500 Global spreads its wings across the Caucasus and Eastern Europe, via Tbilisi


View of Tbilisi
Image Credits: Marcin Konsek / Wikimedia Commons (opens in a new window) under a CC BY-SA 4.0 (opens in a new window) license.

European accelerators are going through an interesting time right now. For instance, Techstars Stockholm was all set to launch and then abruptly shut down. And I think it’s now commonly accepted that most accelerators outside of Y Combinator can too be often “less than adequate,” to put it diplomatically. Perhaps an exception to this oft-repeated phrase, in my experience, is Entrepreneur First out of London/Europe (but now also in Asia), and even then that entity is slightly closer to a pre-accelerator in the way it assembles talent before it assembles the startups (although it does also fund its startups).

Having said that, accelerators still have a role to play in Europe’s emerging ecosystem. Admittedly, in the “developed” countries of Western Europe, startups are generally better off skipping accelerators and raising directly from Angels, HNWs and pre-seed funds. Of course, “your mileage may vary.” However, it’s in Eastern Europe that — I think, at least — accelerators have their best effect in markets where where the tech startup ecosystem barely exists, if at all.

Central, South Eastern and Eastern Europe have already seen a number of new VCs recognize the talent coming out of those regions (see Inovo, Credo, LauncHub, Vitosha, VentureFriends, Marathon VC etc.). Plus, 500 Istanbul last year relaunched itself as 500 Emerging Europe with a €70 million early-stage fund. The latter has made investments in Greece (Plum), Latvia (Printify) and Bulgaria (Cloudpipes).

The VC ‘Scramble for Europe’ breaks out in the East as a €70M fund breaks cover

So it’s definitely of interest that there’s a new kid on the block in accelerator land in the shape of 500 Global’s new program in Georgia (the country, not the U.S. state, for those at the back).

As part of this they have bagged a former partner at Shilling VC in Lisbon, Pedro Santos Vieira. Luckily, Georgia’s gain is not Shilling VC’s loss, as he is not leaving Shilling completely, remaining on the Investment Committee as as non-exec. Shilling continues to be among those Lisbon-based VCs enjoying the tech boom that’s been happening in Lisbon these last few years.

Pedro Santos Vieira
Pedro Santos Vieira. Image Credits: Pedro Santos Vieira

Luckily, this is no “left field” move for Vieira, who is no stranger to the region, having served as a mentor for 500 Global in that part of the world.

As a newly appointed partner for 500 Global, Vieira will oversee the program, based out of Tblisi, Georgia, which plans to accelerate upwards of 100 pre-seed to seed-stage companies from countries in the Caucasus, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Baltics, with pre-seed investments starting at US$100,000.

The program is a continuation of 500 Global’s partnership with Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA) and the Bank of Georgia to bring one of the first startup accelerator programs to the country.

Indeed, since 2016, there have been three batches with a total of 43 startups out of the region, such as Payze (Georgia), Cargon (Georgia), Finmap (Ukraine) and TASS Vision (Uzbekistan), with many going on to raise significant further rounds.

Vieira told me: “Three years ago, before Shilling, I was working with 500 Global, doing accelerators for them around the world. And one of them was Georgia. We had trained 30 companies here and the results were really good.”

“We will invest in 100+ companies and train them with an accelerator out of Georgia. But it’s not just for Georgia companies, but hugely regional, across the whole of Eastern and Southern Europe, the Baltics and the Caucasus,” he told me.

He said it’s a very “interesting” time in Georgia: “You have Ukrainians and Russians co-living here! You also have Azerbaijani and Armenians of course. We’re committed for the long run in the region to building a large portfolio in the next few years.”

It seems like a very interesting move, and complementary to 500 Emerging Europe in Istanbul, which doesn’t have an accelerator program and tends to invest in more mature companies with bigger checks, hence why this new 500 entity out of Georgia makes sense.

With Techstars’ European strategy wobbling and Y Combinator withdrawing from the international stage, perhaps it’s 500 Global’s “day in the sun” once more.

More TechCrunch

The spam reached Bluesky by first crossing over two other decentralized networks: Mastodon and Nostr.

The ‘vote Trump’ spam that hit Bluesky in May came from decentralized rival Nostr

Welcome to TechCrunch Fintech! This week, we’re looking at the continued fallout from Synapse’s bankruptcy, how Layer wants to disrupt SMB accounting, and much more! To get a roundup of…

There’s a real appetite for a fintech alternative to QuickBooks

The company is hoping to produce electricity at $13 per megawatt hour, which would be more than 50% cheaper than traditional onshore wind.

