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10 Tips for Getting into Our Next Accelerator Batch

10 Tips for Getting into Our Next Accelerator Batch | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

We’re currently accepting applications for our next Mountain View Accelerator class. You can apply here.

We’re kicking off our second batch of companies in the shiny new 500 Startups San Francisco accelerator program, otherwise known as 500 Del Norte. We’d like to take this opportunity to tell you a bit about  what we’re looking for and how we select companies.

We started with over thousands of applications for 28 slots. While we’re much more concerned with quality than quantity, if you’re applying to a competitive accelerator you should understand that you will be one of many applications.

Tip 1: Apply Early

We start reviewing applications on a rolling basis as soon as the application window opens. More than half of the applications come in on the last day. If you want us to spend more time on your application, get it in early.

Tip 2: Put effort into your application and give as much detail as possible

 We don’t have the luxury of putting hours into reviewing your application. We need to see something interesting that makes us want to dig in.

We filter these applications with the help of our mentor and founder networks. Our goal is to have at least four people look at every application, ideally with expertise in the space you’re working in. We couldn’t do it without these awesome folks (Thanks 500 mentors!).

We also look extra hard at companies that are referred in by our founders and mentors. A personal recommendation from someone we trust isn’t a guarantee you’ll get an interview, but it’s pretty valuable.

Tip 3: Figure out who you know in the 500 network

Ask them if they would be comfortable recommending your company. If you don’t have this network, consider reaching out to 500 mentors who would understand your business and asking (politely) if they would give you some feedback. Don’t be a creep about it. If they dig your company, you can ask them to give us their thoughts.

Our goal is to narrow the initial applications down to about 100 companies we interview. We do these interviews over 3-4 full days. We split up into teams of two, and each company gets interviewed for 15 minutes. You’ll usually do three interviews.

We do this to avoid groupthink, and to give startups the chance to shine even if one interview doesn’t go well. Interviewers include members of the 500 Investment Team, Distribution Team, other 500 staff, and sometimes 500 mentors.

Tip 4: Come prepared.

You only have 15 minutes. You need to convey who you are, why your business is interesting, and be prepared for us to dig into everything from your unit economics  and customer acquisition strategies to long-term plans and where you met your co-founders.

Tip 4.1: Research the program.

Know what our terms are, know how we work, talk to startups who have gone through the program, and come prepared to tell us what you want from 500. It reflects poorly on you (and is bad business) to consider selling a chunk of your company to someone without understanding deeply what you’re getting in return.

Tip 5: Don’t have a script

Go into the interview with specific questions. We don’t have much time, so remember that your job is to fill in the gaps, not to hammer home what you think is important.

After interviews are complete, we schedule a half-day team meeting to come up with a batch. We start with the companies that we all agree on, either positive or negative, and thi usually gives us the first 10-15 companies. If you have a phenomenal founding team with several exits to your name, a million dollar run rate, 50% month-over-month growth, a beautiful product, and an unsexy-but-giant market – well, you’re almost certainly in. Figuring out the other companies is where the fun (and arguing) begins.

For companies that don’t have all the boxes checked, we look to each other for a champion. We believe groupthink is a big problem in venture capital, so we encourage debate and empower anyone on the team to take a controversial position.

Tip 6: Find a champion

Even if all of us don’t “get” a company, that’s OK. We all have different backgrounds and different interests. Find interviewers who are exciting about what you do, then give them the information they need to be your champion. One ‘hell yes’ usually beats out any other strong negative votes.

After hours of arguing, we end up with a list of 35-40 companies we think are really interesting. We then discuss which companies might be too early.

We believe an accelerator program should help companies refine their strategy, break through concrete bottlenecks in the business, and raise reasonable seed rounds at good valuations once they’re done with the program.

We think a lot about companies getting their money’s (equity’s) worth out of us. If a company is too early to get ready for demo day and achieve their fundraising goals, our accelerator is probably not a good fit.

We try hard to give these companies concrete feedback on what we think they should be working on – then invite them to reapply for our next batch. This isn’t BS. Timing matters with accelerators, and we want you to get the most out of ours.

Tip 7: Tell us what you’ve learned

Markets are Darwinian. The most important skill you can have is the ability to adapt quickly. Tell us what you’ve learned. What were you wrong about? What secrets have your customers told you that give you an unfair advantage? We’re suckers for quick learners.

