3 Visual Marketing Lessons it Took Me a lot of Money to Learn

Guest Blogger – Brittany Murlas, Mentor, 500 Startups

Optimizing adds on Pinterest isn’t necessarily straightforward, and can often involve a lot of trial and error. Brittany Murlas, a mentor for 500 Startups, spent time and money navigating what works and what doesn’t on the platform and imparts her hard-earned lessons below. Read on so you avoid the same mistakes, and instead, profit from BIG growth like she did.

 

Lesson #1: Build for platform.

You know to design your Facebook ads differently than your Google ads, but do you tweak your Facebook ads for promotion on Instagram? Now I do.

We humans open different apps for different reasons. I open Facebook for entertainment, SnapChat for connection, and Pinterest for ideas. My intent varies drastically with each.

So as marketers, if we remain content rearranging the same successful assets and copy, then we leave serious money on the table. With each ad platform, it’s our job to understand the intentions of our potential clickers.

For instance, I go to Instagram to lose myself in aspirational imagery. So my guess is the two beautiful square-ish lifestyle photos below performed very well on Instagram. But I saw them on Pinterest & Facebook instead, and since I open Pinterest for ideas and Facebook for entertainment, neither ad gave me reason to click.

  

 

Lesson #2: Make your ads look like they belong there.

Native ads are the coolest. Native ads are like getting asked to Senior prom when you’re a Freshman. If you fit in, you’re in for the night of your life. Stick out as the Freshman (you are)…well, then you might as well catch an Uber Pool back.

Native ads are a gift to us growth marketers, and we must respect them by blending in as we’re supposed to. Let’s talk through three examples.

While I really like Lyft’s idea here (i.e., I pin stuff I want to do, and Lyft can give me the cash to do those things), their Promoted Pin sticks out as an ad. Sure it grabs my attention and I may click, but I’d never save it my Pinterest account, which limits virality. However, if I came across a Lyft pin titled “How to quit your job and fund your dream” (a very pinteresting title) I’d not only click the pin and read the content, I’d also save it and share it with a friend. Huzzah!

It’s clear SoFi has done its research when it comes to pin design. Even with prominent text, this pin blends in with the Pinterest feed. What I’d change is the copy. The title reads like a HuffPo article, when folks come to Pinterest to browse ideas, not information. Something like “How to use personal loans instead of credit cards” should perform better.

What made me stop on this ad is that I thought it was actually shared on Facebook by my friend Lauren. A reminder that our target audience should be our source of greatest inspiration.

 

Lesson #3: Play with average designs.

Below, “the Real Real” ad below is stunning. It catches my eye. I admire the pretty photo. I read, and then I realize “this is an ad.” I move on.

Tiek’s ad is basic. It’s boring. But it is pure, sweet genius. This pin looks like it was designed by a mom blogger in Illinois, not a NYC-based ad designer, which gives me the trust I need to pour over the details of this ad. This is extraordinarily clickable content (for my boys out there this is a like a, “Are Bose really worth the price?” ad), and when I do click, instead of being taken to the Tiek’s website, I land on an independent review. The reviewer confirms Tiek’s really are worth the price (didn’t see that coming!), so I click to the Tiek’s website, find my favorite color and save it to my “Presents I Want” Pinterest Board.

 

Want MORE Pinterest expertise? Check out Brittany’s talk at 500 Startups Weapons of Mass Distribution 2016:

And her Marketing Hell Week 2015 talk here:

 


Brittany’s been building small enterprises since high school. As BabyList.com’s second employee, Brittany was responsible for 15x growth, making BabyList.com the most popular online baby registry. She is known as an expert in marketing to women and parents. Now, Brittany is building a feminist book club for kids, thelittlefeminist.com. For more from Brittany, you can follow her on Twitter and Linkedin.

500 Batch 20 Demo Day Recap

On May 11, 2017 at Parc 55 in San Francisco, 500 Startups’ latest batch, Batch 20, celebrated their graduation from our 4-month accelerator program with Demo Day. The 41 Batch companies hailing from 10 different countries successfully pitched their companies to a room full of active and accredited investors, resulting in follow-up investor meetings and funding on-site. Below is a recap of the event. 

