Week 1 Post 500 Startups – AKA welcome to our new office

Personal Log Earth Date 22-2-5774

I am going to keep this post short and sweet.

To anyone who was wondering, the blog lives on!

Starting next week we are going to have a new format in which every week a different founder from our batch will give an account of what their company is up to.

On he OLSET front a lot of stuff I can’t talk about happened this week…

The one big thing that I can’t talk about is the move to our new OLSET / BTCJam office is SOMA.

Monday saw much activity moving in and putting furniture together and learning about a lot of hidden skills!

Here is an assortment of pictures of the team showing off their skills ūüôā

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It took a good part of the day on Monday but by the end of it we were OLSET!

We have a great view from the meeting room including a sunset:

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But while the rest of the office is set up and the teams are cranking along:

Bottom floor:

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And top floor (before anyone came in, in the morning):

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The meeting room still needs some work…

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A bunch of our batchmates were featured on Wall Street Cheat Sheet: http://wallstcheatsheet.com/business/8-new-startups-coming-up-from-dave-mcclures-stable.html/?a=viewall

Go: Shortcut, EquityZen, LaunchTrack, AdEspresso, uBiome, RealtyShares, Populr, OLSET and of course Dave McClure from whose stable we apparently come…

Oh, last but not least. Wednesday was a VERY BUSY day and all I had a chance to eat was Taco Bell on the way between meetings. I am sure Christine will be proud!

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Look for a post from one of our batch founders next week.

Gadi

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500 Startups week 17 wrap – 500 S takes over NY (or The weather was angry this week)

Personal Log earth date 15-2-5,774,

I am VERY happy to be back home in San Francisco where the weather is AWESOME!

Looking back, I have no idea how I spent 5+ years in NY before moving to SF 6 years ago. Awesome place, crappy weather.

OK, enough of that. Let’s get down to business.

Our 4 months at 500 Startups are OVER! The week in NY was our last week and we went out with a bang. For all of you who are feeling a pinch reading this line, no worries, this weekly blog will continue with posts from all our batch companies so you will be able to continue sharing in the joy (and pain) which is the life of batch 007 – the best batch ever!!!

I missed a couple of the events at 500 S on Monday as I flew out to NY for a bunch of meetings ahead of demo day but rumor has it that there was a very lightly attended batch meeting.

The week was supposed to be all about our demo day on Thursday but the weather gods had a something else in mind.

When I arrived in NY on Monday evening times square looked like this:

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Very clod but blue skies. This is what it looked like the next morning after the storm hit:

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Yes, this was taken around 8AM. And this is what things looked like a couple hours later when everything started turning to slush…

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At least it warmed up a bit when it was snowing…

As always with snow you also get some beautiful shots like this one of Columbus circle where I had a meeting:

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The week was filled with meetings and festivities leading up to the big day on Thursday. Unfortunately Thursday was the biggest storm so many people did not make it into the city. The demo day format was a good format. A bunch of 1:1 meetings which worked out well. Unfortunately not all the attendees showed up due to the weather.

The venue at Goodwin Procter was great and the view from their 40th floor was very cool:

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The layout where we each had a table and huge screens worked very well:

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And this was a great opportunity to not only meet with partners and investors but also catch up with our batch-mates (Nav from Reality share & Amyn from OLSET enjoying some wine):

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Even the 500 S lady founders came out in force (Maddie from Popbasic, Hana from Bounty Huntr, Christina from PlateJoy & Anjali from Partender) and showed some #500strong girl power:

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Maya, Tim, Max, Christen and the rest of the 500 team did a great job setting this up.

OK, this posting felt strange until now and I just realized why. I can’t publicly post anything about most of what happened this week as we need to make sure we follow all the regulations that we have to follow. Trust me this week was waaaaaay more fascinating than what this post makes it sound…

After the demo day the festivities started. Us “Old Guys” only went to the first couple bars. I had an excuse as I had an 8:30AM meeting with a potential partner on Friday morning and I did want to get some sleep before that.

