Waaah, more marketing??
We know it’s sexy to talk about features and fundraising.
But cool features, and even a round in the bank, won’t a business make.
Great companies find a way — ideally multiple optimized ways — to acquire, activate and retain customers.
We’re the 500 Distribution Team, and 2015 is the year of Distro EVERYWHERE.
And we work with 500 companies to do just that.
In the old days, 500 Distro was a 500 family affair:
— hands-on advising for every company in the current 500 Accelerator Batch.
— intensive consulting and implementation for selected portfolio companies through our Distro 1-on-1 program.
But 2015 means Distro EVERYWHERE.
We’re bringing the growth specialization of 500 Distro to EVEN MOAR founders, both within the 500 family and beyond.
Let us count the ways.
4. Free startup growth meetups we’re hosting plus steep discounts on bigger events like Weapons of Mass Distribution
5. Weird and exciting TBA projects we’ll tell you about soon
There’s only one thing you have to do to get MOAR Distro:
- 500-style Case Studies and How Tos on startup growth
- useful updates on meetups & events
- no spam obviously
PS — did you know we did this free mobile growth meetup this past Tuesday?
Join the newsletter, next time you’ll know.
Can you believe we’re already on our 12th accelerator batch? For those of you keeping track, this is our third batch in San Franciscso!
As always, our companies have all types of founders from everywhere on the globe. There are 34 companies in this group, and 29% of our companies have at least one woman on the founding team. Additionally, 41% of our companies have at least one foreign‐born founder. Countries include: Taiwan, China, Egypt, Bahrain, Poland, Sweden, Canada, India, France, Brazil, South Korea, Australia…..Follow all of our companies on AngelList.
Over the next few months, Batch 12 and Highway1 portfolio companies will be filmed in a SyFy documentary series “The Bazillion Dollar Club”. This series will give us a chance to tell our story and provide national exposure for our companies. Learn more here. #500Famous
BONUS TIP: If you want to join 500 in the future, you’re in luck – Batch 13 (Mountain View) applications are currently open. We’re always on the look out for great companies with traction and awesome founders. APPLY NOW
Without further ado, here are all the companies in our latest accelerator:
AgFunder is AngelList for Agriculture Investing. AgFunder has nearly 1,000 investors with over $1.5 billion in investable capital. Since February 2014, companies listed on AgFunder have raised over $13 million.
Founders: Rob Leclerc, Michael Dean
From: New York, NY
Fun Fact: Rob and Michael came up with the idea for AgFunder in a bar in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
Alfred turns smartphones into surveillance cameras so everyone can build their home security system.
Founders: Alex Song and Renee Yeh
From: Taipei, Taiwan
Fun Fact: Alex enjoys speed racing and motorbiking. Renee is nocturnal.
Avanoo is the world’s only marketplace for video Programs that support teams and individuals in achieving peak performance in their lives, on their teams, and in their work. We work with only the most renowned experts in the world, and our Programs are all 3 minutes a day for 30 days. Programs categories include leadership, wellness, accountability, productivity, time management, happiness, and more.
Founders: Daniel Jacobs and Prosper Nwankpa
From: San Francisco, CA
Fun Fact: Prosper’s real name is Prosper. Really. That’s his name. Daniel still trips over his own feet, but he’s a 3x wrestling National Champion.
BacklotCars is a SaaS Marketplace for the wholesale automotive industry. Through BacklotCars, auto dealers, auto finance and rental car companies can liquidate unwanted inventory direct to their end-market.
Founders: Justin Davis and Ryan Davis
From: Kansas City, MO
Fun Fact: The average height of a BacklotCars’ founder is 6’3″, though we’re always chosen last in pick up b-ball games…
The Blueboard rewards platform allows companies to reward their employees to curated experiences and activities with just one click – things like skydiving, wine tasting, massage and shark diving. Companies like Box, Eventbrite, and Optimizely use Blueboard for sales spiffs, tenure rewards, and spot bonuses.
