The biggest moon shots from the latest 500 Global Demo Day

The biggest moon shots from the latest 500 Global Demo Day

It’s the season of demo days. This morning kicked off venture capital firm 500 Global’s Fall 2022 demo day, which saw more than a dozen startups pitch their best cases to potential investors — and clients. . Attendees ran the gamut, from fintech and sustainability to edtech and development tools, and several stood out from the rest of the pack.

The event comes just weeks after Y Combinator hosted its biannual demo day, its first since returning to in-person operations. 500 Global, formerly under the 500 Startups brand, has an accelerator that competes with YC. Both groups seek to support fledgling founders with cash and advice in exchange for equity. YC has backed more than 3,500 founders, while 500 Global has backed over 2,800 founders, according to each institution’s websites. Unlike YC, 500 Global has geography-specific acceleration programs, similar to Techstars, with a focus on regions like Aichi, Japan, Cambodia, and Alberta, Canada.

That said, today’s debut of Global 500 comes from its first flagship program, dating back to 2010 and fittingly including companies from around the world. All companies follow a four-month program but start at different times, thanks to 500 Global’s new rolling admissions strategy. Let’s take a look at some of the moon shots from the lot and finish with some notes from Clayton Bryan, Partner and Head of 500 Global’s Accelerator Fund.

The moon shots

For example, there’s Taiwan-based, an e-commerce startup that leverages AI to allow customers to search for products, especially apparel and cosmetics, through specific attributes. Rosetta’s AI algorithm “sees” the attributes (e.g., sleeveless, ruffled, microbeads) a shopper might want when browsing an online store and creates a “preference profile” for him, which merchants can use to cross-sell or set up promotions that trigger if it seems likely that the shopper will abandon their cart.

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This is the beginning for Rosetta. But the company, founded in 2016, has raised $2.4 million in capital so far and claims to have Shu Uemura, in which L’Oreal has a majority stake, as clients. The trick will continue to win customers over rivals like Lily AI, which similarly attempts to match customers with products using AI attributes and models.

Elsewhere on Demo Day, ran through its health assessment service for insurance companies. Designed to eliminate lengthy medical exams and forms, Lydia asks insurance plan applicants to answer a few questions about their health – for example, if they have a chronic illness, if they have recently been hospitalized, etc. . – via their smartphones. The platform then generates an abstract health score assumed to be devoid of sensitive medical details, which insurers can use for risk management and underwriting.

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Lydia is not the first to attempt this. Health tech startup Fedo also algorithmically generates health scores, quantifying a person’s disease risk and propensity to claim. The opacity of Lydia’s approach also raises questions, such as whether its algorithms account for demographic differences and historical biases in healthcare. But if the startup stays true to its mission — securing the next billion people — it might be one to watch, especially given the capital (~$13 million) already behind it.

One of the more unique Demo Say startups that showed up was BetaStore, a provider for common “informal” outlets in Africa. Informal retailers are unlicensed and unregistered retailers that do not report to tax agencies, usually operating in open markets and shops. BetaStore serves as a goods marketplace for informal retailers, providing access to basics such as dish soap, laundry detergent and all-purpose cleaner at wholesale prices and delivering them to retailers (within 48 hours) .

Beta Store

Picture credits: Beta Store

BetaStore customers can order products via chat, SMS or WhatsApp. Behind the scenes, the platform provides sales analytics to manufacturers, which BetaStore says can be leveraged to make “data-driven” decisions to increase shipments.

BetaStore seems to be starting well. Founded in 2020, the Nigeria-based startup claims to have distributed over 140,000 products to retail customers in Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Senegal and placed over 20,000 orders. Recently, BetaStore began offering financing to retailers and plans to launch a buy now, pay later product in the coming months.

One year after rebranding

Minutes after the demo day ended, Bryan spoke to TechCrunch about 500 Global and how it thrives in an increasingly volatile (and competitive) market.

“It’s been a little dark, but we’ve told our companies over and over again that the silver lining is that 2021 has been a phenomenal year for venture capital fundraising,” he said. writing into the news that US-based investors are sitting on. $290 billion in dry powder right now. The accelerator’s best advice was to start fundraising earlier, better prepare the business before going to market, and be smart about managing expenses. His advice these days is that startups should prepare for at least 18 months of track.

It’s been almost a year since 500 Global changed its name from 500 Startups, a move that Bryan said was intended to reposition the institution less as an accelerator and more as a venture company. It’s more than semantics; former batch participants reverted to 500 for follow-on funding, during their Series A but up to their Series D.

“Historically, we had no options, but now we are adopting multiple strategies and working on later-stage funds,” he said. “We have demand with our founder community, we have demand even within our partner community that they want access to more risky ventures.”

He added: “We are very proud of our accelerator. That’s a key benefit…but now it’s helped unlock other opportunities for us as a business that we’re exploring with great enthusiasm.

As to whether 500 will change its investment cadence, check size or direction – similar to YC as it braced for a downturn – Bryan said there was more to come.

“We are not immune to changes happening in our ecosystem, we are aware of what other funds and other programs are doing,” he said. “Our program has been running well for over 10 years. But at the same time, we can’t rest on our laurels and we have to make sure we have compelling contract terms.

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