The Center Bar was pretty cool:

photo 1¬†And a couple min later this happened (aparently Phil fromEquityZen &Christina from Platejoy are now engaged….):

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I can’t wait to see those kids. Tons of secondary equity & healthy food, who needs genetic engineering???

It was great to catch up with Allen Liu one of the awesome 500 S mentors who has been helping us out right before I flew back to San Francisco. Allen even managed to find a little coffee shop called Little Collins which is named after little Collins street in Melbourne and has the same ambiance and coffee. Great memories from a past life:

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Many of our batch-mates stayed in NY for the weekend and reports are coming in via all social media channels about their festivities including some good pictures:

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Well, I guess that’s it for this posting, but as I said above, not to worry the story of batch 007 is just starting and the next chapters will be written here and posted in all the major publications soon!

Off to the next chapter.

Gadi

500 Startups week 16 wrap – Demo Day Goes BOOM!!!!

Personal Log earth date 8-2-5,774,

OK, let’s start by saying that there is absolutely NO WAY to capture the experiences of this week in a blog posting (well, at least not for me…).

Let’s do this in order…

Sunday was a very disappointing Superbowl (not that I care too much who won, it was just not a good game!). But before the game, 500 S’s Mark Seldana hosted a fantastic champagne breakfast.

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This was followed by a superbowl viewing at 500 S. Dave brought the kids who were fascinated by the game!!!

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Monday kicked off with the LAST batch meeting.

The whole 500 S crew was there. We had a very interesting discussion regarding what we can and can’t say at demo day and it got very personal between Dave and Greg…

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After the batch meeting we met with Jennifer McCormick, one of the UX mentors for our last mentor meeting and some great feedback on our UX.

On Tuesday we had a bunch of meetings and some good time to prepare for the big day on Wednesday!

Apparently the morning was cold. When I showed up in the office Daniel from Populr & Gina from WePlann seemed a bit chilly.

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And then it was Demo Day in Mountain View. Great production by the entire 500 S team and awesome presentations by all our batchmates – Go 007!!!

We showed up at Microsoft in MV in the morning to get set up

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Each presenter had their own way to present.

Some like D2 from Anyadir Education stood on stage and recited their presentation

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While others like Maddie from Popbasic just used some uppers ūüôā

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We had good division of labor in the OLSET team. While I was preparing to pitch the team was hard at working getting $hit done!

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And then we were off to the races. Dave got us started but then Christine Tsai took over and put on a show the entire day

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We were in the 2nd group to present and this is what it looks like standing in line waiting to present after Tom from 3Sourcing & Aakash from Shopseen:

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I can’t really talk about all the pitches because there is way to much to say but I can at least share some pictures of all the great presentations at the end of this blog posting. See below.

I will call out the fact that for some reason we didn’t get a picture of Hitesh from SilverPush presenting (I can confirm that he was there) but then I did see him post the following picture so I can only assume he pitched somewhere else at the same time. Now, that is impressive technology!!!

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We got the opportunity to get some great pictures and meet awesome investors, reporters and partners after the pitches.

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We got some amazing press coverage after the event and had a lot of follow up meetings scheduled. Here are a few links to some press where OLSET and many of our batchmates were featured

1. TechCrunch: http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/05/its-almost-like-im-writing-checks/

2. The Next Web: http://thenextweb.com/insider/2014/02/06/10-favorite-companies-500-startups-seventh-accelerator-class-demo-day/

3. Silicon Valley Business Journal:  http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2014/02/06/heres-whos-trending-from-500.html?page=all

There was quite a bit of celebration at 500 after the presentations and we had a Looooong night following up on all the meeting requests. Some of had time toplay FlipCup:

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Thursday was whirlwind of meetings and on Friday we had the batch 007 Goodbye Party (no worries, we are all hanging out in NY next week).

The festivities started with a viewing of the Movie Crocodiles on the Yang-Tse – the Story of Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba. This was set up by Patai from Builk:

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The future tenants of 1 Bluxome apt 418 can be seen here. We hung out with our office-mates to be – BTCJam.

