500 Startups opens San Francisco office with its new batch of startups, includes companies from eleven countries

500 Startups logoBy Brian Kovalesky, StartUp Beat editor

Now that the holidays are over and we’re well into the new year, startup accelerators are starting to debut their new classes, and today one of the most prominent—500 Startups—revealed its eighth batch. I’m a fan of 500 Startups in the technology space because of its international focus and its focus on companies that are working to solve ‘unsexy’ problems—a mantra long espoused by founding partner Dave McClure. Its portfolio companies may not always draw ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ during demos, but when you drill down, the ‘unsexy’ companies are the ones that are often making the most profound and long-lasting impacts on peoples’ daily lives.

This class lives up to its unsexy ambitions, with an intriguing set of products that include a location-aware mobile device-based guide for visitors to historical attractions, a tool that measures and quantifies the value of public relations efforts, a seven-day-a-week on-demand (!) package delivery firm, and a Cairo-based HR-focused startup that was founded and bootstrapped for three years during the revolution in Egypt (and I won’t even get into the ‘chat roulette for rap battles’ app).

The batch also lives up to the firm’s efforts to be an international accelerator, with startups hailing from Canada, France, Spain, India, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Brazil, Taiwan, and Hong Kong; and a U.S. cohort representing Las Vegas, Austin, New York City, San Francisco, Sunnyvale, Detroit, Oakland, and Mountain View.

This will be the first accelerator group housed in its new San Francisco office (in addition to its office in Mountain View), and 500 Startups is planning to run year-round, with two classes going in Mountain View and two in San Francisco every year, sometimes overlapping.

By the way, for all you budding entrepreneurs out there, 500 Startups is already accepting applications to its ninth batch (due February 21): https://angel.co/500startups-batch-9/apply

Here’s the full list of all 28 companies with brief descriptions, taken from the batch eight announcement:

BidAway

eBay for vacations—we match the excess capacity in the luxury leisure industry with discerning customers through real-time online auctions.

AngelList: angel.co/bidaway
Founders: Brian Reichle, Luca Carlucci
From: Barcelona, Spain
Fun Fact: We already have exclusivity contracts with more than 2,500 4-5 star hotels.

primeloop.co

Primeloop.co makes it easy for brands and agencies to clip all their press, measure the value of PR, and re-engage in public conversations to build trust and loyalty.

AngelList: angel.co/clipppr
Founders: Thomas Knoll, Mike Ciklin
From: Las Vegas, NV
Fun Fact: One of our co-founders, Thomas Knoll, was previously the Community Architect at Zappos.com

CultureAlley

Learn languages via interactive videos and practice them on your own Facebook wall or Twitter feed! Transforming your everyday social media browsing into a language lesson!

AngelList: angel.co/culturealley-com
Founders: Nishant Patni, Pranshu Bhandari
From: Jaipur, India
Fun Fact: CultureAlley has taught Spanish and Mandarin to over 430,000 learners in 220+ countries.

Doorman

Package delivery on demand until midnight, 7 days a week. Never miss a delivery again.

AngelList: angel.co/doorman-1
Founders: Zander Adell, Kapil Israni
From: San Francisco, CA
Fun Fact: Zander worked at Pixar & Kapil worked at IBM.

DOZ

The first marketing agency in the cloud thanks to crowdsourcing principles and matching algorithms. DOZ helps online businesses to go international by automagically curating local marketers and putting them to work in an all-in-one platform.

AngelList: angel.co/doz
Founders: Anji Ismail, Faouzi El Yagoubi
From: Lyon, France
Fun Fact: We have +4000 qualified marketers in more than 45 countries, and have performed +200 campaigns in 30 countries.

Enchanted Diamonds

Enchanted Diamonds is every couple’s best friend. Helping you discover the ring size and taste preferences of the one you love by launching the first-ever Engagement Ring Registry and delivering bespoke engagement rings tailor-made for the selected diamond and finger size at the best value.

AngelList: angel.co/enchanted-diamonds
Founders: Joshua Niamehr, Jonathan Las
From: New York, NY
Fun Fact: We use 3D printing to create our bespoke engagement rings. 3D printing and CAD allow us to tailor each ring for the persons finger size, center diamond, and side stones.

