Our 9 Favorite Companies From 500 Startups “Demo-Ween”

0/10 Replay Gallery More Galleries

Our 9 Favorite Companies From 500 Startups “Demo-Ween”

500 Startups today presented its 14th batch of companies at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, with a spooky twist.

Dave McClure said this batch was less international than previous batches, with only 39% of founders hailing from outside the United States. Of the 36 startups that went through the program, 25% had female founders. He made no mention of people of color. We called out McClure on Twitter about that, and he promptly responded, “sorry we didn’t break out those stats; will aim to include in future. (there actually are many ppl of color in batch14).” It turns out that 25% of the batch’s founders presenting on stage were people of color, which we’re defining as either black, Asian, Indian or Latino.


Dressed like The Count, 500 Startup’s founder Dave McClure kicked off the event. As Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and “Monster Mash” pumped through the auditorium, 500 Startups employees donned costumes ranging from the corpse bride to uh, this. If you were trying to find Waldo, there were at least three.



If you’re attempts at creating those cute crafts you see on Pinterest never come out “pin-perfect,” then 43Layers is for you. The company uses 3D printing and laser cutting to create customized accessories and decorations for you. The company is starting with Pinterest’s sweet spot — weddings. They’ve designed custom cake tops and college-themed cufflinks for the brides-to-be spending an average of ten hours a week browsing Pinterest and Instagram. With 43Layers, they’ll have something to post.



A guy came out in top gun glasses because apparently that’s one of the things embedded in their culture. This company wants to put drones over your roof and not roofers. Got a leak? Why pay a grand or more to get a quote, send up a drone to explore for about $200. It’s safer and the BetterView says it can get you multiple quotes without a single person stepping foot, or slipping foot, on your roof. They’re talking to insurance companies like Allstate to partner for insurance claims. Smart. Their founders have insurance and construction expertise which helps, because lord knows we don’t know anything about the space.



Eaze and Meadow might be able to bring weed right to your door, but Baker allows you to order ahead and save money when you’re dropping by the dispensary. The company focuses on the dispensaries you already love, and helps you explore their menus, place an order and then pick it up when you get a text. As Meadow and Eaze duke it out in California, Baker has been focusing on states where recreational marijuana use is legal, mostly in Colorado. As more and more states legalize, there are opportunities for companies to optimize buying marijuana beyond delivery.



People still use the phone. Yes, crazy I know. Especially businesses. A company called Aircall says its the “easiest way for businesses to handle phone calls.” They claim 500 customers and $35,000 a month in revenue. Calls can be routed to a group of people or a group of numbers can be routed to one person. It integrates with services like Slack and other software you’d expect. You can call them at 415-712-0785 if you want. To us, it sounds like Grand Central but that got acquired by Google eons ago and was turned into Google Voice. There’s a shot for these folks.



Slack is huge. Apps are huge. Apps for Slack could be huge. Growbot promises Instant feedback for the next generation. It looks like a Slackbot but it’s a performance platform. They say “performance reviews are like stale crappy feedback sandwiches.” Wouldn’t it be better to do performance reviews in a messaging app? YES. Companies like Accenture spent $32M alone on old systems like this, but are looking to ditch them. The company Tungle saw an 18% decrease in time spent on doing reviews using the service. Huge. Buzzfeed’s using it, so maybe you should too. Plus two of the founders are brothers, so they can’t fire each other. Can they?


Junior Explorers

This company wants to inspire kids to explore the planet. We’re on board with this. It creates fun and interactive experiences that use digital and physical experiences. They’ve generated $325,000 in revenue in just the last 10 months, so people are using it. The genius here is that Jr. Explorers is eyeing partnerships with zoos and aquariums all over the world to do tie-ins and it gives them super reach to the kids they want to share an adventure with. They’re doing subscription stuff, they’re international and they’re doing digital games and apps. Building a trusted brand for kids is hard, but digital is the way to go.



SweepSouth is Homejoy — except it’s focusing on emerging economies instead of entitled millennials. The network of professional cleaners operates in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Centurion and Pretoria. Co-founder Aisha Pandor said the company has been successful in sustaining subscriptions because they’re operating in markets where professional cleaning services are extremely common and there are many trained cleaning professionals seeking work. Eighty percent of the company’s customers are subscribers, and they’re positioned in regions where the middle class is growing rapidly.


Saint Harridan

Now this is what I’m talking about. Saint Harridan is all about men’s suits for women and trans men, because traditional department stores often act like trans and gender-queer people don’t exist. Oh, and it’s a huge market: $8 billion to be exact. Other than suits, Saint Harridan makes pants, shirts, sweaters, vests and overcoats for masculine women and transmen. During its pop-up tour, Saint Harridan made $360,000 in revenue with a 65% margin. In its first week of selling the vest, Saint Harridan made $15,000 in sales. It has a Betabrand-like model, meaning that Saint Harridan only makes certain clothing items if people want it.

Check out our profile of Saint Harridan here.



Life can be stressful. That’s why self-help platform Pacifica wants to help people track and understand their mood and anxiety. The Pacifica app will ask you how you’re feeling and then prompt you to pick an activity. Some activities include setting a goal to speak up in a class or a meeting, recording or writing down a thought that led to a strong change in emotion, practicing deep breathing and calming your mind through meditation. Pacifica says it has 390,000 users so far and $8,000 in monthly recurring revenue. It’s gearing up to start trial programs with the University of Michigan and University of California San francisco.