B20 DEMO DAY OVERVIEW >>

  • 414 total attendees (not including the batch companies)
  • 300 investors and corporate strategics in attendance
  • 35 current LP’s in attendance
  • 19 guests from General Motors, a partner of Batch 20
  • 3,813 people watched via Livestream. The top 10 countries who viewed remotely are as follows:

 

WHAT IS DEMO DAY? An invite-only event for 500+ active & accredited investors, Demo Day is a private viewing of our most recent accelerator startups before they ‘graduate’. Attendees will get a first look at the startups, meet the founders, and network with other top-tier investors, corporate strategists, & press.

WHY DO WE DRESS UP? Wondering what’s up with the flowers and tie-dye? B20 Demo Day was “Summer of Love” themed. Read check out this article for more on why we dress up our Demo Days.

VIEW THE B20 PITCHES HERE

B20 DEMO DAY PRESS COVERAGE >>

Our favorite companies from 500 Startups 20th Demo Day

The top 500 Startups Batch 20 Demo Day Startups

500 Startups celebrates 20th batch, ‘Summer of Love,’ at Demo Day

Watch 500 Startups Batch 20 Demo Day here 

 

 

PRESENTING BATCH 20 COMPANIES >>

44 companies hailing from 10 international countries

B20 includes GovTech (13.6% of B20), FinTech (27%) and Digital Health (15.9%). 36% of the B20 are international representing 10 countries. Canada, Israel, Thailand, Hong Kong, Latvia, Estonia, Brazil, United Kingdom, Nigeria, and France.

B20 is also a diverse set and has 20.5% of companies with at least one woman founder, 11.4% of companies in with at least one black founder, and 13.6% of companies with at least one latinX founder.

  • AllVirtuous — On-demand investigation platform to fight counterfeit products through crowdsourcing.
  • Alta5 — An event-driven automation platform for trading the financial markets.
  • BenRevo — Digitally connects insurance carriers, brokers, and employers.
  • Biomarker.io — A monitoring and tracking platform that optimizes your wellness and supplement routine.
  • Bloom Credit — Takes a data-driven approach to improving the financial health and eligibility of loan applicants.
  • Boon — An AI-powered referral recruiting network that helps companies hire talent in their employees’ social networks.
  • Cadence — An API for connecting language interpreters with businesses.
  • Clanbeat — An ongoing feedback tool for monthly performance reviews targeted at managers.
  • Cyberwrite — Cybersecurity predictive analytics for the insurance space
  • Court Buddy — A tech platform that matches users with solo attorneys based on their budget.
  • Credit Stacks — Credit cards for building credit history.
  • Digital Mortar — Full customer path tracking for brick and mortar retailers.
  • EquitySim — Trains students to trade in financial markets, and uses machine learning to connect them with employers.
  • FriendlyData — A natural language interface for databases.
  • Funderful — Online fundraising software for universities.
  • Govlist — Optimizes government purchasing through document automation and analytics.
  • Halo Home — Smart home security
  • Hyphen — A real-time, anonymous employee listening platform leveraging machine learning to provide timely recommendations to Management and HR.
  • Littlefund — Littlefund is a smart gifting and savings app for parents to build their child’s financial journey with ease.
  • Mycroft — Am open source alternative to Siri and Alexa.
  • Nazar — Agent-less database performance monitoring.
  • Numina — A sensing platform that uses computer vision to deliver real-time insights from streets and make cities more responsive.
  • Obie (Tasytt Inc.) — A Slackbot for accessing team data.
  • Optimity — Reduces preventable drug claims costs for employers through a digital health coaching program.
  • Orderly Health — An AI-powered concierge to help employees navigate their healthcare.
  • Preteckt — A hardware and software solution that uses machine learning to predict vehicle breakdowns before they cost you money.
  • Printivo — One-stop online print shop for African designers and business to order quality prints and marketing collateral.
  • RapidCFO — AI financial assistant.
  • Raxar Technology Corporation — An intelligent data management platform that enables enterprise and government agencies to reduce costs, track critical assets, and optimize complex workflows.
  • Regard — Offers income insurance online, enabling individuals to get cash benefits when they’re too sick or injured to work.
  • SentiSum — An AI analytics solution helping enterprises leverage all their customer opinion data.
  • Shoelace — An AI assistant that helps e-commerce merchants launch retargeting campaigns on social media.
  • Skeyecode — Authentication software based on a new cryptography scheme.
  • Smile Identity — Ties ID documents to a “smart selfie” of a user, creating a universal biometric for authentication on any Android device.
  • Text To Ticket — Pays for user-submitted videos that catch texting and driving in the act.
  • TopDocs — A software platform for hospitals to boost revenue from medical tourism.
  • TrueCare24 — One stop shop for complete medical care delivered to home for loved ones.
  • UrbanLogiq — Applies machine-learning analytics to make city planning faster, cheaper and more accurate.
  • WellTrack — On-demand online therapy for stress, anxiety, and depression to open up access to mental health care.
  • Win-Win — A sports gaming platform where fans compete to win priceless experiences with their favorite pro athletes, all while contributing to charitable causes. Social Games For Social Good.
  • YayPay — AI to accelerate cash flow and automate accounts receivables.
  • Zyudly Labs — Provides deep learning powered fraud and cyber security solutions for the financial services industry.
  • VIA Global Health — A platform that connects people in emerging markets with medical supplies that are otherwise inaccessible.
  • Visabot — An AI-powered solution for streamlining U.S. visa process
  • Hykso — Live streaming boxing classes with socially connected motion sensors
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE B20 COMPANIES AND/OR GET INTRODUCED HERE

