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.

Kicking off VC Unlocked, and a New Website!

Big news! It’s the first week of VC Unlocked!

We’re welcoming an awesome new group to the Stanford campus this week. They’ve traveled from as far as Lagos and Melbourne to be with us here in Silicon Valley and we couldn’t be more thrilled.

In the spirit of #500Strong, we wanted to share some fun facts about the participants and the exciting program we have planned. Here goes:

  • 47% of participants are women
  • 74% are based internationally, representing 17 countries including Brazil, Nigeria, Russia, Colombia, and the UAE
  • Participants have made 250+ investments in total
  • Areas of investment focus include FinTech, BioTech, telecom, FoodTech, and more
  • Participants come from family funds, government offices, startup accelerators, and private equity backgrounds
Participants from the July/Aug 2016 cohort of VC Unlocked on Stanford Campus

In addition to our stellar lineup of Stanford University professors and 500 Startups partners, we’ve also recruited some of the top VCs from Silicon Valley. Guest speakers this year include Renata Quintini (Lux Capital), Jason Calacanis (INSIDE.com) Jeremy Liew (Lightspeed VP), Marlon Nichols (Cross Culture Ventures), Andy McLoughlin (SoftTech VC), and Rick Marini (Dragonfly Partners).

We’ve got a packed schedule for the next two weeks. Lecture topics run the gamut, from “Understanding Cap Tables and Ownership” to “Attracting Deal Flow,” as well as practical and action-based exercises, including founder interviews, opportunity assessments, and more.

Outside the classroom, we’ve also planned special visits to Andreesen-Horowitz, class dinners, and, drumroll please, our invite-only DemoDay!

Guest lecturer Jason Calacanis presenting to participants in 2016

Oh, and one more thing. We also launched a new site for VC Unlocked today!

It’s an updated visual design that showcases more information about the program, attendees, and instructors. We think it will be a great resource for prospective students and past participants alike and we’re excited to share it today. Let us know what you think!

Tune in over the next few weeks where we’ll feature guest posts from current participants as well as a fun recap that summarizes some of the key takeaways from the program’s lectures and events.

 

Announcing “Silicon Valley Secrets for Investing in Asia” with INSEAD

We’re excited to announce that applications are now open for our newest course, “Silicon Valley Secrets for Investing in Asia.” We’ve teamed up with INSEAD, a leading global business school, to offer investors a one-week deep dive on how to apply Silicon Valley investing expertise to Asia-based startups.

After the huge success of our VC Unlocked programs in the Bay Area, this marks the first time we’re taking one of our programs outside the U.S. The course will be held at INSEAD’s Asia campus in Singapore from November 6 – 10, 2017.

For AIPAC investors, that means the same unrivaled access to our Silicon Valley network, investing know-how, and extensive Asia knowledge, minus the 12-hour flight and jetlag.

Sound good? Apply today to be part of the inaugural class in November 2017.

Course Overview

During the course, participants will work directly with INSEAD faculty and 500 Startups partners to explore startup investing trends across different markets in Asia. The program will explore topics relevant for venture capital, such as honing and evaluating investment theses, structuring early stage tech investments, and raising your next fund.

As part of the course, participants will also meet with top VCs from China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Southeast Asia. Admission also includes exclusive access to a special DemoDay, where participants will have the chance to evaluate real startups from the 500 Startups portfolio.

Other key benefits include:

  • Connecting with other Asia-focused startup investors as well as INSEAD alumni
  • Getting feedback on your investment thesis from world-renowned INSEAD faculty specialized in VC and entrepreneurship and 500 Startups Managing Partners
  • Getting fundraising tips and tools for structuring a fund from top VCs in the region
  • Improving your ability to identify and evaluate top startups for your portfolio
  • Building your deal flow
  • Earning a Certificate of Completion from INSEAD

 

VC Unlocked 2016

500 Startups in Asia

Here at 500 Startups, we pride ourselves on helping build viable startup ecosystems around the world. Since our inception in 2010, we’ve invested in over 1,800 companies and 3,000 founders in more than 60 countries, including Southeast Asian companies like Grab and Viki, which was acquired by Rakuten in 2012.

