WMD ’16: Post-Conference Q&A with Casey Winters

Guest blogger – Casey Winters, Growth Advisor to Pocket, Airbnb, Darby Smart; Former Growth Lead at Pinterest & GrubHub

The below article is comprised of audience questions asked to Casey Winters during his presentation at Weapons of Mass Distribution 2016. Casey took the time to answer the questions in detail post-conference.

 

How do you personalize emails across all the metrics you recommended if you don’t have an in-house email data tool like Pinterest does?

At GrubHub, we organized our user data into a weekly FTP upload to ExactTarget (now Salesforce Marketing Cloud) and built a complicated workflow inside of ExactTarget (you can do the same in Responsys). You can use their APIs too, but I don’t remember them being very good.

What you are doing is creating data tables inside the email tool, and using programs to query those tables for what previous emails your users have received, what they’ve liked, to determine what to send them next. At GrubHub, we were very focused on not sending a similar template over and over, so we would join the tables we uploaded with ExactTarget’s data on what users were sent inside the tool, and then look for templates we had new data that we hadn’t sent them recently. If we were to do this for Pinterest, we would have focused the query on finding the template with updated content that had the highest historical click through rate.

This is all achievable in enterprise email tools like ExactTarget and Responsys. If you’re not on one of those, you have to determine when you have enough scale that it’s worth investing in a switch instead of using a more basic tool like Mailchimp.

 

With constant improvements to your product, marketing, etc, how do you figure out attribution to increased retention and tie it back to specific improvements that you’ve made?

You have to run experiments and have long-term holdout groups. Sure, there will be other experiments those users may see, but there should be an equal amount of those people in both enabled and control. Every time we tried sending a new email, we had a control and enabled group and would at least send the email a few times to see if the effect was a novelty or sustained. In some cases, we did year-long holdouts to make sure something was a sustained lift.

Since it takes a long time to see if retention experiments worked or not, what are some examples of leading indicators you tracked?

Well, you definitely want to see if the experiment is having a short-term impact first. For example, if we designed an experiment to get people to repin more, thinking that will drive long-term retention, the question to ask is are they repinning more in the first week? If not, it’s probably not going to have a long-term impact.

Retention experiments are really about taking a baseline cohort curve, and see if you can adjust. So the early indicators are seeing how the week 1 or week 2 parts of that curve look compared to control, but you have to measure longer to see if it sustains, or goes back down.

What are the best ways to find out reasons for rejection/cause of low retention before testing anything with product or pricing?
The best way is to talk to rejectors. At GrubHub, we’d give people a free meal if they talked to us. We’d also bring people in and watch them use the product to see where people got confused and would give up.

If you have a lot of data, you can also look at what data correlates to people who stick around vs. not. You have to be careful about this because the typical answer from a model will be, if they did anything, they are more likely to stick around. So build some hypotheses, do some data analysis, and see if it makes sense.

For example, we had a hypothesis at GrubHub that number of restaurant results tied into conversion and retention. We pulled the data for how many search results people saw, and how frequent they were. We then graphed the conversion rate by the number of results. We then saw a clear inflection point that was different by city, as well as the point where adding new restaurants had diminishing returns.

 

What program did you use as “personal assistant”? How did you make it scalable?

This is something we built in house due to Pinterest’s volume of users. It was too cumbersome to move data around for over 200 million accounts. I’ll give an oversimplified overview.

So what we did was create a new table that aggregated response rates by template for each user ID. We then ranked each email template for each user by response rate. This is stored as a table in a database and is updated daily.

Then, you have to figure out how many emails to send to each user, and what time/day to send it. We used a model that measured by click through rate by increasing frequency, and we stopped email sends once an additional email sent would have a lower CTR than the previous one. For the day and time, we looked at the most common times people opened emails, and created slots based on the volume per month we’d already determined.

Whenever a slot opens for a Pinner, the system pulls the top ranked email that has content and sends it.

 

Do you have any book recommendations on user retention?

