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’s Women Invest Initiative

500 Startups has always been in the business of challenging conventional wisdom in the venture capital industry. Since our inception, we’ve focused on taking our expertise wherever there is talent. That’s taken us to some flung corners of the earth and compelled us to look in oft-overlooked places in our own communities. We’ve baked this diversity into our DNA, trying our hardest to be champions of the world, not as it is, but as we’d like to see it.  

Don’t be mistaken. We don’t do this for charity, or to boost our social profile, or even to make ourselves sleep better at night (although those are obvious benefits.) We do it because it just makes sense. We do it because it makes money. Diversity is the lifeblood of innovation in the 21st century.

Peter Thiel asks “what valuable business is nobody building?” in his book Zero to One. He posits that many of the world’s largest tech companies are built on unconventional ideas about how the world works. To tackle today’s problems and create tomorrow’s biggest companies, we’ll need complex solutions; solutions incubated by people who look at problems from unconventional angles. We’ll need investors willing to invest in those solutions and products.

In 2016, we ran a number of investor education programs with the goal of reaching the next generation of angels, fund managers, and lawyers in the venture capital industry. While we experienced wide–ranging diversity in our last Deal Camp program, we were disappointed that our class consisted of just 15% women. In 2017, we’re pushing towards more gender equity by announcing our Women Invest Initiative for the upcoming Venture Capital Unlocked: Deal Camp program. Deal Camp is a four-day course focused on the legal mechanics of deal making for investors who want to improve their ability to define, negotiate, and execute early-stage investments. We’re offering a 25% discount on the Deal Camp program fee for any woman who recruits another woman to attend the program (Application Deadline: Monday, January 23rd). Both women must identify each other in their applications and attend the program for the discount to apply.

We don’t want the conversation about diversity and inclusion to be relegated to small bubbles on the internet. We want to see change. So, if you’re in the LA area this weekend. Please join us for our Unity & Inclusion Summit. It’s a one-day event bringing together entrepreneurs, investors and the tech community to talk about the current state and future of diversity & inclusion. Details on the summit can be found here: http://bit.ly/500diversity.

Header image courtesy of wocintechchat.com.

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%

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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.

The Smart Investors’ Toolkit: 12 Resources to Invest Better

The third session of our flagship venture capital investor program, Venture Capital Unlocked: Secrets of Silicon Valley Investing run in conjunction with Stanford’s Center for Professional Development wrapped up almost a month ago.

VCunlocked2

With investors hailing from 6 continents and 40% of the class composed of female investors, it’s our most diverse class yet. Whether novices or seasoned professionals, our class learned the importance of keeping it simple and staying informed when doing venture deals. 

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Participants sharing knowledge at an after-class recpetion.

Tools to Help Investors Keep Up with the Market  

Regardless of your profession or geography, education is critical. Investors, entrepreneurs, and business leaders know the importance of staying informed and keeping up with the latest business developments. Our VC Unlocked participants were no different. Over the course of the two weeks, they shared resources to help each other expand their investing knowledge. Here are some recommended sources our Stanford professors, program participants, and of course, our 500 staff thought would be useful:

Tools to Help You Close the Deal  

Any effective angel investor or venture capitalist knows that closing the deal quickly and efficiently is ideal. Our investors learned that it’s always good to keep it simple when it comes to paperwork. In addition to staying in current, our investors learned that they should use standard legal documents to cut down on both the time and cost of doing venture deals. Here’s some of the resources they’re now using:

500’s Keep It Simple Security (KISS) Documents 
YCombinator’s Safe Docuements
National Venture Capital Association’s Model Legal Documents