How 500 Startups picks investments

How do you evaluate a potential startup investment?

This is inevitably one of the first questions I’m asked when talking to aspiring VCs at industry events and programs like VC Unlocked: Deal Camp, and rightfully so.

Ask around and you’ll hear about the hours clocked and the expensive mistakes a VC has to make in order to develop the muscle memory and pattern recognition to succeed in this industry. Throw in the influx of capital chasing fewer high-potential startups, and it becomes increasingly clear that early stage investors need to arm themselves with something stronger than gut instinct.

For investors looking to break into the industry, that means honing in on their opportunity assessment framework and filters that allow them to mitigate risk and maximize returns.

Opportunity Assessment

Let’s start by defining opportunity assessment: simply put, it’s a set of criteria or questions that will make you say yes or no to an investment.

Opportunity assessment is a foundational discipline for any VC, and often one that takes the longest to hone. It’s particularly hard for early stage investments when you don’t have financials to project. By approaching your evaluation of new investments in a more systematic way, you’ll save yourself some war stories down the road.

With over 1,800 investments under our belt, we like to think we’ve learned a thing or two about opportunity assessment. Here’s how we evaluate early stage investment opportunities:

At 500, we’re pretty transparent about our investment thesis. Compared to more traditional VC firms on Sand Hill Road, we prefer a large, diversified portfolio of early-stage investments that reduces risk and maximizes potential return. In other words, we advocate lots of little bets.

lots of little bets

 

 

 

 

Now once you have that thesis, how do you put it into practice? That’s where your frameworks and filters come in. Every firm’s framework is different, depending on their area of focus, and each is crucial to their success (or lack thereof).

Over the course of seven years, we’ve built a data-driven process based on a selection of pre-defined metrics.

Kickass Team

Ideally, we’re looking for a cross-functional team with design, engineering and marketing expertise. In our experience, bringing together technical team members and talented product and distribution pros is a winning combination.

Solving a problem

The product or service you’re investing in should solve a problem for a specific target customer. In many cases, that goes hand in hand with a market shift and means solving a problem that wasn’t obvious before.

Capital-efficient business

We’re looking for companies that are operational at less than $1M in external financing. Their CAPEX needs to be low, or we need to see revenue ticking upwards. Watch that burn rate!

Path to Series A

If you’re running out of money and trying to raise again, chances are you’re already too late. As early-stage investors, we need to know whether you can raise the next round. Startups die for one reason…

Functional prototype

We need to see a functional prototype before investing, or previous product success at the very least. Early customer usage is another bonus.

Measurable traction

Beware of vanity metrics. We’re looking for engaged users, some revenue, and attractive unit economics that are trending upwards.

Scalability

One a company has product market fit, they should have either scalable internet-based distribution (search, social, mobile) or a proven ability to scale sales. 500 has an in-house distro team of growth marketing experts that specializes in advising post-seed companies preparing to raise their Series A round.

When 500 Startups likes to invest:

sweet spot for 500

So there you have it, a high-level overview of how we evaluate new venture opportunities. Once you’ve decided on your framework on whether to invest in a company or not, it’s time to move on and focus on pricing and terms.

If you’d like to learn more and deep dive into specific case studies, hear first-hand from founders, and more, check out our upcoming Venture Capital Unlocked: Deal Camp at Berkeley from October 23-36.

VC Unlocked: Deal Camp @ Berkeley

Deal Camp is a four-day intensive program focused on the nuts and bolts of deal making for investors who want to improve their ability to define, negotiate, and execute early-stage investments. Participants will work with leading UC Berkeley faculty and 500 Partners to develop strategies to structure deals in order to maximize investment return.

VC Unlocked: Deal Camp at Berkeley

Submit your application today!

Edith Yeung’s 2017 China internet report

Our very own 500 China partner Edith Yeung just released her China internet report. This 67-page report includes everything you need to know about China internet landscape including China vs. US internet by the numbers, China internet market size, top China startup cities, venture capital, smartphone landscape, major Chinese internet trends including messaging, mobile payment, Cryptocurrency, shopping, bike sharing, live streaming. gaming, eSport, artificial intelligence, and education.

