给力! 500 Goes BIG and Takes on China’s Trillion-Dollar Market

This month, we’re showing you where the biggest startup innovation is happening all around the globe. Today, check out insights from Rui Ma, 500’s Chinese Venture Partner, about why the largest nation in the world is ready to shake things up in the global tech scene. Want to be part of 500 Startups’ next batch? Apply now before the March 1st deadline.

I went to high school and college in the United States, but was born and raised in China. I have always maintained a deep cultural connection to the country, both in terms of the language and the culture. Over the past few years, Chinese society has gone through (and continues to go through) big changes; people in China are collectively beginning to realize their massive influence in the world. As 500’s Beijing-based venture partner, I am incredibly excited to spread the #500Strong belief that technology can make the world a kinder, easier, smarter and more enjoyable place for everyone.

So why is China the place to be right now for investors and entrepreneurs? For starters, every single statistic you can think of is on a completely different scale when it comes to China. Populations are counted not in the millions, but in BILLIONS. And at nearly 500 million, the number of internet users dwarfs any number you could come up with in the West.

The fabled huge market potential in China is no longer a myth; it has arrived. The four first-tier cities – Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou – have more than 100 million residents, and the surge in wealth in these areas over the past few years has been huge. Alone, these population centers make up one of the BIGGEST markets on the planet; there is an incredible amount of opportunity here for tech companies as China’s growing consumer population has the same needs for quality content, apps, and services as their Western counterparts.

I have seen firsthand as China’s urban population has changed dramatically over the last few years. While failure is still shunned culturally (as it still is in many parts of the USA and other countries), the stigma isn’t nearly as bad as it used to be. The prevailing wisdom is still to work for a large, stable, state-owned enterprise or conglomerate, but that is changing quickly. As more Western culture finds its way into Chinese media, many the well-educated, globally-aware youth are starting to take on new challenges – like startups.

The rapid economic development of the past three decades has lifted many people out of poverty. With the combination of newfound market opportunity, lower cost of starting a business, and plentiful examples of wealth creation in the form of such industry titans as Robin Li of Baidu, Pony Ma of Tencent, and Jack Ma of Alibaba, attitudes about work, life and self-fulfillment are shifting.

500 is betting that these trends will continue to shape China over the next few years, and we hold a long-term view on investing in the Chinese entrepreneurship ecosystem. We want to nurture the growing tech community and find partners who share our desire to see an increasingly collaborative, open, smart, and most importantly, global startup scene. We’re excited to bring the 500 philosophy to China, and to also bring some of China to 500 in the process.

Are you a Chinese entrepreneur who’s gelivable enough to take on this incredible market? Apply now for our Spring Accelerator batch by March 1!


Post Contributed by Rui Ma, Venture Partner and Stealth Assassin at 500 Startups.Previously, Rui was under deep cover at corporations such as Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and most recently the Raine Group. When she is not on active assignment, she can be found brewing vegetable poisons and learning the covert arts from her cats.

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给力!硅谷孵化器500startups 挺进中国市场










文章来自马睿,500startups的风险投资家。她拥有很多投资经验,之前在Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley都有工作经历,最近在The Raine Group任职。当她空闲的时候,她会去各地品尝美食,还会和她的猫咪一起度过美好时光。

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Brazilians in the Bay: Qual Canal Shares Their #500Strong Experience

Every day this month, we’ll give you an inside look at 500 Startups. Today, some of our Brazilian brethren share what it was like to be part of our last accelerator batch. If you’re part of an awesome Brazilian startup, apply here to be considered for 500’s Spring 2013 Accelerator batch. (Deadline is March 1) 

Last week, we told told you why Brazil is an amazing place for tech and innovation – and why we’re so excited to invest in awesome startups from the land of Capoeira and Xuxa. Today, founding members at Qual Canal, a social TV rating and engagement platform, share what their experience was like as part of 500’s latest batch of startups.

qual canal

“500 startups’ accelerator program was a unique experience for me and Qual Canal’s team. It began with all our great batchmates from around the world and continued with the awesome mentors and attention we received! Not to mention the other founders and 500 connections who were always open to talk to and help 500 companies. It’s a Super strong network! All these things blew our minds and changed our entrepreneur mindset forever.

500 is so International: so many cultures, so many countries! For us, 500 Startups is a strong and big worldwide family that we are happy and proud to be part of. And now that the accelerator program has ended, its time to work harder and use this knowledge to grow our company.”


Fabricio Nogueira Buzeto, CTO, Qual Canal

“500 puts itself apart from others on the American market, and other funds, on how wide it spreads its investments. Most of the Americans believe that conquering their own territory must come before going after the global market. It’s very understandable, but the fact that 500 goes after many different established markets around the world, not only allows a diversification of their investments but other benefits.