Founders: Taylor Smith, Kevin Yip, and Cyrille Labesse
From: San Francisco, CA
Fun Fact: Taylor & Kevin have been friends since 3rd grade, when they played on the same Asian league basketball team. They went to high school together in San Francisco and studied abroad in Hong Kong during college.
CareerDean is a Q&A website for career advice/content.
Founders: Kyu Lee, David Oliveros, and Darius Salehipour
From: San Mateo, CA
Fun Fact: Kyu Lee had dreams that NSYNC had a sixth member and that it was him. Darius Salehipour can spin books/pillows/stuff. David Oliveros used to have hair longer than 3 feet.
Cheddar Up is the simplest way to collect and track online payments from a group. Its initial laser focus is on schools and moms who are still primarily handling these type of group transactions with checks and paper forms. Its wildly simple user interface makes collecting online payments accessible to anyone. Think band uniforms, teacher gifts, fun runs, PTA dues and the like – the evite of online payments.
Founders: Molly DiCarlo and Nichole Montoya
From: Denver, CO
Fun Fact: Nichole tap danced at the Iowa State Fair and Molly is a card-carrying member of “Friends of the Alphabet”.
Contentools provides a one-stop content marketing software for businesses that look for website traffic, leads and clients conversion. From strategy to content creation and analytics tracking, with Contentools you set and manage your own workflows to worry less and get more results from inbound marketing.
Founders: Elton Miranda and Emilia Chagas
From: Florianopolis, Brazil
Fun Fact: Emília is on her way to cook 1,000 risottos, without repeating any recipe. Elton is proud of his ping pong skills and challenges other entrepreneurs on 500’s table. How about a match? 🙂
Edfa3ly (translates to_ Pay For Me _ in English). This service provides a shopping bridge to customers in the Middle East who want to shop the world! An End-To-End service, providing payments to merchants abroad, international shipping, customs clearance and last-mile delivery.
Founders: Mohamed Attia, Ahmed Mohamed, Mohamed Hesham, Mohamed Tantawy
From: Cairo, Egypt
Fun Facts: The first time Mohamed thought of having a business was at school where he created a logistic hub to sell candies and treats to his peers in a faster way than his school’s cafeteria. He hustled hard made some fast cash.
DCHQ is a cloud-based, collaborative developer platform that accelerates container-based application development for large-scale enterprises. The solution provides on-demand, self-service access to Docker-based application environments running on the DCHQ cloud, or on any registered data-center using an agent-based architecture for orchestration. It also facilitates all aspects of collaboration for large-scale enterprises allowing teams to customize access to data-centers, images and running containers in support of continuous integration processes within or across different development teams.
Founder: Amjad Afanah
From: San Francisco, CA
Fun Facts: Development Cloud Headquarters was supposed to be our company name — but we’re glad that we stuck with DCHQ for now.
Fiberead helps foreign authors self-publish their books from English to Chinese, and offer services from publishing all the way to distribution. In Fiberead, tons of qualified translators from all over the world will translate the books for the authors and then work together with the author to complete the whole process, including translation, editing and marketing.
Founders: Runa Jiang
From: Beijing, China
Fun Fact: Runa loves camping, hiking and mountaineering.
FlashRatings unlocks institutional investment research for the retail investor.
Founders: Justus Ohlhaver and Puja Ahluwalia
From: Palo Alto, CA
Fun Fact: Justus continues to watch reruns of Germany’s World Cup Championship game. Puja can pretend to play the harmonica.
Gogohire is a hiring marketplace that connects world-class sales talent with top tech companies.
Founders: Pete Ryan and Adarsh Uppula
From: San Francisco, CA
Fun Fact: Pete plays the bongos. Adarsh is a hacklete (“hacker athlete”) and wins hackathons for fun and profit.
GridCure brings Big Data to the power grid, helping utility companies identify millions of dollars of losses on their electrical network each year using a SAAS analytics platform.
Founders: Tagg Jefferson
From: Toronto, Canada
Fun Fact: Tagg had a magnet surgically implanted in his hand to be able to feel electric fields.
Growbots outbound sales software automatically generates warm leads for B2B companies.
