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 …

Dec 17, 2015 On Our Blog

Pitch, Please: 14 Must-Read Pitch Lessons Every Startup Founder Should Know

A few reasons you won’t raise money: Your business isn’t the right fit for VC (which is totally OK!) You business could be interesting to VC, but you have nothing yet. Stop pitching, and focus on building a solid business that solves a big problem, getting customers, and assembling a great team. You’re not talking to the right investors, or you may live in a city without a mature ecosystem that supports early stage companies, or….. Your pitch sucks, and you can’t tell your story on stage or on the fly.   I can help with the last one. Building a great business is more important than a great pitch, but if you don’t know how to tell your story, …

Aug 19, 2015 On Our Blog

Diversity debt: how much does your startup have?

There are a lot of ways to look at diversity, but the most helpful way I have found is called “diversity debt.” In the same way that engineers can accrue “technical debt” when they push out sloppy code, or business owners can accrue “bookkeeping debt” when they procrastinate their financials until tax time, companies can also accrue diversity debt over their life cycle. The more people your company hires until you have a diverse team (meaning an array of genders, LGBT, socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicities, ages, able-bodiedness, etc.) — the more diversity debt your organization has accrued. The diversity problem in tech is rampant everywhere you look. Facebook only hired 7 black people out of 1,231 hires in 2013, and only added 26 …