In 2010, 500 Startups started as a new kind of venture capital firm in Silicon Valley with a contrarian belief that talent can come from anywhere in the world. Back then, very few venture capital firms in the valley were focused on much outside of our collection of cities within the San Francisco Bay area.
”If you look at our early team, our DNA has always been very global with experience growing up abroad or working internationally. So it really comes down to the thing that we always say which is that we always believed from day one that there are brilliant startups all over the world, but opportunity isn’t universal.” – Tim Chae, Managing Partner at 500
As a small fund at the time, we started to grow internationally by starting small. Instead of investing in startups across the world that we had never really met, we started with what seemed most natural to us, which was literally getting on airplanes and meeting the startups and players in the ecosystems face-to-face.
A Look at 2019
After years of getting to know entrepreneurs, governments, and other stakeholders in key regions, the supply of great entrepreneurs only continued to increase and we have doubled down on our support for them. We are really proud of the accomplishments we have been able to make this year:
Over time, we have created thematic funds, ran by the entrepreneurs and experts from the regions who would be able to best understand each international markets’ needs and capabilities so we could continue to support founders everywhere. 500’s thematic funds are seed/Series A funds that focus on a particular region or theme. As of December 2019, 500 is operating 16 thematic funds covering regions including Southeast Asia, MENA, Latin America, and more.
So how do 500’s thematic funds really work?
As our international investment grew, we started to have tens of investments in certain key regions that eventually led to the growth of our thematic funds. These are funds that are led by regional experts who are deeply passionate about the ecosystem and are able to utilize 500 Startups to create scalable solutions in the particular region. One example is the 500 Durians family of funds in Southeast Asia. Headed up by Managing Partner, Khailee Ng, 500 Durians has raised 2 funds and made 190+ regional investments since 2014. Ng, given his entrepreneurial background and his passion for his home country of Malaysia and that region, has established the funds as an incredibly successful hub for founders in Southeast Asia.
We are proud of our bet on founders everywhere. Not only because it is a part of our mission to be bold and inclusive, but because of the incredible ecosystems that we have been able to foster and help grow. So where do we see venture capital growth in the future?
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