500 Startups Batch 19 Demo Day

500 Startups Batch 19

The theme for 500 Startups Batch 19 Demo Day was Valentine’s Day (although it technically was on February 15) and accordingly Founder, Dave McClure, kicked it off dressed as the Queen of Hearts.  Batch 19 had 44 companies participated in two tracks, B2B and Fashion and Beauty.  I’m always impressed with the diversity of 500’s startups.   Almost half of the startups are international and over half the founders are woman and minorities.  I wish I had the time to write about each startup but alas, I only have time to mention my personal favorites.  So in no particular order…

 

Park Evergreen

Check Please

The startup that I would personally invest is Park Evergreen.  They have developed a parking management software that makes it easy to find and pay for parking.  Oddly enough, on my drive to Demo Day, I was listening to a Freakonmics podcast called Parking is Hell which describes the high cost of parking.  It made me think of the times when parking is a challenge and how much I would pay to not have to drive in circles to find parking.  Their platform allows a driver to pay and reserve a parking space.  In my mind, if it solves this problem effectively, it will be a unicorn.

 

o6

I’d Buy That!

O6 makes a little widget that can be mounted on the steering wheel.  In conjunction with their companion app, you can navigate through your iPhone while you’re driving without taking your hands off the steering wheel and it allows you to keep y our eyes on the road.  Interestingly enough, as I was getting a demo of the product, Silicon Valley icon, Tim Draper, was waiting in line behind me wanting to buy one (I don’t  know if actually was interested in investing in them also).

 

claimcompass

Free Money!

ClaimCompass declaration of free money caught my attention.   If your flight gets delayed or cancelled, their platform will automatically check if you are eligible for compensation and if you are; they will make a claim on your behalf.   They can get you compensated up to $650 and take a 25% commission if successful.  I’ve bookmarked their site just in case I have to go to battle with an airline in the future.

 

pawprint

Sign Ruby Up!

PawPrint allows you to move and maintain your pet records on their platform.  If you have a pet, you know what a hassle it is to manage their shot records.  Mental note:  sign Ruby (she’s our dog) up.

 

gymhit

Shameless Plug for the Sacramento Region

This is a shameless plug for Sacramento based startup, GymHit.  GymHit has developed a business management software for the fitness industry.   (I also gave them a warm referral to 500 Startups).

 

sickweather

Clever Use of Social Media Data

Sickweather has developed an innovative method to track the spread of disease using social media.  You can track the spread of illness on a map like a meteorologist tracks weather.  The data they’ve gleamed has outperformed data provided by the CDC.

 

kompyte

That’s Original

This is original idea I haven’t seen before.  Kompyte has developed a platform that allows their users to automatically track and analyze their competitors.    At my last company, we had a full time employee that performed this function.    I can see this platform being extremely useful for any company that actively tracks their competitors.

 

Join Batch 21

How well the Batch 19 companies do remains to be seen, but 500 Startups does have an excellent track record. Producing 3 Unicorn startups (with a 4th possibly on the way), 37 Centaurs (valued $100-999 M), and over 300 Ponies ($10-99 M), you might be wondering how to get into 500 Startups. Well, first you’ve got to apply!

If I piqued your interest in 500 Startups, they are currently looking for applicants for Batch 21. Good candidates should have:

 

  • Balanced Team

 

  • Product Launched

 

  • Traction with Good Metrics

 

If your startup is interested in applying for Batch 21, find the application here.

After applying, be sure to ask your local Startup Grind director for a warm referral!

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

 

500 Startups Co-Founder Dave McClure: Have Fun, Get Sh*t Done

Dave McClure is a Silicon Valley icon that is recognized as one of the region’s super angel investors. Over the years he has advised and managed a number of successful startups which includes 3 unicorns (Twilio, Credit Karma, and Grab) . He’s the co-founder of 500 startups and invested in more than 1500 companies around the world. Three companies  have evaluations over $1 billion with over 300 with a valuation $10-$999 million range. He was recently a guest speaker at Startup Grind Sacramento and offered wisdom that was practical, to the point with a hint of humor.

“As an entrepreneur, you realize that you’re kind of clueless.”

In his humble manner, Dave explained how his path to success was a confusing and gradual process. He laughed about his past mistakes and launched 500 startups as a vehicle to guide entrepreneurs that are still wet behind the ears. It is a personal conviction to compensate for what he perceived was his failure of creating a large scale startup. “Looking back on the last 10-15 years and realizing that I could’ve figured out problems faster, part of it was trying to help people figure it out faster…and make [entrepreneurship] a little more approachable…for geeks.”

While many successful entrepreneurs glorify the ambitious startup lifestyle, McClure understands that it’s not all sunshine and ice cream. His ability to relate with entrepreneurs at any career stage allows him to connect with his audience and keep them grounded in reality. He recalls how difficult it was raising funds for his first startup saying, “We raised $30 million in 2 years and the first $5 million in the first year….It was a bit challenging.That’s a complete understatement, it was a ****ing pain in the ass.” His witty remarks kept the audience laughing and was a reminder that behind all of the clout in the industry, successful entrepreneurs are regular people just like us.

“When making a lot of investments, only a few will work out.”

As the perfected imperfect creatures that humans are, we try to make the best decisions in business, relationships and life in general. However, the truth is that more often than not, investments will fail to deliver as anticipated. “[We] know we’re gonna be wrong…and might not find an outcome that frequently but we hope that 20-30% of those get to a series A or larger investment and 5-10% in total get to $100 million plus sort of outcome…Maybe if we’re smart we can steer in of some of the capital into winners…but it takes about 10 years.” McClure’s calculated approach to business signifies he has well accepted that with investments, slow and steady wins the race.