WANT MORE 500? IF YOU’RE AN ACTIVE OR ACCREDITED INVESTOR, REGISTER HERE FOR BATCH 21 DEMO DAY IN MOUNTAIN VIEW, AND DON’T MISS OUR OTHER UPCOMING EVENTS.

FINALLY, WE’LL LEAVE YOU WITH THE B20 COMMERCIAL, AIRED AT DEMO DAY:

THANK YOU TO PARC 55, OUR VENUE PARTNER

THANK YOU TO EVENTXTRA, OUR EVENT PARTNER

Geeks on a Plane ’17 Africa Recap

From March 20 – April 2, 500 Startups brought a group of 22 “geeks” to Africa for our 18th Geeks on a Plane (GOAP) tour. Over two non-stop weeks, the group of entrepreneurs, investors, and corporate executives got an in-depth look at the West and South African startup and investment ecosystems through events like accelerator visits, mentoring sessions, dinners with US ambassadors, pitching events, tech conferences, and evening meetups. Below is our summary, insights, and takeaways from the trip.

GEEKS ON A PLANE OVERVIEW >>

  • 3 countries & 4 cities (Lagos, Nigeria / Accra, Ghana / Johannesburg, South Africa / Cape Town, South Africa)
  • 43 events over 2 weeks (including accelerator visits, pitch competitions, intimate roundtable discussions, embassy dinners, red carpet events, and one helluva safari)
  • 22 ‘Geeks’ representing financial services/fintech, social impact investing, government, and venture capital
  • Connections to top investors/investment firms (like African Capital Alliance, Venture Garden Group, EchoVC, and Singularity Investments in Nigeria, Pave Investments and Chanzo Capital in Ghana, and 4di, Edge Growth, and AngelHub Ventures in South Africa)
  • Connections to public sector officials including the Nelson Mandela family, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, US Embassy Charges d’ Affaires Jessye Lapenn, Ghana Ministry of Communication Liaison, the U.S. Consul General F. John Bray, Minister Naledi Pandor from the South African Department of Science and Technology, and Minister Rob Davies from the South African Department of Trade & Industry
  • Connections with local accelerators and entrepreneur communities (Andela, CCHub, Seedstars, MEST, Startup Grind Cape Town, Barclays Rise, Workshop 17, IBM Innovation Lab, Google Launchpad)
  • Over two dozen pieces of press coverage, including a TV interview by CNBC Africa and online article by TechCrunch

