US tech accelerator 500 Startups held its second-ever Demo Day earlier this week, attended by 31 start-ups from around the globe, including Australian start-up BugHerd.
Based in Silicon Valley, 500 Startups provides early stage start-ups with funding ranging from $10,000 to $250,000 via seed investments, a start-up accelerator program and micro-fund models.
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Founded by entrepreneurial expert Dave McClure, – who has worked at Facebook-inspired seed fund fBFund, PayPal and Mint.com – 500 Startups focuses on the “three Ds” – design, data and distribution.
“Runaway growth and no business model isn’t our thing; we’re far more interested in things that aren’t so sexy but make money,” McClure told TechCrunch.
The start-ups that participate in the 500 Startups accelerator program receive a $50,000 investment from the fund at a $1 million valuation.
In its latest batch of companies, 30% of the founders are based outside of the US in countries including Australia, Chile, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan.
BugHerd, a Melbourne-based start-up that has also attracted funding from Australian seed fund Startmate, was one the start-ups selected in the funding round.
Founded by Alan Downie and Matt Milosavljevic, BugHerd is a bug tracker that overlays on a webpage, allowing an entire team to log and manage bugs visually without leaving the page they’re working on.
BugHerd presented its technology at the 500 Startups Demo Day this week. According to Downie, the pitching opportunity was invaluable.
“Each company did a four-minute pitch. There was time to mix and mingle with investors before and after, as well as during an intermission,” Downie says.
“The invite list features something in the order of 100-plus investors, angels, VCs… While there are more companies, there are also many more investors.”
“On top of the crowd here, there was something like 1,500 people watching the pitch online.”
Downie says the main difference in the US is that you pitch to more people who are more eager to spend and are more upfront about it.
“When pitching in Australia, investors in the audience have been in the minority; over here they’re the majority,” he says.
“The investment community in Australia is still tiny and very conservative compared to the US… [where] investors are more direct about whether they’re in your space or not.”
BugHerd’s goal for 500 Startups was to build contacts in the investment community because the company is hoping to raise a series A round in the US.
“It’s really too early to tell whether we will be successful. We’ve collected plenty of business cards and there will be a lot of legwork to be done from here on in,” Downie says.
“With the live feed going out to thousands, and more than a 100 people in the room, we not only hope to gain investment, but hope to gain customers… As an Aussie company, this exposure is particularly important.”