Announcing Diversity Scholarship for VC Unlocked with Stanford CPD

Diversity is in our DNA 

Anyone familiar with 500 Startups knows diversity is one of our core values. 

We are concerned with the current “mostly male, mostly white” panorama in the VC world. According to TechCrunch, only 7% of senior partners at the top 100 venture firms are women and less than 1% are black or hispanic.*

At 500 Startups, our team comes from more than 20 countries, and we have invested in startups in over 50 countries. About half our team is female, and more than half are people of color. About half of us like peanut butter and jelly; the other half thinks disco dancing is still cool.

We look and act different from most other venture capitalists, and we kinda like it that way. Our founders are also diverse; we work hard to discover and invest in people who come from many different walks of life.

The most diverse (and the craziest) team of unicorn hunters in Silicon Valley

Diversity Multiplier Effect

In the past, we have offered scholarships to VC Unlocked to people traditionally overlooked in the VC world. Their participation in the program helped them catapult their careers in venture to success. Here are just a few examples:

Arlan Hamilton – Arlan became the first black woman to launch a syndicate on AngelList after participating in our program in 2014,  Her fund focuses on  black, latino, gay or female entrepreneurs.

Katherine HagueKatherine launched Female Funders after taking our program. Its an online community where female angel investors can get inspired, learn, network, and invest. The organization’s mission to empower 1000 women to make their first angel investment.

Pocket Sun and Elizabeth GalbutAfter meeting each other in our inaugural 2014 class, Pocket and Elizabeth co-founded SoGal Ventures, the first female-led millennial venture capital firm.

Pocket and Elizabeth, co-founders of SoGal Ventures

We are proud of all of our past scholarship recipients, who have used the knowledge and network they acquired in the program to really start tipping the scales in the venture ecosystem. 

We want to continue to be part of the solution.

Scholarship Details

This year, we will once again be offering ten 12K scholarships for VC Unlocked: Secrets of Silicon Valley Investing.

We run this two-week executive education program for investors in partnership with Stanford Center for Professional Development. It will take place July 24 – Aug. 4th, 2017 in Palo Alto, CA.

The scholarships are earmarked for accredited investors who have been traditionally under-represented in the VC industry, especially women and/or ethnic minorities.

We are looking to identify individuals who will use the knowledge learned in the program in order to build diverse innovation ecosystems in and around their community.

To qualify, applicants should fill out the main application form as well as the additional scholarship application on the program website: education.500.co/stanford. The scholarship application requires a short essay and a video about participation in the program will benefit the applicant’s community. 

*https://techcrunch.com/2015/10/06/s23p-racial-gender-diversity-venture/

500 Startups Launches its First Distro Bootcamp in Israel

500 Startups has launched its first “distro bootcamp” in Israel in partnership with Google, Amazon AWS, Poalim Hi-Tech, Meitar and WeWork and has selected 9 B2B companies for its first cohort.

Distro Bootcamp is a selective 4 week education program specifically designed from the ground up to help pre-seed and seed stage companies develop a systematic approach to reach product market fit, and assist founders with sales, marketing and distribution.

The program is uncompromisingly focused on actionable training and taught by the 500 Startups in-house distribution team from San Francisco and London with 1-on-1 sessions with International and local entrepreneurs.

The program stems from and is a shorter, compact version of our Series A program that runs globally with 12 different locations since 2015.

Adam Benayoun, 500 Startups Israeli Venture Partner says:

“Israel is often praised for being home to the most startups and venture capital per capita, however while Israel has produced a great number of startups – many are still struggling to reach product market fit. Marketing and distribution expertise is exactly what we are hoping to bring to Israel through the Distro Bootcamp to solve that problem.”

Startups in the bootcamp will have access to the distribution team and 500 Startups’ large network of mentors and partners to monitor their progress. Additionally, each company is given $25k in funding earmarked for marketing experiment in exchange for 1% of the company.

Maya Gura – CEO and co-founder at MissBeez (a 500 Startups portfolio company) says:

“My experience with Adam and the team at 500 Startups was very unusual as it’s rare to meet investors who are so hands on and proactively work to help entrepreneurs. Their expertise in growth, primarily for consumer oriented products like Missbeez, is essential for any startup to grow rapidly while constantly measuring and testing KPIs. As we expand from one major city to another and new verticals, we are capable to utilize these best practices to increase virality, liquidity, and gain traction.”