SEE ALL THE GOAP PRESS COVERAGE HERE

WHAT SOME GEEKS SAID >>

  • “GOAP was an intense road trip with some incredible people. It’s a strong mix of networking, learning and having fun. The access to local tech leaders was very valuable and made it easy to build up a picture of what’s really happening in Africa” – Itai Damti, CEO Asia Pacific, Leverate
  • “Geeks on a Plane has contributed significantly to my personal and professional development. GOAP creates a context to make great new friends, insights, and opportunities. Anyone interested in really understanding the global investment and entrepreneurship landscape should consider becoming a geek!” – Dave Troy, CEO, 410 Labs
  • “RippleWorks only works with the best social ventures in the world. GOAP short-circuited the time it took me to meet great entrepreneurs and ventures that have a legit shot to build a great business AND make the world a better place.” – Doug Galen Co-Founder & CEO RippleWorks

INSIGHTS >>

VIEW ALL THE GOAP AFRICA FUN WITH MORE PHOTOS FROM LAGOS, ACCRA, AND SOUTH AFRICA 

THANK YOU TO OUR REGIONAL HOST:
THANK YOU TO OUR COUNTRY HOSTS:
THANK YOU TO OUR GHANA COMMUNITY PARTNERS:
THANK YOU TO OUR SOUTH AFRICA COMMUNITY PARTNERS: 
 
WANT MORE 500? DON’T MISS OUR UPCOMING EVENTS.

What We’re Changing in Our Accelerator after #500BAM

Guest author –

Hi, I’m Michael Rivera. I’ve started (and exited) two companies in my career. I’ve been an early-stage venture investor, advisor and mentor. I’ve recently joined with three brilliant Stanford grads to launch an LA-based accelerator dedicated to consumer products in the health & wellness, toy, and home goods verticals. I just took 500 Startups Bootcamp for Accelerator Managers (April 24th – 28th) and here are some of my reflections. 

During the weeklong Bootcamp for Accelerator Managers, Dave McClure, Christine Tsai, Bedy Yang and the 500 Startups team shared all the successes and failures they’ve had after running 40+ accelerator programs. They were transparent, hilarious, and incredibly inspiring.

It. Was. Awesome.

(Except the part where Dave McClure told us we were crazy for running accelerators and would probably fail. The truth hurts! Thanks, Dave!)

Dave McClure presenting at BAM!

For five days, I sat with my batch mates as we learned about accelerator investment theses, accelerator marketing and positioning, and the accelerator application process among many topics in information-packed sessions. These sessions conveyed best-practices for every facet of accelerator operations and management.

Here are three of the changes we’re making to our program after attending #500BAM:

1. Shifting our mindset from an accelerator to a fund with services.

By starting a private accelerator, we’re really starting a Seed Fund with super-charged value-add components. We owe it to our investors, our strongest performing cohort companies, and ourselves, not to spend limited resources on the worst companies. It sounds harsh, but we’re accelerating the good companies and we’re accelerating the bad companies.

We understand this with greater clarity now so we’re developing internal metrics to identify our least promising cohort companies and develop a process to allocate resources to them accordingly during our program.

2. Paying more attention to timing.

We know that the success of the first fund will determine whether we raise a second fund. We hadn’t fully thought through the timing of LP capital calls and how that impacts fund IRR/LP ROI. So now we’re mapping LP capital calls against our cohort start dates and anticipated follow-on investment windows. Though this may seem like a minor point, any incremental improvement on IRR/ROI is critical, especially for a new fund.

The 2017 BAM! class

3. Engaging partners and sponsors.

We realized we were focused on our accelerator program to the detriment of our sponsors and partners program. As 500 Startups has proven in the private accelerator space, it is crucial to engage corporations, governments, and NGOs via sponsorships, partnerships, and events. If you’re not, you’re leaving tons of operational revenue on the table.

We’re now in the process of developing a fully integrated corporate outreach and sponsorship program. Not only will this strengthen us operationally, we’re further developing relationships with potential exit partners for our cohort companies. As Venture Partner Zafer Younis put it in his session on corporate partnerships, it’s a “win-win-win.”