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And many other festivities including Dave showing off his love for More Cowbell:

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Here are pictures of all the presenters at demo day, I’ll let others in the batch add more comments and thoughts!

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One week to go!

Have a great weekend

Gadi

500 Startups week 15 wrap – Irish Twins

Personal Log earth date 1-2-5,774,

Our batch 007 hasn’t even wrapped up and this week batch 008 kicked off up in San Francisco. This is the new 500 Startups strategy. 4 batches a year, 2 in Mountain View and 2 in SF.

So, what did we have this week?

Most of the focus was on prep for next week’s demo day – woo hoo, but as usual at 500 there were a lot more afoot…

But, before the week actually kicked off, many of our batch-mates got together at the BTCJam complex to celebrate a beautiful weekend in the Bay Area with food and much drink.

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Due to the batch 8 kickoff, batch 7 got no love on Monday and this was the first time we did not have a Monday batch meeting. Well, we will really be in trouble if we can’t do without them as we only have 1 left before we leave the nest.

Apparently the 500 S office in the city is not quite ready yet so their kickoff was a bit improvised…

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We were compensated by having Stephanie Palmeri @stephpalmeri from SoftTech VC ran pitch prep on Monday and provided some great feedback to many of the teams.

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On Tuesday we had a bunch of meetings in SF so did not make it down to Mountain View but there were many things going on. We did manage to remotely join the fireside chat with Pierre-Olivier Latour from EverPix:

EverpixPierre shared a lot of valuable information regarding what to do, what not to do and what could be done better based on his experience!

Our team huddled in our shared office @WSGRSoma to view the live stream:

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On Wednesday afternoon there was more pitch prep followed by the formal batch 8 kickoff. Great opportunity to share our knowledge and catch up with founders from past batches and the newbies from batch 8. We heard their initial pitches and while they have a LOT of work ahead of them (wow, did we ever sound that green?), there seem to be some awesome companies in this batch.

20140129_183635 Parker Thompson did a great job corralling a horde of founders and keeping us on track.

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The kickoff was at the very pimped out Pivotal labs office…

Thursday was the Chinese New Year. Goodbye year of the Snake, Hello year of the Horse! The BoutyHunter team celebrated the year with some the customary ping pong game (well, I am quite sure this had nothing to do with the New Years but notice how quickly Hana moves) and great Chinese food.

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1560690_10202849265329644_1221342324_nAnd those of us who couldn’t make it to the dinner went to a Mongolian BBQ to prepare for the nightly pitch prep.

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Great catching up with the EquityZen, PopBasic, Populr, OLSET and WePlann teams over dinner and surprisingly fantastic ice cream.

And then we had the traditional Thursday night pitch prep with Maneesh Arora and James Cham.

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Maneesh and James provided extremely valuable feedback, focused on why our products are better and how we can better convey our messages.

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Massimo from AdEspresso won the prize for best visual deck.

The last pitch prep session was on Friday and we also got the new OLSET shirts:

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The other exciting news for the week is that we found an office in San Francisco that we will be moving into on Feb 17.

2 More weeks to go!

Wish us luck with demo day on Wed!

Have a great weekend.

G

 

 

 

 

 

500 Startups week 14 wrap – Preview day goes Boom!

Personal Log earth date 25-1-5,774,

Now worries, that was a GOOD BOOM!

Wow, things are really heating up as our demo day draws near.

We had a local peek this week with preview day. Preview day is a small demo day where many 500 Startups LPs and mentors come to see our pitches in preparation for demo day. More about that later.

Monday kicked off with an international prep session. Angelika Blendstrup came in to help international founders perfect their accent. Considering the quality of the pitches on Wednesday I would say РGREAT JOB. Rui from Careira Beauty pitching:

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And Hana from BountyHuntr:

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The prep session was followed by the weekly batch meeting. The 500 S team was there in full force:

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Most of the discussion was around the upcoming demo days.

