Announcing 500 Startups in LA: All About “DISTRO” (aka Growth Marketing)


March 25, 2016

500 Startups has already invested in over 65 companies in LA and is noted as one the most active investors in LA-based internet startups according to a recent post from CB Insights.  Our LA portfolio includes consumer and enterprise companies to the likes of Tradesy, Club W, MeUndies, Lettuce, FabFitFun, and StackCommerce.

We see a large market opportunity in LA and we’re expanding our LA presence by launching our Distro Dojo curriculum, which is a 3 month growth intensive program for Pre-Series A companies, on May 2nd.

500 Startups is selecting and investing in up to 10 companies for the LA Distro Dojo and we currently have a few spots left (apply here). Companies should be doing at least $100,000 in revenue per month, and have staff in place to run growth experiments during the program.

Distribution (aka growth marketing) is a major area of focus for 500 Startups; we see it as one of the most important factors in a company’s ability to scale its business sustainably. So important, in fact, that we created an internal distribution (Distro) team three years ago to work closely with our portfolio companies. That team now consists of 15 growth marketers with experience scaling companies including PayPal, Lyft, Hulu, Stripe, Kabam, and others.

In addition to working one-on-one with portfolio companies, including Aircall, Vango, and others, to accelerate growth, the Distro team is always seeking out new ways to add value. Recognizing that the bar continues to rise for startups raising Series A rounds, we developed the Distro Dojo program to help founders and their teams achieve the growth they need to hit their fundraising milestones.

Last year we launched 3 Distro Dojos in Kuala Lumpur, London, and Miami. This year we’re working to launch 10 across the world. The LA Dojo is a 3 month program with 1 month in-residence, as a part of our partnership with WeWork at their Gas Tower location in Downtown Los Angeles.

The program will focus on:

  • Teaching a scientific growth process
  • Creating a marketing experiment pipeline
  • Testing and adding emerging channels
  • Making the right hires for your growth team
  • Talks from 500 Partners and industry experts

We’re looking forward to working with the best and brightest in LA, let us know if that’s you.

Meet the 500 LA Team


Left to right, Andrei Marinescu, Matt Ellsworth, Jess Erickson.

Andrei Marinescu – Partner, 500 Startups

  • Originally from: Bucharest, Romania (via Germany, Indiana, and NYC)
  • In a past life: former scientist, first growth lead at Hulu
  • Favorite Whole Foods location: Arroyo Blvd. in Pasadena
  • Favorite person to follow on Snapchat: DJ Khaled 🔑
  • What I love most about LA: The diversity, the food, and the quality of life

Matt Ellsworth – Partner, 500 Startups

  • Originally from: Iowa
  • In a Past Life: SaaS sales consultant, VP of Growth at Storefront,
  • Favorite Whole Foods Location: Lincoln & Rose, so much yogurt
  • Why LA over SF: Vitamin D

Jess Erickson – Program Director, 500 Startups

  • Originally from Minnesota, moved to Madison, Seoul, London, NYC, Berlin, SF, LA
  • In a Past Life: General Assembly, 6Wunderkinder, Speaklike, LSE
  • Passion Project: building Geekettes, an org uniting & mentoring badass women in tech
  • What I love most about LA: K-town, Venice beach, underground music scene
  • Who’d Play Her in a Movie: Bobby Lee
  • Drops mad tweets at @jessjerickson #500LA

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