Here are some of our takeaways:

  1. China internet future is really bright…
  2. China is the leader of messaging, mobile payment, bike-sharing, gaming, eSport, live streaming and online education industries.
  3. China’s domestic market for mobile payment, bike-sharing, gaming, eSport, live streaming and online education is big enough that many players are not looking outside of China.
  4. Government support is instrumental China wants to dominate artificial intelligence and the government is pushing hard to make this happen.
  5. To experience China, you need to spend time in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hangzhou
  6. China is the world’s largest education market with 144 Million online users.
  7. China is the world’s largest cryptocurrency market and is developing its own digital currency.
  8. WeChat is Facebook, WhatsApp, Tinder, Paypal and Slack combined.

 


Edith Yeung is the head of 500 Startups Greater China and partner of 500 Mobile Collective Fund. Edith invested in over 40 mobile, VR, AR, AI and machine learning startups, including Hooked,, DayDayCook, Fleksy (acquired by Pinterest), Human (acquired by Mapbox), AISense, and many more. Before 500, Edith worked with companies like Dolphin Browser, Siebel, AMS, AT&T Wireless and Autodesk. For more from Edith, you can follow her on Twitter and Linkedin and newsletter

You have been accepted into 500 Startups. Now what?

Guest Author – Eugene Vyborov, CTO, YayPay (A 500 Startups Batch 20 Company)

Among the 180+ independent accelerators around the world, American programs hold sway and considerable appeal. Getting into a US-based accelerator is a dream for many startups, especially ones that are based outside the United States. It’s easy to see the attraction: accelerators offer access to the American ecosystem of innovation, collective wisdom of successful entrepreneurs, visibility to prominent VCs, and a trip to the US, all in one package.

From reading cover stories in magazines, one might buy into the idea that once a company is accepted into a prestigious accelerator program, its path to success is clear. The reality is far from it. As I have previously mentioned in “5 Things International Startups Should Know Before Joining a U.S. Accelerator,” acceptance into a top program is just the beginning. My earlier article was based on my experience at Techstars Boston. Now that I have completed Batch 20 at 500 Startups, I am ready to share my thoughts on what it takes to maximize the opportunities and deal with the challenges that come with joining the 500 Startups family.

Let me begin by saying that accelerator programs like 500 Startups are highly competitive. Thousands apply, 30-50 get in. In fact, you have a better chance of getting into Harvard than joining a new 500 Startups batch. If you have been accepted, you definitely have a reason to celebrate. Now, the real work begins.

Here is the thing. Accelerator “freshmen” tend to overlook the need to build a solid foundation in terms of logistics, mental shifts, and financial reserves. By accepting the invitation to join 500 Startups they have signed up for a marathon – and the sooner they begin training the better. Participants must trust the process that is built by experienced investors and entrepreneurs, but they must also come prepared. From having been a part of both Techstars and 500 Startups, I can tell you that the accelerator process is powerful, but it has no magic. All any accelerator can do is accelerate the path the company is on, for better or worse. There are things founders can to make sure they are on the right path – before they pick up the speed.

What does that look like? I have interviewed 3 fellow founders and Marvin Liao himself as they prepared to wrap up their journey with 500 Startups’ Batch 20. Here is their advice:

1. Focus on bringing a great product.

An idea, no matter how brilliant, does not cut it. Some programs (like the Y Combinator) will consider applicants in early stages of development, but both Techstars and 500 Startups require that you have a functional product that’s ready for the market. There are some exceptions (a highly innovative idea, or a proven team with strong credentials and a solid track record) but they only confirm the basic rule.

The “functional product” requirement means that you must have a product and it must be good. The accelerator process will fuel evolution and improvements, but your starting point must be sufficiently strong to allow the product to morph without crumbling. Invest your pre-accelerator time and money into making a product that people love. Resist falling in love with the technical aspects of your product, and get the market to fall in love with the way it solves their problem – before you go any further.