One of them is the richness of experience among the batch mates. When you have the opportunity to see a new market and meet people who are on top of what’s happening in their respective countries, it makes you feel like one of them. This, along with the strong feeling of collaboration that was kept during the whole program only increased the value added to the companies and the connections among them.”


Andre Terra, Co-Founder and CMO at Qual Canal (read more about Andre’s experience at 500 here: http://blog.buzeto.com/2013/02/500-miles.html)

We’re currently looking for badass startups for our next batch, so apply for our Spring Accelerator program now if you think you fit the bill. Keep checking back for more content on the blog every day this month!

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JAI HO! 500 Helps Indian Startups March to Victory

Every day this month, we’ll give you an inside look at 500 Startups. Today, we’re whisking you away to the country behind Bollywood, the Taj Mahal and Sanskrit: India. If you’re an Indian entrepreneur who wants to blow up your startup in our Spring 2013 Accelerator batch, apply here before the March 1st deadline.

I’ve seen dramatic changes in the Indian startup community over the last 6 years. Younger people are more willing to work at a startup (or found their own), rather than work for a big company. More accelerator programs are popping up, more investors are putting their money to work, and more entrepreneurs than ever have support from mentors. India is truly the country of MORE right now – even big Indian companies are realizing the importance of new ideas and innovation by hiring “failed entrepreneurs”.

So why is India’s economy so conducive to a burgeoning tech scene? Over the last decade, GDP has gone from around 400 billion to over $1.8 trillion. And everywhere you look, it shows: new roads are being built, internet speeds are increasing, lower priced smartphones and tablets are becoming more widely available, and higher priced iPads and other devices are seen regularly. Best of all, many of the poor are sending their children to schools instead of having them work.

It’s pretty clear why we think investing in and supporting Indian startups is a smart bet. In our last batch of startups, 4 companies came from India, and our fourth batch included the Indian company TeliportMe, a social network for immersive visual experiences. Here’s what some of them have to say about their time at 500:

“My stint at 500 was very enriching. The kind of friends I’ve made is something I’m proud of and will cherish throughout my life. Being surrounded by really bright and hardworking people throughout the period is quite an eye-opener. The number and caliber of investors that come into 500 startups demo days is overwhelming. I believe that the whole feeling about being a part of the 500 Startups community is what helps startups immensely down the road.”

Vineet Devaiah, co-founder, TeliportMe

“When I joined the accelerator program in October, I was hoping it would make up for the year that I missed by dropping out of business school to start my company. Oh, it did that and much more! When you are using your skills in an actual, real-life business, the experience is completely amazing. TradeBriefs went from being an unsexy email newsletter business that our subscribers loved but most had not heard of, to one of the most promising startups in India. We now have the credibility to strive to be a global player. The group in the accelerator batch is diverse and a great bunch, and every company here has the potential to become a great company. We have also seen some good pivots and excellent improvements in strategies and tactics, thanks to feedback from the extensive network of mentors. You get value out of the program if you participate and ask questions (and there are no wrong questions), incorporate the feedback and keep iterating. The 500 brand is getting stronger every year and we are all family.”

Sreekumar (Sree) Vijaykumar, Managing Director, TradeBriefs

We’re so passionate about the region that our Geeks on a Plane tour made its way to India just over a year ago and will head back later this month. Check out our mini documentary about the enlightening trip below:

Still wondering why we love India so much? As the need for technology increases along with the broader economy, more and more of the brightest Indians are opting NOT to leave India, but to stay and build exciting new businesses in one of the oldest civilizations on the planet. To us, this represents a new, exciting opportunity for growth where in a really bad year, GDP grows at 5%.

Like any country, India isn’t without challenges. But problems become opportunities for the brightest entrepreneurs, and 500 is excited to discover and support them in the future. Think you’re one of ‘em? Apply for our Spring Accelerator batch by going to our AngelList page.

Post contributed by Pankaj Jain, Venture Parter at 500 Startups. He regularly kicks ass & takes names of Desi founders to help build a vibrant startup ecosystem in India. When he isn’t busting the chops of noob startups or predatory angel investors, or firing up Startup Weekend in Bangalore or Mumbai, you will find him devouring unsuspecting vegetables at Delhi’s best vegetarian sushi joint.

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Breaking Down Borders: Why Language Startups Kick Ass

Every day this month, we’ll give you an inside look at 500 Startups. Today, we’re going global with a spotlight on why language startups are HOT. If you’re interested in being part of our Spring 2013 Accelerator batch, apply here before the March 1st deadline.

