500 Startups week 12 wrap – Pitchslapping!

Personal Log earth date 11-1-5,774

We’re Baaaaaack!

After a couple weeks off for the holidays the activities have resumed at 500 Startups.

The theme of the week watch Pitch Prep. As pitch days approach we are all starting to figure out our pitches, what works, what doesn’t work and what people love and hate.

We had a number of amazing investors and advisers come in this week and critique our pitches. As you will see below they had great feedback. You very quickly learn to focus on a few points:

1. Grab the audience attention in the first 15 seconds or lose them forever.

2. Don’t give them any opportunities to go down rabbit holes. If you bring up anything that distracts them and they start thinking about something else. You lose them forever.

3. Be memorable. There are 30 companies pitching and we all have a great story. How will I be remembered?

4. Focus your pitch on the people who care about you. Very few companies are interesting to all investors. At least 50% (and in many cases 90%) of the investors are not focused on what you do and are not likely to invest in you. Make sure that your pitch captures the attention of the investors who care.

5. Don’t be boring and don’t confuse them!

I am sure there are many other key points but those 5 are a good start. I’ll leave it to others (and future posts) to add more pointers.

So, let’s get to the activities of the week.

As usual Monday kicked off with the batch meeting:



Meeting was a bit sleepy as many teams were not back yet due to the horrible weather all around the country (except California :)).

Most of the discussion was about demo days and the prep we need for them. Dave McClure and Christine Tsai also collected feedback from the batch to see who needs help with making some noise about their team and raising money! The next few weeks will be very interesting. At OLSET we are shooting for an investor marketing blitz this coming week.

Monday afternoon we started with pitch prep. This process will continue every day until the Mountain View demo day on Feb 5. Each company decides when and how many times they want to pitch. Every day we have different mentors (some of them were very kind and came in multiple times) and they provide feedback and direction. Our strategy was to give 3 different pitches, 1 each day, see what people like and don’t like and hone in on the one that works best so I can run with it starting next week. After giving my 3-pitches, I think I am going to try a 4th version next week (yes, they loved the 3 that much :)).

I don’t remember exactly who pitched on what day and which mentors were in on what day but here are some pictures and mentor pointers from Monday through Wednesday.



Patai from Builk got us started.

Marcus Ogawa, James Levine, David Shen, Marvin Liao and a few other mentors were in and shared the love!


Hana from BountyHuntr experimented with a bunch of different versions of her pitch


I don’t recall who the feedback was to (probably best that I don’t remember) but Marcus definitely had the most pointed feedback to one of us saying “I felt like you opened the kimono and showed me all your warts”. Aka, Waaaaaaaay too much info that led me down a bunch of rabbit holes.

Brian from Mailift got the best logo feedback from Angelika Blendstrup, I’ll leave that yo everyone’s imagination.


 We also got to experience pitches from Silverpush:







Atish from EquityZen:



Prof’ D2 from Anyadir Education:



And many others. My apologies to all the pitchers and mentors I did not mention. I’ll catch you next week…

On Wednesday Oliver Comargo from WePlann and I had a travel founder interview with Mark Seldana from 500 Startups. I’ll post a link to the interview next week at it is not online yet.

I wasn’t at 500 S on Thursday as I started looking for offices in San Francisco for our post 500 days but Gina from WePlann posted this picture of Sunset in Mountain View. I think this is Shri from EquityZen but I am not sure:



The 500 startups team had an offsite later in the wek and we received some pictures. Looks like they didn’t suffer too much:



The week wrapped up with a visit by the Japanese minister for innovation at 500. Good to see that Silicon valley is inspiring innovation around the world.



Have a great weekend and let the fun continue!




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