How Lenda Hacked Its Way Into 500 Startups’ Batch 9 In Four Easy Steps

Posted by Jason on April 23, 2014

Lenda is proud to announce that we’ve been accepted into one of the USA’s premiere startup accelerators, 500 Startups! We will be part of Batch 9 with 27 other startups, working day-in and day-out with each other, and some of Silicon Valley’s greatest minds to help solve the pain homeowners feel when shopping for and completing their refinance mortgage. Before getting too ahead of ourselves, we wanted to share our version of hacking our way into this prestigious program in four easy steps.

Step 1: Idea, Execution, and Team.

Lenda automates the mortgage refinance process for homeowners - a $2T market. That’s a solid idea with a massive market but ideas alone don’t keep the lights on. We’ve been growing steadily since inception in September 2013 and while 500 Startups been known to invest in earlier-stage companies, Lenda likely didn’t fit that mold. We needed traction (customers, revenue) that proved our model worked. Executing on this doesn’t have to be perfect (it never will) but you’ve got to have something to show, otherwise you’ll likely be passed by or told to go back to the drawing board. And, making sure you’re team is well-rounded is crucial. We were well-balanced in the fact that we have domain expertise with business and sales background as well as world-class designers and technologists to build our product and ultimately scale. Having gaps will likely make it harder for you to succeed, and the 500 team will definitely see that up-front.

Step 2: Network Like Crazy.

We met as many people as we could that were affiliated with 500 Startups. After all, this was going to be Batch 9, back in the headquarters in Mountain View after their first foray into San Francisco for Batch 8. We met previous founders of companies that had gone through the accelerator, as well as mentors and advisors of 500. Internet research will only get you so far to make sure you really, really, really want to accept your fate at the accelerator, so we needed the human touch to get the real scoop on what to expect, and make sure 500 was the fit we envisioned for Lenda. After meeting, we asked them to put in a good word for Lenda with everyone they knew at 500. They all happily obliged.

Step 3: Nail Your Interview.

Easiest way to do that is to know your product, know why it’s huge, and most importantly, know your metrics. For early-stage startups, metrics change quickly, but just knowing where you’re at and what it takes to get to your next milestone shows you’re paying attention to your business. The team at 500 will quickly trim the fat for founders that are more wantrepreneur than entrepreneur.

Step 4: Get the Wow Factor.

Find a creative way to make yourselves and/or your company stand-out. Hmm, sounds like marketing, huh? For Batch 9, 500 Startups interviewed over 1,500 companies. Only 28 were accepted. So, to separate ourselves, Lenda took a risk and stalked Dave McClure and Christine Tsai and mailed them something very applicable to one of the problems we are trying to solve; too much paperwork in the home lending space. Turns out, Dave and Christine are just like homeowners nationwide and were ultra-annoyed when getting 45 pages of confusing documents. They quickly got the picture of what Lenda is capable of and to put the cherry on top, we had enclosed a one-pager to sum everything up. Here it is and be warned, this type of verbiage is intended for Dave (Know Your Audience!)

And of course, if you want to see Lenda in action, please check out our site directly at www.lenda.com.