2 Canadian Teams Make the 500 Startups Cut: FameBit and VenueSpot

500startups

It’s a startup holy grail. Getting accepted to 500 Startups is no easy feat. It’s ranks right there with Y Combinator and TechStars. Led by the never reserved Dave McClure, startups can receive up to $250K in funding. Maybe more important than the funding is access to a roster of all-star mentors, designers in residence, insights and connections to platform-specific strategies and partners for customer acquisition. They also now have a new San Francisco workspace in addition to their original Mountain View location.

In announcing the 28 new companies joining their 8th cohort, and calling the new SOMA office (aka “500 Del Norte”) home, it’s evident 500 Startups is scouring the world for talent. Beyond the continental US, there are teams from Spain, India, France, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Brazil, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and two who’ll be waving the Maple Leaf.

For Toronto’s FameBit, and Vancouver’s VenueSpot it’s now all about lacing up the track shoes for a four month sprint like they’ve yet to experience. They officially started the program January 27th. Catching up with both co-founders FameBit’s David Kierzkowski, and VenueSpot’s Jerome Ng, they agree that the experience has so far been both head spinning and a rush too.

famebit1

Making a big decisions, moving to a new city, finding a place to call home within a tight time window is testing. Then dialing into the early days of this intense program while still running their businesses is what they signed up for. They chose the startup life with eyes wide open. Ditch the rose-coloured glasses.

Considering somewhere north of 1000 startups applied for this program, it’s worth knowing a little more about these two companies.

famebit

Kierzkowski describes FameBit as “a marketplace that’s making it easy for businesses to find, hire, and work with YouTube influencers for product and service endorsements such as product reviews, tutorials, hauls, and other promotional videos.We’re streamlining the whole process from connection to video delivery. With self-serve tools businesses can deploy YouTube marketing campaigns quickly, easily, and efficiently. It’s about moving customers faster through the buying cycle.”

VenueSpot is a platform that’s simplifying the way to find event venues online. Ng says “we’re seamlessly connecting event organizers to venues through our online platform, making event planning easy while increasing business for venues.”.

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 7.47.21 AM

A big part of the VenueSpot story he acknowledges is how “spending 8 months in Launch Academy incubating our business really helped with getting us a strong foothold in Vancouver with over 200 venues. To keep growing we decided to fly across Canada to interview with top Canadian accelerators. We received four different offers but decided that joining 500 Startups is our best option.”

The FameBit team earned a big break as one of four teams getting accepted at Toronto’s Extreme Startups. Kierzkowski says this “really helped them build out the product and find a market fit.”

It’s interesting that both teams credit their involvement with early stage startup programs as a key part of their success so far. Fair asking, is it coincidence or is there a correlation? From Ng’s perspective “being able to surround yourself with other entrepreneurs, where you can bounce ideas around, and going through similar struggles is invaluable. Being at Launch Academy beats the basement or coffee shop for building a business hands down.”

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 7.48.11 AM

For both these teams they’re focusing on learning new lessons, preparing for demo day, plus winning new markets and clients. There’s a huge opportunity in front of them. They appreciate that the realization of potential can prove to be an elusive finish line for many.

You can learn more about all of the new companies joining 500 Startups here. As well, they are currently accepting companies for the next batch in Mountain View. Startups can apply here:  (applications close 2/21)

John Gray

John Gray

John jumped into the start-up world in early 2009. He was co-founder of Mentionmapp, a visual analytics company that was acquired in October 2011. John is Launch Academy's Program Facilitator, and is leading their Lean Entrepreneur Program. He's a freelance writer, focusing on keeping the humanity in our conversations about technology. John has a B.Ap.Sc. in Communications and a B.A. in English, both from Simon Fraser University.

  • Ian MacKinnon

    Well deserved Venuespot! Jerome and Tommy were definitely some of the hardest working founders in Launch Academy.

  • Collin Stewart

    It’s great to see a fellow Launch Academy company doing well. Jerome is a dedicated entrepreneur and he’ll do well in 500 Startups.

  • Alex Chuang

    Excited to see what’s next for Jerome and Tommy!

  • James Clift

    Congrats Jerome and Tommy! Awesome team tackling a big opportunity.

    • tommytcchan

      Thanks James!

  • Jerome Ng

    Thanks for this article and everyone’s support!

  • Boast Capital

    Congrats to both startups! It’s been such a pleasure working with you, Jerome. All the best!

  • http://www.trendr.com/ Peter Davison

    It was great to meet you guys and hear your story at MTL Newtech – somewhere in 2013 :)