500 Seed Program Frequently Asked Questions
Do you invest in the companies that go through the Seed Program?
We invest in all companies at the start of the program. The Seed Program investment is $150K ($112.5K net of fees – see next question) for 6% of your company. The investment is structured as a convertible security (which is like a convertible note, but it is better for your company because it doesn’t accrue interest and doesn’t require payback in the future).
The convertible security has certain special rights for 500 Startups, including a $500k follow-on right (or 20% of your next priced round, whichever is lower) which expires after the closing of your next priced round.
Does it cost money to participate in the Seed Program?
Technically, yes – but the program fees are deducted from the gross investment amount so you don’t actually come out of pocket for the fees. We charge $37.5k per company to participate in the program. As mentioned above, our gross investment is $150k, and once program fees are deducted, you will receive a net wire of $112.5k. These program fees help to cover basic costs of running the Seed Program and should be viewed like tuition.
What’s the difference between the Mountain View program and the San Francisco program?
Location, location, location. The Mountain View batches take place at the 500 HQ in Mountain View. The San Francisco batches take place at our new SF office. If anything, we focus on the LACK of difference between the two locations. You’ll get access to the same awesome network, same mentors, and same top-notch curriculum. Our Mountain View program takes place in spring and fall, while our San Francisco program happens in winter and summer.
What are the dates for the next 500 Seed Program Batch?
Our next Seed Program (Batch 21) will begin in May and take place in Mountain View. Applications for Batch 21 in Mountain View are now open.
What will I get out of being in the 500 Seed Program?
Mentorship: One of the biggest benefits of going through the 500 Startups Seed Program is having access to knowledgeable mentors. As founders going through the program, you will have access to the 500 Partners, seasoned entrepreneurs, experienced investors, or individuals with considerable expertise in their field to give feedback and offer you guidance. We also host numerous talks and fireside chats. These speakers include top domain experts on important topics such as distribution, design, data, fundraising, and more.
Access to the 500 Family: The 500 Startups network (which we often refer to as the “500 Family”) consists of over 1,000 company founders and over 200 mentors. They come from diverse backgrounds, areas of expertise, and locations. You’ll be connected to a growing list of engineers, designers, marketers, and founders from not just Silicon Valley or other parts of the U.S., but also markets in Europe, Brazil, Mexico, India, China, Japan, Russia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Peru, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and more.
Help with Distribution: We have in-house distribution experts that will help you GROW, GROW, GROW. Whether it’s trigger emails, event-based analytics, SEO, paid ads, or sneaky growth tactics, we’ll help you get your business where it needs to be. Learn more about our methods here.
Brand and PR: 500 Startups is ranked as one of the top accelerator programs worldwide and one of the most active seed stage investors in the universe. The 500 brand draws an impressive group of people, ranging from investors, strategic corporates, platform partners, press, and even the occasional celebrity. In addition, we run events and conferences throughout the year that are consistently sold out. We always like to feature our companies at these events. All of this means great exposure and visibility for your company.
Killer Co-working Spaces: We have 10,000 sq ft offices in both downtown Mountain View and the heart of San Francisco’s SoMa district. During the 500 Seed Program, you’ll work in either the Mountain View or San Francisco office along with your batchmates. Everyone offers help, advice, encouragement, and support to help others succeed. Previous batches have likened it to the most awesome summer camp they’ve ever attended. In fact, many founders have said the most important relationships they’ve developed while in the 500 Seed Program are with their batchmates.
FUN: The 500 culture is best described in one hashtag: #500STRONG. This means collaboration and support, creativity, taking risks, embracing failure, transparency, and moving quickly. We want you to push yourself past your comfort zone and take your company to the next level. You’ll be working hard, but we also believe in “fun at all costs.” Past batches have danced to Thriller, created awesome videos to announce themselves in press (like Sh*t 500 Says, The Funding Games, Thrift(y) Startup, and We’ll Never Be Normal), and often spend long hours working alongside each other. We come together as a tribe, bringing together many international cultures, backgrounds, and personalities.
What are some companies that have gone through the 500 Seed Program?
Examples include Intercom, Talkdesk, Punchd (acquired by Google), 9GAG, ToutApp, BrightNest (acquired by Angie’s List), Chalkable (acquired by STI), Le Tote, RealtyShares, TouristEye (acquired by Lonely Planet), Shippo, Havenly, and many, many MOAR.