500 Startups + City of Kobe PRESENT

500 Kobe Pre-Accelerator

500 KOBE PRE-ACCELERATOR has already taken place.

Announcing 500 KOBE ACCELERATOR (2017)

ABOUT 500 KOBE 2016

In partnership with the government of the City of Kobe, 500 Startups launched a pre-accelerator held in the city of Kobe in August of 2016. The 6-week program focused on bringing entrepreneurial advice, growth hacking techniques, and members of 500 Startups' team to emerging startups while boosting Japanese and international entrepreneurial presence in Kobe.


Week 1: Lean Startup & Legal

  • The week begins with a welcome night networking event introducing the startups to the mentors through friendly one-minute elevator pitches.
  • Legal experts from 500’s extended network will present on everything from “Startup Legal 101” to the basics of fundraising and convertible notes.
  • Other sessions on setting goals for the program and preparing for the upcoming sessions on distribution and fundraising.
  • Office hours for the startups to discuss and work with the mentors.
  • Fireside chats and lunch talks with the mentors will be open to the public and happen throughout the week.

Week 2: Growth & Distribution

  • 500 is excited to bring in some of its world-class experts in startup growth and distribution for a week focused on growth hacking.
  • Sessions will focus on introduction to marketing techniques used by the 500 distribution team. Email and digital marketing will be discussed in-depth by mentors, as well as sales and scaling, pricing and market positioning, and retargeting/remarketing.
  • Office hours will be held for the startups to discuss and work with the mentors.
  • Fireside chats and lunch talks with the mentors will be open to the public and happen throughout the week.

Week 3 & 4: The Startup Sprint!

  • These weeks will give the startups in the Kobe Pre-Accelerator a chance to revisit their goals and incorporate what they have learned from the mentors, talks, and their fellow startups and into their companies.
  • Each startup will have experiments to implement from the Growth &Distribution sessions and this recess will provide a good opportunity to schedule a variety of tests and their effect on their target market.
  • This is also a great time to schedule meetings that may require travel and the co-working space will remain open for the duration of these two weeks.

Week 5: Fundraising

  • This week focuses on fundraising and will prepare the startups for the full range of necessary considerations and steps to successfully fundraise.
  • How to design investor pitch decks, refining pitches for different audiences, important considerations to make at each round of funding, and the legal ramifications of contractual obligations to investors.
  • Office hours will be held for the startups to discuss and work with the mentors. Fireside chats and lunch talks with the mentors will be open to the public and happen throughout the week.

Week 6: Pitch Prep & Demo Day!

  • In preparation for demo day at the end of the week, the startups will be rigorously prepared to pitch to investors.
  • Working with some of Silicon Valley’s most successful pitch experts, the startups will be trained in delivering a concise and appealing pitch to investors.
  • This will include sessions on storytelling, intensive pitch prep, and mock investor interviews.
  • On Friday of Week 6, the startups will have a chance to present their companies to investors and guests from 500’s network at the Demo Day!



Zafer Younis


Zafer founded The Online Project & Modern Media. Endeavor Entrepreneur. Oasis500, Astrolabs, and Flat6Labs Mentor.


Soaib Grewal

Venture Partner

Soaib leads the 500Design program in India. He’s been a founder, designer & investor in the both the US & Indian startup ecosystem for the last 5 years. At the Kobe program he’ll be helping companies understand how to leverage design to succeed - making better products and memorable experiences for their users.


Meghan Christenson

Operations Manager

Meghan ran accelerator operations in San Francisco accelerator for 2 years prior to joining the Business Development Team. She’s looking forward to joining everyone in Kobe and facilitating a successful pre-accelerator program.


Andrea Barrica

Venture Partner

Andrea is an entrepreneur (step-founder @inDinero), sales nerd and pitch coach (@SlideChef.io).


Nemo Chu

Distribution Hacker

Nemo helps startups grow profits—fast. Previously, he led marketing at Bloomfire (acquired 20 months after launch) and then, at KISSmetrics, while building a 7-figure eCommerce side business from scratch in 1 year.


Elizabeth Yin

Entrepreneur in Residence

Started an ad tech company called LaunchBit (accelerator Batch 2 at 500) that was Acquired in 2014. Now Elizabeth runs the Mountain View Accelerator.


Matt Ellsworth

Distribution Partner

When he’s not helping 500 companies grow through sales & marketing automation, he’s probably eating a delicious meal or telling a bad joke.


Marvin Liao


Marvin works with awesome startups across the globe and at the SF accelerator program. He’s a recovering executive from Yahoo! and is very happy to be part of the revolution.


James Riney


James co-founded the “Medium.com of Japan” before covering venture investments for DeNA, based in Tokyo. He now heads the 500 Startups Japan fund.


Mat Johnson


Mat helps startups through customer acquisition, metrics and testing, and previously worked at General Assembly, Charles River Ventures, Grockit and Socrata.


Neil Dugal

Corporate Counsel

Neil oversees all investments at 500 StartUps and manages a portfolio of over 1,300 companies. Prior to 500 Startups, he represented companies as large as King.com (creator of Candy Crush) to investors in Silicon Valley like a16z and Accel. At the Kobe Pre-Accelerator, he looks forward to providing insight on how to do deals the Silicon Valley way, and how to bring its best practices into deals you do in Japan.


Tommie Powers

Distribution Hacker-in-Residence

His marketing friends call him Tommie Traffic because he uses his SuperPowers to help companies build their brand and grow their audience with paid advertising online. When he’s not pouring over data and driving tons of traffic on the interwebs, he’s probably somewhere hanging out with his family. He’s also a former NASA Space Grant recipient and sports fanatic, particularly of Football (American).


Yohei Sawayama

Venture Partner

Just a nuclear engineer turned hacker turned banker turned researcher turned venture capitalist. Yohei sources deals and wins hackathons over at 500 Japan.