If you grew up in the United States, it’s easy to think our country is the center of the Universe. Even saying “America” or “American” ignores the fact that we’re just one nation that’s part of a region made up of a whopping 36 countries – Mexico, Argentina and Brazil are just as much a part of America as we are. Here’s the reality: just over 5.5% of THE WORLD speaks English natively. And as the internet is makes the world more connected than ever, we can’t continue to operate as if the United States – and moreover, Silicon Valley – is the only place that matters.

Unfortunately, not all of us were lucky enough to grow up as polyglots (like our own Bedy Yang, who speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Mandarin and Taiwanese), and that’s where innovative startups enter the picture. Companies like Language Cloud,MindSnacks and Gengo are breaking down borders by making it easy for people communicate in other languages.

We’ll not afraid to trek anywhere on the globe in search of new talent (ok, maybe not anywhere, we’ve heard Antarctica is kinda cold), so investing in language startups is a no-brainer for 500. In addition to just being plain awesome, the market for these companies is truly massive. It’s not only travelers who need to understand what they’re hearing and seeing when visiting a foreign country; entire companies now need to do business in places where only knowing their native language won’t get them very far.

During our most recent accelerator, Waygo, an amazing instant-translation app, came into the ranks for Batch 5. Here’s a bit from Waygo Founder and CEO, Ryan Rogowski, on what spurred his interest in language, and what his experience has been like with 500:

“My interest in language started with my first trip to Europe to play soccer in high school. I was fascinated by how many languages exist in the world beyond the little we know in the US. Americans are always dinged for being ignorant of other languages, but I always thought it was only because our average American doesn’t have the opportunity to  be exposed to new places. I decided to study in Spain and China for language since that was the only way I thought one could really experience a new world. Now I hope to make this possible for anyone with the technology we are building at Waygo.


The 500 Startups accelerator has been really rewarding both from a perspective of progress for the company, but also from a social perspective. Being a part of the 500 network has done wonders for meeting the right people in our space. We’ve met decision makers at Trip Advisor, TripIt, and other big travel brands. We’ve also had Dave McClure pound analytics and traction into our heads to the point where it is second nature to list off our credentials. It’s good for us because it makes you realize the simple fact that “you can’t improve something you don’t measure,” as Dave would say.

From a social perspective, we have been able to meet so many people from other parts of the world. I never thought I’d be working in the same space as startups from Croatian, Argentina, Taiwan and – yup – Tennessee, all at the same time! We’ve had some great cultural exchanges and plenty of hilarious lost in translation moments. I’m looking forward to seeing 500 grow as not just a startup community, but and international community of the brightest people around the globe helping each other to change the world.”

Get Waygo on your smartphone by downloading it now.

For our next batch, we plan to continue our theme of world domination through international and language-focused startups. If you’d like to apply for our Spring Accelerator program (and I’m pretty sure you do), head over to our page on AngelList.

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Vai Brasil! Brazil’s Tech Scene Sambas Onto The World Stage

Every day this month, we’ll give you an inside look at 500 Startups. Today, we’re heading south to the land of Carnaval and Caipirinhas to share some insights about Brazil. If you’re interested in being part of our Spring 2013 Accelerator batch, apply here before the March 1st deadline.


Here’s a fun geography fact to kick off your week: Brazil is HUGE. Seriously.



Beyond its sheer size, Brazil has a booming startup scene along with a population of that’s tech savvy, modern, and hungry for innovation. There are nearly 200 million people in Brazil, and 80 million of those are internet users. Mobile’s massive as well, with more than 1.4 phones per person, with 22 million of those being smartphones. And these numbers are going up faster every year. As one of my teammates noted during our last Geeks on a Plane trip, “We’re seeing Silicon Valley in Brazil.”


Big things are happening in South America’s largest nation, which is why we’ve been so passionate about supporting Brazilian startups and entrepreneurs. 3 companies in Batch 5, UniPay, Qual Canal, and Cuponomia, come from Brazil, and we’re excited to support more in our Spring 2013 accelerator. We even have our own Brazilian ambassador on staff, Venture Partner Bedy Yang, who focuses on partnerships and startups in the region through 500 Startups and Brazil Innovators.


To get an idea of all the innovation happening down south, check out our Geeks on a Plane mini documentary below:

During our most recent demo days, our team even cooked up up some delicious Coxinhas (traditional Brazilian snack) to get our Brazilian founders pumped up for pitching:



Later this week, we’ll profile one of the Brazilian companies in the 500 family, so be sure to check back. Até amanhã!!

