Updated with the complete list of companies
500 Startups, the early-stage firm founded by iconoclastic investor Dave McClure, is getting into the startup incubation business with its new 500 Startups Accelerator.
Incubators, where young companies receive office space, mentorship, and a little bit of funding, seems to be all the rage right now. But the model seems to be a particularly good fit for McClure. Not only did he run the fbFund incubator program for Facebook startups, but he’s also emphasized investing in companies at a much earlier stage and looking for smaller exits.
“We’re out to hit singles and doubles,” McClure told me yesterday. “We’re not trying to hit a home run every time and striking out a lot.”
Hosting and mentoring startups seems like a natural extension of that philosophy. The 500 Startups Accelerator will place an emphasis on design, distribution, and on the “lean startup” methodology. It will include access to the firm’s network of more than 120 mentors. Ten to 15 of those mentors will be “mentors in residence” who work at the incubator’s Mountain View, Calif. office on a weekly basis.
McClure told me that he doesn’t think 500 Startups is necessarily a competitor to other programs like Y Combinator and TechStars, because he isn’t limiting himself to freshly-formed startups. So a company could start out at another incubator, then join the 500 Startups Accelerator afterwards. (There aren’t any YC or TechStars alums in the current batch, but McClure noted that the firm has invested in a number of graduates from both programs.)
Moving forward, McClure predicted that 500 Startups’ investments will probably be split 50-50 between accelerator companies and other seed investments. Companies in the accelerator will receive $25,000 to $100,000 in exchange for 5 percent of their equity, and the firm may follow on with future investments. (For more mature startups that have already raised funding, 500 Startups will just join the funding under the terms set by existing investors, McClure said.)
Here’s the first group of companies:
- InternMatch — helps college students find internships.
- Baydin — offers “a personal trainer for your email.”
- 955 Dreams — says it builds “magical experiences on mobile devices”.
- YongoPal — matches students in Asia and the United States to help the Asian students learn English.
- Spoondate — a dating site for food-loving singles.
- Ninua — “collects the world’s stories, delivers them across platforms, and connects people around them.”
- Crowdrally — helps social influencers get paid for their endorsements.
- Rewardli — says it will help business owners “leverage their social graph in new and interesting ways.”
- Wednesdays — helps colleagues stay in touch through Wednesday lunches.
- A secret startup from Stew Langille, the former vice president of marketing at Mint.com.
- SpeakerGram — connects storytellers with audiences.
- Punched — offers loyalty cards for your cell phone