Our Investment Framework Post-COVID-19


This post is by Tony Wang from 500 Startups

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has affected nearly every industry globally. Supply chains have been disrupted, businesses have had to close or operate at limited capacity for months, and even founders have had to expand their fundraising timeframes as we saw in our 2020 Female Founders Data Report.  As a VC firm, we’ve had to adapt many aspects of our business as well. From taking all aspects of our accelerators digital (including our Demo Day) to rethinking the opportunities of the future, we’ve taken this moment to analyze what innovations can come from this time and new opportunities that arise from our changing environment.  As society begins the delicate phase of re-opening, we have also given much thought to how …

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Black Lives Matter


This post is by Christine Tsai from 500 Startups

We are grieving the tragic murder of George Floyd in Minnesota.  Mr.Floyd is one of many Black Americans who have been senselessly killed. Ahmaud Arbery. Eric Garner. Tamir Rice. Breonna Taylor. These are just a few of the names and precious lives lost.  For the privileged, the killings are shocking events. For the Black community, last week’s tragedy was yet another example of long-standing, systemic racism and injustice they encounter on a regular basis. 500 stands steadfast with our Black colleagues, founders, families and community.    #BlackLivesMatter 

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Launch Your Business in Georgia (The Country, not the State)


This post is by Janelle Apaydin from 500 Startups

The following post is written by Nato Chakvetadze, Program Associate for 500Georgia. Gavin: Here everything is so expensive. Look at the numbers. If we move to Georgia, we can save a fortune and get a further investment. It’s the only way. Denpok: Well, I have heard good things about the food scene in the Dirty South. Hoover: Stankonia. Freaknik. Might be nice to be around more people of color. Gavin: What? Not Atlanta. Tbilisi. The country of Georgia, not the state. -Silicon Valley (Season 6, Episode 2) Yes, you heard it right – this is an article about Georgia, the country, not the state.  500 Startups recently launched 500Georgia, the first international accelerator in the country, in partnership with two …

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Taking our Flagship Accelerator Virtual-First


This post is by Aaron Blumenthal from 500 Startups

There is not a single business that is not affected in some form or another from COVID-19, and 500 Startups is no different. When news broke of COVID-19 entering in the US, we were one of the first major accelerators to turn the Demo Day experience completely virtual, and since then, we have focused on collecting data from investors and founders to help the community at-large through reports like our COVID-19 Investor Survey and Female Founders Survey.  We’ve also seen our portfolio companies step up to the challenge with everything from helping frontline workers to bettering remote work for thousands. Our founders continue to inspire us, and in the true nature of putting their safety and wellbeing first, we are …

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5 Tips for Pitching VCs in Virtual Times


This post is by Guest Author from 500 Startups

Guest Post: The following post is a sponsored guest post by JD Weinstein, Oracle for Startups. All views and opinions represented in this post are the views and opinions of Oracle for Startups and do not represent those of 500 Startups or any of its staff or affiliates. What do Airbnb, Uber, Slack, Pinterest, WhatsApp, Square, and Venmo have in common? These highly successful technology startups were all founded during the Great Recession in 2008-2010. Entrepreneurs and small businesses are once again fighting through difficult times to both survive and transform the world.  There is no doubt that venture funding has begun to slow. The silver lining here is that transformative startups will persevere. As the world continues to turn, …

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Look Outside of Silicon Valley to See How Founders Can Be Successful Post-COVID-19


This post is by Vijay Rajendran from 500 Startups

500 Startups kicked off a new series called Innovation Coffee Breaks. Experts from leading companies, venture capital firms and startups join us every week to discuss how to innovate during this time of uncertainty.  We caught up with Alex Lazarow, the investment director of Cathay Innovation, a global fund affiliated with Cathay Capital. Lazarow also teaches entrepreneurship at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies and is out with a new book called “Out-Innovate: How Global Entrepreneurs from Delhi to Detroit are Rewriting the Rules of Silicon Valley.”  He believes that the best entrepreneurs in Chicago, Amsterdam or Bangalore have more in common with the best entrepreneurs in São Paulo than they do with those in San Francisco, but no one …

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Why Investing in Female Founders Matters Now More Than Ever


This post is by Christine Tsai from 500 Startups

Long before diversity and inclusion became buzzwords, we decided to make venture capital inclusive from day one at 500 Startups. They became our guiding principles, because we know that great talent exists in all forms, no matter your gender, race, nationality, age, or background. Since 2010, we have expressed our commitment to those values in multiple ways. 500 actively invested in founders who were diverse or were building for diverse customers; we shunned manels by making sure to feature female speakers at our events, so that it wasn’t predominantly men doing the talking.  This extended to policies 500 implemented. We offer 12 weeks of fully paid leave for all parents in the U.S., which, sadly, puts us in the minority …

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Venture capitalists chat edtech’s new normal after COVID-19 


This post is by Natasha Mascarenhas from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

There’s no doubt that the coronavirus has had a monumental impact on the way we view technology’s relationship with education. For now, students are learning from home. But what happens when they return to school?

