5 Courses I Took in 500 Startups

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It’s been a week in 500 Startups! I’m lucky to survive but it just started.

It feels like time passed progressively quicker and quicker everyday, if it goes this way I will be on stage pitching on demo day already. When I thought about this it scared me, couldn’t imagine that would happen on me. I guess I have to slow down and be really careful of what to spend time on and what not. Calendar like this could not happen every week, I need time to sit down and reply mails, drink some wine, or chat with friends.

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So I made a list of courses as if 500 Startups is a college that you only attend for shorter time and how you will learn depends on how you hustle.

Course 1. Fundraising

This is the most unpredictable but crucially important task for startup founders. It involves a bunch of complex financial knowledges that you will have to know beforehand and you will be learning about investors, valuation, seed round, or high resolution fundraising and nail down a fundraising strategy.

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…and that were just the basic, you will have to build relationship with investors, clarify your vision, learn how to pitch, negotiate with them and maintain the connection.

As I know most of my batchmates have raised some money and are meeting with investors everyday while I’m still searching a list of investors to meet, and I only got 1 month as there is Christmas coming. Well, this is like the night before final exam when you stay up til’ 3am trying to study but eventually didn’t study at all because the stress make you feel like reading comics.

Course 2. Social skills

No doubt, if you want to be happy, getting some people to like you is vital. And to do this, you will have to kindly like others first and keep the conversation going. I am not doing this good because all of the meetings are eating all my time. see my calendar.

Joining 500 Startups is like getting 100 family members over night. I am reading everyone every time I walk by the wall. That feels sweet.

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One thing frustrate me the most is that I can’t really pronounce everyone’s name, or company name (“uBiome” is one failed me a lot, sorry Jessica). I mean, I am one of those who have a foreign name so I should be really understanding and keeping in mind that no matter how special the names are I should use my imagination to pronounce them and even if I was wrong I should pick up the right ones and remember. Unfortunately this is not the case. So pardon me a big time if I have trouble pronouncing your name or your product. By the way, my name is HANA, HA for HAHAHA (when you laugh hard) and NA for NASA.

Course 3. Business development

Bounty Hunter is from Taiwan, although we did good in Taiwan but when it comes to a new country it’s another story. So I am adjusting the way we do business development. And I was the CTO so it’s not what I’m familiar with. But I will get through this.

The initial plan is to get as much as customers here and provide our service for free. We have a contest platform for people to run creative contests (interested?), normally we charge for building contest websites, getting submissions and go viral on Facebook. But now it’s totally free. We are really thankful that 500 Startups give us a chance to run a T-Shirt Design Competition, and we are talking some other deals as well. Red Rock coffee is a nice place.

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About business development strategy I’ll write another essay some other time.

Course 4. Marketing and community

Marketing is another thing to learn, because Bounty Hunter is somewhat a marketing tool (of course our dream is way bigger) so I have to learn the marketing theory here. So far it’s not different from what I know in Taiwan: CRM, community, Facebook, Google Adwords, SEO, campaigns.

Oh! Actually we are hiring an intern to do this with me, if you are interested, come here: https://angel.co/bounty-hunter/jobs

Course 5. User experience

This is so important that a product can succeed or fail because of it. But it’s a relatively motionless subject to learn, not much to sum up here. Looking forward to the UX talk from 500 Startups.

Okay so these are 5 courses that I take in 500 Startups university.

By the way, I was never ever a good student. I only attend classes I like, never force myself to do boring assignments, and I was in my little music dream world everyday. Play music, sing in a band, and felt no regret to miss other activities in school.