As usual with startups and growth, there aren’t many direct books on these subjects. “Hooked” [by Nir Eyal] is a pretty solid introduction to creating engagement loops. Other than that, I’d recommend general psychology and optimization books like “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman and “The Goal” by Eliyahu Goldratt.

 

How did you find out on Pinterest that you should connect men to interests instead of friends?

Through user research, we watched men go through the onboarding flow, get asked to follow friends (who were mostly women), then get a home feed they didn’t like. So, our researchers then asked the research participants something they were interested in and had them type it into the search bar. Then, they saw content they cared about and their opinion changed. So then we brainstormed how we could get men directly to what they cared about. We tried forcing search on them, but it was clumsy. Topics ended up being a better way.

 

How did you convince the restaurants to decrease their minimum and delivery fees? Please provide some examples.

We did a couple of different things. In one instance, we had a local press story we were doing, and told the restaurants they would be prominently featured if they dropped their minimum. They did it to get the exposure.

We built a case study off of that restaurants and talked about it to other restaurants, so they could hear how much total order volume changed.

We also tried ranking lower minimum restaurants higher in search results to get them to try it.

 

How do you define growth KPIs for different products? How do you segment users and personalize a good mix of channels?

The growth KPIs should match the goals of the business. You can look at that from a company mission perspective or from a revenue perspective. At Pinterest, the mission is to help people discover what they love and help them do those things in real life. So, while Pinterest doesn’t know if you did something in real life, it can tell if you found something you love by seeing if you saved it. So that is the key metric the company focuses on.

You then build a cohort analysis based on that metric and see at what point in time if they are doing that action, they will continue to do it. So, you look at where the cohort curve flattens. At Pinterest, it flattens after four weeks.

Once you have that, different parts of the growth team forms goals around getting people to that regular pattern of saving, like bringing in enough traffic, converting enough of that traffic into signups, getting enough sign ups to their first save, etc.

As for segmentation, it depends on the business. When SEO is the start of your growth loop, and what keywords you rank for is based on what content people add to the platform, you give up the ability to target certain people. It’s whoever is attracted to the content on your platform that you’re targeting. So Pinterest’s segmentation was just around usage: new, core (daily), casual (weekly), marginal (monthly), dormant, and resurrected.

At GrubHub, we spent money on advertising, so we had a bit more control. We looked at our early users and found there were four segments based on if you ordered alone or with someone else, and whether you planned to order ahead of time. Two of them were a much better fit than the others. One was attractive if we could build some product additions for them.

 

How do you know the specifics (e.g., time of day) on how users like emails

You just look at the times each user tends to open your emails historically and abstract trends (morning, weekdays, etc.). At Pinterest scale, you can get pretty granular.

 

What types of retention cohorts do you look at most often (ie. by month acquired, channel, device/platform etc)?

At GrubHub, I looked at monthly by source and by platform and by signup method (email vs. Facebook Connect vs. guest).

At Pinterest, we looked at weekly by source and platform and page type (board vs. topic vs. pin vs. home page).

 

Where would you recommend someone redirect focus where retention efforts don’t make sense? (e.g. products that people purchase once every 10 years)

In this case, retention is a lot harder. It has to be an incredibly memorable experience for someone to remember ten years later. So, what most people do is focus on acquisition channels knowing that some of those people will be re-acquisitions. Apartments.com was like this. It’s used to infrequently to expect people to come directly on their own, so we invested in SEO because people naturally go to Google when they don’t know where to find something. Later, the company also did television advertising during major apartment hunting seasons.

 

View Casey’s full presentation at WMD ’16:

 

 


Thank you to Casey Winters for contributing to the 500 blog. For more insights from Casey, follow him on Linkedin or Twitter.

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WMD ’16: Post-Conference Q&A with Brian Balfour

Guest blogger – Brian Balfour, Founder & CEO, Reforge

The below article is comprised of audience questions asked to Brian Balfour during his presentation at Weapons of Mass Distribution 2016. Brian took the time to answer the questions in detail post-conference.

 

“How do you determine your platform?”