2. Come prepared for the expense.

The cost of participating in the program is covered by the portion of the accelerator’s investment in your company that is held back to cover office space, event facilitation, and other expenses. That is convenient, but it is only a part of the story. Alexey Zenivoch, the co-founder of Belarus-based Friendly Data that builds natural language interfaces for databases, spoke for many of his batchmates when he reflected that San Francisco is expensive. Travel and living expenses can really add up, especially if multiple team members choose to travel to the US and stay for the duration of the program. The investment is well-worth it for the right company, but alumni recommend you consider the whole cost to avoid any surprises.

3. Have a plan for integrating what you learn with the team at home.

The three international startup founders we spoke with all brought several co-workers with them. In the words of Ragnar Sass, the founder of Clanbeat out of Estonia, the ability to include teammates was a “deal breaker” that helped him choose 500 Startups above other accelerators. If your company hopes to break into the US market, it is critical that everyone on the team understands the Silicon Valley, he said.

“I believe that this area is the best environment for developing your business. 500 Startups is also friendly for the non-founders. It is very important that everyone on the team actually understands the Silicon Valley.”

-Ragnar Sass, Clanbeat (Estonia)

That brings us to an important point: few startups can afford to re-locate their entire team to the US for the duration of the accelerator program. You will need a plan for sharing what you learn with your home-base team to bring them along. “Translating” the Silicon Valley culture and conveying the less technical ideas and changes can be difficult. You must have a way of “converting” the knowledge and bringing everyone together, even while you are separated by geography.

4. Get comfortable with networking.

Participants repeatedly state that networking opportunities are some of the key benefits of participating in 500 Startups. And yet, that networking won’t happen by osmosis. You must have a plan for reaching your mentors, building relationships, and establishing connections that will be strong enough to persevere after graduation.

“It’s all about the people. You can meet your new friends and a lot of very smart people. 500 gives you access to strong mentors who help you understand your real market, give you feedback and advice on how to work with your clients.”

-Alex Zenovich, Friendly Data (Belarus)

The good news is that the 500 Startups program is custom-built to encourage collaboration. Because participants share a co-working space, they get to see each other’s victories and defeats. Don’t under-estimate the power of random conversations over lunch!

5. Remember that “sales” is not a dirty word.

500 Startups is strongly focused on customer acquisition. Whether or not you’re a technical founder, you must understand that just building a great product is not enough.

“Openness to learning sales and marketing is really important. You need to have a mindset for it.”

-Marvin Liao, Founder, 500 Startups

Distribution is the name of the game, and organizers structure the content around helping each batch of companies get to their customers fast. Every startup gets a distribution mentor, but you won’t experience traction until you absorb the idea that “selling” is key to your company’s success.

Bonus advice: beef up your English skills!

If you don’t have a high degree of comfort with the English language, there is a limit to how much you will get out of the program. Marvin Liao shared that he would love to see more foreign companies go through the 500 Startups, but the language barrier prevents many great companies from applying. When international teams are present, their conversational facility with English makes an enormous difference on their ability to build the network and maximize their progress.

“Two-thirds of this batch are from the US and a third are from overseas. I do not have a quota. We like international companies, some of our best teams are from overseas. The biggest part is whether they speak English. If you don’t speak English, you won’t do well here.”

-Marvin Liao, Founder, 500 Startups

500 Startups: Lessons learned

Don’t think of joining a US-based accelerator as a binary “yes/no” proposition. The answer may well be “not right now”. Timing matters, as does the degree to which your product is ready for the market. Your team must be open and ready to absorb the volume of sales and distribution learning that has been described as drinking out of a firehose. The application process is highly competitive, and if your team and product have known gaps you may be at a disadvantage compared to companies that are further along in their development. Consider your financial situation as well – your total investment will be greater than just the cost to join the class.

Lastly, think about what happens after the program. Many participants aim to maintain at least some presence in the US after graduation. Mark Masongson, the CEO and Co-Founder of Canadian-based UrbanLogiq, said it best:

“Now that we have access to this network, we cannot close the door on that.”

-Mark Masongson, UrbanLogiq

Marvin Liao has seen companies have success with maintaining an overseas development team and a US-based sales and marketing team.