Geeks on a Plane, East Asia, Tokyo 2016

With $36B invested in startups and tech deals last year, Asia has emerged as a new hub of VC activity. Our decision to launch the first VC Unlocked program outside of Silicon Valley in Singapore is yet another example of our commitment to the Asian market.

We recently doubled down on Southeast Asia with a new $50M Durians Fund, launched a new $10M fund in Vietnam, and appointed a new head of business for China

About INSEAD

With three campuses (France, Singapore, Abu Dhabi), 145 faculty members from 40 countries, and 1,400 students in their PhD and degree programs, INSEAD is one of the world’s top graduate business schools.

They recently earned the top place in the Financial Times’ “Global MBA Ranking 2017” for the second year running.

INSEAD Asia Campus

Details & Logistics

We accept qualified candidates on a rolling basis. Space is limited so we encourage you to apply as soon as possible before the deadline of October 18, 2017.

The program fee of $9,800 USD covers tuition, course materials, most meals, admission to DemoDay, and transport to any site visits. Accommodations are not included but can be arranged for an additional fee.

If you have any questions about the program or would like to set up a call, feel free to reach out to Newton Davis at newton [at] 500startups.com.

 

Announcing the 500 Startups Uruguay Accelerator

Silicon Valley and Montevideo are uniting to fuel startups in Latin America

500 Startups in partnership with ANII, Uruguay’s ecosystem development agency, will host a new accelerator program. The 500 Montevideo Accelerator Program will prepare 20 Uruguayan and international startups through 6 weeks of mentorship, growth workshops, and connections with investors and corporate partners.  This program is also being made possible through collaborations with the Uruguayan Agency for Research and Innovation / LATU, Technological Laboratory of Uruguay / ANDE, Uruguayan Agency for Development, and the Investment and Export Promotion Institute of Uruguay. The 500 Montevideo Accelerator Program will focus on growth hacking, product design, fundraising, and will bring Silicon Valley expertise to seed-stage companies in Uruguay.

Space is limited to 15-20 startups – apply here (applications are being accepted until August 3rd).

The 500 Montevideo Accelerator is part of a series of international programs 500 Startups is launching to bridge Silicon Valley with burgeoning startup ecosystems around the world. The Montevideo program is the latest addition to 500’s portfolio of international programs, which includes programs in Kobe, Japan, Doha, Qatar, and Melbourne, Australia.

With one of 500’s LatAm HQ based in Mexico City, the goal of the ANII Accelerator is to further engage local startups and deepen 500’s relationship with Uruguay and Latin America based startups by creating another resource for founders in the form of an accelerator program.

500 Startups is also aiming to attract international startups to the program. This program will provide participating startups a chance to connect with Uruguayan founders and ecosystem players, as well as give Uruguay startups a network of relationships in Latin America and international markets to regionally and globally scale their companies.

The program will bring together early stage and growth stage startups to work side by side. With a focus on 1:1 mentorship sessions with 500 Startups’ Silicon Valley team, the program will add value to the startups regardless of their stage of funding or user traction.

Why should startups apply?

The 6-week intensive program will feature:

  • Knowledge session covering the latest tactics employed by the leading startups in Silicon Valley
  • Mentorship sessions led by 500 Startups Partners, Venture Partners, and EIRs
  • Fireside chats with local and international guest speakers
  • 500 Startups pitch training
  • Connections to 500 Startups network of regional and international investors
  • A Demo Day where the startups showcase achievements to investors

What is the selection criteria?