Zafer Younis presenting at BAM!.

Although I think the challenges that face me and my team are going to be the hardest of my career, after my time at #500BAM, I feel energized and focused. I received invaluable, personalized advice from the very best accelerator operators in the world. I have #500BAM resources and materials to reference as we move forward. I am a part of the 500 Startups ecosystem.

Perhaps most importantly, I have a stronger support network of like-minded accelerator managers. My batch mates hailed from Europe, the Middle East, South America, Asia, and all corners of the United States. We are men and women coming from a mix of private, government, university and corporate accelerators.

BAM participants sharing their experiences.

Some of us have yet to welcome our first group of companies; others have been operating their accelerator for years. And yet our diversity – in all things – was our greatest strength. In truth, we learned as much from each other as we did from our friends at 500 Startups.

If you’re in the accelerator ecosystem, there is nothing else like #500BAM in the world. I encourage you to see for yourself next year.

Thank you to Michael Rivera for contributing to the 500 blog. For more insights from Michael, follow him on Twitter.

3 Questions Every Accelerator Manager Should Be Able to Answer

500 Startups just wrapped our second Bootcamp for Accelerator Managers, which brought 23 participants from Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Iran, Japan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, United States, and Uruguay together to learn best practices in accelerator management.

From creating deal flow to connecting entrepreneurs to capital, BAM! participants learned tactics to improve investments and accelerator operations.

Reflecting on the program, we’ve compiled a list of three simple questions every effective accelerator manager should be able to answer.

 

What problem do you solve?

Are there gaping holes in UX/UI knowledge among entrepreneurs in your ecosystem? Do startups struggle to sell products internationally? Do you see too many founders fundraising the wrong way? Each ecosystem has it’s own set of challenges. Accelerator managers should know what ails entrepreneurs and bake solutions to their problems into their accelerator’s DNA.

Entrepreneurs relinquish equity in their company in return for cash, mentoring, and programing. Accelerators have a responsibility to equip them with the knowledge needed to fight, and win in the marketplace.

Accelerator managers know what entrepreneurs need, and then work relentlessly to provide it.

 

What’s your superpower?

We’ve been unapologetically loud about our growth hacking superpower. 500’s Seed Program focuses on marketing and fundraising strategies; our Series A Program cultivates the  metric-driven marketing techniques needed to raise and utilize Series A financings. Notice any similarities? Both lean heavily on our growth hacking superpower.

Before starting a new accelerator or changing the structure of your existing accelerator, make sure you clearly understand your superpower. What can founders say they definitively gain from being part of your program and network?

Accelerator managers know and exploit their superpowers.

 

How patient are you?

It takes time to witness the results of investing in early stage companies. How long will it take before your program proves itself? Do you have the bandwidth to survive until then?

Reflection and iteration are key to creating a great program. Over time, accelerators managers’ expertise will evolve, leading to better company selection and better financial outcomes. Accelerator managers are in it for the long term. They know their work will not always produce immediate results, but are patient and continue to iterate and evolve.

Accelerator managers know time is on their side.  


We look forward to sharing more insights learned from this year’s BAM! program in the coming months. Sign up for our mailing list at education.500.co/accelerator to keep up to date with the latest in accelerator manager education.

Our next program is planned for February 2018. We hope you’ll join us.

 

 

Announcing 500 Falcons first closing at $15m out of $30m target

 

Today, I’m thrilled to announce the first closing of our 500 Startups MENA Fund (aka 500 Falcons) at $15M out of our $30M target. While we have been investing in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region since 2011, including 55 deals in 32 companies for a total of $6M, this is our first fund focused entirely on the Arab world.

With this new fund, we plan to invest in approximately 100-150 companies with about half of the fund and reserve the other half for follow-on investment in the top 20% of companies. The fund will focus on early-stage startups in the MENA region, MENA diaspora founders and non-MENA founders targeting MENA.