“We do diversity because it’s a good investment not necessarily of social impact, that might happen and we hope it does but [ultimately] we’re trying to make money.”

McClure recognizes the potential in people from all backgrounds which has resulted in a diverse global network of entrepreneurs. Saying that more than 50% of his founders are non-white and 20-30% are female, his business model is shifting the traditional standard of gender/race dynamics in the workplace. “We actually think that there’s a lot of smart people that don’t have a penis and there’s a lot of smart people that aren’t white and went to Stanford…we just wan’t to make money…we like to say we’re arbitraging racism and sexism for our own economic benefit…” For example, one of his current endeavors has been developing a platform for Black and Latino entrepreneurs. Despite that sounding like a social effort, it’s commercially viable given that these demographics make up 30% of the American market.

Moreover, McClure believes that his foreign outreach into less developed countries will become profitable as well. Places like Pakistan, Nigeria and Indonesia have huge populations with markets that continue to increase their internet usage. By strategically investing a couple million dollars here and there, he hopes to establish a solid foundation for when these markets begin to take off. “If we’re willing to deploy capital in those markets for an extended period of time and learn, we are going to find some things that work. When those things start to work, we would want to have already done a hundred investments, made friends, built our brand, have people on the ground and understood how those markets work.”

“Have fun get sh*t done…When we have fun, other people have fun.”

500 Startups has a reputation for being a fun and festive accelerator.  McClure may be a bit unorthodox in his approach to business but understands the value of hard work and creating a solid product. He feels that no amount of money is worth sacrificing fun and personal sanity. Still, there has to be a balance between fulfillment and progress that his organization instills into the minds of his employees. When asked why do many startups fail, he said it could be for a number of reasons. However, he insisted that the main cause is usually because “they build stuff people don’t want or build it for the wrong customer.” He assures the crowd that in order for any VC or investor to take an entrepreneur seriously, they must have gotten their product out the door and have some type of customer base. He emphasized that although this truth may sound basic, they’d be surprised how many people miss this point.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

Highlights of 500 Startups Demo Day 17

500 Startups Batch 17

500 Startups held their Demo Day for Batch 17 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.  Demo Day serves as the graduation for the Batch 17 class of 42 companies.    I’ve been to many Demo Days at other accelerators and 500 Startups is the most fun and festive.  The theme for Batch 17’s Demo Day was Beauty and the Geek (many of the startups fit in the categories of beauty or B2B).  500 Startups Co-Founder, Christine Tsai, kicked it off by doing a dance dressed up Napoleon Dynamite (these guys know how to party).  Not to be out done, 500 Startups Co-Founder, Dave McClure wore a rainbow colored unicorn wig as he spoke to the crowd. You can view Demo Day in its entirety here.    With that said, I’ve highlighted 8 startups that stood out in my mind in this article.

Startup Best at Catching My Attention

As I parked my car, I was approached by the Fuel Panda team that offered to fill my car up for $1.99 while my car was parked.  How could I say no?  Their model is to offer a subscription service where they will have fuel trucks that will fill up your gas tank while your car is parked at work.

Startup with Coolest Technology

Pair3D had the coolest technology.  They build 3D models of furniture and have an app that allows the user to see what the furniture could look like in their home and office by using augmented reality on their smartphone or tablet.    You can get a better sense of what they do in this video.

Startup with a service that I would buy for my business

There were several B2B startups but the startup that had a service that I would probably buy is InDinero.  InDinero has a service that consists of accounting software supported by book keepers and CPAs.  As I was speaking to them at their demo table, I found that their solution addresses my pain points as a startup.  (I actually asked them to follow up with me).

Startup that has best potential for being a Unicorn

Simless has created a product that replaces SIM cards with software.    Honestly, I don’t know the advantages or disadvantages this offers but there are a lot of cell phones (7 billion plus) out there.  If they can execute and capture some of that market, I can see the potential of Simless becoming a Unicorn (with a valuation of over a billion).

Startup with weirdest product line

I took a double take as COIEO CEO, Jae Rhim Lee, dressed in a black hooded burial suit (made from mushrooms)  describes her company’s green funeral product line.   Definitely weird in my book.   However, with death and taxes being the few certainties in life, they might be on to something.

Startup with the best SWAG

Baby Mori touts itself as the world’s softest baby essentials.  They also had the best SWAG at Demo Day.  I shamelessly snag a gift the last boxed baby blanket (which was indeed very soft) for my newly born nephew.

Startup with best solution for the Bay Area housing Crunch

The biggest display at demo day was from Montainer Homes.  On display in the parking lot was one of the their affordable homes made from recycled storage containers.  They are currently targeting Bay Area home owners that want to add a second house on their property (and rent it out on AirBnB).

Startup with a product that I would buy for my kids

Jewelbots makes a smart programmable bracelet designed for kids between 7 and 14.  It’s something that I see my daughter using and best of all it teaches the basics of programing.  I’m actually eying this for my daughter as a Christmas gift.

How well the Batch 17 companies do remains to be seen.  500 Startups does have an excellent track record; producing 3 Unicorn companies (valuation over 1 B), 37 Centaurs (valuation between $100 – 999 M), and over 300 ponies (valuation between $10 – 99 M).  Coming from such an amazing pedigree, I have to say the future for the Batch 17 companies are bright.

If I piqued your interest in 500 Startups, they are currently looking for applicants for Batch 19.   Good candidates should have:

  • Balanced Team
  • Product Launched
  • Traction with Good Metrics

If your startup is interested in applying for Batch 19, you can do so here.  Good luck!