  • VC fundable startups (preferably having raised USD 10K or equivalent in funding)
  • Strong, full-time dedicated founders
  • Working product
  • Customers and Revenue are a plus

A full list of program dates:

Phase Description Date
Applications open Applications are open now, to apply please visit: 6/21/2017
Application deadline All applications should be submitted by EOD 8/3/2017
Startups notified application outcome Acceptance email sent to selected startups 9/15/2017
Remote sessions with 500 Startups 500 Startups EIRs will conduct an initial round of reviews with the selected startups to prep them for the program 10/02/2017
Program Starts Kickoff of the program 10/17/2017
Week 1 Business Modelling  and legal Sessions + 1:1 Mentorship Sessions 10/17/2017
Week 2 Growth Hacking and User Experience and Interface + 1:1 Mentorship Sessions 10/23/2017
Week 3 Sprint week: Focus on implementing week 1 and week 2 material 10/30/2017
Week 4 Sprint week: Focus on implementing week 1 and week 2 material 11/6/2017
Week 5 Fundraising Sessions + Mock investor interviews & 1:1 Mentorship Sessions 11/13/2017
Week 6 Pitch Prep and Demo Day rehearsals + 1:1 Mentorship Sessions 11/20/2017
Demo Day Presentation to Investors and Corporate Executives 11/24/2017

Do I get investment from 500 Startups or ANII?

The 500 Montevideo Accelerator program is not an investment program. We do not charge program fees, and we do not ask you for equity. 500 Startups will separately consider the applying and participating startups for an investment by our family of funds.

What’s 500 Startups role?

500 Startups will bring experts from our global team of partners, mentors and entrepreneurs to Montevideo to work closely with the startups in order to accelerate their development through sessions covering specific details of best operational practices, growth hacking through marketing and data-driven sales, and tailored advice from successful Silicon Valley and global entrepreneurs.

About Ecosystem Development at 500

500 partners with governments, corporates, and startup organizations around the world to invest in the critical components of emerging ecosystems. We run startup programs in Asia-Pacific, such as the 500 Kobe Acceleration Program in Japan, and our Series A Programs in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the US. We run investor education programs with Stanford and Berkeley in the San Francisco Bay Area, and we are now taking these programs abroad. We are also expanding our work with corporate innovators to help larger companies discover, partner, and invest in breakthrough startups. To get in touch with us about our ecosystem development programs, you can reach us here

More questions? Please visit our website’s FAQ section here.

We are now accepting applications to the Uruguay accelerator: apply here

For all other inquiries please connect with: Montevideo@500startups.com

 


Zafer Younis is a partner at 500 Startups, the world’s most active early stage tech investor. At 500 Startups Zafer works with entrepreneurs from all over the world, through 500’s acceleration programs in Silicon Valley and it’s Ecosystem Development Programs around the world. In 2016, Zafer launched 500 Startups’ pre-accelerator program in Japan. He also leads 500 Startups’ Corporate Startup Innovation (CSI) Program in San Francisco which aims at getting corporates and startups to innovate together. Previously, Zafer co-founded The Online Project where his team developed and executed digital strategies for Fortune 500 companies and high profile organizations. In 2004, Zafer co-founded his first company: Modern Media, LTD, a media house that owns and operates popular radio stations which received recognition from the US-based National Association for Broadcasters in 2007 (In 2014 Modern Media was acquired by D&C Electronics).

Growth Hacking the MENA Region

Following up on our earlier post announcing the first closing of 500 Falcons, our fund for the Middle East and North Africa, we’re going to be posting a few more announcements on the MENA region and the meaningful ecosystem-building projects we’re working on.

As we’ve been investing in the region over the last 6 years, we’ve seen a lot of similarities between the Middle East and other emerging entrepreneurial markets in comparison to the startups we see in Silicon Valley. One particular area of focus that we felt needed a big boost was growth hacking. Growth hacking in simple terms is data-driven, online customer acquisition and distribution methodologies that have evolved as a distinct skill set from either traditional business development, sales or marketing. For this reason, we thought it made a lot of sense to bring our Series A Program  to the region with QSTP. Our inaugural Batch 1 kicked off with 9 post-seed startups on the 30th of April and will continue through the 30th July. In addition to arming the batch companies with the skills and processes to scale their businesses quickly, we’re coaching them on presentation and fundraising so they can achieve progression into their next funding round.

