Ever since the launch of the 500 Startups Accelerator a few years ago, Dave McClure and his crew have filled five classes with recruits that have come through his vast referral network — recommended by mentors, advisors, and alumni alike. But that will change this time around, as 500 Startups will now leverage AngelList for all applications after successfully testing out the platform.
For the last round of applications in the fall, 500 Startups Accelerator opened up beyond its typical referral program and allowed anyone to apply via AngelList. That enabled the incubator to hear from a lot more startups that weren’t on its radar. Since 500 Startups is all about diversity and international companies, the new process introduced it to companies from parts of the world where it might not have had a lot of visibility.
According to McClure, the incubator originally set aside about five spots for AngelList applicants, but ended up finding a lot more interesting startups than expected. In total, about 10 startups from AngelList ended up being picked for the current class, and a few more were close calls.
McClure & Co. liked the process so much that they’re using AngeList for all applications this time around. Beginning today, all startups interested in applying for the Spring 2013 Accelerator program can do so at angel.co/500startups. It will be open through March 1, with the folks at 500 Startups, as well as mentors and advisors, reviewing all the startups during that window. Final decisions are expected by March 25.
For its sixth class, the incubator is also expanding beyond some of the usual business segments it focuses on, such as SMB, education, family tech, and consumer commerce startups, and looking at a few interesting new verticals. These include video content and infrastructure, food tech, and international language startups.
The application process begins just as 500 Startups Accelerator is closing the door on its winter 2013 class. That group of startups will be featured in a series of Demo Days that kick off next week in Mountain View, Calif. and San Francisco, before heading out to New York City. We’ll be there to check out all the new startups and will write up our favorites. In the meantime, check out my interview with 500 Startups partners Dave McClure and Christine Tsai above.