Dave McClure hungry for food tech, 500 Startups heading east soon

Dave McClure

In an interview with Techcrunch TV, 500 Startups’ Dave McClure shared their investment focus and the industries which they are particularly excited about this year.

500 Startups is an early-stage seed fund and incubator program located in Mountain View founded by Dave McClure, alongside Christine Tsai as well as Paul Singh. Some of their investments include TaskRabbit, Twilio, Cubie, PeaTix, 9GAG, Reclip.it, SendGrip, Unbounce, Launchrock, Udemy and more than 300 other companies.

The accelerator is now calling for applications for its sixth batch, and you can either be referred into the program, or apply through AngelList.

500 Startups announcing their venture partner in China and Southeast Asia soon?

In an interview with Techcrunch TV, founding partner Dave McClure and Christine Tsai made several remarks which we think are really important for the ecosystem in this region.

dave Mcclure techcrunchtv

During the seventh minute of the interview, Dave McClure shared that 500 Startups is actively investing all over the world, with a few venture partners investing in Brazil, Mexico and India. How 500 Startups spreads its influence around the world is to work with local venture partners in each new region. For example for Mexico, 500 Startups acquired Mexican VC last August to help them keep an eye on investments in Mexico. Then in October, 500 Startups welcomed New York based Shai Goldman as well as India based Pankaj Jain to the 500 Startups family. Both Shai and Pankaj are now helping 500 Startups to invest in companies based in New York and India.

“We have, as of this week, probably ten people doing investing literally all over the world, and most of the folks are here in Silicon Valley, a few of them are in Brazil, Mexico and India, and actually probably very soon now, in China and maybe Southeast Asia.”

So does this mean that 500 Startups will announce their venture partner in China and Southeast Asia soon? Which countries would they be based in? For Southeast Asia, we wouldn’t be surprised if they set up a local presence in Singapore, particularly because Singapore is the hub for Southeast Asia. This will make it easier for 500 Startups to gain access to startups in the region, especially in key countries such as Thailand, Vietnam as well as Indonesia.

JFDI, a Techstars Network incubator has also proved itself to be successful for basing in Singapore, taking in regional startups for their 100 days programme: more than 60 percent of the startups in its first batch succeeded in securing S$500,000 to S$700,000 funding at the end of the programme.

If it’s China, Beijing or Shanghai would be key cities as Beijing is known as the “San Francisco of China” while Shanghai is the equivalent of New York.

We are also particularly excited about the news because it means that startups in this region would be able to have more access to Silicon Valley and learn from the best minds in the Bay area. This means more exposure, be it exposure to the Silicon Valley way, or even media exposures from the west.

Read also: What Asian entrepreneurs can learn from Silicon Valley.

Is food the next big thing?

Another interesting point which Dave McClure shared during the interview with Techcrunch TV is that he is very excited about the food tech. Here’s what he said during the interview:

“New stuffs that we are going to be looking for particularly this year, maybe Christine can talk abit about family tech, some of the education topics, but things that I am really excited about: Food. Food tech has been kind of an area that we have been making a number of investments in.

It’s kind of a big boring industry, but a lot of people eat.

We think that there’s a lot of opportunities in helping improve food finding, delivering food, ordering systems, notifications system, and its a very frequent purchase item for a lot of people. That is in a very big market that can have a lot of innovation, which there are not a lot of tech savvy innovation happening right now, but its a multi-billion dollar industry.”

This means a lot, especially to our region where food culture is a big thing.

food apps

Some of the startups that help improve food discovery which we have covered include: Singapore’s Burpple, Japan’s SnapDish, Taiwan’s iPeen, Thailand’s Wongnai as well as Vietnam’s Foody.vn. Rocket Internet’s FoodPanda and recently acquired Room Service Deliveries both operate in the food delivery space. On the other hand, Singapore based Hastify, which is mentored by HungryGoWhere’s cofounder, operates in the food ordering space. Singapore’s Reserve.it which recently partnered with HungryGoWhere operates in the online restaurant reservation space.

Looks like we are going to hear a lot more from the food tech industry this year. For consumer and end users like you and me, this is great news too. Why? Because discovering awesome food is only going to get easier, and getting our food at our favourite restaurants or even at the comfort of our homes is only going to be faster and more efficient.

Read also: Foodspotting’s US$10M exit: Is it attractive? What does it mean for other players?

Having spent one year abroad in Shanghai under the NUS Overseas College Programme, Jacky has an avid interest in entrepreneurship and web based startups. Jacky used to run N-House, Singapore's first entrepreneurial themed residence in NUS, and was also part of the organizing team for Startup Weekend Singapore 2012. You can reach him at jacky [at] e27 [dot] co

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