One of the most powerful things I’ve done in my career is to build my blog. The blog acts as a platform for me to distribute my work, thoughts, and creations. The reason having this is so powerful today is because I believe we are moving towards a world where credentials matter far less, and it is more about your actual work/output. My blog is the way I do that but with tools like Dribbble, Github, Medium, Slideshare, and so many others there are a lot of ways to build a platform for yourself. Deciding on which one to use depends on two things. One, your fit with the medium. Different people do better with different mediums. For me, it is writing and therefore the blog works. Others are better suited for video, audio, etc. Two, fit between the medium and your type of work. Different types of work are better displayed in different mediums. My recommendation is to try a few, see what feels the most natural and go from there.

“Would you pay a growth marketer a base salary or revenue share?”

No definitely not. I might consider performance bonuses based on a balance of criteria, metric performance being one of them, but never a direct revenue share or commission. A few problems with that approach:

1. They aren’t in control of their own destiny. The growth of a metric like revenue is almost always a team effort, not an individual effort. Therefore one individual can’t be in control of their own destiny when it comes to generating revenue.

2. People will always look for ways to game the system typically in the form of doing the least amount of work for the largest amount of gain. You see this on sales teams which are why a comp is often always restructured on a yearly basis to plug holes. You want your growth team pursuing authentic growth. Authentic growth is more than just quantity, but also quality. Revenue shares focus on quantity which can lead you to trouble.

“Hiring tips to find an awesome Growth Marketer?”

I participated with a few other growth leaders such as Andrew Chen at Uber, Elena Vern at SurveyMonkey, and Shaun Clowes at Atlassian on some of our tips to hiring for growth. A few notes:

1. Depending on the specialty you want them to focus on, I often find great people from nonmarketing backgrounds. Since a large component of growth is quantitative I find that people coming from math, statistics, or finance backgrounds to have the right foundation to be really successful.

2. In terms of sourcing, I have found places like AngelList and Hired to have the best candidates. You can also search for Reforge alumni on LinkedIn as we are pretty selective in our programs.

3. The most important thing is making sure growth/marketing isn’t a second (or third) class citizen within your company. A lot of companies turn their nose up internally at marketing. Product, engineering, etc look down on marketing/growth. If your marketing/growth talent feels like a second class citizen, they will seek out better places. Make sure other teams within your company understand the importance and philosophy towards growth to the point that they respect it.

“How would you work with “growth” before PMF?”

The first thing you need to do is understand if you are in the traction, transition, or growth phase for your company. The traction phase is typically pre-product market fit. There should be a few goals:

1. Generate as much growth that is needed to prove out retention which is the best indicator of product market fit. To prove out retention, you need to generate a certain amount of new customers. There is no reason to step on the gas until you’ve proven this retention out.

2. Start testing and building proof around your long term growth hypotheses. In the early days you need to “do things that don’t scale” to get traction. But you also need to start forming an educated hypothesis about how you are going to grow long term. There are only a few truly scalable channels and to grow into a huge company you will need to play in one of those channels. So a large part of your early efforts should be starting to understand which one it is.

“How long do you think it takes to become an expert at something? How do you know?”

First thing is to be very wary of the term expert. I don’t like the term because it implies you have nothing left to learn about the subject. That is a dangerous thought to have because growth is never done and the moment you believe you are an expert is the moment right before you become obsolete. Your learning is never done.

There is no specific timeframe to go “deep” on something. It depends on the capabilities of the individual, the project they are working on, the people around them that they can learn from, and much more. Going deep on something to me means you understand it at a level where you are in the top 20%. Some indications that you have gone deep on something:

1. Almost everything you read about the subject on the web feels intro level or just skimming the surface to you. You have a set of knowledge that isn’t being written about and regurgitated by every content marketer out there.
2. You’ve been forced to solve a problem that you haven’t been able to answer with some google searching and a couple easy conversations.
3. You find yourself being sought out for advice from other smart and experienced professionals in the space.

View Brian’s full presentation at WMD ’16:


Thank you to Brian Balfour for contributing to the 500 blog. For more insights from Brian, follow him at his blog, Coelevate, or on Linkedin or Twitter.