Tip 8: Tell us how you’ll grow

Startups grow or they die. Where are you customers? How will you reach them? Tell us what you’ve done. Unscalable growth is fine (and reflects hustle), but ultimately we’ll need to see a path scalability. If you’re small you know we can help you grow, that’s really exciting.

Tip 9: Make sure we understand your traction

Traction comes in many forms, with the most obvious being revenue. However, revenue isn’t the only form. This may sound obvious, but we’re looking for people who have executed – not people who will execute some time in the future. Make sure we understand what you’ve done. This is way more important than what you think you can do.

I hope this is helpful. We’re grateful for all the amazing companies we received applications from, and look forward to having some of them in our first San Francisco accelerator. Hopefully this will help you if you choose to apply to our Spring batch in Mountain View. Applications open NOW, so apply here.

Tip 10: Do what’s right for your business.

VCs resonate with simple stories and metrics, so its natural for companies to try to play to the test. But whether you join 500 or not, success comes from being an expert in your business and doing the right thing for it and for your customers. Don’t adapt your business to our needs, but please speak slowly when explaining it. We are VCs after all.



Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://bit.ly/1aKy7km



Via Justin Jones
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Find out what it takes to get accepted in an accelerator. Go prepared.

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Entrepreneurs court new Super-Angel investors

Entrepreneurs court new Super-Angel investors | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

It is no secret that the world of venture capital (VCs) was turned upside down by the recent Recession, and many other changes in the marketplace. I see now emerging a new wave of investors, popularly known as “super-Angels,” micro-VCs, or “super-seed” investors. Every early-stage startup should explore this new funding alternative.

Examples of some leaders in this space include Mike Maples in Silicon Valley and David S. Rose in NYC, who each make up to ten investments a year of up to $250,000. Business Week ran a more thorough analysis of this movement a while back, which I have updated below. I would conclude that the genesis of this trend comes from several forces, including the following:


To read the full article, click on the title.


Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

http://bit.ly/1aKy7km


Angel Investing Formula: this video explains how to find and reach them:

https://growthink.infusionsoft.com/go/fundingformula/gt4045/

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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, September 28, 2013 11:39 AM

Shifts in the investing world are caused by many factors, such as the rise of the  internet, or changes in the financial world and subsequent polarization of financial institutions.

There are many more options nowadays than chasing that 'super-investor' though, check 'Business-Funding-Insider.com' for updates, tools and information. Sign up with our RSS feed for daily news.

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Law Opens Financing of Start-Ups to Crowds

Law Opens Financing of Start-Ups to Crowds | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

Entrepreneurs looking to the crowd to finance their big ideas just got a little extra help from the government.

On Monday, federal legislation goes into effect to allow small start-ups to ask for equity investments publicly without having to register the shares for public trading.

Business owners will now be able to raise up to $1 million a year this way.

The legislation is part of the 2012 “Jumpstart Our Business Start-ups Act,” or JOBS Act, meant to encourage the growth of new businesses. Entrepreneurs say it will address a central problem they face: that raising significant capital often depends on having personal connections to investors. Under prior rules, this had to be done privately until a business was ready to enter the public markets.

“How many entrepreneurs are there across the U.S., even in the Midwest, who have these great ideas but no way to tap into that capital?” said Todd Dipaola, an entrepreneur in Venice, Calif. His start-up, ForeFund Capital, is a would-be platform to let real estate entrepreneurs raise money from potential investors.

But others, including noted tech investors like Fred Wilson and Rick Webb, are less optimistic. They warn that by deregulating the raising of equity investment — at least in part — the legislation has the potential to unleash a cascade of abuses by luring investors to what may be risky and untenable business ventures. And some critics have questioned whether it will even help entrepreneurs, because if a company raises more than $500,000 it will have to produce audited financial records — a significant expense for a young business.

To read the full article, click on the title.


Get your Free Business Plan Template here:


'Crowdfunding formula' a presentation by Growthink's CEO
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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, September 23, 2013 9:36 AM

Different opinions, but new options for Startups. Good article, summarizing the new regulations.


Get some more exposure for your campaign here, with a FREE listing: http://www.business-funding-insider.com/crowdfunding-campaign.html

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Does your digital strategy fit your business plan? | Business Tas blog

Does your digital strategy fit your business plan? | Business Tas blog | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

What do most small-to-medium businesses do when they try something new?

Generally, they fail to set clear objectives for reaching their goals. They fail to plan and as Winston Churchill said “failing to plan is planning to fail”.