Our partnership with the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) and the Qatar Foundation has been a fruitful one for startups in the MENA region, as it has enabled us to bring our growth hacking superpowered “Distro Team” to the region to transfer knowledge and best practices around rapid growth and distribution.

The program was led by Nate Gilmore, along with Saalim Chowdhury, Andy Young, Nopadon Wongpakdee, Nemo Chu, Roula Khatib, Mathew Johnson and 500 Falcons partner, Sharif El-Badawi.

The Series A Program, which is the first 500 Startups program in the MENA region, is a 3 month program hyper-focused on teaching late seed stage companies growth (sales and marketing teams) and modern distribution hacking techniques.  The program consists of a 1 month in-residency training (at QSTP) followed by 2 months of mentoring.  Here are a few of the tools that the startups develop expertise in over the 3 months:

The 1 month in-residence culminated in an exciting Investor Day where the startups pitched their companies to an auditorium full of investors and key stakeholders. All 9 startups received tremendous interest for their Series A rounds.

The startups have already begun achieving great results in the Dojo during the first month and we’re excited to work with Batch 1 for the next two months as they run countless more experiments across their funnels.  Here are just a few of the comments heard in the Dojo:

It puts you in beast mode about your business.
Very tangible and structured learnings. Great chance
to learn from other founders and team members
.
Legit and honest feedback, no BS. Amazing help
from experts to uncover growth avenues.
We learned a customer driven, clear, repeatable
and measurable way to make changes that
have an impact every week.

Check out each of the 9 companies, hailing from 4 countries, who were part of the first batch of MENA companies that joined the program:

 

Eat – eatapp.co

Eat allows you to find restaurants around you and confirm your reservation in less than three clicks. It has two products, one for restaurants, and another for consumers. The consumer app is simple. No need to call! The restaurants have an iPad installed at the front desk. This app allows restaurants to internally manage reservations and tables, and to notify the consumer app about availabilities.

Edfa3ly – edfa3ly.co

Edfa3ly provides the Middle East with a personal shopping service to buy Western goods without any of the hassles and confusion of cross border shipping.  Orders are fast and guaranteed.

 

Eventtus – eventtus.com

Eventtus is an event engagement platform and mobile app for event planning, networking and ticketing. Eventtus helps event organizers create an interactive mobile app for their events in few minutes. Through the app, organizers share content, such as the agenda/logistics, speaker bios, and exhibitors. Polls and surveys provide real-time feedback, and Eventtus’ post-event analytics help organizers understand their audiences, measure success, and improve future planning.

 

Mumm – getmumm.com

Mumm, the first word many of us ever learned to exemplify food that we got from our most trusted source, our Moms. Mumm is an online marketplace for delicious Home Cooked Meals. Cooked by Moms, Housewives and Freelance Chefs near you. Order your food and it will arrive fresh and healthy.

 

Ghinwa – ghinwa.com

Ghinwa is the Snapchat for singing.  Download the app, sing along to your favorite tune, apply Ghinwa exclusive background music and filters and share with your loved ones.

 

 

Justmop – justmop.com

Justmop.com is a website and mobile app connecting individuals looking for cleaning services with well-trained & pre-screened cleaning service providers across the gulf.

 

 

Meddy – meddy.co

Meddy helps you find best doctors in the gulf based on patient reviews and credentials. Browse doctor profiles with their background information, get reviews from other patients going to that doctor and get clinic locations. Make an informed health decision based on knowledge, not chance.

Find Doctor profiles, patient reviews, clinic locations. Helping you make informed health decisions.

 

Souq Al Mal – souqalmal.com

Souqalmal.com (Souq al Mal is Arabic for ‘money market’) is the #1 comparison website in the Middle East and lets you compare and buy financial and insurance products. With more than 360 credit cards, 450 bank accounts, 147 personal loans, 100 car loans, 105 mortgages, 1143 mobile phone plans, 150 broadband plans, 280 schools and 234 nurseries and 100+ car deals, plus 115 SME financial products, the consumer portal allows customers to do their homework using up-to-date, unbiased information.