Picking up where we left off in last week’s survey, we asked top investors in the space for their predictions on what is ahead once life resumes to its new normal. One investor mentioned how in March, they spent a third of their time in edtech. Now, they’re spending almost all their time vetting startups there. Another said that the sector has always been underfunded. Time will tell if venture capitalists become more bullish on the sector, and more importantly, if adoption from schools with strict budgets becomes more lenient.

A harsh statistic sums the dynamic of adoption and investment pretty well: according to Tetyana Astashkina and Jean Hammond of Learn Launch, less than 5% of the $1.6 trillion spent on education in the U.S. is attributed to edtech. Let’s see if other investors think that percentage will shift forward after the pandemic ceases.

Their responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Understanding Omni-Channel Opportunities with Square at Founders Day


This post is by Guest Author from 500 Startups

Guest Post: The following post is a sponsored guest post by Square, Inc. All views and opinions represented in this post are the views and opinions of Square, Inc. and do not represent those of 500 Startups or any of its staff or affiliates. For many startups in the 500 portfolio, understanding how they can make the easiest, most seamless transactions possible is a top priority. They don’t want to have to worry about their customer not being able to find an easy way to complete a sale due to credit card processing issues. Instead of just introducing them to some of the top credit card point-of-sale companies, we wanted to bring together both parties for a conversation around what’s …

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How We Created our Digital Demo Day Experience


This post is by Natalie Riso from 500 Startups

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the entire startup ecosystem, and in the name of safety and support of our founders, we hosted our first-ever Digital Demo Day last week. This was a whole new take on demo day for us, and the end result was a unique and inspiring experience for both our startups and investor community. Making the switch to an online demo day was no easy task. However, as concerns grew over our international founders needing to return to their home countries and not being able to attend Demo Day in-person, we made the decision early on to have all of the startups pre-record their presentations remotely. To help them with this process, we created a Zoom Guide …

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Founder worries increase as investors pump the brakes


This post is by Alex Wilhelm from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Hello and welcome back to our regular morning look at private companies, public markets and the gray space in between.

So far, 2020 has proven to be a year of surprises and disappointments. Over the past month, we’ve seen companies like Toast go from raising huge new rounds this year at heightened valuations to layoffs in mere months. TripActions is another example. Indeed, BounceX went from a rebrand and an announcement that it had reached $100 million ARR earlier this year to layoffs as well.

TechCrunch has been talking to VCs, founders and all sorts of folks to figure out what they are seeing in the market as we race to learn more about venture and startups in the COVID-19 era. To further that goal, this morning we’re going to run a survey of surveys, looking at sentiment and performance data collected by valuation shop Preferred Return, NFX, a venture firm, and 500 Startups, a startup accelerator and investing group.

As a bit of a spoiler, there aren’t too many smiles ahead. But march forward we must.

Rewinding the clock

How Startups Can Navigate the Change in Investment Climate Due to COVID-19


This post is by Tim Chae from 500 Startups

With the rise in regulations and restrictions surrounding COVID-19, we’ve entered unprecedented times on a global scale. On our end, we hosted our first-ever Digital Demo Day to ensure the safety and protection of our team and founders. Using YouTube Live and recorded presentations, as well as an investor-founder Slack channel, we found success in this new format. We registered over 5K unique views during the Demo Day live stream, and over 1,300 investors joined the Slack channel to chat with our founders. If you missed the event, watch it here. The challenge remains, however, of navigating the current investment climate, and we want to help our founders as much as possible in this unknown landscape. To do so, we …

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5 Ways Startups Can Make it Through Periods of Uncertainty


This post is by Guest Author from 500 Startups

Guest Post: The following post is a sponsored guest post by Nik Adhia, Senior Director of Global Operations, Oracle for Startups. All views and opinions represented in this post are the views and opinions of Oracle for Startups and do not represent those of 500 Startups or any of its staff or affiliates. Founders and employees alike have been on edge given uncertain economic conditions, so let’s just get right into a few ways startups can think about running leaner.   Distinguish between needs and “nice-to-haves” At times of challenge, it is important to examine activities and decide which are critical in the current moment. It is important for startups to operate lean in general, as it may not be easy …

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How the 500 Startups Community Is Helping Those Affected By COVID-19


This post is by Christine Tsai from 500 Startups

We at 500 are focused on helping the global community during these unsettling and unprecedented times. We are hosting roundtables and webinars with our partners and founders to address relevant topics, including the state of financing with our portfolio, and tips on how to manage a team remotely. Our goal is to offer resources to our founders, fellow investors, and the greater tech community.  Many of our global portfolio companies are also dedicating resources and time to be part of the solution to the COVID-19 crisis. These companies are addressing urgently important solutions like helping healthcare workers on the front lines, increasing awareness of preventative measures, and alleviating some of the financial burden on some of the hardest-hit industries.  Helping …

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TechCrunch’s favorite companies from 500 Startups’ latest demo day


This post is by Natasha Mascarenhas from Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Today 500 Startups hosted a virtual demo day for its 26th batch of startups, a group of companies that TechCrunch covered back in February.

