May 27, 2016 On Our Blog

Design, Creativity and UX for Startup Growth? 500 Startups Creative Director Yiying Lu on the Power of Art for Startups

The Fail Whale Before joining 500 Startups as Creative Director, Yiying Lu‘s best-known work was “Lifting A Dreamer,” an illustration depicting a Beluga whale airlifted by a small flock or birds. In 2008, Twitter licensed the image so it could display it to users when the service was down, which immediately raised Lu’s profile. “I had no idea where Silicon Valley was,” said Lu. “I literally typed it into Google Maps, but it didn’t show up! I was kind of clueless about this center of innovation and tech community.” After visiting the Bay Area from Sydney, Lu quickly connected with tech folks who appreciated her work, including 500 Startups founder Dave McClure. “He came to me during a party and …

May 26, 2016 Accelerator News

The Two Biggest Challenges For Beauty/Fashion Startups

Many founders in the beauty and fashion spaces mistakenly think growing a successful company is all about having a big following. They think the first step to a million dollars in revenue is having a million followers on Instagram. That’s not the case. Some fashion entrepreneurs have amassed massive followings, but as a result of their work building a great business, not as a prerequisite. Whether you’re building a name brand or a revolutionary piece of technology, the business model and the product always come first. But getting those right is not easy. Fashion and beauty are uniquely challenging verticals—they’re all about inspiring feeling, about capturing a sense of magic, about conveying a certain charm. You’re often not competing on …

May 24, 2016 On Our Blog

The Startup Pivot Pyramid

In 2011 we raised $2M from some of the top investors in Silicon Valley. Our startup, SocialWire (later renamed Manifest), helped online retailers instantly personalize the shopping experience when their customers signed in with Facebook. However — we soon learned that it was hard to convince the big retailers to add our product recommendations to their websites which they’ve been optimizing for years. We also found that not enough customers wanted to sign in with Facebook while they were shopping online to get a more personalized experience. With most of our $2M still in the bank, and a technology that was good at matching Facebook users to the right products, we decided to pivot on the problem we were solving for the …

May 20, 2016 Accelerator News

500 Startups Demo Day: Confessions From Batch 16 Founders

The green room at 500 Startups Demo Day is more like a pre-game locker room. Startup founders with intense expressions pace back and forth while others sit alone, their heads slightly bowed as they focus like a laser on the next two minutes. Clothing is adjusted, hair is combed. This is the culmination of 3+ months of startup pitch prep. A boisterous group of founders crowds around a monitor blaring a live feed of the proceedings in the auditorium next door. There’s a tournament vibe in the air, but each participant will tell you that they aren’t competing with each other. They’re competing against themselves. Among the general public, people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of death. Startup founders, however, are a …

May 19, 2016 On Our Blog

7 Things Investors & Founders Need to Know about the Japan Startup Ecosystem

This April, 500 Startups hosted our Geeks On A Plane (GOAP) tour here in Tokyo. For those that don’t know, GOAP is an invite-only tour for startups, investors, and executives to learn about high-growth technology markets worldwide. To kick off the Tokyo leg of the tour, I gave an ecosystem overview presentation while we cruised through the Tokyo waterways on a yakatabune (Japanese style boat). Many followed up with me afterwards asking whether I could share the slides, so I decided to write a quick blog post on what I shared. I knew getting people to pay attention after a long trip would be a challenge, so I kept it short and sweet. #1 Venture investment in Japan is small. …

May 18, 2016 On Our Blog

Startup Founders Talk: The First Time I Fired Someone

500 Startups Managing Partner Christine Tsai experienced mixed emotions the first time she as a founder had to let someone go. “I don’t think there was a hesitation that it was the right thing to do, it was just that the person wasn’t a great fit in terms of their skills and culture,” she said. It’s natural to have doubts and think emotionally before letting someone go, said Tsai. “You never know people’s circumstances or how this impacts them personally, even in a good job market like this.” “It’s OK to think those things, but don’t let that prevent you from making the right decision,” she added. “It’s just a sign that you’re still human.” “Maybe people who are really ruthless about …

May 16, 2016 Accelerator News

Announcing Batch 17 in Mountain View – Doubling Down on Fashion, Beauty and B2B

Roll call! Today we’re announcing Batch 17 in Mountain View – our  most eclectic batch to date.  With 42 companies, this accelerator cohort runs the gamut from affordable housing made from shipping containers to digital SIM cards to free birth control and alternative burial products.   Along with our 4-month curriculum of customer acquisition coaching, fundraising training, and access to 500’s massive ecosystem, we will be taking the program even further. As you may have noticed from our last batch, 500 Startups has started including vertical tracks within the accelerator program. Batch 17 will continue this trend with TWO vertical tracks – B2B and Fashion/Beauty. B2B companies will receive additional guidance around sales, negotiating and closing deals for enterprise, and …

May 12, 2016 On Our Blog

Announcing 500 Mexico, Round 2

Since 2010, the Mexico City office of 500 Startups has invested in 86 Startups. These companies are today generating over $40M dollars of yearly revenue and have raised over $48M USD of follow on financing from co-investors. After months of silence and haunting rumors that 500 Startups had left Mexico forever, the truth is out — we’ve been secretly working on multiplying our activities in the region. Not only that, but today, May 12th, the fund is opening the application process for the next batch, starting on July 18th in Mexico City. This program will be in the brand new Mexico City offices with over 8000 sq ft — more than double the size of our previous location. Santiago Zavala, partner at 500 Startups comments “We have …

May 11, 2016 On Our Blog

Brand Marketing is a Growth Hack. Here’s the Recipe

Today’s treat is a guest post from entrepreneur, marketing mastermind, and 500 founder Mat Braddy, founder of ROCK PAMPER SCISSORS and former CMO of Just Eat, a European “unicorn” that went public in April of 2014. No one thinks of billboards and TV ads when we talk about “growth hacking” (we’re way too cool for that sh*t, right?), but in today’s post Mat shares his takeaways on growth fueled by brand.  Mat’s company was a recent participant in 500 London’s latest Distro Dojo, a growth-focused acceleration and investment program that happens several times a year in locations around the world. Shameless plug: Mat is currently raising money for Starlight, a UK organization that helps terminally ill children fulfill a special …

May 9, 2016 On Our Blog

4 Secrets to Content Marketing Velocity for (Lazy) Startups

If you’re an overachiever like most of the startup world (and I know you are if you’re reading blog posts about growth marketing), then you probably want your inbound marketing content to be the most amazing thing ever to hit the Internet. This is great. This is an important aspiration, and something you must aim for if you want your content marketing to succeed. But, let’s save the Pulitzer Prize discussion for another day. You want to win awards for quality, not necessarily for originality — at first. In the rest of this post, I’m going to go over a 4-part recipe (yes there are some sub-steps) for launching content that works.* *By “works,” I mean it brings in prospects, qualifies …