On Tuesday we had a dry run for the Wed preview day. This was a full dress rehearsal (sans the partying later). Celso from BTCJam put on a show:

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And Brian from MailLift shared the importance of sending hand written letters and how customers like Adroll are seeing a great lift in conversion rates using their service.

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This is a good panoramic view of prep day:

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And then it was preview day! Wednesday started with a bang. This is how the office looked at 10AM…

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I was a bit concerned that I am in the wrong place but turned out the teams were just getting in a bit later. Within a few hours we were in full force:

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And then the pitches commenced. MC Christine Tsai did a great job getting us on and off stage with awesome support by Tim Chae and Max F-S.

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Dave McClure helped kick things off and then headed to the back to hang out with Parker and enjoy the fruits of their hard work:

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James Levine sat beside them and enjoyed his hard work as well:

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There were a lot of great pitches and things flowed well. I’ll share more about the actual pitches on the real demo day. We don’t want to ruin anything.

And then there was much drink and celebration.

Tom from 3Sourcing showed up his socks:

 

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and we had great food:

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The teams needed to relax after the pitches by playing cards:

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Then we headed to a bar to chill and Daniel from Populr who worked all night to create an app for accredited investors to show interest in companies showed that he can crash anywhere if needed:

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Apparently there was a loooong night of Kareoke that followed but I missed it.

Teams recuperated on Thursday and on Friday we were right back to pitch prep with VCs from Grelock.

All in all very good week. 1 more full week to go before demo day.

500 Startups week 13 wrap – Things are warming up

Personal Log earth date 18-1-5,774

Things are getting very exciting at 500 S. Next week is our pitch preview day for 500 Startups LPs and mentors.

Pitch prep continued this week and many of the teams are making huge strides and starting to deliver great presentations.

I promised 3 of our mentors who came in a number of times this week and provided a ton of value that I would give them a shout-out. So, James Levine, Rob Neivert and Marvin Liao. Thank you for heckling us and proving that in 2014 the 2 old guys from The Muppet Show (Statler and Waldorf, I looked it up) have turned into the 3 mentors :).

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In all honesty, a huge thank you to Rob, James, Marvin and all the other mentors who provided great feedback and direction. Last shout out to Tim Chae for organizing the pitch prep events.

Now back to the week’s activities.

We missed the weekly batch meeting as we had meetings in SF on Monday. Great view of the Bay Bridge from where we had the meetings.

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Mark Seldana from 500 S posted the travel founder interview he held with Oliver Comargo from WePlann and me about founders focused on travel at 500. You can find the recording here: http://buff.ly/1dOjz28

On Tuesday Patrick Collison from Stripe dropped by and shared much wisdom on starting stripe and all his learnings about hiring, culture, growing the team and focusing on accelerating development. Very insightful and helpful.

This session was followed by a pitch prep session. Antonio from Careira Beauty kicked us off:

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As our time at 500 Startups draws to an end it is time to find a new office for OLSET back in San Francisco. I went office hunting on Wednesday and saw some interesting offices:

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This process continued on Friday and Saturday and we are pretty much down to deciding between the back room of a dental spa and a room above a car wash. Yep, that’s how we roll…

We launched a new version of the OLSET site on Wednesday. You can check it out at http://www.olset.com. We also had a couple great articles posted about our progress in tnooz and skift. You can read more here:

tnooz article: http://www.tnooz.com/article/olset-funding-hotels-anydo-personal-assistant-android-white-label-B2B-travel-startup/

Skift article: http://skift.com/2014/01/16/startup-raises-500000-to-add-smart-hotel-bookings-to-productivity-apps/ 

Thursday kicked off early and this is what 500 S looks like at 8:15AM:

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At noon we had a great founder presentation by Sean Percival. One of the growth mentors at 500 and a former founder himself. Sean talked about the ups and downs of starting and closing a company. Great presentation from the heart! Max Fram-Schwartz did a great job interviewing Sean.

