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 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 🙂

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!