The MENA Team

I’m so thrilled to announce that Sharif El-Badawi has joined the team as a Partner for 500 Falcons.

Sharif El-Badawi
Sharif El-Badawi

Sharif joined 500 Startups as a Venture Partner in February of 2016 while he was still at Google and the Chairman of the leading global non-profit bridging MENA entrepreneurs with Silicon Valley, TechWadi. He left his role at Google after nearly 7 years this past September working with some of the top startups and VC funds in Silicon Valley to focus his time and attention on investing in MENA startups. He’s already been a great help to the startups in our portfolio and an asset to the team. Prior to Google, Sharif was with AdMob, which sold to Google in 2009 for $750 million, and a serial entrepreneur, advisor and investor in Consumer Internet startups since 1998 having jumped into his first tech startup, Website.com. Sharif brings almost twenty years of product, business development, marketing, and sales experience to the 500 portfolio.

We’re also actively recruiting for our team in the region, with plans to have people on the ground in our key markets such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan amongst others.

Who Are We Working With?

I’m pleased to announce that among our LPs for the first closing are 2 highly respected regional institutions, the Qatar Science and Technology Park and the Oman Investment Fund. In these LPs we have found partners that will help us achieve our mission to support and invest in startups and build ecosystems in the MENA region. I truly believe that thanks to LPs such as these we’ll have a significant impact on the regional ecosystem.

Along with our partners at QSTP, we are bringing our Series A Program (formerly known as our Distro Dojo) to the region as ‘Doha Dojo.’ Once a year, we will be working with some of the top MENA startups at the Series A level to bring them to Doha with some of the best growth hackers in the world to help build a growth mindset and support them in their growth. More information on our first batch is coming soon and investor day is taking place on May 23rd in Doha. If you’re a Series A investor and interesting in joining, please get in touch with Ms. Ghada Darwish at gdarwish@qstp.org.qa.

QSTP
QSTP – Partners for our Distro Dojo Program in the MENA region

In Oman, we are engaging on an ecosystem building project in partnership with the Oman Investment Fund through the Oman Tech Fund. This year we’ll be advising and supporting the Wadi Accelerator program in Oman with knowledge transfer, capacity building and a cadre of mentors. In addition, we’re working on a unique event, Geeks in a Wadi, the first event of its kind, with further details to be announced soon.

Oman - One of the most beautiful places in the world
A natural ‘Wadi’ in Oman

Why Are We Doing This?

The region has long faced political and economic uncertainty, and a growing younger population that is looking to take charge and change things with their own hands. These youth have access to the same global wealth of information as anyone else. If they so choose, they’re capable of achieving the same things anyone else in the world is.

The Middle East and North Africa are among the last large regional ecosystems to rise up, and emerging markets tend to leapfrog adoption of innovations and technology at higher and higher frequencies. Being a latecomer does not mean staying behind, and the Arabic speaking world is 500 million strong – young, resourceful, wealthy and a yearning to thrive.

Top 5 Reasons MENA is a Must Bet

  1. Massive 500 million Arabic speaking population
  2. Largely untapped ecosystem/market, internally and internationally
  3. Shift in fossil fuel prices and changing geopolitical forces
  4. Lower valuations and costs of operating a business
  5. Highly educated, competitive and vibrant talent pool

Bonus (coming soon): Surge in investor interest and options for progression from seed to exit

According to MAGNiTT’s State of MENA Funding Report, 2016 saw nearly $1B of venture capital investment into regional startups, a 424% increase over the previous year, and arguably a flat year due to the fact almost all the VCs were fundraising, including us. Sorry founders, but 2017 is looking very strong! We hope that our 40+ deals/year will boost early-stage startup growth and encourage more angel and venture capital to flow in.

I look forward to 500 Startups playing a significant role in building ecosystems across the MENA region, and investing in the best founders solving real problems. I hope that our deal volume and speed will provide at least a small boost in funding activity at the earliest stages and even encourage others to do more deals as well. I’m grateful to the other investors and key stakeholders in the region who are fighting for the same cause. Progression is key for entrepreneurs and they need optionality of capital sources at all stages in their startup and scaling. We’re all aligned in that we want to create more companies and help those companies grow.