“The best companies are the ones that keep the engineering team home, but double down on the sales and marketing front in the US.”

Marvin Liao, Founder, 500 Startups

“I won’t say that it’s easy, but we have seen enough examples,” Marvin said, citing the success story of TalkDesk that has a development team in Portugal and a sales and marketing team in San Francisco. The badge of “500 Startups portfolio company” does not come without sacrifice, but it is well worth it!

Eugene Vyborov is technology entrepreneur, geek, Co-founder and CTO of YayPay – Batch 20 company that uses AI and machine learning to accelerate cash flow and automate accounts receivables.


About the Guest Author: Eugene Vyborov is technology entrepreneur, geek, Co-founder and CTO of YayPay, a 500 Startups Batch 20 company that uses AI and machine learning to accelerate cash flow and automate accounts receivables. Follow YayPay on CrunchbaseTwitter, or Linkedin.

Looking back at VC Unlocked 2017

After two weeks of intense coursework, six guest lectures, 32 investment thesis presentations, and a mind-boggling amount of coffee, another successful VC Unlocked Program with the Stanford Center for Professional Development is officially a wrap.

With over 200 applicants, this was our most competitive application process yet. We’ve covered the amazing diversity and background of the class in a previous post, but suffice to say that we had several contenders for The Most Interesting Woman (and Man) in the World.

Now that we’ve had some time to catch up on some sleep (and email), we’ll recap a few of the many highlights from the latest installment of our flagship educational program.

Setting the framework

“Whether they’re new to angel investing or an experienced practitioner, we want participants to come away from VC Unlocked with an insider’s perspective on Silicon Valley investing. It’s about empowering participants with better resources and insights that they can apply to their investing back home,” said Bedy Yang, managing partner at 500 and the mastermind behind VC Unlocked.

That thinking is reflected in the structure of the curriculum. The first week was grounded in academic theory and VC fundamentals. Stanford University faculty and 500 partners covered topics including building an investment thesis, VC structure and returns, attracting deal flow, opportunity assessment, and how to raise a fund.

“The beginning of the course provides a theoretical foundation for the practice of venture capital investing,” said Michael Lepech, Associate Professor at Stanford University.

Prominent VCs joined our afternoon sessions throughout the week for candid discussions. Marlon Nichols discussed his investment approach at Cross Culture Ventures and experience as a Kauffman fellow. SoftTech’s Andy McCoughlin shared 12 lessons from 12 years of investing, including “beware the quick pass.”

Renata Quintini at VC Unlocked

Renata Quintini of Lux, a member of Forbes’ Midas Brink list, talked about her path across the table from the Stanford Endowment fund to frontier investing, and how her experience as a karate champ shaped her approach to business.

Finally, Capria’s Will Poole wrapped up the first week with a prediction that “impact investing will become a strategy employed by all investors.”

VC Unlocked Potluck

Credit: Paula Barrientos

Applying Concepts

During week two, participants applied those concepts with more practical, action-based exercises and in-depth lectures.

As always, one of the highlights of the program was our visit to 500’s DemoDay in Mountain View, where participants got a front-row look at our Batch 22 accelerator companies. During an investment committee simulation with 500 partners, participants also got the chance to meet a few of those startups and drill down on their businesses.

500 Startups DemoDay

In-class case studies on valuations and M&A, where participants split into groups and simulated both sides of an acquisition offer, were two of the most fun and interactive sessions.

Interactive Sessions at VC Unlocked

This year also included a trip down Sand Hill Road to visit the Andreesen-Horowitz office and learn more about their investment approach from investment partner, Li Jin.

Angel investor and one-man Shark Tank, Jason Calacanis, joined for his infamous “founder interviews” session.

Jason Calacanis at VC Unlocked

Rick Marini of Dragonfly Partners talked about war stories from angel investing and the importance of finding a path to Series A. Lightspeed’s Jeremy Liew spoke about consumer tech trends and rubbing elbows with Will.i.am and Gwyneth Paltrow on the set of Planet of the Apps.