#AnotherOne: 500 Startups Announces Batch 19 🔑

It’s that time again! Announcing our latest Mountain View cohort, Batch 19, with 44 companies.  

Earlier this year, we experimented with vertical tracks to be able to provide greater value to companies, in particular, categories of interest.  These tracks have allowed companies to receive additional categorical mentoring and networking opportunities.  This year at 500 Startups, we’ve held specialized tracks in Health, Fintech, B2B, and Fashion & Beauty.  In Batch 19, we are, again, running tracks in B2B led by Robert Neivert and Fashion & Beauty led by Tanya Soman.  #MajorKey

500 Startups has always invested in a lot of B2B companies — in fact, many of our top performing companies in our portfolio, such as Intercom and Talkdesk are B2B companies. One of the biggest challenges for B2B companies — especially enterprise B2B — is sales.  How to hire salespeople?  How to close deals?  How to negotiate proposals?  This is what our B2B track focuses on so that we can help founders with a great B2B product take their traction to the next level.  

500 Startups has also invested in a lot of fashion & beauty companies including Ipsy, Le Tote, TheRealReal, and Tradesy.  We see a real opportunity in this space because few investors have historically understood or invested in it.  But, with the rise in some of our high flying fashion & beauty companies, investors and corporates are beginning to take notice. #BlessUp In this track, we provide both growth guidance to help our companies increase their users and revenues and also help connect them with relevant larger industry players.  

At 500 Startups, it’s important to us to continue to push the startup ecosystem to be more inclusive and diverse, so we actively scout great companies from everywhere.  This batch was no different, and we are proud that the diversity of our founders remains strong:

  • 29% of companies have at least one female founder
  • 49% of companies are international
  • 13% of companies have a black founder
  • 9% of companies have a LatinX founder

International countries represented:

  • Nigeria
  • India
  • Jordan
  • UK
  • Hong Kong
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Brazil
  • Spain
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Palestine
  • Germany
  • Switzerland
  • Sweden

Learn more about Batch 19 below. #WeTheBest 

For investors interested in attending Demo Day B19 you can register here. See ya there! And applications for Batch 20 are now open. Apply here.

Aella Credit

Aella Credit provides instant credit solutions to Africans by eliminating standard loan applications and enabling employees to borrow at competitive rates through their employers.

aella-credit

Almabase

Almabase makes fundraising easier for schools by helping them engage their alumni effectively.

almabase

Ambience Data

Ambience Data provides live, accurate environmental insights worldwide to manage pollution health risks.

ambiencedata

Aumet

The first marketplace using intelligent technology to assist medical suppliers to validate and to assign reliable distributors with the least amount of time and at half of the cost, plus providing access to all medical tenders and news online.

aumet

Baloonr

Baloonr removes bias from group work and decision-making.

baloonr

Bstow

Donate spare change automatically from everyday purchases to your charity of choice.

bstow

Cardlife

Cardlife helps businesses to take control of their subscriptions with the vision to be the one stop shop for everything SaaS subscriptions.

cardlife

ChangeJar

ChangeJar is a mobile cash payment platform for retailers who want more transactions with higher margins.

changejar

ClaimCompass

ClaimCompass will get the airlines to pay you up to $680 for your delayed, cancelled or overbooked flight.

claimcompass

CloudCoffer

CloudCoffer is a plug-and-play network security device that shields businesses of any size from external and internal hacking with the most scalable and affordable network protection in minutes.

cloudcoffer

Crema Co

A marketplace that gives coffee drinkers access to rare coffees from small-batch roasters.

cremaco

EventXtra

One-stop Event Management Platform for Corporate Events.

eventxtra

Fingertips Lab

IoT device allows you to engage your phone while driving, eyes free.

fingertipslab

FLYE

Flye allows real-time engagement with customers in geo-fenced areas & provides social media analytics to brands – no hashtag needed.

flye

Fuel

Fuel delivers nutrient-customized meals tailored to your unique body, fitness and biomarker data.