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What it Means to Be #500Strong

Our mission at 500 has always been the same: kick ass, take names, and change the world by helping awesome startups succeed.


We’re crazy diverse, and that’s just how we like it – our startups hail from places like Mexico and Korea, as do the founders behind them and the team that works from 500 Startups’ secret lair in Mountain View.

The #500Strong team is more than just a seed fund and accelerator (ps, apply for the spring 2013 batch if you haven’t already) – we’re a global family of mentors, friends, investors, and teammates who help each other, push each other to succeed, and make f’n amazing sh!t happen. We also occasionally go out for epic, all-night karaoke sessions together, but that’s just on the side.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going give you a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes at 500 – who we are, who our companies are, what makes us tick, and what investment themes get us hot and bothered (even when others think they’re boring or unsexy). This will give you an idea of all the amazing stuff the #500Strong family is doing all over the globe, so keep your eyes on the blog over the next month for new content every day!

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How Preview Day Taught Me to Be Human

Tracy Lawrence is the CEO of Chewse, a B2B marketplace for corporate meals. Chewse has catered 20,000 meals to hungry offices that include Wells Fargo, PWC, and Cornerstone. Being from Los Angeles, she went to USC and is a proud Trojan, vegetarian, and lover of all desserts. Watch her pitch live with the rest of Batch 5 later this week.

Preview Day is a private event here at 500 Startups that involves a bonanza of 30-second pitches from portfolio companies (including my startup, Chewse, please follow us on AngelList). I’ve learned a lot from the preparation process – mainly the importance of being a lot more human and open to fuck-ups.

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Learning to be vulnerable for Preview Day

For the past 2 weeks, my 500 Startups batchmates and I launched into preparation for Demo Day – what I think of as “graduation from startup school.” 500 Startups does an incredible job of rounding up the tribe of mentors, LPs, and investors to drop into the space and offer us constructive feedback on our pitches.

Okay, that’s the nice way to put it.

It actually feels like a relentless barrage of heat-seeking missiles aimed at all your weaknesses. It feels like kryptonite condensed into cough syrup that is then less-than-lovingly shoved down your throat.

I embellish slightly, but only to illustrate how much the process wears on you personally as a founder. I heard a mentor tell a founder that he shouldn’t be the person to pitch his own company. I was personally told at one time that I wasn’t telling my best story. Can you imagine how all these criticisms about your pitch end up feeling like reflections of you?

So here’s the secret: As a founder, you must learn to open up instead of closing off.

At many points of the process of pitching and fundraising, you feel like a rag doll volleying between bits of advice. But ultimately, you have to embrace feedback, come to terms with your emotions, and be real. It makes you human. People like to work with humans, investors like to invest in humans, and being relatable is an important piece of building charisma.

Being brave means being human

I was blown away the first time I watched Brené Brown’s TED talk on The Power of Vulnerability — and I’m still learning things each time I watch it.

BIG takeway: Being vulnerable and being courageous are not mutually exclusive. In fact, being vulnerable is incredibly brave.

As entrepreneurs, we are vulnerable to risk, inexperience, and failure. I especially relish the story of the original Zappos founder walking into shoe stores and being laughed at for suggesting that he could sell off the majority of their inventory just by posting it online. Or how the Yelp crew took to the streets to sign people up by hand with a good old-fashioned clipboard. And how it took them 8 years to IPO.

Brown points out that the word “courage” is based on the Latin root cor — which means “heart.” Being courageous is not being the fearless leader who can charge into a room, hide all emotion, and lead stoically. In fact, it’s the person who can embrace the fear of being vulnerable and tell the story of who she is with her whole heart — that’s the brave one.

How an Argentine taught me to dance (of course!!!)

One moment in particular sort of zapped the human back into me. The other founders and I are backstage doing a dress rehearsal for Preview Day at the 500 offices. The views overlooking the South Bay were stunning, the event music bumping, and I’m sitting in the back…looking ready for an earthquake to hit. In all honesty, I looked pretty stern getting my game face on.

Enter Ricardo, the founder of Femeninas. He’s from Argentina, has a classic Latin accent, and he’ll tell you just what he knows about Spanish-speaking women (you have to see his pitch to understand). He doesn’t just look calm – his whole face is lit up. He’s certainly nervous, but you can tell he’s damn well going to have fun with it.

He notices my stonewall expression and tries to make me laugh. I’m trying to be the zenith of calm here, the Buddha of the Bay, and he’s trying to break my focus. But his smile was pretty damn infectious. And smiling is definitely worth it.

That’s when I realized I was making a desperate attempt to be stoic and emotionless – that’s not even human, it’s not even me! I woke up, popped up, hopped around. I just gave in.