Rick Marini of Dragonfly Partners

The course culminated in participants’ investment thesis presentations, honed after two weeks of coursework. It was a great opportunity for participants to incorporate feedback from faculty and fellow peers and stress-test their latest thinking. 78% of the class said their investment thesis had changed over the course of the program.

Last day of the program!

Testimonials

“VC Unlocked is an insider’s guide to an asset class filled with mystery and risk. I feel more confident and informed about my decision making process after this rigorous two weeks. Thank you 500 Startups & Stanford!”

  • Vivek Shah, Equanimity Ventures LLP

“The most important thing in venture capital is your network. The people I met in the program – classmates, instructors, 500 team – are amazing. They’ll be professional contacts and personal friends forever, which is truly invaluable.”

  • Jules Miller, LunaCap

Applications for Next Year

Interested in attending the next VC Unlocked program?

Join our email list to stay updated on the latest news. We’re finalizing exact dates for next year and will let you know as soon as it’s official.

Announcing: The First Batch in 500 Startups Data Track

Two weeks ago, the first batch of 500 Startups’ new Data Track kicked off in San Francisco, alongside the twenty-second incarnation of our flagship Seed Program. We selected some of the most innovative startups in big data, machine learning and AI to participate in the intensive 3-month program.

Today, we’re excited to share the inaugural cohort, which consists of 7 companies from 7 different countries around the world:

Botsociety (Italy)
Botsociety is a design tool for previewing, prototyping and testing conversational interfaces.

Curio.io (United Kingdom)
Curio.io delivers professionally narrated audio of curated articles from leading news publications like The Financial Times and The Guardian.

Mobile Forms (Nigeria)
Mobile Forms is a platform for local and international businesses to crowdsource reliable market data in Nigeria.

OpenUp (USA)
OpenUp measures the impact on purchase behavior across online and offline ads.

reDock (Canada)
reDock is a proposal automation solution that mines and tailors corporate information on-demand to help professional services companies win complex RFPs.

Texel (Israel)
Texel enables efficient streaming of VR/AR content over existing networks by using viewing data and behavioral analytics to reduce the bandwidth by more than 50%.

VCV (Russia)
VCV is an AI-powered recruiter that identifies candidates, automatically screens them using voice recognition and submits a video interview of qualified candidates directly to hiring managers.

Also, check out Venture Beat’s coverage of our first data track. 


Chris Neumann is a big data veteran who co-founded DataHero (acquired by Cloudability), and was the first employee at Aster Data (acquired by Teradata). Travel lover and sports nut. Unapologetically Canadian. For more from Chris, connect with him on Linkedin or Twitter.

Announcing 500 Startups Batch 22!

Two weeks ago, the latest incarnation of the 500 Startups Seed Program, Batch 22 (B22), kicked off in sunny San Francisco.  The new cohort consists of 36 innovative startups from 14 countries.  42% of the companies are based outside of the United States, with founders representing Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Nigeria, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

B22 includes a focus on FinTech (9 companies), Data (7 companies), and Digital Health (4 companies), with other startups ranging from facial recognition to supply chain management to the largest global community of motorcycle riders.  14% of companies have a female founder.  31% of founders are Asian, 11% Middle Eastern, 10% LatinX and 8% Black.

As is tradition, B22 kicked off with the notorious Sales and Marketing Hell Week, as founders dove head-first into the world’s most rigorous growth accelerator program.

Here’s a full list of B22 companies:

Agentbong — A home care marketplace in Asia that helps families hire qualified and trustworthy caregivers.

Botsociety — A design tool for previewing, prototyping and testing conversational interfaces

COR — Project management software for helping professional services firms increase profitability by intelligently optimizing project costs and cash flows.

Core Labs — Helps knowledge workers early in their career access mentorship, build a reputation, and unlock the value of their professional connections with goal-oriented “micro-networks.”

Cryptomover — Developing index funds to allow investors diversify their crypto portfolios with minimal time and effort.

curio.io — Listen to curated, professionally narrated articles from premium publications like The Financial Times, The Guardian, and Aeon at home or on the go.

Cushion — Trains bots to fight banks fees on customers’ behalves.

Elyse28 — An online subscription service that helps women live free of chronic illness by offering personalized health coaching.