Founders: Greg Pietruszynski , Lukasz Deka, and Tom Roda
From: Warsaw, Poland
Fun Fact: You probably can’t spell our real full names (especially: Grzegorz Pietruszyński).
HelloBit helps people and companies send money globally, at half the cost by leveraging digital currency technology.
Founders: Brian Woods and Ali Goss
From: San Francisco, CA
Fun Fact: Ali’s favorite weekend activity is looking for and identifying mushrooms.
At InnovAccer, we are simplifying access to structured data and analytics through platforms that learn. We crawl, parse, structure, integrate, and standardize public and private data to make it ready for analysis, and help organizations deploy predictive, and learning models on top of it. InnovAccer works with 18 of the top 20 research institutions in the world.
Founders: Abhinav Shashank, Kanav Hasija, Sandeep Gupta, and Sachin Jaiswal
From: New Delhi, India
Fun Fact: Abhinav loves whistling and can whistle on any song in the world. Kanav likes to make breakfast and loves to try various combinations of alcohol in food. Sandeep loves dance and has a copyrighted headshake dance to his credit.
We’re building a voice interface for the connected home by utilizing hardware, speech recognition, and artificial intelligence to create a seamless way of controlling connected devices like Nest, WeMo, Iris, Connect etc. and services.
Founders: Jonathon Nostrant
From: Los Angeles, CA
Fun Fact: Used to be a DJ. Onst onst onst…..
KidzJet is a platform for children transportation. We serve schools, after school programs and parent groups.
Founders: Benazir Shaikh and Ashish Chhaparwal
From: San Mateo, CA
Fun Fact: Benazir grew up with fear of swimming considering scuba this summer. Ashish loves to travel, cook, and play soccer. Avid bollywood movie watcher, and sings desi songs all day long.
Linte cuts the red tape in Brazilian legal industry. It increases the efficiency of companies, making their lawyers more productive and their lawsuits less expensive.
Founders: Gabriel Senra, Paulo Hecht, Carlos Pereira
From: Sao Paolo, Brazil
Fun Fact: Paulo entered the Guinness Book after playing sitar in a concert in India.
Wholesome meal delivery from top local chefs
Founders: Aakhil Fardeen, Mark Piper, Jorgen Johnson, and Evan McCormack
From: Seattle, WA
Fun Fact: Mark once played trumpet on stage with Wynton Marsalis. Aakhil can fluently read Arabic but doesn’t understand a word. Jorgen once survived a 3-week sailing trip with a wife, a toddler and 2 large dogs.
With 100,000 registered users and 15,000 listings in over 130 countries, misterbnb is the largest gay-friendly hotelier in the world. We help create a travel experience that is safe and full of gay insiders tips. We offer promotions to the best local hotspots and the ability to make new friends.
Founders: Matthieu Jost, Marc Dedonder, Francois De Landes, and Chris Sinton
From: San Francisco, CA
Fun Fact: Matthieu founded his first company at the age of 18 to escape the small french village where he was born.
Ntensify enables mobile game and app developers to increase revenue and engagement by selling branded merchandise directly to their fans through a full-service in-app merchandise platform.
Founders: Daven Johnson and Sangram Pradhan
From: San Francisco, CA
Fun Fact: Daven is the world’s greatest Ms. Pac-man fan. Sangram once wrote a screenplay for an academy award-winning producer.
Dead battery happens to everyone. Plugger gets you back online, fast. We provide information about nearby places to get your smartphone charged up.
Founders: Choi Hyuk-jun, Neil Hyukjae Choi, and Hee-jae Lee
From: Seoul, South Korea
Fun Fact: Neil is workaholic, eating and sleeping at his office rather than going home.
ProLeads is an automated lead research and qualification platform for B2B Sales and we help sales teams write highly personalised cold emails at scale with over 66% in response rate.
Founders: Anders Fredriksson and Marcus Sandberg
From: Gothenburg, Sweden
Fun Fact: Anders likes to DJ, but can never shut up about CrossFit. You can ask Marcus how it feels to jump out of a plane in the middle of the night into the deepest forrest of Sweden, or ask him if you can touch his hair.
