Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

500 Startups Unveils Start-Up Accelerator Program

500 Startups, the angel fund led by the voluble marketer Dave McClure, is taking the wraps off its start-up accelerator program, which is already hosting 11 participants in Mountain View, Calif., and is focused on helping them with design and distribution.

(“Start-up accelerator” is the trendy iteration of “start-up incubator,” connoting a short-term program where participants gather and have some kind of curriculum, in the model of Y Combinator.)

500 Startups is led by McClure and former YouTube and Google product manager Christine Tsai. The existing class will hold a “demo day” for investors in the first week of April. The accelerator has no formal application process, but accepts new participants through referrals, including those who have already participated in a different start-up accelerator or already have outside investments.

In addition to ongoing events and the support of an extensive mentor network, participating start-ups get $25,000 to $100,000 in exchange for five percent of equity. That’s more money than elsewhere, but not as much as the $150,000 Yuri Milner and SV Angel are now offering to all Y Combinator participants.

Below are descriptions of the first 11 start-ups from 500 Startups’ jokey press release:

○ InternMatch’s mission is to help college students discover amazing internships.
○ Founded by: Andrew Maguire, Nathan Parcells, and Kyle Wilkinson
○ Hails from: Seattle, WA
○ Fun facts: Andrew Maguire spent countless hours during his college years playing speed chess on the streets of NYC, instead of studying for class. Nathan Parcells once spent 3 months on a 50 foot boat sailing to the Arctic Circle with his uncle. When he’s not coding to the break of dawn, Kyle Wilkinson plays guitar in punk band Shoot the Hostage.

○ Baydin’s mission is to facilitate purposeful communication. Right now, we’re building a personal trainer for your email, and let me tell you, Sue Sylvester’s got nothing on The Email Game.
○ Founded by: Alexander Moore, Mike Chin, and Aye Moah
○ Location: We started in Boston. Our team hails from Alabama, Connecticut, and Burma.
○ Fun facts: For the times when there’s no saving it and email gets out of hand, we also make the Drunkerator (, a hackathon project that lets you generate a drinking game for any reason. Take off your thinking hats and put on your drinking hats!

955 Dreams
○ 955 Dream makes magical experiences on mobile devices.
○ Founded by: Kiran Bellubbi and Kyle Oba
○ Location: Mountain View, CA
○ Fun facts: Both Kyle and Kiran have babies. Babies rule. And we have as many dogs in our office as humans. Dogs rule.
○ Video:

○ YongoPal is focused on conversational English education for university students in Asia. Rather than creating a new learning method or providing tools for helping students prepare for specific exams, YongoPal focuses on boosting language competency through peer relationships — matching students of English in Asia with their peers at top-tier American universities for live online conversation practice and cultural exchange.
○ Founded by: Darien Brown, Daron Hall, and Brian Suchland
○ Hails from: Seattle, WA
○ Fun fact: The YongoPal founders, Darien Brown, Daron Hall and Brian Suchland, currently share a two bedroom apartment with two university students from Korea. A no-kimchi-in-the-fridge policy is strictly enforced.

○ Spoondate is a dating website that allows food-loving singles to meet and go on
awesome food dates with like-minded eaters.
○ Founded by: Raissa Nebie and Van Nguyen
○ Hails from: San Francisco. Raissa is from Abidjan, Ivory Coast via New York City. Van is from Delaware
○ Fun facts: Raissa is a banker turned chef and has cooked a meal in over 10 countries across 4 continents. Van won first place at two “game jams” (where nerds build computer games in less than 48 hours).

○ Ninua collects the world’s stories, delivers them across platforms, and connects people around them.
○ Founded by: Waleed Abdulla
○ Hails from: Mountain View, CA
○ Fun fact: Ninua’s main product, NetworkedBlogs, started as a weekend hackathon project to learn how to build an app on the Facebook platform. Its name at the time was “Blogs I Read”.

○ Crowdrally’s mission is to provide social influencers with organic digital
endorsements, so they can get paid without selling out.
○ Founded by: Evan Kuo and Andy Chen
○ Hails from: We are Berkeley and Stanford students born and raised in the heart of silicon valley.
○ Fun fact: Evan has an absolutely terrible sense of direction and once engineered a GPS enabled tactile feedback belt to communicate realtime orientation through a ring of vibrational cellphone motors. Andy previously started an online marketplace for professional chefs to indulge his demanding eating habits.

○ Rewardli lets business owners use leverage their social graph in new and interesting ways. Stay tuned for more.
○ Founded by: George Favvas
○ Hails from: Montreal, Quebec. O Canada!
○ Fun fact: George sealed the deal by recording himself giving his Keynote presentation outside in snowy -10 degree weather. He had calculated that it took about 15 minutes for his fingers to freeze, which was a good incentive to keep his presentation nice and tight.

○ Stay in touch with friends and colleagues. Over lunch. On Wednesdays. For an invite to the beta, email an old friend with whom you’d like to stay in better touch and copy
○ Founded by: Andy Chen
○ Hails from: Silicon Valley
○ Fun fact: The Wednesdays founders were inspired by a Scientific American article which said that lunches and other social support activities are important to staying healthy and happy, and ultimately increase survival by 50%.

[Super Secret Startup]
○ Stew Langille, former VP of marketing at, is starting a new media
company. More to be unveiled soon!

○ SpeakerGram wants to connect people with a story to tell with an audience that
wants to hear them.
○ Founded by: Sam Rosen
○ Hails from: The concrete jungle… New York City!
○ Fun fact: Sam Rosen is an amateur competitive eater. His personal bests include
a medium Papa John’s pizza in 2:24 and 45 BBQ wings in 8 minutes.