it like being in 500 Startups?

Some of our founders have shared their experience on Quora. You can read it here.

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Co-founding Love: 2 Husbands

This story is by Anna Talerico, co-founder of LiveBall. Her story is on how she met her fellow co-founders Justin Talerico and Scott Brinker. Liveball is a cloud-based platform used by hundreds of global brands to create and optimize post-click web experiences. They also offer a wide-range of strategic services for companies who need help in the planning, execution and optimization of their post-click programs. Follow LiveBall onTwitter and Facebook.



Justin, CEO (left), Scott President and CTO (middle), with Anna, EVP (right).



I love my co-founders! Justin, Scott and I are ‘married’ to our company—bound together in holy entrepreneurship (Justin and I also happen to be bound together in holy matrimony too).



We joined forces about 14 years ago. Justin and I were designing websites,  but we didn’t have any backend software expertise. We met Scott through a mutual customer, and started to partner on large-scale web development projects. It was a match made in heaven—Justin would design high-end sites for companies like Siemens and Fujistu, I was managing the client relationships and Scott’s company would bring them to life with sophisticated functionality. After several projects we decided to form a company together.



For many years we were a small, boutique, bootstrapped web development company. It was a great business. The three of us would travel frequently, spending most of our time together, working and playing. Around 2000, Scott moved to New York to purse a degree at Columbia and take a bite out of the big apple. We continued growing our business and work together despite the distance. And throughout our time together,  we knew there was more to accomplish together.  The three of us started to become focused on helping our customers get better results from their online marketing campaigns. We heard over and over from our web development customers that they needed an easier way to produce effective pages for their campaigns and run tests on them to optimize for better ROI. In 2007 we decided to leave behind the web development work and launch a software-as-a-service that would help marketers create and test conversion-focused web experiences.



We launched our product, LiveBall, that same year, and never looked back. We’re still bootstrapped (I prefer “self-funded”), and we’ve been growing 60-100% each year. We have aggressive goals for growth over the next couple of years and are well-positioned to take advantage of what’s going on across the online marketing landscape.



Our joint aspirations are big and our work is intense. The great thing about what we are doing is how well the three of us work together. What makes it work is our differences. We each focus on separate aspects of the business. It allows us to use each other as sounding boards and collaborate, with little concern for stepping on each others toes. Our individual domains are very well defined—Scott leads product development and evangelism, Justin leads operations, marketing and partnerships, and I head up the sales and service teams.



All three of us are only children, but we share and compromise well. Some people say the fact that all three of us are only children meant we were doomed to fail together—that we would each be too self-centered having not learned the lessons that come with sibling relationships. I disagree. I think it’s another commonality that brings us together and helps us take our shared responsibility even more seriously.



I often tell people I have two husbands—my co-founders Scott and Justin.  I don’t say that lightly. Co-founding a company takes a serious commitment to each other. To work through things, to dig deep and to share the good and bad times together. It’s a wild ride, and we love it.


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Calling All Monsters! Join the 500 Startups Accelerator!

EXTRA! EXTRA! 500 Startups is looking for MONSTERS, from all corners of the planet!



Are you the biggest fish in your small pond? Have you already raised tons of cash? Are you ready to step it up to the next level and play in the big leagues?


If so, then 500 wants YOU to come to the valley and CRUSH IT. Join the Fall 2012 batch of the 500 Accelerator Program!


How, you ask? Well, today we’re doing something we’ve never done before. An open application process. (Pause for reaction)  Starting today through Sunday September 23, you can submit your application for the 500 Accelerator here:

We’ve already chosen a small number of scary startups to join us at the 500 Secret Lair come October. However, we’re craving more – like zombies crave brains. We want to see what you got.Apply now at


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Co-founding Love: Living the Childhood Dream

Elizabeth Yin tells us how she met Jennifer Chin and started LaunchBit, an ad network for email. It helps advertisers reach their target demographics through email channels, and helps email publishers monetize their emails. They were part of our 2nd accelerator batch. Follow LaunchBit on Twitter and Facebook.

Winning a competition senior year

I met Jennifer the day before 6th grade.  We were eating popsicles quietly, as all our other classmates chatted about.  I was nervous about whether I’d make any new friends at my new school, but from that day on, Jennifer and I were inseparable.

Jennifer loved solving challenging problems, so we became friends quickly.  In 6th grade, she read some book on how to do complex square roots by hand, so for weeks, we entertained ourselves by making up large numbers and computing their square roots.  We spent the next several years building robots together.  For one competition, we entered a water-powered robot that sprayed the crowds, the judges, and ruined the course each time our bot moved forward.  We shared a quirky, techy sense of humor that no one else thought was funny.

In 9th grade, Jennifer asked me if I wanted to help her cousin with his internet startup during winter break.  We took the Caltrain up to San Francisco and helped them make ethernet cables from scratch and build tables and chairs.  I think we were largely unhelpful.  But, I left that experience so inspired — it was awesome that a group of friends could get together, eat all the pizza they wanted, and build something.  That was what I wanted to do when I grew up.

So, Jennifer and I got really into building websites.  We even started a web business.  (which failed — we had no idea how to do sales).  And, during junior year, we formed a pact — that we would start a real company together someday.  We graduated and went to opposite coasts for college.  Over the next almost decade, we continued to tag-team on various software projects despite the distance.  But, the timing was never right to actually start a company together.

In 2009, Jennifer was wrapping up her PhD at MIT and decided she was tired of the academic scene.  I was just wrapping up a failed startup with a different co-founder, so the timing was perfect.  I convinced her to move to Berkeley so we could experiment with different web ideas in-person.  Over the next few months, she got married and did long-distance to Boston with her new husband.  About a year in, my husband took a job in Boston, so the three of us moved back there, and Jennifer was reunited with her husband.  A few months later, we learned that we’d gotten into the second 500 accelerator batch, so I moved back to the Bay Area with Jennifer and her husband.  Right after Demo Day, Jennifer gave birth to her first son.  A couple weeks later, Jennifer was back to work, and her whole family lives with her parents to make childcare easy.

With the LaunchBit team at an offsite

In reflecting back on the last three years, things could’ve fallen apart really easily through all the crazy moving, marriages and a kid, juggling of our two families’ schedules and their jobs.  I am grateful for all the sacrifices both of our families have made.  But, the amazing thing is I’ve never once thought that things would fall apart.  You can’t control the chaos and complications that are inevitable with starting a company, but, when you have worked with your best friend for nearly  two decades, you know things will just somehow work out.  Finding the right co-founder to work through all the challenges in starting a company is super important.  I feel really lucky to have met Jennifer on that fateful day before sixth grade.

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