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‘500 Startups’ to Launch Bitcoin and FinTech Investor Syndicate

(@danielcawrey) | Published on May 2, 2014 at 10:41 BST

California-based incubator 500 Startups is launching an investor syndicate that will focus on bitcoin and financial technologies. The goal is to find more investors interested in putting money into the space, the company said.

Dave McClure, founding partner of 500 Startups, recently told the Silicon Valley Business Journal that this is the organisation's third syndicate for accredited investors:

“We are just getting ready to roll out our third syndicate, which will be focused around financial services and bitcoin.”

New funding avenues

The investor syndicate concept is a popular one on AngeList, a well-known resource for accredited investors to pool money and help grow nascent businesses.

500 Startups already has one syndicate for general startup investing and another focused on female founders. Each of those syndicates received $1m apiece from the firm.

The idea for the new syndicate is to help open up additional funding avenues for bitcoin and financial technology (FinTech) startups within the incubator.

500 Startups partner Sean Percival said that there is a lack of VCs in the bitcoin space, explaining:

“I think a lot of [investors] are taking a-wait-and-see approach, the other challenge is that there’s been no liquidity, there’s been no exits.”

Bitcoin focus

The incubator recently announced it has funded five bitcoin startups in its most recent class, with each company receiving $100,000 in exchange for 7% in equity. According to Percival, that funding amount valued each company at roughly $1.4m.

Putting both bitcoin and FinTech in one syndicate is the company's way of addressing the lack of investors prepared to invest money in bitcoin startups.

“I think [investors] are looking at it as, it’s so early. They like early, but this is too early,” said Percival, adding:

“Investors like big-ass markets. [Bitcoin] is a small market when you think about it.”

About 500 Startups

500 Startups is currently one of four incubators that accelerate bitcoin companies within Silicon Valley. 500’s startup batches are relatively large, averaging around 30 companies in each group.

The other incubators investing in bitcoin-focused companies include Boost VC, Plug and Play Technology Center and CrossCoin Ventures.

Both Percival and McClure have backgrounds in bitcoin and FinTech. Sean Percival was a former VP at the social network MySpace, and has carried out marketing work for bitcoin hosted wallet and information service Blockchain.

McClure was previously Director of Marketing at PayPal in the early 2000s.

500 StartupsInvestmentSean Percival

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