fuel

Fuel For Clover

B2B payments platform for retail petroleum merchants that decrease interchange cost and increase card security.

fuel4clover

Gestoos

Gestoos is a computer vision software platform that enables camera (sensor) equipped devices to see and understand human gestures and movements with a level of accuracy never before available.

gestoos

Gluwa

Gluwa is a blockchain-powered banking platform to send and receive money automatically and privately for businesses.

gluwa

GymHit

GymHit is a proactive business management platform for fitness businesses that is introducing a virtual manager for workflow automation for everything from automated booking to billing.

gymhit

Homigo

A text-based home manager and dashboard for homeowners designed to increase the quality and simplicity of home services.

homigo

Hykso

Motion sensors for Boxing and MMA that recognize which punch is being thrown and at which speed it’s thrown.

hykso

iControl

iControl replaces paper with an app at construction sites, saving each construction manager time by generating all their daily reports.

unnamed

Idwall

IDwall is a B2B solution that builds trust by verifying documents, identity and doing background checks in a reliable and scalable way.

idwall

InnerSpace

Like GPS does outdoors, InnerSpace’s instant mapping and location platform transforms the human experience indoors and captures the data on how people interact indoors. We’re driving a fundamental shift in the way that people experience, understand, and create their indoor spaces.

innerspace

Kompyte

Kompyte is competitor tracking software that alerts you in real time when your competitors make changes to their websites, products and digital marketing campaigns.

kompyte

KiLife

Never lose your child again with Kiband, a line of child wearables that sync with your smartphone.

kilife

LawTova

An online legal marketplace connecting attorneys with curated freelancers for legal jobs and project-based legal services.

lawtova

Mashvisor

Mashvisor helps real estate investors quickly find traditional and Airbnb investment properties.

mashvisor

MojiLaLa

Emoji Marketplace for independent designers and studios from around the world.

mojilala

MyFavorito

MyFavorito is a CRM platform for the B2C world, used by brands and retailers to increase loyalty, sales and growth.

myfavorito

OpenDoor

Solving the urban housing problem through affordable communal living.

opendoor

OWLR

OWLR is a mobile-first platform that transforms your off-the-shelf home security cameras into a smarter, simpler and safer home monitoring system.

owlr

Park Evergreen

Park Evergreen is a B2B platform that allows companies to offer unlimited monthly parking to employees across a network of parking lots in their city.

parkevergreen

Pawprint

Pawprint is an app that helps pet owners find and book quality veterinarians.

pawprint

Pluto AI

Pluto is an AI-powered analytics platform that water companies use to prevent water wastage, predict asset failures, and avoid expensive operations/maintenance costs.

pluto

RocketBolt

RocketBolt provides easy email & website tracking to help you discover your next big sales opportunity.

rocketbolt

Scopio

An innovative platform for companies to seamlessly search, publish, and pull insights from curated social media images to increase audience engagement, while fairly compensating the original content contributors.

scopio

ShearShare

ShearShare connects salon owners to stylists to fill empty salon chairs.

shearshare

Sickweather

Sickweather is the Doppler radar of sickness — allowing parents, patients, and providers to check for the chance of sickness as easily as they can check for the chance of rain.

sickweather

Tagove

Tagove connects sales and support teams to online customers through live video chat and co-browsing with plug and play installation.

tagove

TalentBase

TalentBase is a Payroll and HR software targeting growing businesses across Africa.

talentbase

Teleport

The first platform for truly interactive video, driving 10x more engagement by providing freely navigable video, enriched with contextual contents.

teleport

UNICORN

UNICORN is a stylish skincare brand for men.

unicorn

WeAreOnyx

Beauty Subscription Service & Digital Playground for Multicultural Millennials.

weareonyx

The Artist Formerly Known As Accelerator

When Christine and I started 500 Startups six years ago, we knew we wanted to run an investment program for startups that emphasized community and education. We had long been inspired by other earlier programs such as YCombinator, TechStars, and SeedCamp. However, we had a new approach and perspective, and wanted to create our own VC firm + accelerator with a decidedly different vibe and experience.  

