500 Startups Miami reimagined the accelerator model. See who’s pitching on Demo Day

Six startups from Miami and LatAm earned their spots in next week’s Growth Program Demo Day.
By Nancy Dahlberg
This year, 500 Startups’ Miami’s Growth Program will be live-streaming Demo Day on  Nov. 12. It will be 500 Startups’ 3rd annual Growth Program in Miami, and 500 says the startups you will see have truly earned their place in front of you.
Here’s why. Miguel Cruz, Richard MacDonald and Anabella Rojas re-imagined the accelerator model after last year’s program concluded. After getting feedback from founders, investors and community builders, they created a three-phase process for the Growth Program that gave 500 Startups Miami the opportunity to help more startups initially with intensive sales acceleration training – something founders requested. But the new model they built also allowed the 500 team to “double down” on the startups that were making the most progress in the later phases, Cruz said.
Here’s how it works: From 412 applicants, Cruz and his team chose 41 to enter phase one of the program, where they received a weeklong full-time program in the Sales Acceleration Method, developed by MacDonald, a 500 Startups mentor who has advised a number of startups here in Miami and other 500 Startups regions. Using the method, they learned to better refine their target markets, their value proposition and their strategy to reach and activate buyers. 500 ran four sales acceleration programs of 10-11 startups each for the 41 companies.
Startups with strong growth plans and team dynamics were invited to phase 2 – 18 startups in all – where the focus was on designing and running growth experiments alongside the 500 Startups team over the next four weeks. The top performers – as shown by percentage of growth during the experiments – advanced to the final phase, where the focus was on getting the startups investor-ready for Demo Day.
For example, Miami-based ConciergePad, was one of the six companies that made it to phase three. It offers a software suite of 13 products to keep your family safe, particularly at school. Before the program the company was growing 30% a year, but during the program they were growing 200%+ a month, Cruz and MacDonald said. The startup’s biggest problem now is that they are exhausted keeping up with all the growth — a nice problem to have.
“We’re very proud of the startups that have made it, and we are very happy with the results we are seeing,” said Cruz.
The merit-based nature of the program makes participating Demo Day even more competitive: Just 1.5% of applicants made it to Demo Day.
Here are all six startups that will be presenting (descriptions provided by 500 Startups):

  • Birdie (Miami): Transforming millions of consumer conversations into pre-critical insights. Read more about Birdie on Refresh Miami here.
  • ConciergePad (Miami): Keeping your loved ones safe and healthy.
  • Licify (Colombia): Connecting the best builders with the best buyers.
  • Raw Apothecary (Mexico): The perfect blend of natural skin care products by skin type.
  • Uello (Brazil): Logistics company with tech DNA focused on the delivery experience
  • Uptime Analytics (Colombia): Optimizes energy consuming habits.

Register here to attend the virtual Demo Day Thursday. Nov. 12 at 1 pm. Accredited investors can apply here for VIP passes giving them access to materials, private chat channels and 500 Startups’ VC Slack Channel.
Cruz and MacDonald do not know of another accelerator anywhere that has done a process like this but it made so much sense on a number of levels, MacDonald said. Over the course of a typical accelerator – 8 to 12 weeks – startups take in new information and respond to advice and guidance very differently and “we just don’t have that view” when selecting the companies, McDonald said.  “We were wondering if we can improve the way we select the startups, but it is really when you live and work with the companies that you really start to see how they operate and adjust to different scenarios, react to the market and start to grow.”
Rather than a broad program that most accelerators do, by putting the founders through the first phase, the sales acceleration method, “we are starting to put a little pressure on them to show us what they’ve got,” MacDonald said. At each phase, 500’s team evaluated them on 15 growth measurements, including team capability and “team trust” — to choose the ones that were ready investment rocket fuel, he said. “We’re really excited about the ones that popped out at the end.”
Next year’s program will hopefully be back to the in-person experience but will likely be the same format, Cruz said. The first phase would likely be in-person, the second phase could be done virtually as the startups will be doing their growth experiments, with the last phase back to the in-person experience. “We did our best to replicate the experience virtually, but nothing compares to being together in person,” Cruz said.
Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter and email her at [email protected]

Nancy Dahlberg