Equipboard

An e-commerce platform that connects products to the influencers using them. Think IMDb for products.

AngelList: angel.co/equipboard
Founders: Giulio Chiarenza, Michael Pierce
From: Austin, Texas
Fun Fact: Founded by a gear-obsessed blues guitarist and signed Italian producer.

FameBit

A marketplace that makes it easy for businesses to find, hire, and work with YouTube influencers for product and service endorsements.

AngelList: angel.co/famebit
Founders: David Kierzkowski, Agnes Kozera
From: Toronto, Canada
Fun Fact: We give businesses the power to work with YouTubers directly for a lower cost, and faster campaign deployment.

Friend Trusted

We take the hassle out of home remodeling. Simply take a picture of your kitchen or bathroom, and see estimates from top rated contractors from the app.

AngelList: angel.co/friendtrusted
Founders: Darwin Widjaja, Brenton Marrelli
From: Sunnyvale, CA
Fun Fact: One of us has a pink house because of a bad contractor. That’s why we set out to make it easy to get estimates from top-rated contractors.

Guidekick

A mobile interpretive tool that creates an immersive and engaging learning experience for visitors at high profile historical attractions.

AngelList: angel.co/guidekick
Founders: Mark Paddon, Joshua Holland, Garrett Lauringson, Aaron Rivera
From: San Francisco, CA
Fun Fact: We built the world’s first native Google Glass museum app for visitors at Hearst Castle.

Holidog

The #1 European marketplace for pet owners. We’re selling dogs and cats happiness and fun!

AngelList: angel.co/holidog
Founders: Julien Muller, Stéphane Degré
From: Paris, France
Fun Fact: We have customers in 5 countries.

i3zif.com (Play for Music Limited)

We teach users how to play musical instruments through video tutorials working with some of the best musicians in the Arab world. We’re the first to provide high quality online music education in Arabic, and the first to offer it in English for oriental and eastern instruments.

AngelList: angel.co/play-for-music-limited-i3zif-com-1
Founder: Bisher Abu Taleb
From: Amman, Jordan
Fun Fact: The founding team are all performing musicians; we have 2 Guitarists, a bassist, drummer, rapper, keyboard player, 3 percussion players, and 2 lead singers

Já Entendi

An eLearning solution that leverages blue-collar workers in Brazil. With our innovative learning methodology, we transform content like books, booklets, and manuals into video lessons that accelerate the learning process.

AngelList: angel.co/ja-entendi
Founders: Wagner Bonfiglio, Gladys Mariotto
From: Curitiba, Brazil
Fun Fact: Gladys Mariotto (Ph.D) has won more than 30 prizes with our methodology.

Pijon

Reinventing college care packages and delivering the awesome supplies students love and need every month. We help college students stay happy and healthy, while keeping families connected.

AngelList: angel.co/pijon
Founders: Rob Caucci, Jeremy Pease, Adam Saynuk
From: New York, NY
Fun Fact: Time Magazine called Pijon one of the 10 great subscription boxes.

PredictionIO

An open-source machine learning server for software developers to create predictive features, such as personalization, recommendation, and content discovery.

AngelList: angel.co/predictionio
Founders: Simon Chan, Donald Szeto, Kenneth Chan, Thomas Stone
From: San Francisco, CA
Fun Fact: We were picked by Gilt’s personalization team as one of their favorite tools in 2013.

Quest

Ask a question and get an answer within minutes. Available for iOS, Android, and any mobile phone via text message.

AngelList: angel.co/quest
Founders: Deepak Ravindran, Mohammed Hisamuddin
From: San Francisco, CA

Raisy

We partner with brands and services to provide easy and profitable online fundraising programs for schools.

AngelList: angel.co/raisy
Founders: Marc St Raymond, Will Crowthers
From: San Francisco, CA
Fun Fact: Over $4 billion is spent every year on “product fundraisers” for U.S. schools, where a school sells items like gift wrap, chocolate, and popcorn and receives a portion of the purchase price back.

rapt.fm

Chat roulette for rap battles, but it’s going to be a comprehensive technology for artists to build fan bases, get discovered, give live concerts, and monetize.

