The Global VC

500 Startups Announces First Distro Dojo Growth Program based in London

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500 Global Team

500 Global Team






500 Startups is well chuffed to announce the launch of our new Distro Dojo to help post-seed companies in Europe scale growth and close their next round of funding.

Using capital from the previously-announced Distro Fund, 500 startups plans to invest in 20 European companies over the next year at cheque sizes of between £100,000 to £200,000.

 In addition to receiving funding, companies will participate in a three-month program focused on customer acquisition. The first month will be in-residence at the new WeWork building in Moorgate, and program tuition is approximately £30,000 (paid from a portion of the investment).

 WTF is a Dojo?


Originating back in samurai days, a dojo was a training school where serious students went to study the martial arts under master sensei.

The 500 Startups London Distro Dojo is likewise led by a team of growth marketing sensei who’ve mastered user acquisition, conversion optimization, content marketing, UX, emerging channels, and MOAR — who work hands-on with Distro Dojo companies to kick ass and take names (and user emails).  

“The bar for raising a VC round is higher than ever before. Smart founders today know they need to scale to million-dollar revenue run-rates to raise a Series A — Distro Dojo is how to get there. Our goal is to help founders triple-down on their growth, then get visibility with top institutional investors.” said Dave McClure, Co-Founder and Head Geezer of 500 Startups.

Why Distro in London?

500 Startups has done ~20 investments in UK startups including Brainient, Geckoboard, Skimlinks, and Moonfruit (acquired by Yell Group in 2012).

In addition to being the most active seed investor in the world, 500 Startups is known for DISTRO, a ‘special forces’ team that helps high-potential companies reach the next level through growth marketing investments and hands-on advising.


“From my experience with local founders and investors, London has a thriving early-stage ecosystem, but many great startups still need help scaling growth and building growth teams as they look to raise their A-rounds. For us that’s a perfect match, because Distro is what really sets 500 apart from other VCs” said Matt Lerner, Distro Partner and head of the new London office.

Lerner, who recently left PayPal to join 500 Startups, will lead the Distro Dojo. Originally hired into PayPal by Dave McClure a decade ago, Lerner built and managed a series of growth teams that generated over two hundred million dollars in additional revenue for PayPal in the US and UK. Most recently he was head of SMB for PayPal UK. Lerner is a member of 500 Startups in-house Distro team, a set of growth marketing experts who partner with portfolio companies to help them build growth engines and scale. Previously, as a 500 Startups Mentor, Lerner helped over 40 companies develop and execute growth strategies.


And according to Emi Gal, founder of UK-based Brainient, “The 500startups team and network of mentors have been tremendously helpful and supportive, ever since Dave was the first investor to commit to our seed round back in 2010. I’m a bloody huge fan.”


Alicia Navarro, founder of Skimlinks, said “500 startups is one of the few funds who are openly welcoming of for minorities, women, and non-US investments, and has had great success identifying gems with that strategy. I’m delighted they are expanding to Europe to bring their vision and exuberance to the startup community here.”


Priya Guha, British Consul General in San Francisco said “I am delighted that 500 Startups are setting up their first European presence in London. Based in San Francisco, I see first-hand the key role 500 Startups plays in investing and scaling early-stage technology companies in the US. The British Government, and in particular UK Trade & Investment, are thrilled to welcome 500 Start-Ups to the UK’s thriving technology ecosystem.”

According to one unidentified, but possibly British, founder, “I was gobsmacked when I heard the Dojo news. The 500 team are cracking chaps, the mutt’s nuts. Growth is their cup of tea, and I’d be gutted if they didn’t come to London. They make growth easy peasy, before we started working with them, our KPIs were the square root of bugger all. Now that they’re on the job we’re sorted. Bob’s your uncle.

The first Dojo will begin September 1, 2015 at the new WeWork office in Moorgate. At the moment, 500 Startups is not planning to accept applications. Instead, post-seed companies with demonstrable product-market-fit and measurable traction will be identified through recommendations and introductions from our network of 3,000 founders and mentors worldwide.

 Like all good Mafiosos, our goal is singular and complete world domination. Therefore, look for other Dojos to be announced in other geographies in the near future.


500 DISTRO is 500 Startups’ in-house team of growth marketing experts. 500 Distro helps companies scale growth and close their next round of funding via the 500 Accelerator, a $10M DistroFund, and, now Distro Dojo.

Read the DISTRO Case Studies

GrabTaxi’s Growth Hacks — 7 Lessons on Marketplace Growth from Southeast Asia’s Biggest (and Friendliest) Startup

Growth in Asia: How Shopline Acquired 6X Users in 9 weeks

Things That Don’t Scale: Boatbound Shares 4 Surprising Ways to Turn Random Strangers into (Paying) Fans

Growth Never Sleeps: Life & Distribution After the 500 Accelerator, with Shippo  

More coverage via TechCrunch

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500 Global Team

500 Global Team