All these programs, including the 500 accelerator, share several key concepts:

  1. Provide a modest amount of investment capital to a group of startups
  2. Startups work in shared physical space (note: YC de-emphasizes this)
  3. Connect them with a community of experienced founders and mentors
  4. Help companies “accelerate” their progress in a short amount of time
  5. We accept many companies fail, but a few will thrive and grow BIG

On the other hand, 3 key elements make 500 programs different:

  1. A global approach to investing in startups all over the world
  2. A large, diverse team of 150 people, and community of 3,000 founders & mentors
  3. Emphasis on “full-stack” growth marketing and distribution support

Today, we are currently running our 19th batch in Mountain View, and along with our growth marketing and Mexico City programs, we have now graduated over 600 startups in the past six years — and we have invested in another 1,000 other startups as well.

A lot has changed from when we started, and just like our startups, we have experimented and iterated on our model to provide the best possible impact for founders. We have expanded and improved our curriculum, increased our check sizes and batch sizes, and grown our team, skills, and support. We now have a far more robust program, and the bar for companies joining our programs are higher and tougher than ever. Some have millions in revenue and have raised millions from other investors before they even set foot in the door. Rather than just building or improving an MVP, now our companies are focused on customers, revenue, growth, ramping up sales and marketing, expanding their team, and raising a larger round of institutional capital from top Silicon Valley VC firms.

Noting how different things are from when we started, we have decided to change the name and branding for our programs to emphasize these differences and make it clear to founders what our programs are all about. Our Accelerator program will now be referred to as the “500 Seed Program” and our Distro Dojo programs will now be the “500 Series A Program”. The name of the programs more clearly represent their fundraising goals and metrics. Below, we’ve highlighted what we’re doing now compared to before, and what startup founders should expect when they join our programs.

500 Seed Program

Before: when we started our accelerator program, we accepted companies that barely had an MVP (and a few weren’t even that far along), and most had limited usage and revenue traction. We only invested $50K for 5% equity.

Now: 500 Seed Program is geared towards companies with early traction. Most all of them have a functional product, and most have substantial user adoption & revenue. Many have already raised capital, and a few have >$1M in revenue and >$1M raised.

The 500 Seed Program gives startups access to our Silicon Valley network as well as sales, marketing, and distribution expertise. Additionally, founders receive ongoing funding strategy and support. This program invests $150k USD for 6% and $37.5k in program fees.

Company highlights: Shippo, Neighbor.ly, Talkdesk, RealtyShares, Compstak, Mayvenn, Tout, Innovacer, Headout, Haven.ly, OhmConnect, Le Tote, Cleanify, Italist, Finova Financial

500 Series A Program:

Before: In our first year of investing at the post-seed stage often we found ourselves joining seed round extensions, but are now finding more and more opportunities to invest in exceptional companies closer to the subsequent A round than the previous seed round.

Now: 500 Series A program is targeted towards startups that are on the verge of raising their Series A round. This program will include intensive growth and marketing help from our team of top Silicon Valley growth experts. Designed to help companies close to their Series A and build scalable, repeatable marketing operations that can ingest millions of dollars and produce many more millions in revenue. Aka, get the best Series A deal and terms possible. This program provides a check size ranging from $150-250k USD with $50k in program fees. Note that terms depend on company’s prior financing.

Company highlights: Mayvenn, Dollar Beard Club, Saucey, Storemaven, “Rock, Pamper, Scissors”, and Cleanify

And with that, we bid adieu to our former program names and are moving full force ahead with our 500 Seed Program and 500 Series A Program and will continue to provide top tier programs for entrepreneurs around the world.

Venture Capital Unlocked: Deal Camp Yields 100% Satisfaction

Our inaugural class of Venture Capital Unlocked: Deal Camp ran from October 17- 21, 2016. With a NPS score of 100, we’re happy to tout our success. For those who missed it, don’t worry, we’ll be running the course again February 7-10, 2017.

