May 26, 2016 On Our Blog

The Investors You Actually Want on Your Cap Table Speak Words of Wisdom — Our Top Picks from PreMoney SF

PreMoney San Francisco is just around the corner. Wait, what’s PreMoney?? It’s our slightly-more-than-annual investor event brings together our industry’s most forward-thinking VCs, LPs, and founders. When we were asked to curate a list of our favorite PreMoney talks, our first response was, “BUT THERE ARE SO MANY GREAT ONES!” Painful as it was, we were able to whittle it down to 5 essential talks. Below, you’ll find nuggets from CB Insights’ Anand Sanwal, SoftTech’s Charles Hudson, Diishan Imira of Mayvenn, Shauntel Poulson of Reach Capital, Sean O’Sullivan of SOS Ventures, Scale’s Kate Mitchell, and Dan Rosen from Commerce Ventures. This is just a tiny taste of what we’ve pulled together for 2016’s PreMoney SF, which includes cameos by Bill Draper, Aileen Lee, Dave Morin, Danielle Morrill, Jason Lemkin, …


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May 26, 2016 On Our Blog

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 …


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May 25, 2016 Growth Hacking and Distribution

TODAY’S DISTROSNACK: Hot Subject Line

Power words: remember, now, you, new, sale UN-power words: best, amazing, guaranteed, hurry, look inside, groundbreaking, once in a lifetime. Get inside their heads (free response surveying, livechat, in-person) — don’t use meaningless superlatives. >> GET DISTROSNACK HERE << Distrosnack is painstakingly curated and GIF’ed by Susan Su.


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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 …


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May 20, 2016 On Our Blog

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 …


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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. …


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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 …


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May 16, 2016 On Our Blog

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 …


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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 …


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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 …


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