By Christine Tsai (Partner, 500 Startups)
In recent weeks, residents of this quiet suburb have reported strange activity concentrated in the downtown area of Castro Street. There have been numerous sightings of zombies lumbering up and down Castro, mouths agape, in search of three things.

Noted by many Castro St business owners, they hear only these words over and over: “BRAAAAAAAINS. CUUUUUUUUUSTOMERS. MOOOOOOOOONEY.”

Extreme caution should be heeded. The 12th floor of 444 Castro St appears to be a hotbed of zombie activity and where these zombies congregate at odd hours. Rumor has it that they’ve infiltrated the 500 Startups Accelerator. Ignorant paparazzi have attempted to sneak up to the 12th floor to try and capture footage, only to never be seen again. And one more thing…. these zombies got some serious moves.

(You can also watch this on SwitchCam)

We’re GHOULISHLY excited to introduce you to our little monsters — the newest 500 Accelerator batch!

We’ve got 34 creepy crawly startups spending the next couple months with us in the 500 Secret Lair in Mountain View.

24% of them have women founders, and 44% have international founders.

Here are the teams in the 500 Startups accelerator with at least one woman on the team:


72Lux offers consumers a universal checkout and personalized shopping experience while also offering a white-label version for publishers.


BrightNest is the for home maintenance. We help homeowners manage their most valuable asset with customized tips and reminders.

  • Founders: Allen Shulman and Justin Anthony (with Dina Chaiffetz on the team)
  • Where We’re From: Denver, CO. We have 300 days of sunshine. That’s more annual hours of sun than Miami Beach and San Diego.
  • Fun Fact: Each member of the BrightNest team is required to learn how to properly caulk a tub.
  • Our Theme Song: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Home
  • Our Superhero: Al from Tool Time

A “Gilt for Weddings” Dress Rush is making Bridezilla’s everywhere clamor to get couture without the cost. Up to 100% off retail ain’t bad, right?

  • Founders: Aaron Hall, Sara Morgan, Mike Arace
  • Where We’re From: Washington, DC, recently named the city with the worst traffic in America (take THAT LA!)
  • Fun Fact: It’s Dress Rush policy for each member of the team to create their “100 List” of things to do before they die.  Each month we try to check one item off everyone’s list no matter how crazy!
  • Our Theme Song:  “White & Nerdy” by Weird Al Yankovic
  • Our Superhero: Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies, of course. He is going to shoot a big laaasser beam at the investors if they don’t give us one meeeeellion dollars.

eSpark is “Pandora for education” and creates custom playlists of super fun education apps on iPads for elementary school students.

  • Founders:David Vinca. And the entire team includes Maren McMullan, Faaiz Ahmad, Tom Wolf, Colleen Loftus, Shuaib Ahmed, Joanna Doyle, Mark Sneathen, Allyson Julian
  • Where We’re From: Chicago, IL  aka Silicon Valley v2.0 :)
  • Fun Fact: One 4th grade eSpark student selected the “Entrepreneurship for kids/ Steve Jobs path” in eSpark’s curriculum and is working on an invention that he calls Brother/Sister Repellent. Move over Groupon, there’s a new startup in town.
  • Our Theme Song: ABC by Michael Jackson
  • Our Superhero: Justin Bieber. We’ll let you decide: villain or superhero?

Gizmo is a cloud-based multichannel marketing platform for mobile, tablet, social, and web.

  • Founders: William Kasel and Laura Castaneda
  • Where We’re From: Carbondale, Southern Illinois and Windsor, CA (“Wine Country”).
  • Fun Fact: Gizmo grew out of our last company which designed and developed the mobile & social strategies behind brands such as Kodak, Intuit, and Paramount Pictures.
  • Our Theme Song:  “Everybody wants to rule the world”
  • Our Superhero: According to, we’re (collectively) the Green Lantern.

LoveWithFood is the easiest way to find culinary deals & samples, curated by a community of foodies for foodies. For every deal, we donate a meal.

  • Founders: Aihui Ong (@lovewithfood)
  • Where We’re From: Grew up in food mecca Singapore and now a California girl living in the ultimate tech mecca – Silicon Valley.
  • Fun Fact: Engineers can cook too! Our BACON macaroons won the Hormel BACON Showdown challenge! (see recipe here)
  • Our Theme Song: ”Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast
  • Our Superhero: Kung Fu Panda – always pursuit your passion with a full tummy.

MeMeTales is a mobile game like reading platform for kids. Fun like Angry Birds without the guilt.

  • Founders: Maya Bisineer & Pree Kolari
  • Where We’re From: MeMeTales was born in Seattle. Now firmly settled in the Silicon Valley. The founders? They are mostly wanderers.
  • Fun Fact: Company name comes from meme, but we changed the way we said it when we realized kids love to say Me-Me-Tales.
  • Our Theme Song: The Alphabet!
  • Our Superhero: Super Why

one school logo

OneSchool is a free mobile app that connects students to the people, places, and things around them.

  • Founders: David Adewumi, Zach Johnston, Pindi Albert (And Kathleen Warner on the team)
  • Where We’re From: We are from Penn State. This summer we made the 48 hour journey from Happy Valley to Silicon Valley.
  • Fun Fact: We dropped out of college but ended up being more engaged in education than the average college student.
  • Our Theme Song: Can’t Touch This- MC Hammer…because he touched us.
  • Our Superhero: Justice League- we’re liberating data in higher education so it can benefit universities and be used for the greater public good.

Talkdesk lets your company have a contact center in the browser. It provides information about the caller by integrating with services such as Salesforce and Zendesk.

  • Founders: Tiago Paiva and Cristina Fonseca
  • Where We’re From: Lisbon, Portugal, one of the oldest cities in the world
  • Fun Fact: Talkdesk was born after 320 hours of coding, 50 hours of lost sleep and 1/2 bottle of Red Bull
  • Our Theme Song: The Proclaimers – 500 miles
  • Our Superhero: Yoda – Small and fragile but amazingly powerful!

Tiny Review is “Instagram for Yelp reviews”, or a fast and fun way to say what you think about a place.

WeddingLovely is building tools and directories to promote amazing small and independent wedding vendors.

  • Founders: Tracy Osborn
  • Where We’re From: San Jose, CA (Tracy is a California native, which seems to be a rarity now.)
  • Fun Fact: Tracy is a designer and learned Django programming in order to build and launch the first product,, in 6 weeks.
  • Our Theme Song:  Entire Girl Talk “Feed the Animals” album
  • Our Superhero: Westley, Princess Bride (incidentally, also the name of Tracy’s cat)

About the guest blogger: Christine Tsai is a Partner at 500 Startups where she works closely with early-stage startups and directs the 500 Mentor Network, platform partnerships with companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more. Prior to 500 Startups, Christine worked at places including Google, YouTube, OSIsoft and ChevronTexaco. Christine holds a B.A. in Cognitive Science from the University of California at Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @christine_tsai. » Read the full article at 500 Startups