FalaFreud — An online subscription service that helps Brazilians get therapy from certified therapists over audio, text, and video on their mobile device.

FreightRoll — Makes shipping predictable through an open marketplace of connected shippers and truckers.

Fyodor Biotechnologies — Developing a non-invasive technology that helps people with a fever diagnose malaria in 25 minutes using a few drops of urine instead of blood.

Jones — Automated insurance compliance that helps enterprises kill the headache of hiring independent contractors.

Judolaunch — A tool that helps small e-commerce brands expand internationally by engaging a global community of online consumers.

LaborVoices — LaborVoices protects apparel brands through intel on factory conditions sourced directly from workers.

MailHaven — An electronic mailbox that helps suburban homeowners secure and monitor their deliveries without the need for wired power or home WiFi.

Mediation Online — A web service that helps Brazilian corporations and consumers resolve legal disputes quickly and inexpensively with an automated, binding mediation process.

Mira — Streamlines the life insurance experience for the higher risk population using technology and machine learning.

Mobile Forms — A platform for local and international businesses to crowdsource reliable market data in Africa.

Myndlift — Offers a therapist-guided solution to help people improve their attention ability using “brain wave” training.

Next Play — Powers personalized employee mentorship at scale.

Ohalo — Blockchain-based data management solution to help financial institutions prove data provenance and compliance.

OpenUp — Measures the impact on purchase behavior across online and offline ads.

Payment24 — A fuel payment and fleet management system that integrates into gas stations and vehicles to reduce fraud and increase efficiencies.

Plum — A chatbot that automates your money so you can effortlessly save, invest and avoid rip-off bills.

Prodsmart — Provides a tracking system to help factories eliminate paperwork and collect real time data by using smartphones on the shop floor.

Public Goods — Health-focused consumer-packaged goods.

Rapa — Alternative mortgage lender for US customers to buy homes abroad

reDock — A proposal automation solution that mines and tailors corporate information on-demand to help professional services companies win complex RFPs

Rever — A mobile application that helps a global community of motorcycle riders discover, track and share their riding experiences together.

Sendoso — Helps B2B companies grab the attention of prospects and customers with an all-in-one platform for sending things like direct mail, handwritten notes, and custom gifts.

ShortPoint — A subscription software that helps department managers build gorgeous intranets with no coding from their existing content systems, such as Office 365, SharePoint, and SAP Cloud Portal.

Sofy.ai — Intelligent, trainable bots for software developers to end daily repetitive tasks like testing, deploying and monitoring and live support.

Texel — Enables efficient streaming of VR and AR content over existing networks by using viewing data and behavioral analytics to reduce the bandwidth by more than 50%.

TrueFace.Ai — A turnkey facial recognition solution for privacy conscious enterprises

VCV — AI-powered recruiting bot that helps enterprises hire smarter and faster by autonomously searching resumes, conducting automated phone screens with voice recognition and recording video interviews.

WayPay — Streamlines the accounts payable process for SME’s by connecting to any AP system and automatically reconciling payments sent to local or international suppliers from any combination of bank and credit card accounts.

Welcome to the #500Strong family Batch 22!

500 Batch 21 Demo Day Recap

On August 1, 2017, at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, 500 Startups’ latest batch, Batch 21, celebrated their graduation from our 4-month accelerator program with Demo Day. The 28 Batch companies hailing from 9 different countries successfully pitched their companies to a room full of 500 active and accredited investors + 2,000 more tuning in via livestream. Below is a recap of the event.

Emcee and 500 team member, Matt Ellsworth, kicks off Demo Day (Photo Credit: Sumit@sreel.com).

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.

VIEW THE B21 PITCHES HERE

VIEW PHOTOS FROM B21 DEMO DAY HERE

Taran Ghatrora, CEO & Co-Founder of Ellebox, a startup that changes the way women experience their periods. 500 Startups B21 (Photo Credit: Sumit@sreel.com).