Qimple helps great companies make better hires in less time by creating a hub for all your hiring needs. Create a job ad, distribute to multiple boards for maximum exposure with just one click, track and compare applicants with the built-in infographic generator and make the best hire – all in one place.
Founders: Yves Boudreau and Benoit Bourque
From: Moncton, Canada
Fun Fact: Yves is a huge metalhead and used to sing in a cover band / Benoit is a die-hard Colorado Avalanche fan… even though his cousin is the CEO of the Arizona Coyotes.
Roost is a peer-to-peer marketplace for self-storage.
Founders: Jonathan Gillon and Bonnie Lai
From: San Francisco, CA
Fun Fact: Jonathan Gillon is an avid freestyle rapper. Bon grew up in Lagos, Nigeria.
Spika’s ShareON is a P2P photo & video sharing service that allows users to connect their devices directly. Through ShareON, you can send or stream hundreds of photos or a few gigabytes of videos to your friends or your other devices (whether it’s your iPhone, Android phone, iPad, PC, or Mac) with just a few touches.
Founders: Hongmin Park, Evan Heungju Kim, and Nicole Hosun Kim
From: Seoul, South Korea
Fun Fact: Nicole never went through surgery (even when doctors advised her to) because she was worried that would prevent her from going to space someday. Kevin likes bass fishing (best record: 15lb sea bass) and he’s planning to build a wooden boat by himself. Hongmin can take you to all the good clubs in Seoul, from 10pm to 7am.
Speedlancer is the world’s fastest freelance marketplace, delivering top-notch design, writing, and data-entry work in just 4 hours.
Founders: Adam Stone
From: Melbourne, Australia
Fun Fact: Adam has founded various companies since the age of 12, and was also a full time finance & law student before joining 500 Startups.
Trance is a social video entertainment platform empowering dancers to record, promote and share their originally-created music videos.
Founders: Harper LaFave, Julien Altieri, and Marwa Muhammad
From: Mountain View, CA
Fun Fact: Harper eats extremely spicy, has yet to find his competition. Marwa takes jumping pictures in every place that she visits. Julien enjoys singing in the shower, he harmonizes with the fan’s humming sound.
Dynamic Portable Live Streaming and Live Video Production Solutions specialized in Motorsports Events in the Middle East and others, under a competitive price tag than traditional TV.
Founders: Hassan AlDoy and Ali Mahmood
Fun Fact: Hasan is half Penguin! Born inside of a PC case and lived his life talking to machines. Ali is a 12-year professional racer on Track and off it!
Vango is a marketplace that connects independent artists and buyers focusing on original paintings from $100-$1500.
Founders: Ethan James Appleby, Win Raguini, and Brandon Flayler
From: San Francisco, CA
Fun Fact: Brandon rides a motorcycle to work. Ethan has a skydiving license and over 60 jumps. Win has climbed Kilimanjaro.
Yellowdig is a social learning platform for higher Ed. Yellowdig helps to increase classroom engagement by including students in the process of curating and sharing course-relevant content with one another. It’s like Pinterest for the classroom.
Founders: Shaunak Roy
From: Philidelphia, PA
Fun Fact: Shaunak likes to sketch, paint or write as an amateur blogger.
Want to get on the fast track to working at an kickass startup? We’re hosting a Job Fair on Wednesday, February 4th at our HQ in San Francisco, CA. From 4-6pm, you’ll get a chance to meet founders in our current batch of startups (Batch 12) and wow them with your awesome skills and sparkling personality.
In addition to working an early stage startup, you’d get to experience everything that comes with 500’s accelerator program – working out of our awesome office space, meeting tons of people in the 500 family, attending events and fireside chats with big-name founders, and more.
“All thanks to the 500Startups Job Fair I found my current job at KangaDo. I never thought I’d be working alongside two amazing co-founders building our product and having such a huge impact as part of an early team. The Job Fair also gave me the unique opportunity to experience the crazy, but rewarding, roller coaster of going through a startup accelerator. Learning from industry experts and our own community of talented startup founders from around the world was just the cherry on top!”