The end result? I didn’t just walk on stage for Preview Day, I danced onstage…with 100 investors watching.

Getting heated is hot

It’s okay to get a little nervous, it’s great to show passion, it’s ideal to embrace being human.

I share this story not *just* to be self-deprecating, but hopefully to give you the safety line of humanity to hold onto when things get rough. It’s a safety rope, people, not the third rail.

So the next time I pitch my startup or coach another, expect me to be a little heated, a little passionate, and thoroughly human.

Many thanks in the Preview Day pitch process to my two North Stars: Jeff, my co-founder, and Khailee, 500’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence. These two worked countless hours with me to quell my fears, challenge my assumptions, and offer a solid hug when the time came to go on-stage.

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Watch 500 Startups’ Demo Days Live This Week

3 hours. 30 startups. 700 of the biggest investors in tech. Our upcoming demo days are going to be nothing short of epic, and you’re invited to see the action live.

Starting this Wednesday, February 6th, you can watch the companies of Batch 5 pitch their hearts out by going to http://www.livestream.com/500startups.

You can watch all 3 of our demo day sessions online by heading to our Livestream page the following times:

Wednesday, Feb 6th at 1:00 pm, PST (Mountain View)
Thursday, Feb 7th at 6:30 pm, PST (San Francisco)
Friday Feb, 15th, 1:00 pm, PST (NYC)

You can also follow us @500Startups to hear exactly when pitches kick off.

We have an incredibly diverse range of companies presenting – you’ll see everything from instant Chinese translation to startups that revolutionize the construction industry. And all our companies have one thing in common: they want to change the world and kick ASS.


If you want to attend in person, apply here, and we’ll get back to you with more information shortly.

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How to Recover and Learn from Startup Burnout


Diesel Laws is the Co-Founder & Head of User Experience at Kickfolio.com. Kickfolio is a 500 Startups-funded startup that lets users run native iPhone & iPad apps in the browser, creating engaging experiences & try-before-you-buy marketing opportunities. Tune into our Demo Days livestream on Wednesday, Feb. 6th at 1pm, PST to see Kickfolio and their batchmates pitch.

Imagine you’re driving a race car. You’re slowing down to take a really tight corner, and braking around the corner properly is pivotal to finishing the race in 1st place. In that moment, it’s important to gather your bearings, plan your next few turns and gradually increase speed. If you’re too cautious, you’ll leave the corner too slowly and will lose the race. If you’re too fast, you may end up losing control of the car as you make the turn – and crash.

As an entrepreneur, I’ve often worked a ridiculous amount of hours fueled by passion and commitment. I’ve often worked early into the morning, hunched over a dimly lit keyboard with heavy bags under my eyes. Rarely moving from my seat, pizza quickly becomes my go-to source of nutrition and drinking water seems like a distant pastime (sound familiar?).

But this post isn’t about the countless measures I, or other entrepreneurs can take to avoid the dreaded burnout – we all know what we need to do. This is about mentally (and positively) accepting when we have to slam on the brakes and slow things down. The aftermath, if you will. Owning our failures and giving our bodies and minds the fuel they need to recover.

When we find ourselves in that position of burnout, we should apply the brakes – at least temporarily.

Here are some thoughts & tips on recovery:

Taking time to heal correctly is imperative – it’s not efficient or logical to only heal halfway to then hit burnout again a week later


Remember that you didn’t get to where you are now on hard work and long hours alone


While some ideas appear through focusing intensely, many come when you least expect it (shower, relaxing, partying with friends)


Stress will slow you down, rather than speed you up – learn to avoid it


Value is not based on effort – it’s based on results. Find ways to get results efficiently.


Being healthy in mind and body increases efficiency


Helping others with no monetary gain (feedback, advice, design, coding etc) is a brilliant way to re-energize and recover


Taking some time out for yourself allows others in your network to step forward and grow


Embrace personal distractions (this is your mind’s way of saying ‘something needs to change’) and learn how to use them to refuel


Listen to your body more – if you have a quick thought that you should drink some water, do it (your work will be there when you get back)


When you hit a brick wall, ask for help


Network effects are real – if you are more social, you will have more people willing to help during your burnout

In that race track corner, I often think about how far I have come and what it has taken to get there. I notice the new people I now converse with, the new businesses I have connected to and the many opportunities that have been presented in front of me. I have the time to take note of the direction we’re going with Kickfolio.

During a burnout, you have time to get an objective view of your progress – and have a moment of clarity, focus and inspiration. If you don’t take time to recover from your failures, you may miss the chance to digest, reflect and learn from your experiences in the fast lane.

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