Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dave McClure's 500 Startups Comes to Sao Paulo

Dave McClure's incubator cum seed fund made its public debut last week in Sao Paulo.  Bedy Yang was recently tapped to lead 500 Startups efforts in Brazil and she used the monthly meeting of Brazilian Innovators (which she founded) to explain 500 Startups and the entry process.  500 Startups isn't your typical business plan competition.  Similar to the process in the US, startups can only get included in the class by being recommended by someone in the venture/technology community here.  (i.e. it's a fairly opaque process, no formal pitches or business plans; here's an example)

They said they will probably be picking around 10 startups to join the first class.  The evening included a practice pitch session and Q&A with 11 startups.  I've included here those I liked best plus those from entrepreneurs I met in the audience.

1)  Currently  but switching names and design over to in the next few days.  (this will give you a sense for design: ).  The company is a fashion social network founded by two former bankers, Flavio Pripas and Renato Steinberg.  The site currently has 700,0000 monthly unique page views.  Impressively, they secured a spot to present at TechCrunch Disrupt in a few days in San Francisco.    

2) CapsDOC - Zocdoc (which just raised $50mm from DST Global) for Brazil.  Company does online booking for doctors/dentists etc.  The team is currently building up its network of doctors and expects to open the site around late September.

3) Descomplica - every Brazilian is required to take a test called a Vestibular to enter university (here called Faculdade).  This site helps them prep.  I think its especially interesting because would be great acquisition target for a Princeton Review, Kaplan (Washington Post) etc.  There are several companies with prep material but the founders tell me they are the only ones with an extensive collection of videos.  

4) EverWrite - see previous post

5) B2Trip - I thought this one was the coolest/most innovative of the group, but probably also the hardest to execute.  The company connects travelers with travel agents in their destination.  The customer provides the site with desired location, budget, trip highlights and then travel agents submit bids on a package for the person.  The traveler then has 7 days to select a package.
Also interesting because the site has the potential to be new lifeline for travel agencies hammered by online booking.   The company is still working out some kinks like a) less-than-ideal English by some travel agents and b) making sure that there is a critical mass of travel agents that can provide proposals in each location.  Still, for people who don't have time to plan a long trip and want local advice this could be an interesting solution.

P.S. We saw another investment this week from US-based firms Accel and Redpoint.  They put an undisclosed amount into ShoeDazzle clone,


  1. Hi, I was at the event and pitched Fonista, the social dialer for businesses that serve you where you are. Though we didn't make your top 5, I would love to hear what you thought of it, good or bad :) Thanks!

  2. Hi Helder - sorry for delay in responding. I thought Fonista was interesting, especially if the social component (like 4square) can get worked out. My hesitation was around the monetization of the product. I know that SeamlessWeb has had a hard time in the US b/c the infrastructure required is large while the margins are small. My understanding is that they don't make most of their money from individuals but rather from companies that use the service b/c it simplifies their payments. These companies are usually banks or law firms that give their employees an evening stipend for food. The employees use the system and are usually unconcerned about the service fee. For companies it eliminates the need to process all the receipts that would be created if employees were ordering on their own.
    That said, I recognize your model is somewhat different (Remind me, would you have menus on the site?) and could have lots of potential. Would love to stay in touch. I appreciate you reaching out.

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