– Teresa Fok
What kinds of candidates are our startups looking for? Pretty much anyone who can help, as long as they’re passionate about startups and willing to help out in any way possible (these are early-stage startups, after all). Don’t be intimidated if you’re not technical – plenty of our startups are looking to hire people in marketing, sales, biz dev, customer support, and other roles.
Ready to hustle? Register for the job fair here. (JOB SEEKERS ONLY PLEASE).
PS – are you a founder who wants to be in our next accelerator batch? Apply here via Angelist.
Christen O’Brien is a Co-Founder & Managing Partner at 500 Startups, and has been responsible for building & growing the Business Development group. She previously founded a media company, spent 10+ years in BD & marketing roles, and served in the Peace Corps as an English Teacher. She is based in San Francisco, and can be reached via LinkedIn or christenobrien.com.
To everything, turn, turn, turn / There is a season, turn, turn, turn… – Pete Seeger
Since 2010, my every day at 500 Startups has been nothing short of incredible and I’ve had the time of my life creating & running a Business Development powerhouse. However, after much consideration, it is with great excitement and great sadness that I am announcing my plans to step away from 500 Startups as a Managing Partner. While it isn’t easy to say goodbye to something I truly love, I am enormously proud to have been involved in building this company from day 001, and am forever indebted to my Partners, to Dave, and to the 500 team (past & present) for the camaraderie and support that made it all so possible…and so damn fun.
It’s amazing how much we’ve accomplished in 48 months…
- In 2010, we launched the company as a team of 6, and struggled through the expected and unexpected challenges of starting a venture capital firm with a voracious set of goals in a highly competitive market.
- In 2011, we started our accelerator program (now ranked one of the top 10 accelerator programs in the world), raised $30 million in our first fund, invested in 200+ startups, skyrocketed our community via educational programs & content, expanded our brand into Latin America & East Asia, and amassed a following of thousands of entrepreneurs and investors around the world.
- In 2012, we expanded the accelerator program into Mexico City, started raising our 2nd fund of $44 million, started investing in India, scaled up our B2B & SMB focus, and saw exits in Makerbot ($400+ million to Stratasys) & Wildfire ($350 million to Google).
- In 2013, we saw our first big international exit in Viki ($200 million to Japanese E-Commerce Giant Rakuten) and expanded our corporate partners to include folks like Google & Braintree, successfully built & launched our PreMoneyinvestor brand/conference with a sold-out show, and brought the 500 brand through Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe withGeeksOnAPlane.
- In 2014, we reached over $125 million under management, successfully launched the San Francisco accelerator (to compliment our Mountain View location), announced our new Southeast Asia regional fund (500 Durians), grew the team to 40+ members, cemented our brand identity in the areas of commerce & distribution, achieved our first $1 Billion valuation in Credit Karma, and built a twitter following of 260,000+ globally.
The future for 500 Startups is brighter than ever, and I’m confident that the team will continue driving this ship to infinity & beyond, constantly pushing limits, and finding new ways to innovate venture capital. As we’ve always said since the beginning, it is truly our community of portfolio companies, advisors, mentors, co-investors, partners, and friends who have propelled this dream into a reality. For this, I am eternally grateful to each of you.
While I will remain a 500 Founding Partner & Mentor, Tara Graham will be taking over my day-to-day responsibilities. It’s a perfect time for me to pursue my next step, precisely because I now have a leader in Tara & a team who can take the reins and ROCK.
I’ll be announcing my plans soon, but below are my contact details if you’d like to stay in touch on the interwebs:
Here’s to another amazing year…
In the past 12 months we have invested in ~300 companies, opened up a new office in San Francisco and continued to grow our family internationally. 500 now has a presence in 10 countries, and we have invested in over
50 countries globally. Our team collectively speaks over 20 languages, and 1/3 of us weren’t born in the US — our goal is to reflect the diversity of our global portfolio. 안녕하세요! Olá! नमस्कार!
