500 Startups continues to grow at a frantic pace, both in the number of folks it has on staff to make investments, as well as the number of companies that it’s written out checks to. Today, the seed-stage investment firm and accelerator is making announcements on both fronts, as it’s brought on two new venture partners and announced the 28 companies that will participate in its eighth 500 Startups Accelerator class.
First, on the staffing side: The firm has hired Sean Percival and Marvin Liao as its newest venture partners. While 500 Startups traditionally has hired aggressively to build out its network of investors in specific markets around the world, both of these new investors will be based in Silicon Valley. And both bring some experience in helping companies find growth and distribution.
Percival is probably best known as the co-founder of lalawag and Wittlebee, but he had also once-upon-a-time served as VP of Online Marketing at Myspace. As an adviser at Bitcoin wallet and block explorer BlockChain and founder of Bitcoin news site BubbleCoin, it should probably not come as a surprise that he will be focused on making investments around everyone’s favorite crypto-currency. He’ll also be heading up 500′s half-day “Bitcoinference” on the topic in March.
Liao, meanwhile, spent more than a decade at Yahoo, where he has held roles in sales, business development, ad operations and marketing. Much of his experience was spent in regional or global management roles in Asia, Europe, and Latin America, and the U.S. Liao will be working to find interesting startups and help out with the Accelerator program in Mountain View and San Francisco.
Which brings us to the next bit of news — the next 500 Startups Accelerator class. This group, which is the eighth overall for the firm, will be the first to run out of 500 Startups’ new San Francisco office in the city’s SOMA district.
Participating companies will still get office space to work out of, as well as access to mentors, events, and programs aimed to help startups refine their products and grow their businesses. They’ll just have better restaurant and nightlife options than on Mountain View’s Castro Street.
A total of 28 companies have been chosen, out of thousands that applied, and represent a wide range of U.S.-based and international startups. There are companies from Spain, India, France, Canada, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Brazil, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, as well as from cities outside the Silicon Valley center of gravity, including Las Vegas, Austin, NYC, and Detroit.
The launch of its latest batch signals the firm’s move to run the Accelerator year-round, with two classes in Mountain View per year, which will slightly overlap with the two that are taking place in San Francisco. According to founding partner Christine Tsai, the 500 Startups Accelerator will likely have about 120 companies go through it each year, as each class houses about 30 startups.
Its previous Mountain View class is having demo day this week, for instance, and applications for its next Mountain View Accelerator class are already open and will run through February 21.
The 28 companies participating in its new Accelerator class include:
- BidAway – Like eBay for vacations, the company matches the excess capacity in the luxury leisure industry with customers through realtime online auctions
- clippPR – This startup makes it easy for brands and agencies to clip all their press, measure the value of PR, and reengage in public conversations to build trust and loyalty
- CultureAlley – Helps you to learn languages via interactive videos, and to practice them on a user’s Facebook wall or Twitter feed
- Doorman – Allows users to get packages delivered on demand until midnight, seven days a week… So they never have to miss a delivery again
- DOZ – a marketing agency in the cloud that uses crowdsourcing and matching algorithms to curate local marketers and put them to work
- Enchanted Diamonds – Helps couples discover the ring size and taste preferences to deliver bespoke engagement rings tailor-made for the selected diamond and finger size
- Equipboard – An e-commerce platform to connect products to the influencers using them
- FameBit – A marketplace making it easy for businesses to find, hire, and work with YouTube influencers for product and service endorsements
- Friend Trusted – A platform to take the hassle out of home remodeling by taking a picture of your kitchen or bathroom, and getting estimates from top-rated contractors from the app
- Guidekick – A mobile tool to create immersive and engaging learning experiences for visitors at high-profile historical attractions
- Holidog – A European marketplace for pet owners that sells dogs and cats
- i3zif.com – Teaches users how to play musical instruments through video tutorials working with some musicians in the Arab world
- Já Entendi – An e-learning solution that leverages blue-collar workers in Brazil by transforming content like books, booklets, and manuals into video lessons
- Pijon – Reinvents college care packages to delivering supplies that students need every month
- PredictionIO – An open source machine-learning server for software developers to create predictive features, such as personalization, recommendation, and content discovery
- Quest – Allows users to ask any question and get an answer within minutes on iOS, Android, and any mobile phone via text message
- Raisy – This startup partners with brands and services to provide easy and profitable online fundraising programs for schools
- Rapt.fm – Like Chat roulette for rap battles, provides technology for artists to build fan bases, get discovered, give live concerts, and monetize
- Remark – Provides a browser-based platform for video annotation
- Roam & Wander – Makes games, apps, and toys for kids under the TuTu and DiDi brands
- ShareRoot - Provides a social marketing suite to help large brands drive and measure Pinterest engagement
- Shippo – Makes international shipping easy and cheap for e commerce businesses by aggregating shipping volumes and giving customers access to cheaper shipping providers
- Simmr – Gives diners access to behind-the-scenes experiences at their favorite restaurants, such as meeting the chef or owner, or learning how to make dishes on the menu
- SoundBetter – Provides a marketplace for music production talent, connecting millions of independent musicians with professional music producers, session musicians, mixing and mastering engineers
- Unwind Me – A brand for accessible massage and wellness, making it easy to book and receive high-quality massages, when and where they want, at an affordable price
- VenueSpot – An online marketplace where venues bid to host events
- Whale Path – An on demand research platform where professionals can order business research from qualified and vetted top-tier students
- Wuzzuf – A platform for intelligent job matching that simulates how human recruiters think, screen applicants, and communicate with both employers and job seekers