Here’s to building world class startups from the Middle East, creating jobs, solving real problems, empowering the youth, women and anyone who wants to effect real change to better their surroundings, and generating a positive return on capital while we’re at it!

From Drones to GM, Announcing Batch 21

They are here. Two weeks ago Batch 21 (B21) kicked off at 500 Startups in Mountain View. Thirty-one young companies will now spend the next four months hacking out of the flagship location nestled in the center of Silicon Valley where 500 Startups was launched six years ago (AARRR!).

Since the original Batch 1, the 500 Seed Program has accelerated over 600 companies between the San Francisco and Mountain View programs (shout out to our LatAm program in Mexico City currently on Batch 007).

As usual, B21 represents a wide array of technologies ranging between Conversational Commerce, Big Data, drones, VR, transportation, digital health and FinTech. There will also be a focus track in B2B Sales and an automotive track hosted with General Motors.

Forty-three percent of B21 are international companies representing 8 countries with founders from the UK, Argentina, Canada, Israel, Italy, Hong Kong, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan and Turkey. Another 23% of the batch are female founders and 12% are black or Latinx founders.

The core of the 500 program continues to be focused on growth and fundraising with the return of the notorious Marketing Hell Week followed by weekly enterprise sales talks and intensive customer acquisition coaching.

“It’s week two, and we are already feeling the speed at which 500 operates,” says Ryan Stobie, CEO and founder of Adventure Bucket List who’s from Vancouver. “I’ve seen other accelerators and the growth expertise here is unmatched.”

Welcome B21. It is time.

Check out the entire roster of B21 below or on TechCrunch.

You can also apply for Batch 22 here.

 

Read more

Indonesia Team Expands with Ashraf Sinclair as Latest Venture Partner

We welcome Ashraf Sinclair to the 500 Startups Southeast Asia team (also known as 500 Durians)  to help find and select the next wave of Indonesia investments. I personally relocated to Indonesia for close to a year now, in an effort to significantly deepen our coverage in Indonesia, and this is the first of more new 2017 hires to be announced.

Ashraf is known locally as a celebrity actor. Aside from Ashraf’s career in the entertainment industry, he is also a seasoned business person, having started restaurants, gyms, content and production agencies, and most recently co- produced a sold out 3,500 person solo concert for his wife, Bunga Citra Lestari, Indonesia’s Award Winning Singer Actress.

I’ve know him for the past 4 years. I referred Ashraf his first startup investment, Korean cosmetics company Althea, to invest in as an angel.

After seeing how Ashraf thinks, moves, and adds value to a startup, I knew I wanted to work with him more. I want the startup industry to leverage the world of mass media and trends, something the local entertainment industry understands well. Ashraf can be this bridge.

There is immense alignment with his ambitions to use the network he has gained in the entertainment industry to support and build the next generation of Indonesian “creatives”. The enormous Indonesian market wants more than just entertainment. They want products, services, and solutions that calls for a new generation of entrepreneurs to provide. 500 gives Ashraf a platform to do this faster, at a larger scale.

I expect a lot of the new, game changing startups to come from outside the tech startup echo chamber. The startup industry in Indonesia is booming. But it is still relatively new compared to the entertainment industry in the region. Many entrepreneurs building real businesses across the country may not have heard of venture capital, but they would’ve heard of Ashraf.

Ashraf’s next order of priority is to deploy capital from 500 Durians Fund II into Indonesian startups, alongside myself and 500 Startups Partner Vishal Harnal.

500 Startups is no stranger to investing in Indonesia, having invested in over 30 companies in the country, including Bukalapak, Kudo, Bro.do, HIJUP, Kredivo, and others.

Much of 500’s Southeast Asian portfolio of 120+ companies have expanded operations into Indonesia. Any regional startup will want to get a foothold of Greater Jakarta’s 25 Million Facebook savvy population, and the cities beyond Jakarta. And they have all set up operations here. And that’s why we want to do what we can to help them win Indonesia.

Ashraf Sinclair