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500 Startups Announces First Class Of New Incubator Program

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Six months ago 500 Startups, the angel fund headed by Dave McClure, started investing in dozens of startups — they’re now up to around 90 investments. And today the fund is announcing an incubator program similar in many ways to Y Combinator, TechStars, and the numerous other programs that have popped up to support fledgling tech startups.

As with these other programs, 500 Startups is giving each company some seed funding and access to a roster of mentors, in exchange for a chunk of equity. McClure says that in general these startups are receiving between $25k-100k for 5% of equity, with the median around $50k (this is more than Y Combinator, though 500 Startups doesn’t have the sweet $150k Start Fund deal). The program lasts for 3-6 months depending on how long each company wants to stay, and McClure says they’ll probably run three batches this year, each with its own Demo Day to showcase the startups to investors, the first of which will be in early April.

McClure says there are a few other structural differences: 500 Startups is willing to accept companies who have already raised funding from other investors, and he says it’s “follow-on friendly” in that 500 Startups is willing to participate in funding rounds for companies that have completed other incubator programs.

500 Startups will be charging each company that participates in the program for desk space at $1,000 per founder per month (which they’ll pay for using some of the money they received upon entering the program). Update: this $1,000 is also paying for the program itself and the resources that 500 Startups has on hand to help the startups. The program has one design and one UX expert on staff, and participants will have access to other mentors and design experts as well.

Finally, McClure says that the program is going to have a big emphasis on distribution platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube.

Here’s the list of the first 11 companies to participate in the program and their taglines (that’s one other difference — startups can choose to stay stealthy before Demo Day if they really want to, but they’re encouraged to be more open than in some other programs):

  • InternMatch – “InternMatch’s mission is to help college students discover amazing internships.”
  • Baydin – “Baydin’s mission is to facilitate purposeful communication.” (currently working on email trainer)
  • 955 Dreams – Made nifty History of Jazz app
  • YongoPal – Matches students in Asia who want to learn English from students at top universities in the US
  • Spoondate – Dating for foodies
  • Ninua – Made Networked Blogs
  • Crowdrally – Wants to “provide social influencers with organic digital endorsements, so they can get paid without selling out.”
  • Rewardli – “Rewardli lets business owners use leverage their social graph in new and interesting ways.”
  • Wednesdays – “Stay in touch with friends and colleagues. Over lunch. On Wednesdays.”
  • SpeakerGram – Book speaking engagements
  • Punchd – Loyalty cards on your mobile phone

Here’s a video of the office space:

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