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500 Startups: 'We're all in," Miami Distro accelerator program will be back next fall


By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

500 Startups wrapped up its inaugural Miami Distro Program on growth marketing with an Investor Night last week, but you’ll be seeing more of the Silicon Valley venture firm.

“We are here not just to check things out, we are all in. Miami is an important hub for Latin America,” said Christine Tsai, co-founding partner of 500 Startups, who also spoke at Sime MIA last week. “We have a small team here, it will be growing.”

500 startups tsai

Startups, with investments all over the world and a growing presence in Latin America, is known for its high-volume investing approach. It’s invested in about 1,500 startups, typically putting in $50,000 to $100,000 and doubling down with some of those in future rounds. After bringing its PreMoney conference here in the spring, 500 Startups conducted its Miami Distro program this fall at Building.co. “Growth marketing is our secret weapon,” Tsai said.

500 Startups partner Juan Lopez Salaberry explained that the Distro program is all about high-paced experimentation in customer acquisition. 500 Startups flew in mentors in growth marketing throughout the program. The eight selected companies that participated spent three months at Building.co this fall. Each received a 500 Startups investment of up to $250,000, which provided a healthy marketing budget to work with during the program. “Mentoring and funding — we think that’s a killing combination,” Salaberry said.

In the presentations during Investor Night, each team highlighted its customer acquisition progress. Most had grown by multiples. The program will be back next fall, said 500’s Distro partner Susan Su.

These eight companies participated in the Miami Distro program:

ClutchPrep: Remember the SATs? Or how about organic chem 201? ClutchPrep, based in Miami, is the 21st century Kaplan test-prep meets online distribution meets subscriptions.

Kairos is a facial analysis technology that interprets human emotions to provide businesses with data and insights to help them better understand their customers and their marketing campaigns. Miami-based Kairos is also an Endeavor company.

Cinepapaya enables mobile and online movie ticket purchases in 22 emerging markets. The company also offers a B2B suite for movie theatre partners that includes market intelligence and ticket validation.

MXHero is a multisolution suite for enterprise and small and medium sized businesses that protects company email from hackers, plus makes it easier to find and track attachments. The company provides tools that combine an organization’s email with cloud storage.

OFI is a B2B procurement platform based out of Bogota selling technology products and “back office” subscriptions to corporations and small and medium sized businesses across Latin America.

Rocket: In Mexico, only 2 percent of credit card applications to major financial institutions are approved, but with Rocket, this jumps to 40 percent. Rocket helps users apply and be approved for credit cards.

Shopeando, an e-commerce platform, brings high-quality, nonbranded goods from platforms like Alibaba to millions of customers across Latin America.

Social Tools is a suite of solutions that enables Agencies and Marketer to run low-cost promotions and contests on Facebook.