 

 

 

Taskty – taskty.com

Taskty is the #1 online home service market in Egypt.  Taskty provides home cleaning, washing upholstery, plumbing, electricity, insect control, photography events and many other services.

Taskty services are guaranteed for quality at extremely competitive prices.

 

 

7 Marketing Secrets from 500 Startups Demo Days

Have Fun, Get Deals Done – The Future of Marketing is the Brand Experience

Pitching to top Silicon Valley investors like Tim Draper is nerve-racking. It helps when he’s dressed in a superhero costume.

From Valentine’s Day-Themed (Batch 19) to Summer of Love-Themed (Batch 20), 500 Startups Demo Day is more than a pitch day, it’s a festival where everyone has fun and gets deals done.

Here’s a look back at lessons we’ve learned from the last 7 Demo Days, and how 500 Startups stumbled upon creating the unique pitch day in Silicon Valley.

1. Listen to Your Audience

Back in the day, 500 Startups Demo Day was pretty basic (see Batch 8):


500 Startups Founding Partner, Dave McClure, speaking at 500 Batch 8 Demo Day (back when the most colorful thing at Demo Day was Dave’s language).

During Batch 13 Demo Day, things got a little bit more interesting.

It all started when I bought Dave a unicorn hoodie for his birthday, which happened to coincide with the Batch 13 Preview Day (an invite-only sneak peek to Demo Day). To our surprise, many investors and founders in the audience loved Dave’s unexpected fashion statement, talking and tweeting about it.

Dave noted the audience engagement and decided to wear the unicorn costume again on Demo Day. He also encouraged Founding Partner Christine Tsai, a former ballerina, to wear a rainbow tutu. Again, the response was extremely positive at Demo Day. Silicon Valley Business Journal even dedicated an article to Unicorn theme.

The lightbulb turned on, and we saw the potential marketing value in bringing creativity to our Demo Days. But it wasn’t a mere fluke — we listened to the audience feedback, saw the marketing value, and applied it.

 

2. Turn Challenges into Creative Advantage

When planning for Batch 14 Demo Day, we found out the only day the venue was available was the day before Halloween. We were not happy. Typically we tried to plan our events around major holidays, like Halloween, assuming people would be busy attending their own company parties. We were worried about not having enough investors attend our event, but we couldn’t change the date. So we decided to exploit the timing instead. Thus, Demo-Ween was born.

In our past Demo Days, we always focused on the pitches, not wanting to take away from the big day of our batch companies. However, the thematic timing forced us to look at the Demo Days from a different angle. We decided to make Demo Days more entertaining. We added the Halloween theme to our Demo Day, aka “Demo-ween” — presenting the content in a new form. The new form of Demo Day allowed startups and investors to dress up, have fun, and get deals done together.

As a result, the Demo-ween not only helped us maintain the previous demo day attendance, it also attracted more international investors than ever before (50% increase). By presenting the content in a more engaging format, we turned a challenge into our competitive advantage.

The first Demo-ween was so successful, we decided to make it an annual theme. 




3. Use Product-Launches to Rejuvenate Your Brand

In 2016, we started adding speciality tracks to our seed program, starting with a Fintech track in the Batch 16 program.

In order to highlight our new Fintech focus, we made the Batch 16 Demo Day poker themed. In order to create an authentic experience, the 500 events team hired a top poker player to give attendees poker lessons and play blackjack. Founding Partners Dave McClure and Christine Tsai also dressed up for the poker theme.

Partly in thanks to a successful Fintech-Themed Demo Day, we saw a 23% increase in Fintech applications to the following batch.

4. Embrace Company Culture

During the Batch 17 program in June 2016, the 500 team and batch companies attended the San Francisco Pride Parade. Pride inspired us to redefine the meaning of “unicorn” at 500. In tech, a unicorn company means a billion dollar company valuation. We decided that being a unicorn also brings about a sense of love and unity. We are not only about making profits and increasing portfolio company valuations but also about celebrating people and culture.

