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 🙂

20140217_110328 20140217_110333 20140217_110336 20140217_110346

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:


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

Bottom floor:


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


The meeting room still needs some work…


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!


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



500 Startups week 11 Wrap – Big push before the break

Personal Log earth date 22-12-5,774

Week 11 came and went. Right before we have a couple slow weeks at 500 Startups for the holidays, we had another big week.

The week kicked off with the batch meeting. This week most of the 500 S team was focused on interviewing teams for batch 8, but Parker Thompson was kind enough to run the meeting and others trickled in over time.



Daniel from Populr was VERY excited about the meeting. He might have been caught on tape sleeping during the meeting. In his defense he did apparently pull an all nighter Sunday night.



Ah, the joy of sitting next to me…

On Tuesday,Ben Ling from Khosla Ventures came to 500 and told us about his investment strategy & focus. He shared both hos current focus and his strategy when he was an angel investor. Very good insights for those who are fundraising in the batch.


Ben’s presentation was followed by an afternoon & evening with Sami Inkinen from Trulia. Sami both had a mentor session with us and then a fireside chat in which he shared a lot of insights about company culture, company growth and his experiences on what to do and what not to do. Sorry, fireside chats are not recorded so I can’t share them…



We worked form the city on Wednesday but rumor has it that some of the other teams had great mentor meetings.

On Tuesday we also launched our GA partnership with Any.Do to all their android users. Now whenever an Any.Do user puts a task to book a hotel they can automatically do that via OLSET. Exciting times.

On Thursday Kris Duggan from Badgeville gave a pitch on enterprise sales 101. Great insights for those who do not have B2B sales experience.



And then it was Friday, aka pitch day #2 for the companies that did not pitch last week.

We had a whole gamut of pitches. Some great, some in need of improvement. All, on their way to doing well on demo day.

Jonathan from Launchtrack got us started:



Dave McClure jumped in and provided some joyful feedback



There were a bunch of other pitches, I didn’t take all the pictures but then Pouria from CityBlis played Emily and pitched



We set up the batch with an easy way to book hotels for the NY demo day on OLSET. A coupe teams already booked. Fun times.


Happy Holidays!


500 Startups Batch 007 – Week 5 Wrap!

Personal Log Earth date 11-9-5774

Well, we are 5 weeks into the program and everything continues to accelerate.

Less than 3 months to go until we all get on stage at demo days!!!

So, what happened in 500-land this week?

Monday started off with the batch meeting as usual (good to have some structure). Seems like batch meetings are becoming shorter and shorter as we all become more busy! Yep, we were promised this would happen. Christine Tsai took the lead on the batch meeting this week!


Parker (Thompson) rocked his new hat on Monday 🙂

We started a new tradition on Monday evening. Arka Ray from SidelinesApp was the driver of a peer review meeting in which each founder had the opportunity to bring up challenges we have and get pointers from other founders. We also had the opportunity to share some horror stories. Jonathan Cordeau from LaunchTrack took the cake with a story of how good intentions with partners can get you screwed…. Glad it all worked out in the end.

20131104_173900Look at how civilized we look here. That will change later in the week 🙂

Last but not least, we launched the OLSET partnership with GetGoing on Monday. You can now take advantage of the OLSET algorithms & technology when you book hotels on GetGoing (www.getgoing.com).

Alex Moore, CO-FOUNDER & CEO OF BAYDIN came to visit on Tuesday. He gave a great presentation about The Hockey Stick Myth: The Truth About Growth via Email, SEO, & App Stores. The most important points came up after the camera stopped recording. Alec had some great pointers on real growth vs. forced growth and how to position your growth to investors.

20131105_121052 We got some work done Tuesday afternoon and were able to get the first version of the OLSET integration with our partner Any.Do (www.any.do). Looking forward to launching our beta soon.

On Wednesday Jason Evanish from Greenhorn Connect shared his experience and presented about The nuts and bolts of building a customer driven company. You can see Jason’s presentation (at least the formal parts) here: http://new.livestream.com/500SAcc/customerlove

The nuts and bolts of building a customer driven company

And then it was Thursday! 500’s very own Mark Saldaña shared his marketing wisdom and told us about Uncool” marketing channels that work for startups. Amazing how most of the things we do in startups and drive our success are VERY UNCOOL!!!! They are very rewarding in the end but cool is definitely not part of 95% of what we do. You can see Mark’s presentation here: http://new.livestream.com/500SAcc/UnCoolMarketing


Don’t you feel you are going through the program with us by watching these presentations? As long as you are here, can you do the dishes?

One of the advantages of being at 500 Startups is that you get impromptu visits from great people. Dan Martell from Clarity dropped by in the afternoon and gave an “off the record” talk sharing from his awesome experience. Dan had some great words of wisdom. He gave some great analogies between dating and meeting with investors. Very relevant for all the nerds in our batch :).

Dan Martell

Instead of watching the the Stanford Oregon game on Thursday evening we hung out with James Hong the Co-Founder of HOTorNOT.com. James had great stories about doing things you are passionate about and investing time in your friends!

We started off with this picture:

Hot or not


But decided that James looks better now:


I was introduced to the “Mervins” establishment on Thursday night. It was good to hang out with the guys from EquityZen, Shopseen and we even had a rare visit by George from WishPlz and Scott from the OLSET team! You will never find this hole in the wall unless people tell you exactly where it is hidden in an alley in Mountain View. This was a very informative evening learning about smoking habits from the Camel reps and how to play a new type of chess that we will call “apparatus chess” for lack of a better name. Atish from EquityZen was definitely the Grand Master of this chess…


Pretty clean for a dive bar.

The luxury continued when I crashed at the closest motel to 500 Startups. This is the luxurious ABVI in Mountain View. Nothing but luxury hotels when you are at a startup…


Friday breakfast provided a beautiful view as usual. This time it was a bit more cloudy than usual:



I am pretty sure that the 500 S office has the best view in the Bay Area.

Our friends from PayPal Blueprint were kind enough to host a Fiesta Lunch on Friday!


These sounds like a great program. Unfortunately I don’t think it will work for us.

Allen Liu had some great insights about marketing and growth during our afternoon mentor call. Thanks Allen for talking with us so late on a Friday afternoon from NY!

Friday wrapped up for us with a great meeting with our friend Philippe Cases. Great discussion about metrics and driving / proving success.

We managed to sneak in another release of OLSET before the week ended.

There are also rumors that there was a Birthday celebration for Jay Singh from ViralGains last night but I have not seen more details. I can only guess it was a wild one. Happy birthday Jay.

OK, time to hit the gym and make sure I at least get a short run in…

Looking forward to week 6 and our presentation at the MEF Global Forum on Thursday: http://mefglobalforum.org/

Have a great week