488 To Go? Dave McClure’s 500 Startups Unveils New Incubator with 12 Startups

2/10/11Follow @wroush

500 Startups, the early stage investment fund founded by PayPal alum and startup guru Dave McClure, today took the wraps off its long-rumored Mountain View, CA-based startup accelerator program. With an investment and mentorship structure patterned after Y Combinator and other successful venture incubators, the new program has already admitted 12 new startups for terms that will last three to six months, according to a 500 Startups blog post.

The tongue-in-cheek post, reflecting McClure’s own brand of over-the-top humor, claims that the 500 Startups program “will soon eclipse the CERN Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland” as the world’s highest-energy accelerator. “Several Russian physicists have raised concerns this new 500 Startups Accelerator could be dangerous and has the potential for creating wormholes with unknown outcomes, possibly even the creation of a black hole,” the post asserts.

The invitation-only program—there’s no open application process—will focus on startups that can leverage search, mobile, social, and e-mail platforms to acquire customers. The curriculum will apparently have a heavy focus on helping startups perfect the user experience (UX) design for their Web-based products and services; UX designers are prominent among the accelerator’s network of more than 120 mentors (some of whom will be in residence at the accelerator’s downtown Mountain View space). Admission to the program comes with seed funding of $25,000 to $100,000, in exchange for roughly 5 percent of a startup’s founding equity.

The first batch of 12 startups, which will present to investors at a Demo Day event on April 6 and 7, include:

955 Dreams—maker of the “History of Jazz” iPad app (which is fabulous, by the way). Kiran Bellubbi and Kyle Oba, founders.

Baydin—A “personal trainer for your e-mail.” Alexander Moore, Mike Chin, and Aye Moah, founders. (Xconomy’s Erin Kutz detailed how Moore’s answer to McClure’s Twitter plea for a ride led to 500 Startups’ investment.)

Crowd:Rally—Helps Facebook users make money by endorsing film trailers to their followers. Evan Kuo and Andy Chen, founders.

Internmatch—helping college students discover “amazing internships.” Andrew Maguire, Nathan Parcells, and Kyle Wilkinson, founders.

LetsCatchUpOnWednesdays.com—helps users schedule lunch rotations with people they want to catch up with. Andy Chen, founder.

Ninua—maker of Networked Blogs, a tool that connects blogs with Facebook. Waleed Abdulla, founder.

Punchd—mobile-based loyalty cards for local venues. Reed Morse, founder.

Rewardli—”Lets business owners leverage their social graph in new and interesting ways.” George Favvas, founder.

Speakergram—An online platform for booking speaking engagements. Sam Rosen, founder.

Spoondate—Helping foodies arrange dining-focused dates. Raissa Nebie and Van Nguyen, founders.

Yongopal—Conversational English education for Asian university students. Darien Brown, Daron Hall, and Brian Suchland, founders.

That’s only 11, of course. According to 500 Startups, the twelfth accelerator member is a stealth media company founded by former Mint.com marketing vice president Stew Langille. Xconomy will follow each of these companies as they progress and bring you in-depth profiles of the most interesting ventures.

Here’s a slick video that San Francisco-based Micro-Documentaries produced about the new 500 Startups incubator space in downtown Mountain View:

Wade Roush is Chief Correspondent and Editor At Large at Xconomy. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com. Follow @wroush

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