It seems that Dave McClure’s seed fund and startup accelerator 500 Startups is raising international “micro funds” of a couple of million dollars for India and Mexico, which raises the question of potential new funds the #500Strong collective might start in following years. Among them, of course, is Europe, specifically Central and Eastern Europe that McClure and his posse went to during their latest Geeks on a Plane tour, visiting Berlin, Tallin, Moscow and of course Zagreb – with Netocratic as a coorganizer.
500 Startups acquired the Mexican.VC startup accelerator as well as brought in new talent to lead its supposed efforts in India and Mexico, but there is still no specific show of acquiring talent to scout other regions. Interestingly, 57 percent of 500 Startup’s latest batch are from outside the US with a couple of them coming from Eastern Europe, such as the Croatian domaining startup WhoAPI from Rijeka.
The general feeling of the “Geeks” was that Eastern Europe has a lot of talented engineers, but lacks business talent. Another 500 Startups company, Farmeron, is building its development base in the Croatian town of Osijek, while most of the sales are done in the Valley with the founder Matija Kopić travelling between Europe and the US.
The Difference of Markets
Each fund should have $5 million to invest… Of course, the Mexican fund could focus not just on the local Mexican market but on Latin America in general. India is also a big market, which begs the question how would 500 Startups theoretically approach European or Eastern European startups.
Would it go for the continent or for the region and why? London and Berlin have their strong share of accelerators, so would 500 Startups east of Berlin make a real difference: would it be able to offer founders a unique experience, mentors and strenghts? Based in… Moscow, with Russia being the most potent Eastern European market? Or more to the south?
It all depends on how 500 Startups will approach running its new funds and how they will work in practice. For the European founders I’ve talked to, the prospect of learning from the best in the Valley at 500 Startups was the key difference that 500 Startups brought to the table. Of course, you couldn’t sign up for 500 Startups even if you wanted to until recently – it was invite only, and only a small part of the latest batch came from the open invites.
McClure wants to help start hundreds if not thousands (or millions, as he theorized at a GOAP dinner) companies – and it will be interesting to see if his team decides that Eastern Europe specifically is worth the effort. This is all of course very speculative, but from our own European view: how might #500strong crack the numerous tiny markets and lots of interesting startups of Central and Eastern Europe? After they confirm and comment on the Mexican and Indian funds – of course.