Aug 30, 2016 On Our Blog

Next, Final Frontier: Lessons Learned Investing in West & South Africa

Exciting businesses are growing in emerging markets. During my time at global early stage seed fund, 500 Startups, I’ve led deals in agriculture marketplaces in Indonesia (iGrow), global workflow management software from Brazil (Pipefy), and even education or sewing marketplaces in “emerging markets” like the MidWest of the United States. 500 Startups has a culture of looking ahead to emerging markets, so I was encouraged to follow my investment thesis that there is massive opportunity in thinking ahead. There were many haters, especially when I became interested in West Africa: “These markets are too early.”  or, “There’s no downstream capital for these companies.” Initially, I was worried about whether I would be stranding these companies or whether it was too early …


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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 …


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Aug 23, 2016 On Our Blog

How to Invest “Smart Money” — 4 Lessons Learned

I recently attended VC Unlocked: Secrets of Silicon Valley Investing, an investor training program run in partnership with 500 Startups and Stanford Center for Professional Development. The two-week program took place July 25th – August 5th, 2016, and a class of 28 participants dove deeply into the world of tech, understanding fund dynamics and hearing from seasoned experts. My big takeaway was that along with all the attention and hype startups are garnering around the world, there is still a large gap in the knowledge available to investors entering the space. We hear a lot about “dumb money” and to avoid it like the plague, but is that it? As a former educator I believe not – and so here …


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Aug 17, 2016 On Our Blog

How to Use PR + Thought Leadership to Grow Your Startup

So your business doesn’t have an announcement but you’d still like some media coverage? Given the constant need to stand out from the host of other startups and businesses, it makes sense to promote your name and business as much as possible. After all, maintaining a public presence is an important factor of any successful business. But how can you make a media appearance when you haven’t got anything new to announce, or say? Good Public Relations – that is, PR – is all about honing in on a space and making it your own. Strong PR processes are upheld by two core pillars on which successful campaigns rely: announcements via press releases and guest articles. While we previously focused …


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Aug 16, 2016 On Our Blog

From “Here, Take my Money” to Investing with Vision

We just finished up our 3rd investor training with Stanford Center for Professional Development and we are on a roll! The highly diverse mix of participants spent two weeks unlocking the secrets of venture capital investing and refining their investment theses. They participants finished the program with a much clearer vision of where they are going and how they plan on getting there. They also left with a certificate from Stanford, a maroon baseball cap and a crazy, fun group of friends and future co-investors that were very excited about their new investment theses! The Venture Capital Unlocked program ran from July 25th – Aug 5th and was held at Stanford University and the 500 Startups accelerator in Mountain View. Diverse …


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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 …


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Aug 12, 2016 On Our Blog

WANTED: Tall, Rich, Powerful Scandinavian to Invest in Lots of Amazing Nordic Startups and Help Them Kick Ass

In the past year 500 Startups has been expanding our efforts in the Nordics with the goal of bringing Silicon Valley best practices to the region and to help early stage startups grow faster. During this time we have made 27 investments into promising Nordic startups and helped them grow and raise capital. Our focus has been on companies doing e-commerce, marketplaces, SaaS, fintech as well as mobile and AI technologies. We have run two investment programs in the region, one focused on early-stage companies in Oslo, as well as a growth marketing program in Stockholm. We’ve also brought seven of these companies back to Silicon Valley to participate in our accelerator programs. Some of our Nordic investments include: IRIS AI …


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Aug 12, 2016 On Our Blog

How Might A Trump Presidency Impact Silicon Valley?

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is Part 1 of a two part series examining how the U.S. presidential race could affect Silicon Valley innovation, an ecosystem that’s affected by the United States’ international relations, immigration policy, and other political factors. We have attempted to stay away from political preferences and present findings as publicly reported by the candidates themselves. Part 2 will look at how a Clinton presidency could affect Silicon Valley, and will be published next week. [Update, 8/14/16: Malcolm McGough, the Trump campaign’s California political director, contacted us after this was posted and confirmed that we stated the candidate’s views on these issues accurately.] With 87 days left until the 2016 presidential election, we’re taking a look at how the candidates’ policies …


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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 …


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Aug 3, 2016 International Stories

Raising The Drawbridge? Brexit’s Implications For UK Startup Founders & Investors

In 2015, 500 Startups Partner Matt Lerner joined the firm so he could lead the London-based Distro Dojo, a growth marketing boot camp/think tank that helps early-stage startups scale up for their next round. When he took the reins, Lerner had many expectations, but the notion that 51% of British voters would soon vote to leave the European Union was not one of them. The UK’s relationship to the EU has been ambivalent for decades, but that hasn’t stopped London from becoming a hub for European startups, said Lerner. Like Silicon Valley, London has access to sufficient money, talent and experience to sustain a startup ecosystem. Brits haven’t imported California’s sunny optimism, Lerner said, but “they have always embraced and celebrated …


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