Since 500 Startups officially announced it was launching in Israel a year and a half ago, it has made 11 seed investments including Panoply (Raised $7M from Intel Capital) and RapidAPI (Raised $3.5M from Andreessen Horowitz)

The 9 companies selected for the first cohort are:

Wizer –

Wizer accelerates teaching to meet the needs of the 21-century students. Create, analyze, collaborate and personalize the learning experience is as easy as making a worksheet. Wizer quickly reached 300K users with 30% monthly organic growth rate, through word-of-mouth.

Distrybite –

Distribyte provides a simplified cloud environment for companies seeking to expand their digital presence. Our novel runtime powers the most complex workloads addressing the entire software lifecycle. Distribyte ensures the release of high quality software products, with predictable results, in a fraction of the budget.

CybeReady –

CybeReady reduces the risks of phishing through automated end-user training. The CybeReady automated simulation engine allows companies worldwide to instantly deploy a fully customizable and operational solution, covering their weakest link with proven KPIs. The company has paying customers from six different countries, on an annual subscription basis

Ubeya –

Ubeya is Uber for temporary workforce in the events industry. Ubeya provides a SAAS platform for businesses from the events industry to manage their workforce. Connecting between staffing agencies and event companies for staff on a daily basis.

Ondigo –

ONDiGO is an AI & automation platform that boosts the bottom-line performance of sales/accounts teams. ONDiGO is leveraging quantitative indicators such as: trends, sentiment and engagement velocity to increase win-rate, shorten sales cycles and capture repeatable-success-patterns. ONDiGO provides VP Sales with powerful visibility into their team’s performance, activity, and major KPIs. Sales-ops will see what works and what doesn’t in the company’s pipeline, account management, and customer success. Some of ONDiGO’s notable customers: Payoneer, Rakuten, Matomy, Clicktale, Groupon, Natural Intelligence, Keywee, Quad Analytics, Silicon Valley Education Foundation.”

Udobu –

Udobu helps better monetize live sports events. Sports clubs and media rights holders struggle with inventory and capacity utilization as well as revenue generation issues. Already working with top clubs from Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A, udobu addresses these challenges using its proprietary fan behavior prediction technology.

MuvingAPP –

Moving is stressful – so we’re changing. With MuvingApp, you can create a digital, Visual Inventory in less than 10 minutes. It facilitates a transparent, easier moving experience as well as a myriad of related services: packing, insurance and even connect utilities in your new house – All through one App.

GeenQ –

GreenQ, a young, innovative and growing company aiming to bring the best technology to the waste pickup space. Moving fast with strategic partners, we are working to fulfill our vision to improve the urban living habitat. Our smart waste management services were designed to meet the needs of collection vendors, system integrators, and municipalities.

Market Beyond –

Market Beyond provides Fortune 500 companies with actionable, real-time, product level insight to increase market share. Our platform uncovers our customers’ blind spots in a fragmented e-commerce space by deriving insight from billions of e-shoppers’ decisions across the global e-commerce universe

For further information please contact: Adam Benayoun at adamb@500startups.com and read more here via TechCrunch

#500FAMILY

Recently, a 500 colleague posted this on social media:

“Diversity and equality is NOT about women who succeed because they sacrifice everything else so they “have nothing else to do but work”. It’s about EVERYONE stepping up to the plate and pitching in. So we as a society don’t ever have to choose life OR work, but rather being able to do both well.”

This colleague isn’t a parent, nor is he planning to have kids anytime soon. Yet he still felt adamantly about the importance of gender parity and acknowledging that it’s everyone’s responsibility.

Breaking down barriers is tough. Many companies make the mistake of dismissing diversity early on, only to realize later how foundational it is to their success or failure. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet that makes a company diverse. In order to have a meaningful impact, companies should value diversity and inclusion from Day One. This applies to how they design their parental leave policy.

At 500, our policy is 12 weeks of fully paid leave for all parents in the U.S. Parents can choose to take this leave consecutively, or spread it out through the first 12 months after birth. Despite the fact that only 21% of the 500 team are parents, we know that may change. In fact, in 2017 alone, there will be 8 babies born on the 500 team. We feel strongly about supporting our team and making sure they have time to recover, bond with their families, and find their bearings as they get used to a new normal. Given how crazy this period can be, we also feel that making that time fully paid is important. The last thing new parents need to worry about is whether money is coming in the door. The sad reality is that in the U.S., only 13% of workers have access to paid parental leave, and the U.S. trails 41 other nations in not mandating paid leave.

