Apr 28, 2016 On Our Blog

LA’s Startup Ecosystem: Talent, Capital, and… Velocity?

Many of us who’ve never lived in Los Angeles have strong opinions about the place. It’s the galactic center of the media universe, but we snark about its cultural inferiority, inauthenticity and general lack of seriousness. All prejudice is based on ignorance; arguably, the Southland encompasses the nation’s most diverse startup ecosystem. Between Santa Barbara and San Diego, “there’s a huge spread of startups,” said Andrei Marinescu, a 500 Startups LA-based Partner on the Distribution Team. Increased access to capital and a more mature talent base have helped make the difference, he said. There hasn’t been a shortage of people who are entrepreneurial and had fun or crazy ideas, but the ability to execute on those ideas was lacking for …

Apr 22, 2016 On Our Blog

500 Mentor Profile: Julie Zhou’s discipline of growth

Today’s post comes from Parker Tarun at Mixpanel, and features 500 Mentor and badass growth hacker Julie Zhou.  Julie’s interview is part of a series that shares how people, businesses, and the world are better off being “data-driven” and gets into exactly what that means for growth and product. Julie is a 500 Mentor and you can catch her on Twitter here. ———- “Oh my God. How do you do that?” This is the slack-jawed question for Julie Zhou when friends learn that, after turning off the lights at Yik Yak’s West Coast office, she hits the gym and pumps 240 lbs. of pure iron. But Julie weighs in at just over 100 lbs. How can she lift something at that scale? Her …

Apr 21, 2016 On Our Blog

From “Dormant” List to 66% Open Rate, to 48K Subscribers — Here’s How.

Last Updated: August 29, 2016 Today I want to get into all the juicy details for how I got a 66% open rate to 48K subscribers (over 60% that would count as “dormant”) within 24 hours. A couple of weeks ago, I decided it was time to reactivate the 500 Startups email list. It’s not a huge email list, because we’re niche and are only looking to target specific, relevant audiences. But it’s decent. About 48K give or take, as I’m writing this. In my previous post about email marketing, I talked about unsubscribes and tired, beaten lists where all your subscribers are annoyed at you for blasting them with irrelevant content at high (or low) frequency. This was exactly …

Apr 20, 2016 On Our Blog

500’s Tammy Camp: “Growth Hackers Hate The Term ‘Growth Hacker.'”

If getting your startup off the ground is war, you want Tammy Camp in your foxhole. Tammy is a master tactician; a 500 Startups Partner since November 2014, she creates the curriculum for the accelerator’s growth-hacking program in Silicon Valley, which includes an infamous Marketing Hell Week. When she’s not working with the latest batch of entrepreneurs, Tammy brings her skills to bear for 500. As with other seasoned commandos, many of her missions remain classified, but it can be revealed that she led the company’s HubSpot integration, assists internal fundraising teams with internal processes and uses her unique skill set to help convert prospects into LPs. Like other members of the Distro team, Tammy’s also an investor who offers input on …

Apr 19, 2016 On Our Blog

Inside the 500 Accelerator, Weeks 11, 12 & 13: The Hardest Question

Inside the 500 Accelerator is a weekly series by 500 founder Troy Sultan. Now, 13 weeks in, Troy gets real and shares the hardest question that he — and many other founders — have had to face.  “Dude, how’s it going?” It’s quite literally the hardest question you can ask me. A few years ago I wouldn’t have minded as much. I had a canned answer I got good at reciting. It told a story of things going great, because that was the path of least resistance. I’d keep it surface-level, short and always positive. Because no one asks questions when things are going good. And honestly, who the hell wants to hear about my problems? I’ve been practicing vulnerability for the past …

Apr 15, 2016 On Our Blog

PR For Startups: The Art of the Press Release in 7 Steps

Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from Conrad Egusa, CEO of Publicize and a 500 Startups Mentor specializing in PR and media. PR can be INCREDIBLY important for startups — not only as a one-time bump in growth but also for long-term amplification of your good efforts. Good (positive) PR hits 2 major influence factors, social proof and authority, and even bad (negative) PR will drive a bump in traffic and attention. How you capture and convert is up to you, but the first step? GET INTERNET FAMOUS.  Last note: have you ever tried to do PR for yourself or your company? It IS kind of scary, those journalists DO bite. As my friend Eric Eldon (former editor in chief at Techcrunch) used …

Apr 14, 2016 On Our Blog

Our Accelerator Secrets, Revealed

Dave McClure often shows a slide when he is explaining how 500 Startups works. It only has three bullets: Find Smart People. Give Them Money. Wait for Good Shit to Happen. It seems simple but it pretty much sums up what makes 500 Startups so awesome. Our no bullshit style and #HaveFunGetShitDone motto has been one of the factors for the success of our accelerator program, which Dave McClure and Christine Tsai launched back in 2010. The program runs four times a year and accepts less than 3% of applicants, so technically it’s harder to get into 500 Startups than an Ivy league college. Its also been named a top-tier accelerator in numerous studies, including one by the Kauffman Foundation …

Apr 13, 2016 On Our Blog

Announcing the 500 Startups Kobe Pre-Accelerator

There’s something bubbling in Kobe… and it’s not just the waters of the Arima hot springs. 500 Startups in partnership with the government of Kobe, Japan is launching a new pre-accelerator that will be coming to the city this summer. The pre-accelerator is a 6 week course which will focus on bringing growth hacking techniques and Silicon Valley expertise to emerging companies in Kobe, while also boosting Japanese and domestic entrepreneurship in the city. Space is limited to 15-20 startups and you can apply here. The deadline to apply is June 1, 2016. After recently launching the $30M 500 Japan Fund in 2015, with the goal of engaging and investing in local startups, it naturally made sense to deepen our …

Apr 13, 2016 On Our Blog

“Good Companies Solving Real Problems” — That Happen To Deal With Your Money

Before becoming 500 Startups’ FinTech manager, Sheel Mohnot consulted for a company that was striving to be more competitive after the 2008 financial crisis. When pitching ideas, “the answer was often, ‘raise the fees on your customers,’” said Mohnot. “I didn’t like that.” In his view, shaking users down for nickels and dimes creates little value over the long term. “I fundamentally believe that the way to build an amazing business is to make people’s lives better.” Mohnot discovered his affinity for financial services and products as an early team member of Kiva, the social lending platform that’s granted more than $837M in micro loans to 1.9M people. “It has had a huge impact on what we’re trying to do at 500 …

Apr 11, 2016 On Our Blog

4 “Crystal Ball” Analytics Tricks for Accelerating Growth

Today I’m going to share with you 4 “crystal ball” analytics tricks for accelerating growth. I learned these tricks the hard way — I was doing them wrong for 2 and half years. If you read closely, hopefully I can save you from the headaches I went through, not to mention then tens of thousands of dollars I wasted from not having my analytics dialed in. Alright, I know what you’re thinking “This lady is no oracle, how is she going to tell me how to get more customers for my business when I’ve tested a ton of channels that didn’t work.” Well, I’m going to stop you right there. Hey, believe it or not, it’s not your fault.  It’s …