Summary:

Dave McClure’s 500 Startups accelerator program will begin accepting applications for the spring class on Thursday, for the first time opening the entire application process to applicants via AngelList. The application process will stay open until March 1.

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Accelerator program 500 Startups plans to announce the official application opening for its spring accelerator program on Thursday. Beginning with this class of startups, the program will accept applications from companies on AngelList rather than through referrals, opening the doors wider to interested founders.

Startups interested in participating in 500 Startups can apply through the program’s AngelList page beginning January 31, 2013. Previously, companies had to get an introduction through the program’s alumni network to apply, although beginning with the most recent class they began experimenting with open applications on AngelList.

“We feel like as more people know about 500 and we try to expand more into other markets, our network is still, compared to the rest of the community, not that big,” said Christine Tsai, 500 Startups partner. The program has always had an international focus and has welcomed founders from outside the United States, so widening the application process even further makes sense. Although Tsai noted that by nature, an open process means plenty more mediocre applications, but the diversity is worth it in the long run.

“That’s just how it is,” she said. “We’re still going to rely a lot on referrals.”

The application process will stay open until March 1, although company applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis. The program’s fall accelerator batch will have its demo days in Mountain View and San Francisco next week.

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