As a business owner, you should start by understanding what you are trying to achieve and why. It’s important to ask yourself whether everything you do  moves you closer to your goals. If you are doing something that doesn’t then why do it? There are some things in business we can’t avoid (like bookwork), but it is vital that we think critically about everything we do.

Your digital activity is no different. Every business needs to ask why they are doing this? There must be a reason. A clear objective is essential to the success of the digital strategy.

Before you decide what your digital objectives are, look at your business plan (you do have one, don’t you?). What goals have you set? Are you achieving your current objectives?

Having a business plan reminds you why you are in business and what you are trying to achieve. Without a business plan, you will be playing hit and miss with anything you do, including your digital activity.


To read the full article, click on the title...


Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, August 26, 2013 7:32 PM

"You do have one, don't you?" It's a given, no plan, no direction, no goals, no results.

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Why investors don't respond: the real reasons

Why investors don't respond: the real reasons | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
How to find investors: why investors don't respond to your messages!
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Get your Free Business Plan Template here: http://www.business-funding-insider.com/free-business-plan-template.html

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How Smart Angels Will Leverage Crowdfunding - Forbes

How Smart Angels Will Leverage Crowdfunding - Forbes | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
Equity crowdfunding has a large and growing base of global supporters and advocates.
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Great article with great insights and analysis of where crowdfunding is headed.


Looking for funding? When using equity crowdfunding, you're still going to have to produce a business plan, especially dealing with Angel Investors, every single one of them will want to know what 'the plan' is.


Consider working with a Growthink Business Plan Template, it creates results. This is what Andy Kessler, Founder of Turning Earth (http://turningearthllc.com/), says about it:


"I was able to pick up a template that I could actually figure out how to use, had all the key components in it, and basically just drop in my idea... We, in fact, were able to raise money."


This is where to get full information and order it:

https://growthink.infusionsoft.com/go/businessplan/gt4045/


Get a free Business Plan Template here:

http://www.business-funding-insider.com/free-business-plan-template.html

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6 Questions Every Business Plan Should Answer

6 Questions Every Business Plan Should Answer | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
What investors, mentors and advisers look for in business plans.
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

www.Business-Funder-Insider.com provides information and articles to improve your business presentations.


Get your free Business Plan Template here: http://www.business-funding-insider.com/free-business-plan-template.html


or check our 'Growthink's Business Plan Template Review'
Can you write your business plan in 8 hrs or less? http://www.business-funding-insider.com/business-plan-template.html

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Driving Revenue w/ Social, Content, Marketing Automation

Slides of the talk Jason Miller gave at the Scoop.it #leancontent meetup on Sept. 25, 2013. 



Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

http://bit.ly/1aKy7km



Via Ally Greer
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Great presentation.

How about using strategies like this to find funding? Creativity impresses investors.

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Neil Ferree's curator insight, October 3, 2013 10:23 AM

Content Marketing Automation and 10 Techniques You Should Know

theclairbyrd's curator insight, October 10, 2013 4:21 PM

We recently hosted our event series, #leancontent, with a guest from LinkedIn. His presentation focuses on driving revenue using smart content and optimized distribution steams. Check it out!

AlGonzalezinfo's curator insight, October 31, 2013 2:56 PM

Fantastic resource here.  The whole presentation is relevant but the Early Stage to Middle Stage to Late Stage is priceless!

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5 Reasons To Forget About Venture Capital Funding

5 Reasons To Forget About Venture Capital Funding | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

In the startup world, venture capital funding from a big firm has become the Holy Grail. But, of course, there are other ways to launch a successful business. Bootstrapping, borrowing money from friends and family, using funds from an existing business or leveraging personal assets are all certainly options.

Below are five reasons you may want to seek another way to start your business without big VC money.

Very Few Companies Receive Venture Capital Funding

Believe it or not, for all the talk, venture capital funding is actually a rare thing. In fact, Forbes.com reports that currently VCs fund only about one to two startups out of every 100 business plans they see. And only about 300 of the 600,000 businesses started in the U.S. every year receive venture capital. Simply put, 99.5% of entrepreneurs will not get VC funding, at least not at the startup level.

So, if venture capital funding is so rare, isn’t it practical to seek an alternative for your business? Here are five reasons venture capital funding may not be right for your business.

Your Idea May Not Be Big Enough

You’ve heard how successful small businesses or startups should look to small niche markets. However, VC investors are generally looking for an idea that can pay off in the billions. Venture capitalists are in the business of making money, of course. But just how much money may surprise you.

