I spent most of this week interviewing heaps of startups for our upcoming accelerator batch. It was both exhilarating and exhausting to meet all these companies, many of which had flown hundreds or thousands of miles to interview in person at our office.
500 has come a long way since Batch #000 kicked off in January 2011. This was back when I half-jokingly half-seriously reminisce that we had to beg startups to participate in the accelerator batch. "500 Startups? WTF is that??" These were the days when we had a hard time getting press to cover our Demo Day.
Things have certainly changed since then. However, what I hope never changes about 500 is our humility. For me personally, whenever I asked people during interviews why they wanted to join 500, it was a sincere question. It wasn’t an implied "Why do you think you’re good enough for us?" I was blown away by the answers. One company actually told us that 500 was “legendary” in their hometown back in Michigan. My reaction was, “Really??? We are?? Why!?" To this day, it’s amazing to hear such praise bestowed upon 500. In many cases, my gut reaction is that such praise is undeserved because I feel there are so many things we need to work on. Perhaps that’s just me suffering from Imposter Syndrome.
We work tirelessly to make the 500 Accelerator as awesome as possible with every new batch. We are awesome at some things, and we massively suck at a lot of things. It’s engrained into our culture to be confident enough to take risks, yet remain humble and feel/act like the underdog. It keeps us hungry and IMO makes us more human - especially to our companies.
We’ll be making decisions over the next week, but to any company reading right now who met us in Mountain View this week - thank you for taking the time to travel to the 500 office and meet us. I hope any interaction you had w/ someone from 500 was warm and welcoming, and that regardless of whether you get an offer or not, that the entire experience was a positive one.