Feb 20, 2019 On Our Blog

Startup Accelerator Program: 5 Things You’ll Learn In The 500 Startups Accelerator Program

As a founder you might be thinking, “Is a startup accelerator program worth my time? What could I possibly learn from a startup accelerator program that I couldn’t just learn on my own?” I’d say if you have a network filled with prospective investors, employees, customers, and attorneys who have years of expertise on the ins and outs of your the particular market and industry your company is serving, and of course, the time to share all of it, you’re all set 😉 Don’t have it all? Here are 5 things you’ll learn, specifically from the 500 Startups’ accelerator! 1. The startup accelerator program keeps up-to-date on what is going on in the fundraising market. The fundraising market is continuously …


Oct 31, 2018 On Our Blog

Private Jets, Smart Pill Bottles, Blockchain, & More: Meet the Startups of Batch 24

Batch 24 has officially kicked off in San Francisco, and we’re so excited to welcome these new companies into our 500 family. From personal jets to AR glasses to period underwear, the collection of companies we’ve invested in this batch are as unique and innovative as the founders that built them. By the numbers: This batch has 21 companies. 40% of Batch 24 companies have a female founder. 50% have a Black, Mixed, or Latinx founder. 31% have a company based outside of the US. The Batch 24 companies are headquartered amongst 8 countries: Chile, France, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Singapore, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States. Out of the Batch 24 companies, 27% of will be on our blockchain track, 18% …


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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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Jul 22, 2016 Seed Program news

The Most Common Myths About Startup Accelerators — Busted

In most aspects of life, the gulf between expectation and reality is larger than expected, but that’s where growth comes from. This principle also applies to startup accelerators, where founders fortunate enough to gain admission can access networks that provide mentorship, emotional support, and eventually, funding. Tristan Pollock, a 500 Startups Venture Partner and Entrepreneur-in-Residence, is part of a team at 500 that reviews thousands of applications for each 12-week batch, which usually only admits 40 or 50 companies. Today, we’ll reveal the most common myths founders have when they join an accelerator, and how Tristan’s own expectations evolved after joining 500. What are some of the top misconceptions founders have before joining an accelerator? A large part of it is setting expectations at the beginning. Sometimes, …


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Jul 15, 2016 On Our Blog

Why Your Accelerator Rejected You

500 Startups Partners Marvin Liao and Elizabeth Yin are warm, friendly individuals, but they also break a lot of hearts. As gatekeepers for 500’s San Francisco-based accelerator, Liao and Yin lead teams that review anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 applications per 12-week round. There’s nothing fun about raining on someone’s parade, but with only 35 to 45 slots available, there’s a lot of disappointment to go around. “We have to look through every single one, then we filter it down,” said Liao. Which Applicants Are Most Likely To Hear “Yes” From 500? “We really do take it case by case,” said Yin, though there are a few hard and fast rules. “In most cases, we look for a complete full-time team that has …


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Jun 10, 2016 On Our Blog

The 500 Accelerator in a Nutshell

Today’s is the last installment in a series of essays by 500 founder Troy Sultan documenting his journey through the 500 Accelerator, Batch 16. Here Troy shares his closing thoughts on the Accelerator, and his opening thoughts for the considerable “Everything Else” that’s on its way.  To read the rest of the Troy’s posts in this series, scroll to the end of this piece for links. To apply for Batch 18 (deadline June 20, 2016), go here. It was 10pm on a Monday in November, two hours before the application deadline for 500 Startups’ 16th batch. Two months prior we were interviewed and rejected from Batch 15 — for good reason. We were too early. The company was barely a couple months old and wasn’t ready to …


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Jun 7, 2016 On Our Blog

How To Pitch A VC

“Everyone” understands the high-level goals of a pitch: Make yourself memorable, and drive home your product’s value. But working out how to put it all into one, non-boring pitch is another matter altogether — and something we work on extensively as part of the 500 Accelerator. Over the years, we’ve learned that sticking to a step-by-step strategy for pitching VCs is a common struggle for startup founders. Do they introduce themselves before or after their companies? Should they list their most impressive metrics upfront or work them into the pitch? What’s the proper way to end investor conversations? Good pitches follow a rigorous structure for engaging investors and proving a company’s value. Like all good marketing and sales, the startup pitch process starts before …


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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 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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