For those who are following the tech scene closely, today is an important day. 500 Startups, an incubator based in Mountain View, California, just ran their fifth Demo Day. 500 Startups came a long way since it was first founded back in 2010. The firm now has a full team of venture partners who oversee some US$50 million in investment funds, with 450 global portfolio companies and more than 1,000 entrepreneurs as part of its global network.

Other than its Demo Day, a few major announcements were made.

New venture partner in Beijing

Earlier last week, Dave McClure revealed in his interview with TechCrunch TV that they are setting up a local presence in China. We predicted that it might be in Beijing (or Shanghai). Fast forward to today, it’s official: 500 Startups has just hired Rui Ma, a local venture partner in Beijing to invest and source for deal flow in China. Ma has worked in the area over the last several years providing investing and advisory services through merchant bank The Raine Group, which was an advisor during the Renren IPO, and advising cross-border M&A for CITIC Securities International Partners.

Dave McClure met Rui Ma back in 2011 when he was at Beijing on his Geeks On A Plane trip.

Read also: Dave McClure is hungry for food tech, says 500 Startups might head to China and Southeast Asia soon

rui ma 500 startups

Japanese Operator NTT DoCoMo invests in 500 Startups, launches mobile-focused incubator

On top of that, 500 Startups also just announced that they have received an investment from Japanese operator NTT DoCoMo, as part of a deal that sees NTT DoCoMo launch its own mobile-focused incubator in Japan in partnership with 500 Startups. According to TheNextWeb, the new DoCoMo incubator program is focused on tablet and smartphone related startups in Japan.

So what do we know about the new Japan incubator?

  1. No revealed specific details of how startups can enter.
  2. Deadline for applications closes on March 11.
  3. Applicants that are successfully chosen will get 2 million yen (US$23,000) in seed funding, as well as office space, mentoring, business development advice and other learning opportunities that are typical of similar programs.
  4. DoCoMo says it is keen to recruit startups in the following fields: media/content, finance/payments, commerce, medical/healthcare, machine-to-machine (M2M), aggregation/platforms, environment/ecology and security/safety.
  5. The incubator is backed by 10 billion yen (US$109 million)

500 Startups is pretty much taking over the world now. They have set up a strong presence in Silicon Valley, India, Mexico, Japan and now China. The investment by DTT DoCoMo means that they would have more access to promising companies from Japan. Earlier last year, 500 Startups also became part of the pan-Asian super angel fund alongside Singapore based Jungle Ventures.

Read also: Jungle Ventures announces new US$10M pan-Asian super angel fund


Geeks on a Plane explores local markets around the world

500 Startups is showing no signs of slowing down. Which leads to the question, where next? Let’s take a closer look at Geeks on a Plane (GOAP), an invite only tour for 500 Startups to get insights into local markets. GOAP visited China back in 2010, found a lot of opportunities there, subsequently hired a venture partner to look for deal flows for them today. In 2011, GOAP focused more on discovering South America. The outcome of that: 500 Startups acquired Mexican VC to invest in Mexico and of course, Brazil. The same year, GOAP went to India, and shortly after that, Pankaj Jain joined 500 Startups as a venture partner to be on the ground for 500 Startups in India.

If we follow the same trend, in 2012, GOAP made a few visits: Tel Aviv and New Zealand, among others.

Will anything concrete come out of that?