Admittedly, we’re aware that our parental leave policy may pale in comparison to other companies or even national leave policies worldwide. As 500 grows, we aim to keep improving upon our parental leave policy as well as all of our company offerings. Also, given that we’re a global team spanning 23 countries, we’re working hard to be mindful of different standards in each market and balancing that with 500’s core values.

We also feel that it’s important to acknowledge the fact that many men and women share in childcare responsibilities. Especially in this day and age, where nearly 50% of women are the breadwinners​, and there exist many different kinds of parents and parental relationships — two moms, two dads, single parents, co-parents, and so on. At the end of the day, regardless of one’s orientation or identification or relationship status, parents are parents. And that was the motivation for making it 12 weeks across the board, rather than separating maternity vs. paternity.

There’s a good amount of research out there that shows generous parental leave policies have a significant positive impact on employee retention and morale. While some companies (particularly startups) worry that the added costs are detrimental, the reality is that such costs pale in comparison to losing talent outright. Moreover, it’s an excellent way to attract great talent. People want to join teams where they’ll feel supported. For parents, that means not having to “hide” the fact that they are parents or worry about being judged for doing what they need to do for their kids.

The boys enjoying La Jolla Beach

Truth? When I was pregnant (both times), I experienced a lot of anxiety about how it would impact me professionally. I worried about being hit with the Motherhood Penalty, how my colleagues would perceive me, how others in VC would perceive me, how I’d juggle running 500 with raising kids. I remember cringing when people would ask me whether I’d be returning to 500 after I gave birth. The first few months postpartum were incredibly challenging, and it took awhile before I felt like myself again. While everyone’s experience is different, my own experience certainly was instrumental in shaping 500’s parental leave policy. I didn’t want others to feel as anxious as I did, nor did I ever want them to worry that they’d be treated differently at 500. That isn’t the kind of culture we want to build.

Restroom signage at the 500 offices in SF and Mountain View

It was important to us to create a parental leave policy that echoed our core values. Diversity and inclusion is not just an attractive tagline for marketing purposes. It is evident in everything we do — our team, our portfolio investments, our parental leave policy, our office restroom signage (see above photo). We work hard and attempt to do the impossible, yet we respect the fact that we’re all human and are constantly juggling our professional and personal lives. We’re committed to creating an inclusive environment where talented people are empowered to do amazing things, yet don’t feel torn about having to choose between work and life.

Like one of our EIRs delivering a fireside chat while feeding his 5 week-old son.

500 EIR Chris Neumann’s baby bottle of choice is Lifefactory

Thanks to my 500 colleagues for their feedback on this post, particularly Elizabeth Yin, Dave McClure, Clayton Bryan, Kelsey Cullen, Monica Matison, & Chris Neumann. Special nod to Tim Chae for being that “500 colleague” I quoted.

VC Unlocked with Stanford CPD is Back!

Applications are now open for our highly sought-after Venture Capital Unlocked investor education program.

It will be held July 24th – August 4th in Silicon Valley.

An early admission rate of 21K is available through May 1st for a limited number of spots.

Apply Here

Venture Capital Unlocked: Secrets of Silicon Valley Investing is a two week executive level education program in which participants get an inside look into 500 Startups’ investment playbook and gain firsthand access to top Silicon Valley VCs, angels, startups and entrepreneurs.

Hear from past participants on why they decided to take the program and on their favorite VC Unlocked session.

screen-shot-2017-03-17-at-12-40-04-pm

The program is taught by our highly experienced 500 Startups partners and Stanford faculty who specialize in venture capital and innovation. 

Our guest speakers have included VCs like Jason Calacanis (Inside.com, Launch),  Mark Suster (Upfront Ventures), David Hornik (August Capital), Judith Elsea (Weathergage Capital), Tim Draper (DFJ), Jason Calacanis (Launch, Inside.com), Aydin Senkut (Felicis Ventures), Jeff Clavier (SoftTech VC) and Mari Baker (Clayman Institute, Stanford).

25216250162_b5d57227b6_k
Tim Draper addresses the class

For a limited time, accepted applicants who confirm and secure their spot by May 1st will have a 3K reduction in tuition. We are accepting applications here: education.500.co/stanford

Over the two weeks, program participants refine their investment theses and frameworks with insightful feedback from 500 Startups partners, Stanford faculty, and their peers.

Investment Thesis Feedback session
Investment Thesis Feedback session

They screen real startup pitches at our investor-only Demo Day and assess startup deals together. They dive into the dynamics of fundraising as well as the legal and financial aspects of deal-making.