500 is not the only accelerator that moved its traditional investor pitch event online; Y Combinator made a similar move after efforts to flatten the spread of COVID-19 required changes that made its traditional demo day setup temporarily impossible.

In addition to hosting a few dozen startup pitches today, 500 also explained changes to its own format and provided notes on the current state of the venture market.

Regarding how 500 Startups is shaking up how it handles its accelerator, the group intends to pivot to a rolling-admissions setup that will give participants more flexibility; the group will still hold two demo days each year — TechCrunch has more on the changes here.

Regarding the venture market, 500 Startups said venture capital’s investment pace could slow for several months. This seems likely, given how the economy has taken body blows in recent weeks as huge swaths of the world’s economy shut down. What advice did 500 have in the face of the new world? What you’d expect: startups should cut burn and focus on customers.

Got all that? OK, let’s talk about our favorite companies from the current 500 cohort.

Our faves

Why the Accelerator Model is Broken—and how 500 Startups is Fixing it


This post is by Aaron Blumenthal from 500 Startups

No one would’ve envisioned me as a venture capitalist. I was raised in rural Wyoming, far from the high stakes and deep pockets of Wall Street and Silicon Valley. But from a young age, going against the grain was in my DNA. It’s what led me to San Francisco, and, ultimately, what drew me to 500 Startups. When I moved to San Francisco in 2012, I was working on my fourth startup and looking to join an accelerator. 500 immediately stood out to me, not only for their reputation as one of the top accelerators in Silicon Valley, but also because they seemed to be one of the few VCs at the time that recognized that true entrepreneurship was blind …

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Welcoming New Partner and Global Digital Transformation Expert Flavio Dias as We Step Up Our Presence in Brazil


This post is by Bedy Yang from 500 Startups

I first met Flavio in 2013, when he co-invested alongside 500 Startups in Olist, one of Brazil’s largest online marketplaces–which recently raised a Series C round. Olist’s founder was in our San Francisco accelerator program, and in his next round of funding turned to Flavio, who was then president of Walmart.com in Brazil. He became instrumental in building Olist’s name.  Flavio already had a solid reputation as an e-commerce pioneer and operator in the country. For nearly two decades, he helped multiple companies, including multinationals, launch their online operations in Brazil. After a successful experience at Philips, Magazine Luiza, one of Brazil’s biggest retailers, hired him to re-launch its website and improve the user experience as head of e-commerce. Those …

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Tools and Tips for Working Remotely From 500 & GitLab


This post is by Natalie Riso from 500 Startups

On March 16th, 500 had the opportunity to lead a chat with Darren Murph, the Head of Working Remote at GitLab. Due to the novel COVID-19 virus, many companies are adapting their workforces to be partially, if not completely, remote. GitLab is currently one of the largest all-remote companies with the world, and we love just how transparent they have been regarding best practices and company policies. Here’s what they had to say to 500 portfolio companies looking for some advice in these rather unusual times. Tips From GitLab’s Head of Remote The biggest question when working remotely is how to hire and onboard someone new. What you should look for in an interviewee: Look for someone who is a …

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Ones to Watch in Esports


This post is by Emily King from 500 Startups

Esports continues to be a leader in advancing media technology, yet the gaming community continues to struggle in creating a singular hub for viewers to check out all their favorite games and for there to be a singular hub for gaming education. With the market as large as ever and continuing to grow, Batch 26 companies Gamerzclass and Juked are working towards creating the next big hubs in esports.  Giving You The Coach You Always Wanted – Gamerzclass Professional esports players know how challenging and competitive teams can get, from local club teams to college to the professional level. Compared to more traditional sports like football or baseball, esports does not have the same kind of established coaching and educational …

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Using Design Strategy to Unlock Growth


This post is by Guest Author from 500 Startups

Guest Post: The following post is a sponsored guest post by Noteh Strauss. All views and opinions represented in this post are the views and opinions of Strauss and do not represent those of 500 Startups or any of its staff or affiliates. As a designer with my own agency and a mentor to dozens of Silicon Valley startups, I’ve come across my fair share of design challenges. Though every client or startup I advise is different, I’ve spotted some patterns of design issues that founders seem to miss. Despite the fact that my design career began with a personal interest in design and aesthetics in Kazakhstan, most of my work was centered around North American companies with North American …

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