500 Seed Program Frequently Asked Questions
Do you invest in the companies that go through the Seed Program?
We invest in all companies that take part in the Seed Program. The investment is structured as a convertible security. Companies receive an investment of $150,000 for around 6% of their company (subject to dilution at the time of conversion of our convertible security).
The convertible security has certain special rights for 500 Startups, including the right to make a follow-on investment of an additional $500,000 or 20% of your next priced round of $1,000,000 or more, whichever is lower, which expires after the conversion of our convertible security.
Does it cost money to participate in the Seed Program?
Yes – We charge $37,500 per company to participate, but these fees can be deducted from our investment amount so you don’t have to pay out of pocket. As mentioned above, our gross investment is $150,000. Once program fees are deducted, you would receive $112,500. These program fees help to cover basic costs of running the Seed Program, paying outside speakers and should be viewed like tuition.
Is the valuation negotiable?
No, it isn’t. Many of our startups have already raised capital at a higher valuation and still choose to join us for the benefits we provide to their companies.
What will I get out of being in the 500 Seed Program?
Mentorship: One of the biggest benefits of going through the 500 Startups Seed Program is having access to knowledgeable mentors. You will have access to the 500 team, seasoned entrepreneurs, experienced investors, and individuals with considerable expertise in their field to give feedback and offer guidance. We also host numerous talks and fireside chats. Speakers include top domain experts on important topics such as distribution, design, data, fundraising, and more.
Help with Distribution: We have in-house distribution experts that will help you GROW, GROW, GROW. Whether it’s trigger emails, event-based analytics, SEO, paid ads, or creative growth tactics, we’ll help you get your business where it needs to be.
Fundraising: Our Seed Program staff is made up of experts with years of experience in fundraising and pitching. You will learn how to run an effective fundraising process, how and when to talk to investors, and how to effectively tell your story.
Access to the 500 Family: The 500 Startups network consists of over 3,000 company founders and over 200 mentors. They come from diverse backgrounds, areas of expertise, and locations. You’ll connect to a growing list of engineers, designers, marketers, and founders from all around the world.
Brand and PR: 500 Startups is ranked as one of the top seed programs worldwide and one of the most active seed stage investors in the universe. The 500 brand draws an impressive group of people, ranging from investors, strategic corporates, platform partners, press, and even the occasional celebrity. In addition, we run events and conferences throughout the year that are consistently sold out. All of this means great exposure and visibility for your company.
Killer Coworking Space: During the Seed Program you’ll work in the 500 Startups office along with your batchmates. Everyone offers advice, encouragement, and support to help others succeed. Previous batches have likened it to the most awesome summer camp they’ve ever attended. In fact, many founders say the most important relationships they develop while in the 500 Seed Program are with their batchmates.
FUN: The 500 culture is best described in one hashtag: #500STRONG. This means collaboration and support, creativity, taking risks, embracing failure, transparency, and moving quickly. We want you to push yourself past your comfort zone and take your company to the next level. You will work hard but have fun in the process. Past batches have danced to Thriller, created awesome videos to announce themselves to the press, and made custom hoodies to show their batchie pride.
How many of your companies are not located in the Bay Area? How many are international?
500 Startups has a global reach. On average 30-40% of a batch is international, and many US-based companies are from outside the Bay Area.
Do I need to be there the entire time?
We have very few requirements when it comes to participation in the Seed Program. Founders can come and go as they please. That being said, most workshops, events, and speaker series are not recorded or livestreamed, so if you are not present, you will miss the content. If you want to get the most out of the program, it’s in your best interest to be here as much as possible.
That said, it is very common for founders to come and go, balancing the needs of their business and family with maximizing the value of the program.
I have a family so moving to the Bay Area is complicated. Do you have other founders with children?
Yes, we have many founders with children. Sometimes a parent will leave their family at home for the duration, and sometimes the family will relocate together. For nursing moms, we also have a mother’s room in our offices.
We have a gigantic team. Do we need to move the entire team for the program?
No. Three desks come included with the program fee, and additional desks are $500/mo. Typically, a startup sends at least the co-founders and head of sales or marketing to attend the program.
What type of companies does 500 invest in?
500 invests in a diverse range of companies in the tech industry, from marketplaces to SaaS, from media to AI. Check out our portfolio here.
What are some companies that have gone through the 500 Seed Program?
I’ve applied and haven’t heard back! When will I get an answer?
We receive thousands of applications for each batch and we review each one individually. We try to respond to everyone with a yes or no, but it could take up to a few weeks to get a response.
Can I stop by 500 Startups with no appointment?
No, please don’t. It is unlikely someone will be able to talk to you if you show up unannounced; you’re more likely to get our attention by submitting a thorough application with a detailed pitch deck or through referrals from people we know.
Should I apply again if I am rejected?
Yes, definitely! There is no downside to applying more than once. Many of our most successful founders were not accepted on their first try, but chose to keep making progress on their business, reapply to the program, and were ultimately accepted.