Since being launched about 18 months ago, 500 Startups has been on a roll: In that time, the Dave McClure-led seed fund and startup accelerator has made more than 250 investments. And it’s looking to expand even further, with the addition of two venture partners and the promotion of two of its existing team members.
500 Startups has promoted team members Paul Singh and Christen O’Brien to partners. Singh has been instrumental in running the team’s accelerator program, and also handles a lot of the fund’s data and metrics. O’Brien, meanwhile, has worked on the business development side of things, including putting together 500 Startups events like Geeks on a Plane, Warm Gun and the upcoming MamaBear conference.
Meanwhile, two new members have joined the team, primarily to focus on international investments. Bedy Yang, who will oversee investments in Brazil and Latin America, and George Kellerman, who will tackle Japan, have joined as venture partners.
500 Startups has always had an interest in international startups, with a number of its investments and Accelerator companies coming from outside the U.S. When I asked 500 Startups Founding Partner and Sith Lord McClure why he had such an international focus, he said, “That’s kind of like asking, ‘Why do we keep robbing banks — because that’s where the money is.’”
He explained that there are only about 300 million English speakers in the U.S. and maybe a billion worldwide. So looking beyond the U.S. border at the broader worldwide opportunity makes sense.
Another focus has been on the 500 Startups Accelerator program. So far, more than 70 companies have been a part of the 12-week program, and McClure & Co. are now on the fourth class. That group, which currently has 27 startups participating, kicked off earlier this week.
This time around, 500 Startups is introducing a new program that will let mentors — the folks who work with its Accelerator participants — to co-invest in those companies. Co-investment isn’t required by mentors, and the startups themselves get to pick which mentors they want to invest. The idea is to get some strategic advisors on board early, when most startups need the help most.
Finally, 500 Startups had this sweet infographic made up to commemorate all the new stuff. Check it out: