Going into 2020, 500 will be entering it’s tenth year of operation. It’s been a crazy journey for us from a small first batch of startups in our Silicon Valley Accelerator to running accelerators across the globe and investing in founders from over 76 countries. While we have undoubtedly matured as a company, we continue to strive to make our Seed Accelerator one of the top programs to support founders and help them build companies at-scale.
Over the past nine years, the venture capital landscape has dramatically changed. What previously defined a “seed” stage is no longer the case, as the average seed investment has gone from $0.5M to $2M. We’ve also seen an ever-expanding set of options for founders when it comes to capital, between venture studios, angel networks, incubators, scout funds, and the list goes on…
Even with the evolution of early-stage investing over the years, there have always been a core set of criteria that we look for in a company:
- A founding team with subject matter expertise and complementary skills
- A large potential market, whether it exists now or is developing in the future
- Signs (even if very early on) of product-market fit
So, why are companies applying to our accelerator years after we first started? Well, in true 500 fashion, we asked our customers directly. We sat down with two-time alumni of our accelerator, Agnes Kozera, Co-Founder of FameBit (Batch 8) and current Co-Founder of Podcorn (Batch 25).
A Fireside Chat with Agnes Kozera and Tim Chae, Managing Partner at 500
What made Agnes and her co-founder, David, want to join the 500 Seed Accelerator initially?
“I initially was attracted to 500’s international credibility and mission for supporting diverse founders across the globe. Both my co-founder and I are Canadian, and at the beginning stages, we had very limited access to resources and capital, and it was difficult for us to find support for our company outside of Canada.
Having the 500 brand behind us gave us the initial credibility, confidence, and resources to help clear a lot of the early roadblocks, which ultimately helped position us for long term success. The program is built to give founders access to resources, actionable advice and an understanding of everything you need to have in place to grow and scale. We would have never gotten to where we did with FameBit if it hadn’t been for 500 initially supporting us.”
So, what made them want to come back a second time?
“The reason I wanted to come back to 500 is for the incredible and trusted founder-friendly community. There is nowhere else I have ever felt more supported and accepted as a founder or had truly trusted confidants to turn to. The culture of 500 is all about community, transparency, honesty, and providing unwavering support to founders. The knowledge base and network continue to be an invaluable resource to us with Podcorn.”
We’ve had a couple of founders join us multiple times in the accelerator program. While some of the more formalized educational parts of the program often overlap between batches, the one-on-one mentorship and community have really proven to be some of the most valuable aspects for the batch members.
What words come to mind when Agnes thinks about the 500 accelerator program?
“Family, community, honesty, transparency, support, founder-friendly, global.”
What does the 500 community mean to our founders?
“To me, the 500 community means being part of a global family of founders, mentors, business partners, and amazing investors. It’s about sharing resources and knowledge across an ever-growing network of people who want to change the world. I’m grateful to be a part of it.”
And we are immensely grateful for founders like Agnes who make the #500family what it is today. With over 5000 founders in our community, we have come to learn over the past nine years that sitting down face-to-face with our founders and working with them on the biggest of their challenges is still one of the most effective ways for us to help our startups grow at-scale.
If you would like to learn more about our Seed Accelerator, check out the full details here.
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