Created in collaboration with UC Berkeley’s Center for Law, Business and the Economy, Deal Camp was laser-focused on investment practices related to the most important element of venture capital investing: closing the deal. Deal Camp focused on industry best practices for deal term negotiation, term sheet creation, and capitalization table modeling in early stage investing. Between Berkeley’s Boalt Hall, 500 Startups’ San Francisco office, and Commerce Venture’s office, participants perfected their knowledge of debt and equity venture capital investing.

Marvin Liao of 500 Startups leads the class in question to startup frounders from 500's Batch 19.
Marvin Liao, 500 Startups leads the class in questioning two startup founders from 500’s Batch 18.

Who participated?

The class, composed of 14 investors, hailed from Azerbaijan, Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, Lebanon, Nigeria, UK and the USA. With 70% of the class coming from from geographies outside of the United States, it was one of the most diverse classes we’ve had in our education programs to date. Although our participants came from a number of different countries and backgrounds, they shared an astounding number of similarities in terms of investment experience. 

  • Average number of deals done by participants: 5 deals
  • Amount of capital the class plans to deploy over the next 2 years: $75M USD
  • Investor Type: Angel Investors: 42%, Venture Capitalists: 21%, Lawyers: 15%, Representing Corporations: 15%, Representing Governments: 7%

Screenshot 2016-11-14 at 11.44.14 AM

What did they learn?

Deal Camp brought investors to the San Francisco Bay Area to learn from experienced lawyers, venture capitalists, and Berkeley professors. The international group of investors picked the brains of Dave McClure, Ben Ling, Scott Kupor, Steven Davidoff Solomon, Adam Sterling and Neil Dugal (among many others) to learn how to structure deals to both protect the investor and play fairly with entrepreneurs.

Through a combination of theoretical and hands-on, interactive coursework, our investors learned how to quickly identify founder/investor friendly terms, model capitalization tables, and structure early stage investment deals through priced and convertible equity notes. While most participants had some investing experience under their belt, 90% of the participants walked away from Deal Camp with a better knowledge of how to complete early stage investments.

Professor Adam Sterling moderates a group conversation wtih Dave McClure.
Adam Sterling, UC Berkeley moderates a group conversation with Dave McClure, 500 Startups.

What do participants say?

We could talk about the program all day, but check out what some of our participants had to say about Deal Camp.

Ben Brasher

“Whether you’re considering starting a fund or have already done so, VC Unlocked is a tremendous help. From fine-tuning an investment thesis to validating cap tables and negotiating term sheets, there really is something for everyone. The team put together a powerhouse lineup of speakers including the 500 executives themselves, some of the other most prominent VC firms in the valley, and great faculty representation from UC Berkeley. I’d recommend VC Unlocked to anyone remotely serious about venture capital.”

 

Sabya Das

“VC Unlocked is a truly great program combining both an academic and practical approach to venture investing. It provides insight into the decision-making processes of some of Silicon Valley’s top VCs and also introduces newer investors to the foundations and basics of evaluating, structuring, and executing investments. Having a chance to learn with classmates from around the world provided a unique global experience. I’d highly recommend the course for new fund managers or investment professionals looking to accelerate their VC knowledge.”

 

Tatiana Nehme
Tatiana Nehme

“The VC Unlocked was essential for me as a tech lawyer. I gained insider tips on the dynamics of the top VC and industry leaders in Silicon Valley. The program provides a comprehensive overview of the venture capital investment cycle, talks on the latest practices and trends in the startup world, and workshops on structuring legal documents such as term sheets and convertible notes.”

 

Rick Wingfield
Rick Wingfield

“VC Deal Camp brought together an international cohort of early stage investors all curious to learn the secrets of Silicon Valley and share their local challenges. The course combined the academic power of Berkeley Law faculty and the real world experience of 500 startups and a number of notable VCs. I would highly recommend this course to anyone working with early stage startups.”

The Next VCU: Deal Camp

Our next program is scheduled to take place February 7-10, 2017 in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you’re interested in attending, please head to berkeley.500.vc for more details and the program application.