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On Thursday afternoon the Startup2startup group held a networking event at the office. Great opportunity to meet other founders and learn from their experience.

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Imagine my surprise when I showed up in the office at 8AM on Friday and Maddie from Pop Basic and Nick from Populr were already there. Great opportunity to have a quick breakfast with a couple good friends and founders.

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Turns out that Nick pulled an all nighter on Thursday. Well, I guess that if your choice is going back to a studio apartment and snuggle with Daniel and Jared, or stay in the office I know what I would choose ūüôā

Friday afternoon we had both pitch prep and a visit from the TechCrunch team. They were filming a series about accelerators and hopefully caught some of my pitch and will share it):

20140117_140926Arka from Sidelines App was preparing for his pitch and showing off his colors. A little fight broke out with a few 49er fast but no-one was seriously hurt.

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I guess I’ll wrap this week up with GO 9ers!

Wish us luck with the preview pitch day next week!

500 Startups – week 9 Wrap (50% over)

Personal log, earth date 12-7-5,774

Whoa, good to be back in the swing of things for a few more weeks before things quiet down again.

500 did a good job this week setting up presentations and knowledge transfer sessions every day this week.

It was a bit quiet early in the week as teams were getting back from the long weekend. As such we had only a handful of people in the batch meeting (OK, I might have missed it too but I was in the office on a call with an advisor we are trying to get on board for OLSET).

Main takeaway from the batch meeting is that after much deliberation we will have 2 demo days at the end of the batch. One in MountainView and another in NY. Fun times!!!

Wow, what an NFL game Monday night. I am sure Arka Ray from Sidelines app and our local Seahawks fan was very happy!

On Tuesday¬†Mike Greenfield from Circle of Moms dropped by to share his experience on email marketing and the fact that while it is unglamorous and Difficult, it is also very effective. Mike shared how they grew Circle of Moms’ Email Engagement Nearly 10x. Very practical advise and pointers.

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You can find a recording of this presentation here: http://new.livestream.com/500SAcc/events/2594505

On Wednesday Chikodi Chima shared his experience on how to drive Public Relations in Startups and How to build an audience, get press, and stay in the conversation. Chikodi had some very good and practical ideas.

Chikodi Chima

Apparently there was a problem with the recording of this session but when it is available, you will be able to find it here: http://new.livestream.com/500SAcc/events/2596697

On Wednesday afternoon the team from Chewse (500 Startups batch 5) hosted a cookie potluck and invited all local 500 family companies to join. Wow, very “tough” evening of cookies and wine (aka death by chocolate as Tracey from Chewse put it :)). Great to connect with other teams and founders from the 500 S family.

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Thursday kicked off with a great mentor meeting with Matt Tillman, Matt shared a lot of information about the advertising world, how it works and who the players are. Great to see that there are companies similar to OLSET trying to drive deep analytics in the online ads world.

In the afternoon 500’s very own Matt Berman gave a talk about¬†Facebook Ads, how to create them, how to target etc. We are trying to see if we can “hire” Matt and the distribution team for a couple months so they can help us with some B2C marketing efforts. Yet another one of the perks of being at 500.

Matt Berman

 

On Thursday evening Victoria Ransom the founder and CEO of Wldfire which was recently acquired by Google gave a very insightful fireside chat. We were asked not to share insights from the chat as it was very personal. All I’ll say is that I heard there were rumors of wedding proposals during the presentation…

Victoria On Friday the team from Amazon AWS bought us pizza (thank you) and gave a presentation on Scaling to Your First 10M Users led by Todd Varland. We then had 1:1 meetings with Amazon to discuss how we can optimize our instances. It is great to have this free support for AWS. BTW, I mentioned Rewardli (https://500.rewardli.com/offers) in the past and I highly recommend to any startup to take advantage of the offers here. We are essentially hosting for free on AWS for 24 months. Great way to save money.

Looking forward to another fun-filled week next week including the first OLSET investor / mentor / team  meeting on Tuesday.

 

Have a great weekend

Gadi