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:



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



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



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:


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:



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):



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:


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….):

photo 2


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:



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.



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 – GREAT JOB. Rui from Careira Beauty pitching:


And Hana from BountyHuntr:



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



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:



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.



This is a good panoramic view of prep day:



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



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:



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.



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:



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



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:




and we had great food:



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



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:



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 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!



500 Startups week 8 Wrap – Turkey week

Personal log, earth date 12-1-5774

Well, we thought it was going to be a short week so not much happening. Turns out there is no such thing at 500 Startups…

Monday morning started bright and early (Amyn and I were in by 8AM and had 500 S to ourselves forabout an hour an hour).

Of course, I had my little breakfast of champions!



Monday at noon we had a sparsely attended batch meeting. Dave was back (for a while) so the meeting was much more entertaining than expected….I’ll stick to calling it “colorful”.



On Tuesday Andrei Marinescu from from the 500 S growth team came to visit from LA and gave a talk about different metrics, calculation, tracking and presenting them. Always good to be reminded of the basics. 



You can see Andrei’s presentation on Slideshare, here: http://www.slideshare.net/500startups/500-s-batch-7-metrics-presentation?from_search=1.

I managed to capture a “conference call” 500 S style on film. Scott & Pouria from CityBlis showing off how you optimize resources. I guess you get very close as startup founders….



We had an amazing sunset Tuesday evening. It looked like the sky in Mountain View was on fire. One can only assume it is due to all the progress our batch-mates are making and lighting it up.


I mentioned in the past that one of the advantages of being at 500 Staruptups is the random visits we get from great people who can share amazing knowledge. On Wednesday Samir Patel of SearchForce fame dropped by and gave up many insights into “Dirty tricks for Adwords & Google Analytics”. A bit scary to see how much there is to learn and how much we don’t know about Google Adwords. I am happy that at OLSET we focus mainly on distribution through our partners 🙂


You can see Samir’s presentation here: http://new.livestream.com/500SAcc/adwords

Wednesday was also the last day to apply for the SF batch of 500 Startups which starts early next year. Waiting for the stats on applciations but needless to say it was in the 4 digits and only 20-30 companies will make it in. Looking forward to having them as part of the family and seeing the new downtown office. 

Wednesday evening was the 500 S Thanksgivnukah potluck.

There was Waaaaaay to much food (and a bit of alcohol too :)). I am proud to report that my latkes were the first to go.



We have some sightings of founders showing off their eating skills. Here’s Hana from Bounty Huntr exploring her Jewish roots.



P.S. Rare sighting of Angela Potter from OLSET in the background…

And Raz from 3Sourcing scaring his food.



That was about it for the 3 days of week 8.

Very much looking forward to the next stretch of 4 weeks lading up to Christmas and New years. A lot of stuff to do in this period. First thing’s first, launching the beta with our partner Any.Do this week.

Have a great week