500 Startups’ super angel Dave McClure made himself known at the International Startup Festival last week.
Whether it was giving an opening speech in ridiculous bunny ears, heckling his investor buddies during FounderFuel’s Demo Day or accusing a crowd of not understanding how to market during a McClurian profanity-laced keynote, he left his mark.
He also did one really cool and selfless gesture, giving $500 to a needy startup, Montreal-based Outpost Travel, to help buy a new laptop.
Outpost Travel cofounders Ovi Mija and Hamed Al-Khabaz’s good fortune was the product of a difficult experience earlier in the day. During their pitch for the Startup Fest’s $85,000 Best Startup award, the faulty fan in Al-Khabaz’s old laptop kept forcing it to shut down, interrupting his cadence several times.
The 21-year-old Al-Khabaz still felt that he had won the award after receiving a standing ovation from the crowd. Eight other startups pitched along with Outpost Travel and the prize was ultimately awarded to L33dr.ly’s Jason Bailey. Despite losing, Al-Khabaz said several of the 13 investor-judges approached him following the event.
Later that night Mija, 20, received an email message involving a Paypal gift. About to delete the message and dismissing it as a joke, he decided to take a second look. Waiting for him was this message from one of Silicon Valley’s most influential personalities: “HERE’S $500, GO BUY A NEW LAPTOP NOW.”
“I just heard someone needed some cash to be able to get their machine up and running,” McClure told Techvibes. “Every once in awhile it's fun to make someone's life easier. In this case, I was having a good day and felt like helping out.”
Let’s assume that in the world of high-powered venture capitalism, not every day is a cheery one. Thus McClure likely won’t be dolling out $500 cheques to every desperate startup. Perhaps Al-Khabaz found himself in the right place at the right time.
The selfless gesture then made its rounds about twitter as Outpost Travel sent McClure a thank-you tweet.
— Outpost.travel (@OutpostTravel) July 13, 2013
$500 certainly won’t cover the entire costs of a new laptop but it will take a big chunk out of that, or at least cover a repair. Whether McClure was being symbolic in giving $500 (500 Startups), we’ll never know.
Outpost Travel came into the International Startup Fest with momentum, having won The Founder Project’s “Student Startup Showdown” earlier this month, which granted them an opportunity to pitch at FounderFuel’s Demo Day during Startup Fest.
Outpost Travel is an aggregator for peer-to-peer, shared travel services. Like Kayak.com, but for the “sharing industry,” the site allows users to search for accommodations from sites like Airbnb, ridesharing offers from Kangaride or craigslist, or other unique travel experiences for low costs. In the “sharing industry,” beds, cars and other services can be directly exchanged from buyer to seller, reducing transaction costs.