Along with this international expansion, we continued to invest, guide and connect 500 companies with a strong network of global mentors, advisors, investors and other fellow startups. #500Strong
Now where shall we begin? 2014 has been one hell of a ride. We launched our new office in San Francisco (called “500 Del Norte”) and ran both SF and Mountain View accelerator programs in tandem at 120 startups per year. We also ran 2 batches in Mexico City, and our accelerator programs now graduate over 150 companies per year.
We hosted three Demo Days in 2014, hundreds of investors attended our event and many companies raised over $1M (Vessel, SourceEasy, Carelulu, Pop Up Archive,Totspot, ProductBio, Neighborly, Lenda, Shopline, RAIN, ProductBio, Givesurance, Shakr,Zoomforth, Shippo, Unwind Me, Holidog, PredictionIO, Whale Path, DOZ, FameBit,TargetingMantra, Friend Trusted, just to name a few). We believe scale and frequency are critical to the success of our accelerator program, so we are very focused on scaling ourselves. We wanna give a big high five to all of our hardworking startups, you made us proud this year.
In addition to the accelerator, 500 has also invested in another ~150 companies this past year via our seed programs and related affiliate funds. We now invest in more startups per year than any other venture firm or accelerator and according to CB Insights, and we were the most active investor in the world in 2013 and 2014.
2014 has treated us well and with some of the smartest people in the industry joining the #500family, we’re taking off faster than Uber’s surge prices on New Year’s Eve.
Big wins from 500 Companies
Credit Karma: Tops $1 Billion Vallue with $75 million in new funding
TheRealReal: Raises $20 Million
Tradesy: Nets $13 Million Series B
ToutApp: Closes $3.35 million Series A round
Intercom: Raises Another $23M
Emprego Ligado: Closes $7M Series A round
Viva Real: Closes $41.7 Million Series C
Growing Global Community
In addition to our accelerator, 500 continues to make great progress investing internationally in a number of fast-growing markets such as Latin America, Southeast Asia, India, East Asia and the Middle East / North Africa (MENA). Earlier this year, we launched the 500 Durians fund to focus on investments in SE Asia, run by our new managing partner and native Malaysian Khailee Ng.
We have been one of the most active investors in Latin America (over 100 investments across Mexico, Brazil, and the LatAm region in the past three years), and we recently hired Hasan Haider as a venture partner in the Middle East to help with our growing investments in that region.
This year we welcomed Bedy Yang and Khailee Ng as new 500 Startups Managing Partners.
Bedy has been with us for three years, speaks four languages fluently, and has made over 50 investments globally, including 25 investments in Brazil. She’s also sourced and funded three deals via our 500 Women Syndicate Fund. If you’re interested in backing women-led startups, join us on our third deal.
Khailee joined us two years ago to lead investments in the Southeast Asia region through our 500 Durians microfund. Since joining Khailee has made over 30 investments across SE Asia, including regional blockbuster GrabTaxi. Read up on Khailee’s Investing Statement here.
Events & Marketing
On the marketing front, 500 Startups recently passed massive milestone — our twitter account now has over 260,000 followers (LOL Dave you’re never gonna catch up) and our 500 Podcast was featured as ’Top New Podcast’ in the iTunes store. Kudos to Mark Saldana, #bowdownbitches 😉
In 2014 we hosted tech conferences such as Commercism (e-commerce), Weapons of Mass Distribution (marketing), PreMoney (investing), and Warm Gun (design). We also traveled cross-country via our 500 Roadshow and made a trip to Southeast Asia with GeeksOnaPlane (GOAP). And in the new year, 500 Startups is going to be on TV — 500 Startups and Highway 1 are teaming up to create a new show on the Syfy Network. #500Famous
As we say adios to 2014 and look forward to 2015, we thank all of the entire 500 Family for a fabulous year. We raise our glasses in your honor and wish you all a happy fucking new year. We <3 you all, and 500 wouldn’t be anything without the amazing family of founders, mentors, and investors that have our back.
Catch up on all things 500 in 2015 beyond: