Jan 9, 2017 On Our Blog

Are there ghosts in your convertible notes?

Guest blogger – Adam Sterling is the executive director of the Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy, co-founder of Startup@BerkeleyLaw, and a former venture capital and startup attorney. Are you investing in convertible notes or securities? Do you know what a phantom liquidation preference is? Did you know it could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars? Let’s illustrate how with a simple example… Sally purchases a convertible note with a valuation cap of $5 million in Tuber Corporation for $100,000. Six months later, Tuber closes its Series A with a pre-money valuation of $10 million, selling new shares at $1/share. Thanks to its valuation cap, Sally’s convertible note converts at $0.50/share and she receives 200,000 shares of Series …


PUBLISHED BY
Dec 28, 2016 International Stories

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 …


PUBLISHED BY
Oct 4, 2016 Growth Hacking and Distribution

Hooks: An Intro on How to Manufacture Desire

Guest Blogger – Nir Eyal, Author “Hooked: How yo Build Habit-Forming Products” Type the name of almost any successful consumer web company into your search bar and add the word “addict” after it. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Try “Facebook addict” or “Twitter addict” or even “Pinterest addict” and you’ll soon get a slew of results from hooked users and observers deriding the narcotic-like properties of these web sites. How is it that these companies, producing little more than bits of code displayed on a screen, can seemingly control users’ minds? Why are these sites so addictive and what does their power mean for the future of the web? We’re on the precipice of a new era of the web. As infinite distractions …


PUBLISHED BY
Aug 29, 2016 On Our Blog

The Virtual World is Calling: 16 Predictions for the (Near) Future of VR

A year ago, I met up my friend Eugene Chung who used to run film & media for Oculus virtual reality (VR).  Eugene was telling me about his first VR film he created. At the time, I had very little knowledge about VR but definitely wanted to learn more and very curious. I asked Eugene why anyone should care about VR. His reply? He simply insisted that I should try it for myself and experience “The Rose and I”. That day, I went to Eugene’s studio in SOMA and put on the Oculus Rift headset for the very first time. Boom, and finally I got it — I was in space and could see the little prince standing on the little planet not too far …


PUBLISHED BY
Aug 15, 2016 On Our Blog

How Might A Clinton Presidency Affect Silicon Valley?

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is Part 2 of a two-part series that examines how the U.S. presidential race could affect Silicon Valley innovation, an ecosystem that’s affected by economics, immigration policy, international relations, and other factors. These positions were publicly stated by each campaign; instead of characterizing proposals as good or bad, we’re merely speculating on their impact. Part 1 looked at the potential outcomes affecting Silicon Valley from a Trump presidency; today, a look at Hillary Clinton’s Tech & Innovation agenda. Hillary Clinton’s positions on innovation and tech are well-documented and generally reflect prevailing industry attitudes. This is likely because the candidate’s campaign team includes former government officials with tech backgrounds, as well as executives and entrepreneurs. Today, we’ll …


PUBLISHED BY
Aug 10, 2016 On Our Blog

The 7 (Pitching) Habits of Highly Effective Founders

Finding the right investors is like dating — you need to kiss many frogs before you find a prince.   Today, I’m going to share seven ways fundraising founders can kiss fewer frogs and find more princes (subtle hint: Batch 19 applications are now open). Habit 1 – Pitch to the Right Investors Not all investors are created equal. Some investors only invest in seed investments. Some investors only focus on Series A.   Before approaching any investors, do your homework and make sure you go after the right target audience. You can segment them with these 5 characteristics: Investment stages (seed, Series A, B, C, etc.) Check size (e.g. $50,000 – $150,000) How many deals has he or she done …


PUBLISHED BY
Jul 21, 2016 On Our Blog

4 Steps Every Startup Must Take To Build Culture, Compete for Talent, and Win

I talk to brilliant founders every day who are 100% focused on growing their company. They’re solving problems and improving their business at light-speed, turning their great idea into an even better company. Unfortunately, a lot of them have the same blind spot: They don’t understand company culture. Having a strong culture doesn’t mean you have a beautifully designed office or that you offer your employees unlimited vacation days or catered lunches. Culture, at its core, is the way your team works together. In other words, it’s not about the perks. When your culture is strong, your team is deeply connected and each member takes personal ownership over their own little piece of the company. This commitment is what powers …


PUBLISHED BY
Jul 13, 2016 On Our Blog

The Best Startup Pitches Are Empathic, Not Egotistic

For entrepreneurs to pitch effectively, they must first free themselves of attachment — the root of all suffering. Which makes 500 Startups Venture Partner, Entrepreneur-in-Residence and pitch coach Andrea Barrica a spiritual guru. “I force people to constrain and use the smallest amount of time to explain what’s most interesting about their company,” she explains. It’s rewarding, but like any effective conditioning process, no pain, no gain. The 120 Second Investor Pitch Now coaching her fourth batch of founders for 500 Startups, Barrica has continually shaved the amount of time they have to present at Demo Day. Instead of 3.5 minutes, each team now has only 120 seconds to make its case. Investors are more excited and engaged, Barrica said, …


PUBLISHED BY
Jul 6, 2016 On Our Blog

Fintech Investment is Exploding — 5 Ways Governments & Ecosystem Builders Can Help

with Sheel Mohnot Investment in fintech companies is up 8X in the past 5 years, with over 200 financings for a combined $4.9 billion in 1Q2016 alone.   “Silicon Valley is coming. There are hundreds of startups with a lot of brains and money working on various alternatives to traditional banking.” Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, pointed out: “Silicon Valley is coming. There are hundreds of startups with a lot of brains and money working on various alternatives to traditional banking. They are very good at reducing the ‘pain points’.” Quarterly financing to VC-backed fintech companies has been growing immensely: But investment is not flowing freely everywhere.   For example, in 1Q2016, Chinese fintech companies received $2.4 …


PUBLISHED BY
Jun 7, 2016 On Our Blog

How To Pitch A VC

“Everyone” understands the high-level goals of a pitch: Make yourself memorable, and drive home your product’s value. But working out how to put it all into one, non-boring pitch is another matter altogether — and something we work on extensively as part of the 500 Accelerator. Over the years, we’ve learned that sticking to a step-by-step strategy for pitching VCs is a common struggle for startup founders. Do they introduce themselves before or after their companies? Should they list their most impressive metrics upfront or work them into the pitch? What’s the proper way to end investor conversations? Good pitches follow a rigorous structure for engaging investors and proving a company’s value. Like all good marketing and sales, the startup pitch process starts before …


PUBLISHED BY