Not many startups get the chance to be part of 500 Startups, and even less startups get personally invited by Dave McClure. After winning Startup Garage and getting space at Invest Ottawa, we never really had any plans to join an accelerator, but when my co-founder and I met Dave in Montreal and found out (literally overnight) that we were in 500 Startups Batch 10, we just couldn’t say no. We had no idea what to expect going into the program since we never formally applied, but man are we glad we jumped on that train.
Let’s put it this way: Gymtrack would not be where it is today without 500 Startups. Plain and simple. For most startups, you go into this accelerator and basically no one’s ever heard of you. You get in and all of a sudden there’s a bunch of articles about you making it into 500 Startups, and 3 months later half of Silicon Valley knows your name—not an easy thing to accomplish as a year-old startup from Ottawa.
The brand name alone is huge, bringing you media attention and investor intros. But that’s just the beginning. About 1400 companies applied to Batch 10 of 500 Startups and only 25 or so got in—being able to meet and hang out with the founders of some of the hottest startups in the world is an incredible opportunity. Getting access to their advisors and mentors— people with experience with HR, development, and enterprise sales— is also super helpful. It would take forever to go out and organically create the network that 500 more or less hands over to you on a silver platter.
And, to top it all off, there’s Demo Day. I’ve never seen so many angels and VCs in one place before in my life—even Chamillionaire came to watch our pitches. For Gymtrack, the experience was nothing short of amazing, and we were selected as the top startup there by TechCrunch and other news outlets.
From media exposure and fundraising to networking with other founders, 500 Startups was an amazing experience. Just don’t expect them to hold your hand or run your business for you…whether you’re in an accelerator or not, the hustle never stops.
Gymtrack builds a system for gyms that allows members to automatically track their workouts, and creates a platform for virtual personal training.
(This introspective article was written by Pablo Srugo, Co-Founder & Co-CEO at Gymtrack)