Surprisingly for many, the relationships formed with the other participants often end up being the most valuable element of the program long after it finishes.

Our 100+ alumni have started funds together, shared and co-invested in deals, and serve as LPs in each other’s funds.   

28829809131_11e4b5bdd5_k

You can see more details in some of our past blog posts:

https://500.co/the-career-changing-impact-of-vc-unlocked/

https://500.co/venture-capital-is-more-art-than-science-5-secrets-of-vc-revealed/

If you are interested in joining, apply now. Spaces are limited.

Apply here.

What the World Could Look Like in 2040

“The best way to build the future is to create it” the quote from Peter Drucker best explains Singularity Universities vision for the world of tomorrow.

Earlier last month I had the opportunity to attend Singularity University’s demo day at NASA in Silicon Valley. SU is a global community and accelerator that uses the phrase ‘exponential’ to describe the focus of their entrepreneurs who take part in their programs.

The energy was high, the demo tables were bare, but had just enough energy to catch a passerby interest. Eleven early stage companies were set to pitch on exponential technologies which shape industry on earth and in space. I chose six of them to spotlight below.

Keep in mind, most all of these entrepreneurs are top researchers in their specialty and not web geniuses as some of their websites are in general underwhelming.

Here are the top 6 companies shaping the future (in no particular order)…

#1 — REBEAM

I’m sitting, I’m ready, and we jump straight into space.

Problem: We have solar power and huge areas where we can generate it, ex. Sahara Desert but transferring it globally is an issue.

Solution: REBEAM uses a microwave emitting machine to shoot large mirrors on satellites to then transfer power to other grids world-wide.

If that doesn’t already sound cool enough then you should hear the practical application. Drones. For those of you who own them, they normally stay charged for about thirty minutes until they die. With this technology we can keep drones flying for indefinite periods of time.

#2 — DEEP BLOCKS

Problem: Normally with construction groups, underwriters, etc. this process can take months and now with Deep Blocks turns into a day.

Solution: Deep Blocks takes the building planning process and completely streamlines it with AI. Give whatever consumer building the numbers right off the bat.

They’re still early but definitely a group to keep tabs on.

#3 — CLINICAI

What’s brown and sticky?

… a stick, but if you were thinking poop then you’ve arrived to the best place for this group.

Problem: We aren’t doing a great job at detecting cancer early.

Solution: Clinicai wants to take your poop, measure the frequency, smell, and size with a sensor attached to your toilet bowl. These researchers believe that we can detect early onset of colon cancer as well as a slew of other diseases from the comfort of your bathroom and their technology.

#4 — ASTROLAB

Manufacturing on the Moon, Mars, and elsewhere. The Space Economy. The new frontier.

Take dust on the moon, what can we make from this? Well these material scientists (who met at the European Space Agency) had identified a problem they could solve.

Problem: One of the biggest issues of space exploration was the fact that we were limited in supplies. If we wanted to build colonies or even research bases how would we do that?

Solution: Astro Lab uses autonomous robots to collect and gather materials, aka dust and dirt, and let’s use them in larger robots with the capacity for 3D printing.

Where do these guys even start, well their idea is Earth. They want to start utilizing surplus materials to create the technology here to then port it to a more interplanetary use.

In the words of the great Ron Burgundy, “I’m not even mad, that’s amazing”

#5 — ARFIJI

Problem: African consumers don’t have access to affordable refrigeration essential to keeping foods, medicines, and other items cold.

Solution: Affordable off-grid solar refrigeration. The pain points of cooling and staying cool are fixed with Afriji’s hardware.

I wish I had more information on hand but again, these founders are all research based and didn’t have the best data on their websites. Definitely worth emailing them if you’re interested in affordable tech for African countries.

#6 — INTELLIGENT SPACE

Problem: The ratio between unused to usable satellites in space is about 3:1. This means for every three working satellites in space that we have one that works.

Solution: Intelligent Space is taking a stab and cleaning space debris and monetizing it. Recycling for space.

Honorable mention:

NUTRIGENE

Problem: How do you know what nutrients you’re deficient in?

Solution: Hardware that interacts with software to learn your nutrient deficiencies and sends you packets of personalized vitamins to take daily. A big ticket item possibly for those who take vitamins regularly, great food for thought (you see what I did there?).

____

That’s it for the round-up! Always looking to talk more about future tech, stay tuned for more posts via my LinkedIn or shoot me an email – brett@500.co //