AngelList: angel.co/rapt-fm
Founders: Erik Torenberg, Jamie Pitts
From: Detroit, MI
Fun Fact: We’ve had contests where rapt winners got to open for Royce Da 5’9/Girl Talk/Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony in concert and where one winner got a record contract with Tommy Boy Entertainment.

Remark

A browser-based platform for video annotation.

AngelList: angel.co/remark
Founders: Taylor Hou, Sri Sonti
From: Austin, TX
Fun Fact: The team hails from Australia, Nigeria, India, China, Pakistan, and the USA.

Roam & Wander

Roam & Wander makes games, apps, and toys for kids under the TuTu and DiDi brands.

AngelList: angel.co/roam-wander-1
Founder: Jason Warren
From: Taipei and Hong Kong
Fun Fact: We published the first game in the App Store that rewards kids for their achievements with real stickers delivered right to their door.

ShareRoot Inc.

The leading Social Marketing suite for Pinterest. We help large brands drive and measure Pinterest engagement.

AngelList: angel.co/shareroot
Founders: Marc Angelone, Noah Abelson
From: Oakland, CA
Fun Fact: Initial paying clients include Sony Pictures, General Mills, MGM Grand, Fox Search Light Pictures, Phillips, and Jim Beam, all of which propelled us to a profitable first year.

Shippo

We make international shipping easy and cheap for e-commerce businesses by aggregating shipping volumes and giving customers access to cheaper shipping providers.

AngelList: angel.co/shippo
Founders: Laura Behrens Wu, Simon Kreuz, Max Diez
From: San Francisco, CA
Fun Fact: We have a shipping volume of more than 1 million packages lined up for 2014.

Simmr

Simmr elevates the typical meal out by giving diners access to behind-the-scenes experiences at their favorite restaurants: think kitchen tours, meeting the chef or owner, learning how to make dishes on the menu, and special tastings, which give restaurants a profitable way to build a community and acquire loyal customers.

AngelList: angel.co/simmr-1
Founders: Neeharika Bhartiya and Wendy Lin
From: San Francisco
Fun Fact: Both founders know how to code.

SoundBetter

SoundBetter is the leading marketplace for music production talent. We connect millions of independent musicians with professional music producers, session musicians, mixing & mastering engineers.

AngelList: angel.co/soundbetter
Founders: Shachar Gilad, Itamar Yunger
From: Tel Aviv, Israel
Fun Fact: SoundBetter is the only place where you can directly hire the most Grammy award winners to work on your music.

Unwind Me

Building the brand for accessible massage and wellness. We make it easier than ever for anyone to book and receive a high-quality massage, when and where they want, at an affordable price.

AngelList: angel.co/unwind-me
Founders: Akaash Achreja, Milan Thakor
From: San Francisco, CA
Fun Fact: We make a real difference in the lives of massages therapists as well – massage therapists on Unwind Me earn 2-3x what they make in the industry today.

VenueSpot

An online marketplace where venues bid to host your events. Post your event, receive multiple bids, and choose your venue.

AngelList: angel.co/venuespot
Founders: Jerome Ng, Tom Chan
From: Vancouver, Canada
Fun Fact: We currently have over $250,000 worth of events which your venue can host.

Whale Path

An on-demand research platform where professionals can order business research from a group of qualified and vetted top tier students. Our technology allows us to deliver research to customers in just a few days.

AngelList: angel.co/whale-path
Founder: Artem Gassan
From: Mountain View, CA
Fun Fact: Within 5 months we have conducted 52 research projects for 35 paid customers. Our customers include: Oracle, Siemens, HP, Woodside Capital and startups like TechFetch.

WUZZUF

We do intelligent job matching by simulating how “human” recruiters actually think, screen applicants, and communicate with both employers and job seekers.

AngelList: angel.co/wuzzuf
Founder: Ameer Sherif
From: Cairo, Egypt
Fun Fact: We managed to survive 3 tough years through the revolution in Egypt and bootstrapped until we reached profitability.

Speak Your Mind

*