B21 DEMO DAY PRESS COVERAGE >>
Our favorite startups from 500 Startups’ 21st class – TechCrunch
AA Audience, Folia Water, Improvado.io and Pluma are Bay Area companies that pitched at 500 Startups Demo Day – Silicon Valley Business Journal

Batch 21 company, VR Motion, runs a test drive of their virtual reality automotive experience (Photo Credit: Sumit@sreel.com).

MORE ABOUT THE BATCH 21 COMPANIES >>
As usual, B21 represented a wide array of technologies ranging between Conversational Commerce, Big Data, drones, VR, transportation, digital health and FinTech. There were also two tracks – B2B Sales and automotive hosted with General Motors.

  • 43% of this batch is international, coming from countries like Israel, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Russia, Ukraine, Spain, Italy, Turkey, and Canada. Plus, 7 of the companies were Canadian!
  • 30% of the batch has at least one female founder.
  • 25% of the batch has a founder of color.
Batch 21 and the Mountain View accelerator team on demo day (Photo Credit: Sumit@sreel.com).

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE B21 COMPANIES AND/OR GET INTRODUCED

WANT MORE 500? IF YOU’RE AN ACTIVE OR ACCREDITED INVESTOR, REGISTER HERE FOR BATCH 22 DEMO DAY OCTOBER 24 IN SAN FRANCISCO, AND DON’T MISS OUR OTHER UPCOMING EVENTS.

 

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Announcing VC Unlocked: Deal Camp at Berkeley

Applications are now open for VC Unlocked: Deal Camp at Berkeley!

Deal Camp is our four-day program for investors who want to hone their ability to define, negotiate, and execute early-stage investments. This is the third time we’ve run Deal Camp with UC Berkeley, one of the top universities in the world, and we’re really excited about the upcoming program. Go Bears!

Participants will work with leading UC Berkeley faculty and 500 Startups partners to develop strategies to structure deals in order to maximize investment returns. At the end of the week, participants will walk away with a Certificate from UC Berkeley Law, an expanded global network, the confidence and practical know-how to make better investments…and some #500Strong swag!

The program is scheduled to take place from Monday, October 23rd to Thursday, October 26th.

A reminder that space is limited so sign up today to secure your spot.

Program

Our instructors use a project-based learning approach which takes participants outside the classroom to take part in a negotiation simulation with real companies fresh from a pitch at 500 Startups Preview Day.

Course topics include: “Scaling your Portfolio,” “The Art of Valuation,” and “Team Sheet Olympics.”

We’ve recruited amazing lecturers from the 500 staff, including Christine Tsai, Bedy Yang, and Amit Bhatti, as well as Adam Sterling, Robert Bartlett, and Steven Davidoff Solomon of UC Berkeley. We also have a great lineup of top VCs who will join the class for special sessions.

For attorneys interested in attending the program, up to 16 hours MCLE credit is being offered by Berkeley Law. The grant of MCLE credit is within the purview of the states, and they will provide a certificate of attendance and other materials to use in seeking continuing education credits. Berkeley Law certifies that this activity has been approved for 16 hours MCLE credit by the State Bar of California.

Testimonials

Deal Camp is one of our most popular courses, with NPS scores as high as 100. Participants come from angel investing, VC, legal, and government backgrounds. Here’s what a few past participants had to say:

“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.”

Ben Brasher, Blacktop VC

“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.”

Tatiana Nehme, Nehme and Associates

Details & Logistics

The intensive four-day program of lectures and workshops takes place on the UC Berkeley Campus. Participants will also be invited to attend the 500 Startups Preview Day in San Francisco.

The program fee is $9,200 and covers tuition, all course materials, most meals, and admission and transport to DemoDay. Travel and accommodations are not included. There is a discounted rate available for VC Unlocked and UC Berkeley alumni.

We accept qualified candidates on a rolling basis and space is limited, so we encourage you to apply early.

Who Should Apply

Angel investors, VCs, fund managers and attorneys looking to improve their ability to define, negotiate, and execute early stage investments.

Learn more about previous programs from some of our recent posts:

Venture Capital Unlocked Deal Camp Yields 100% Satisfaction

Here’s What Happened at Deal Camp at Berkeley

Space is running out so apply today