Bill Gates-backed wind startup AirLoom is raising $12M, filings reveal

Generative AI makes stuff up. It can be biased. Sometimes it spits out toxic text. So can it be “safe”? Rick Caccia, the CEO of WitnessAI, believes it can. “Securing…

WitnessAI is building guardrails for generative AI models

It’s not often that you hear about a seed round above $10 million. H, a startup based in Paris and previously known as Holistic AI, has announced a $220 million…

French AI startup H raises $220M seed round

Hey there, Series A to B startups with $35 million or less in funding — we’ve got an exciting opportunity that’s tailor-made for your growth journey! If you’re looking to…

Boost your startup’s growth with a ScaleUp package at TC Disrupt 2024

TikTok is pulling out all the stops to prevent its impending ban in the United States. Aside from initiating legal action against the U.S. government, that means shaping up its…

As a US ban looms, TikTok announces a $1M program for socially driven creators

Microsoft wants to put its Copilot everywhere. It’s only a matter of time before Microsoft renames its annual Build developer conference to Microsoft Copilot. Hopefully, some of those upcoming events…

Microsoft’s Power Automate no-code platform adds AI flows

Build is Microsoft’s largest developer conference and of course, it’s all about AI this year. So it’s no surprise that GitHub’s Copilot, GitHub’s “AI pair programming tool,” is taking center…

GitHub Copilot gets extensions

Microsoft wants to make its brand of generative AI more useful for teams — specifically teams across corporations and large enterprise organizations. This morning at its annual Build dev conference,…

Microsoft intros a Copilot for teams

Microsoft’s big focus at this year’s Build conference is generative AI. And to that end, the tech giant announced a series of updates to its platforms for building generative AI-powered…

Microsoft upgrades its AI app-building platforms

The U.K.’s data protection watchdog has closed an almost year-long investigation of Snap’s AI chatbot, My AI — saying it’s satisfied the social media firm has addressed concerns about risks…

UK data protection watchdog ends privacy probe of Snap’s GenAI chatbot, but warns industry

U.S. cell carrier Patriot Mobile experienced a data breach that included subscribers’ personal information, including full names, email addresses, home ZIP codes and account PINs, TechCrunch has learned. Patriot Mobile,…

Conservative cell carrier Patriot Mobile hit by data breach

It’s been three years since Spotify acquired live audio startup Betty Labs, and yet the music streaming service isn’t leveraging the technology to its fullest potential — at least not…

Spotify’s ‘Listening Party’ feature falls short of expectations

Alchemist Accelerator has a new pile of AI-forward companies demoing their wares today, if you care to watch, and the program itself is making some international moves into Tokyo and…

Alchemist’s latest batch puts AI to work as accelerator expands to Tokyo, Doha

“Late Pledge” allows campaign creators to continue collecting money even after the campaign has closed.

Kickstarter now lets you pledge after a campaign closes

Stack AI’s co-founders, Antoni Rosinol and Bernardo Aceituno, were PhD students at MIT wrapping up their degrees in 2022 just as large language models were becoming more mainstream. ChatGPT would…

Stack AI wants to make it easier to build AI-fueled workflows

Pinecone, the vector database startup founded by Edo Liberty, the former head of Amazon’s AI Labs, has long been at the forefront of helping businesses augment large language models (LLMs)…

Pinecone launches its serverless vector database out of preview

Young geothermal energy wells can be like budding prodigies, each brimming with potential to outshine their peers. But like people, most decline with age. In California, for example, the amount…

Special mud helps XGS Energy get more power out of geothermal wells

Featured Article

Sonos finally made some headphones

The market play is clear from the outset: The $449 headphones are firmly targeted at an audience that would otherwise be purchasing the Bose QC Ultra or Apple AirPods Max.

5 hours ago
Sonos finally made some headphones

Adobe says the feature is up to the task, regardless of how complex of a background the object is set against.

Adobe brings Firefly AI-powered Generative Remove to Lightroom

All cars suffer when the mercury drops, but electric vehicles suffer more than most as heaters draw more power and batteries charge more slowly as the liquid electrolyte inside thickens.…

Porsche Ventures invests in battery startup South 8 to boost cold-weather EV performance

Scale AI has raised a $1 billion Series F round from a slew of big-name institutional and corporate investors including Amazon and Meta.

Data-labeling startup Scale AI raises $1B as valuation doubles to $13.8B

The new coalition, Tech Against Scams, will work together to find ways to fight back against the tools used by scammers and to better educate the public against financial scams.

Meta, Match, Coinbase and others team up to fight online fraud and crypto scams

It’s a wrap: European Union lawmakers have given the final approval to set up the bloc’s flagship, risk-based regulations for artificial intelligence.

EU Council gives final nod to set up risk-based regulations for AI

London-based fintech Vitesse has closed a $93 million Series C round of funding led by investment giant KKR.

Vitesse, a payments and treasury management platform for insurers, raises $93M to fuel US expansion

Zen Educate, an online marketplace that connects schools with teachers, has raised $37 million in a Series B round of funding. The raise comes amid a growing teacher shortage crisis…

Zen Educate raises $37M and acquires Aquinas Education as it tries to address the teacher shortage

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

A new self-driving truck — manufactured by Volvo and loaded with autonomous vehicle tech developed by Aurora Innovation — could be on public highways as early as this summer.  The…

Aurora and Volvo unveil self-driving truck designed for a driverless future

The European venture capital firm raised its fourth fund as fund as climate tech “comes of age.”

ETF Partners raises €285M for climate startups that will be effective quickly — not 20 years down the road