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500 Startups to launch startup growth-marketing program in Miami

500 Startups founder Dave McClure chats with investor Fabrice Grinda at PreMoney in March.
500 Startups founder Dave McClure chats with investor Fabrice Grinda at PreMoney in March. Miami Herald

500 Startups, a Silicon Valley venture capital seed fund and startup accelerator, is doubling down on its interest in Miami.

In March, 500 Startups and its founder Dave McClure brought its PreMoney conference to Miami, its first foray outside Silicon Valley with that event. Thursday, the organization announced that it will launch a 10-week growth marketing program in South Florida beginning Sept. 28.

Because the past couple of years have seen the Miami and Latin American startup ecosystems continue to mature, with more companies emerging in the region and more money to fund them, 500 Startups believes it is a good time to launch its new Miami Distro Program — distro is 500 slang for distribution or customer acquisition. The organization’s staff and mentors will be flying in from Silicon Valley, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil to administer the program, guiding and funding its first batch of invited startups focused on scaling customer acquisition, retention and revenue.

The program is supported by partners John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Simkins Family Foundation, Softlayer and Building.co, a new collaborative space for tech companies in downtown Miami, where the Miami Distro Program will take place.

Startups accepted into the program with “growth as a mindset” will be in the post-seed stage and have previously raised at least $150,000 in funding from other investors. They will likely be five to eight teams from South Florida, Latin America or elsewhere that want to target the Latin America market and/or the U.S. Spanish-speaking market from Miami, said Bedy Yang, the 500 Startups partner that is leading the program. The companies have not been selected yet, Yang said, but will be identified through recommendations and introductions from its global network of 3,000 founders and mentors.

Participating companies will receive $150,000 to $250,000 in funding from 500 Startups, with $50,000 of that allocated to the Distro program fee and another $50,000 earmarked for growth marketing spending. The Distro Program will be staffed with four to six mentors on site, and additional topic-specific mentors will be flown in or available remotely throughout the program.

Yang said the 500 partners and mentors will also hold meetups for the greater community. Many of 500 Startups’ growth marketing programs also will be available to the public on its YouTube channel.

Yang said this is the first 10-week Distro Program for 500 Startups, which has a portfolio of 1,200 investments in over 50 countries, including more than 100 in Latin America. It is also running shorter distro-themed programs in London and Kuala Lumpur. With all three, it was seeking hub locations to serve regions where startup activity is emerging. Yang said the fund’s interest in Miami is strong, and hinted there will be more to come.

“It is so easy to convince everyone to go to Miami,” said Yang. While 500 leaders have been in and out for events, “it will be great to be able to spend a lot more time there. We’re quite happy. You’ll be seeing a lot more of us.”

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