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

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 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.


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


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…


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.


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


Each presenter had their own way to present.

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


While others like Maddie from Popbasic just used some uppers ūüôā


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!


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


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:


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!!!


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

20140205_164855 Batch

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:


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:


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


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!

1618565_10151988863773717_928187304_n 1607035_10151988905198717_1387116728_n 1604441_10151988901698717_2141958322_n 1601178_10151988881578717_1430857634_n 1559615_10151988865623717_147201712_n 1555363_10151988874798717_1622012689_n 1551694_10151988898233717_955524869_n 1620904_10151988813548717_384915334_n 1622025_10151988872618717_332224056_n 1654331_10151988871718717_878818295_n 1656381_10151988886803717_768966746_n 1689932_10151988897028717_49094240_n 1781935_10151988891553717_525886655_n 1897666_10151988906418717_1395633220_n 1896908_10151988900528717_2043535090_n 1800311_10151988890848717_1130340531_n 1782132_10151988888183717_1040274261_n 1898067_10151988812243717_1731531219_n 1898072_10151988846883717_250219243_n 1901511_10151988844083717_1971654947_n 1510856_10151988885193717_268584580_n 1235219_10151988912898717_1788528223_n 1016412_10151988841513717_1035830561_n 1004974_10151988894393717_255691779_n 923419_10151988842593717_895057983_n 923089_10151988850518717_1988946437_n 75661_10151988908583717_405541578_n

One week to go!

Have a great weekend


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.




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…


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.



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:


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.


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.



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.



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.



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



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:



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.







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:


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 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 :).


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.


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:


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:


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:


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.


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


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.


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.


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

Wish us luck with the preview pitch day 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!


Week 3 Wrap!

Personal Log Earth Date 10-26-5774,

Back in the home office on a Saturday morning.

The bridge looks very different this week.


Rumor has it that it will clear up in a couple hours and we’ll have another beautiful weekend.

I thought week 3 would slow down a bit at 500 but guess what? It didn’t…

So, what did we have this week?

Monday kicked off with the weekly batch meeting. We are still showing up to these. I don’t think that will last much longer. Star of the meeting this week was Greg. If I am not mistaken he was fighting a stomach ache here after trying to talk about general solicitation…

20131021_120912Then there was a strange man limping around the office offering us candy. Strange happenings at 500:

Dave limpingMike Curtis from AirBNB dropped in on Tuesday afternoon and shared some words of wisdom about AirBNB culture & innovation.

20131022_125713Mike had some great pointers. I caught up with him after his presentation. Sounds like a lot of their plans for 2014 are focused on personalization. Very aligned with OLSET’s strategy in the hospitality business. We’ll see if we can do something together. We filed our process, technology and algorithm patents in these areas this week – woohoo!

We had a bunch more mentor meetings this week. Tony Adam provided great insights on SEM, SEO and content marketing. Stephen Wendel gave us good pointers on measurement, peoples’ behavior and traveler engagement and James Levine had good insights into marketing spend & our ability to compete. James also showed us that he can give good advice while getting shot:


OK, I might have meant getting a flu shot…

BTW, I blame Tim Chae for suggesting that we get the flu shots and practically giving me the flu. Not feeling great today.

Unfortunately I missed the LGBT entrepreneurship event with Startout on Wednesday evening because I had to be in SF for meetings but I heard it was a great event. I did get a picture from the event:

LGBTAnyone who was there, feel free to add color!

Thursday was very eventful. It kicked off with a metrics session with Matt Berman. Good focus on what to measure, when to measure and when. Greg shared a lot of information about general solicitation over lunch. I think we all realize that we should not risk it…


We had a very good session with Amir Shevat from Google after lunch. There are some great technology and partnership opportunities for us with Google. It will be interesting to see how this evolves.

The Punchd guys dropped in for a fireside chat in the evening. They were part of batch 1 of 500 Startups and were acquired by Google a couple years ago. They had great insights and pointers on bootstrapping a company and what not to do when you are in M&A discussions ūüôā


The evening wrapped up at Saint Steven’s Green. Dave came out for a drink with us before his world tour. It was good to hang out with Jared from Populr and Ellis from Grata.



I was able to obtain a map of Dave McClure’s upcoming travels. If anyone wants to intercept him on the road. See the map below (click to enlarge & see the route):



Friday kicked off with my breakfast of champions (different angle this time :)):



We met with Felix from Microsoft on Friday. They have some interesting stuff going on but it looks like it will be much harder to partner with them. Too bad…

Week wrapped up with a mentor / founder mingling event and then it was time to head back to San Francisco for the weekend. I took a picture of our office from the parking lot and marked our windows (same window I took the picture above from):



We had a ton of other meetings starting to prepare for the Travel Innovation summit in November. OLSET (www.olset.com) will be one of 10 startups presenting at this event: http://phocuswrightconference.com/innovators

OK, back to work…