Even medium-sized VCs will look only at businesses targeting a market in the $1 billion range, says Mark Peter Davis, founder of Interplay Ventures and a venture partner at High Peaks Venture Partners. Larger VCs will want businesses with a potential $5 to $10 billion market. Unless you’re launching a startup with this kind of potential, venture capital funding probably isn’t for you.

To read the full article, click on the title.


Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

http://bit.ly/1aKy7km

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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, September 26, 2013 7:26 PM

This article is very real. Don't hope for VC funding. If you have the 'Big' idea, don't go chase them. Eventually they may chase you, but yes, it only happens to very few. Look for some real solutions. Angel investing, with an investor or group if investors who are committed to your success. Or find other funding solutions. Keeping control of your company is much more important than selling it out to a group of money managers.

My best advice is to work with a company like Growthink. They will help you find the best funding solution. They will help you build a great company, and then they will help you exit the right way.

How can you learn more about them? Sign up, for free, with their daily emails, you'll find out where quality comes in. https://growthink.infusionsoft.com/go/gye/gt4045/

At Business Funding Insider we have aligned ourselves with them, great company. They are providing exactly what most startups need. They have individual products that serve your needs, or you can become part of their inner circle, have access to all of their information, and grow with them. If you have a little time, view this video, with Dave Lavinsky. He helped so many entrepreneurs, not just to get funded (over $ 2 Billion), but much more than that. https://growthink.infusionsoft.com/go/gic/gt4045/


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Business Plan 101: Why You Need One, What's In It

Business Plan 101:  Why You Need One, What's In It | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

To start, or not to start, that's the question you've been pondering for some time. Maybe you're taking a leap from law firm or government practice to start your own, maybe you're a new graduate, maybe you've already started your...own firm.

Wherever you are in the decision process -- even if you've already started -- consider writing a business plan, because you are after all, starting a business.

Why You Need a Business Plan

A business plan is your road map; it allows you to set goals and form strategies. If you take the process seriously and do some soul searching, you may find that what you actually want, is different from what you thought you wanted. Well-written business plans can also be used as a sales tool whether you're trying to get financing, bring on a partner, or get bought out by a larger firm.

What Goes In a Business Plan

A good business plan will answer all the W (and one H) questions ..

To read the full article, click on the title...



Get your Free Business Plan Template here:

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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, September 10, 2013 12:02 PM

Great questions from a 'legal professionals' blog.

Rachelle Howard's curator insight, September 13, 2013 9:27 PM

Useful for social enterprise; which are businesses for social gain - also good for collating your thoughts within an organisation 

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Three Professors Share Crowdfunding Research--Tune In To Learn How To ... - Forbes

Three Professors Share Crowdfunding Research--Tune In To Learn How To ... - Forbes | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

Three Professors Share Crowdfunding Research--Tune In To Learn How To ...


Via Therese Torris
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

This is excellent, if you consider a crowdfunding campaign for your startup, a must read.



Start your business with a Free Business Plan Template:http://www.business-funding-insider.com/free-business-plan-template.html

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Therese Torris's curator insight, June 4, 2013 3:23 AM
3 insights about successful campaigns
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12 of the Hardest Questions Venture Capitalists Will Ask You - AlleyWatch

12 of the Hardest Questions Venture Capitalists Will Ask You - AlleyWatch | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

Fundraising?  Make sure you know how to answer some of the toughest questions VCs will throw at you..
 




Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Pick up your 'Free Businesss Plan Template' here:

 https://growthink.infusionsoft.com/go/freebptemplate/gt4045/

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JOBS Act green light unlikely until fall

JOBS Act green light unlikely until fall | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
Signed into law in April of 2012, the JOBS Act has created much buzz within the start-up industry. The act lays out provisions meant to help businesses raise money directly through ordinary investo...


On the SEC's timing, and the aspect of FRAUD in Crowdfunding!

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Excellent information!


New to Crowdfunding:? Here is an article with some of the basics: http://www.business-funding-insider.com/crowdfunding.html

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Real Business - Crowdfunding: what it's really all about

Real Business - Crowdfunding: what it's really all about | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
Crowdfunding has the potential to become a valuable source of business funding. Can the model break into mainstream finance?
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Some interesting comments in this article. Making it real!


Basics for Crowdfunding: http://www.business-funding-insider.com/crowdfunding-startups.html

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