The momentum of the Pride Month continued into our Demo Day planning process. We wanted to use the upcoming Demo Day as a platform to promote 500’s company value of embracing diversity and inclusion. We chose the theme “Beauty & the Geek” based on our B17 tracks Fashion & B2B and decided to break down gender stereotypes by having Dave dress up as the “Beauty” and Christine the “Geek”.

After Demo Day, Microsoft offered to sponsor our efforts to advocate diversity in tech by supporting our Unity and Inclusion Summits. Our open and embracing culture has attracted a very diverse group of companies. In our latest batch, Batch 20, 36% of our batch companies were international (from 10 different countries), 20.5% of companies had at least one female founder, and 25% of companies had a black / Latinx founder.

 

5. Make It About Your People

At the end of the Batch 17 Demo Day, a flash mob of the 500 team appeared from the audience and started dancing on stage with Dave. The big screen started playing videos of venture capital investors and founders of successful 500 portfolio companies around the world wishing Dave a happy birthday. The B17 Demo Day happened to be Dave’s 50th birthday and our 500 family planned a surprise for Dave.

The Demo Day birthday surprise is just one example of the many things that we would do simply because we care about people. We build the 500 brand by connecting with people on a personal level.

6. Create Positive Emotion

From the previous Demo Days, we began to see that themes created a supportive environment for founders and investors to develop relationships. For Batch 19, we chose a Valentine’s Day theme because we wanted to bring more emotion into the experience.

We dressed up our founders as Cupid (Christine) and the Queen of Hearts (Dave) and decorated the stage with all shades of pink and hearts. Investors could give batch companies Valentine cards that said, “I have my eyes on you!”.



 

7. Leverage Culture & History

Our Batch 20 program was based in San Francisco around the same time as the city’s 50th anniversary of the “Summer of Love” – the 1967 summer event that drew nearly 100,000 young people to the city’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. Starting from early spring 2017, streets in San Francisco were decorated with the “Summer of Love” theme. We decided to do the same theme for our Demo Day to pay tribute to the city’s history.

With flowers, rainbow-colored lighting and our emcee in a Grateful Dead bear costume, this Demo Day brought a sense of nostalgia to the city many 500 Startups team members call home.



Conclusion

Our Demo Days are instrumental in building the 500 brand. We strive to create an organic ecosystem of investors, founders, and corporate partners by providing meaningful and engaging content to our audience.

If your goal is to stand out from the crowd and flaunt your unique brand to the world, don’t forget to incorporate these 7 Marketing Lessons from 500 Startups Demo Days:

  1. Listen to the Audience: Gather feedback from your audience, catch the opportunity, and act on it
  2. Reframe the Challenge: Look at the problem from another perspective and turn challenges into advantages
  3. Inspire with your products: Rejuvenate your brand with new products
  4. Embrace Company Culture: Integrate the company values and culture to create a powerful marketing message
  5. Focus on People: Build a people-centric ecosystem to organically grow your business
  6. Engage your audience with Emotions: Create Positive emotions to Drive Connection and Awareness
  7. Integrate Art into Business: Leverage the power of culture and history in your marketing

500 Batch 22 begins July 24th, 2017 in San Francisco.

Click Here to apply for our the Batch 22 Seed Program.

More from Yiying Lu: 


yiyinglu-profile-square

Yiying Lu is award-winning bilingual (English & Chinese) artist and designer. Born in Shanghai China, Educated in Sydney Australia & London UK, now based in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, she currently is a Design Lecturer at the NYU Shanghai Program on Creativity & Innovation. She is also an individual creative consultant who provides talks & workshops for global startups and corporate innovation teams on design thinking, entrepreneurship & creativity. Her projects have been featured in many publications, including The New York Times, Forbes, NBC News, TIME, CNN, BBC, San Francisco Chronicle, TechCrunch, Mashable, and The Huffington Post. She was named a “Top 10 Emerging Leader in Innovation” in the Microsoft Next 100 series. For more from Yiying, you can follow her on TwitterLinkedin and Medium.

 

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.