Behind the Scenes of Thrifty Startup, the 500 Startups Batch 6 Video

If you haven’t seen our hit music video yet, it’s at the bottom of this post.

Mark, the 500 Startups Marketing Manager, sent us an email instructing us to “make a fun (and funny) video!”

On our internal mailing list, we threw around tons of ideas. One that had decent traction was a “Breaking Bad” spoof.  Hopefully Dave won’t kill me for sharing this:

Breaking Startups

I actually hadn’t heard of Breaking Bad before, so I watched a couple episodes.

I hated it.

So I was really glad when Lucia of Sverve humbly suggested a music video spoof of Macklemore’s Thrift Shop, even though it was a new idea and we had only one week until the video had to launch.

I actually hadn’t heard of Macklemore or Thrift Shop (yeah I’m out of it) but I watched the music video and loved it. The ridiculous costumes, the well-timed slow-mo, the insanely catchy tune, the thrift shop theme. So much impeccable editing and tiny details that just make the whole thing unforgettable. It’s perfect.

I helped with an early version of the lyrics, and some other folks took it from there.

So the Saturday before the big launch, virtually all of Batch 6 got together and shot the clips for the video. I wish I took some pictures here, but I didn’t. In a future post (or revision of this post) I’d like to show off a few behind-the-scenes pics if I can acquire them. Otherwise, just watch our video at the bottom.. although a lot of clips did get cut from the final video.

Here’s a random pic I took of myself the evening after the filming.

Elliot 500
Reppin’ the new 500 Startups swag

Some of the video was filmed at The Regency, a sweet apartment complex just a mile from 500 Startups, and that’s where I am in the photo above. We weren’t filming all day; some of us, myself included, took a long break to jump in the pool and splash around.

So the whole video was very grassroots and low-budget. We literally went to Goodwill to get our costumes. It also didn’t take much time at all; from start to finish, it was about 48 hours, mostly over a single weekend.

Kevin of Geekatoo did a phenomenal job of editing it all together. Honestly, I had my doubts at some points during the process, but Kevin totally pulled it together.

The Controversy

In the back of my mind, I saw this coming. The video stirred up ton of controversy in a few different places.

Now note: my opinion is my own, and NOTHING that I say represents anyone else. What I’m writing here does not represent the views of 500 Startups, GreenGar, nor my fellow batchmates.

But in my opinion, this is exactly what I wanted to see happen. If you’re going to bother doing something, you ought to make it memorable. Even better if you can stir up a debate.

And I actually agree with most of the criticism. Why so much of a funding focus instead of a product or customer focus?

Excellent concern. In fact, I want to build a sustainable business and I’m absolutely concerned with deep issues of business development and solving real problems. That’s what I actually think about on a daily basis.

That said, Dave McClure’s comments are golden. Here’s a super brief snapshot of just one example.

We were criticized in The Atlantic Wire:

Let’s start with the early shot of whatever car that is, the one that looks like it costs over $100,000. …

Dave responded:

the car was borrowed from a friend; it didn’t cost a thing. we thought that was rather thrifty. …

And of course Dave is 100% correct. My cofounder, Thuy, borrowed the car from a friend. Actually, a friend of a friend. And that friend wasn’t even around; we got the keys from the friend’s sister.

We are relentlessly resourceful.


It has been 3 weeks since my last post about 500. It has flown by and so much has happened that there’s no way I could hope to cover 1% of it. Yet I will try to pick out some highlights.

Entrepreneurship is a lonely road. Prior to joining 500, I had thought about giving up. Many founders can relate to the experience of feeling on top of the world one day.. only to feel like everything is broken and we’re about to die the very next day. Even successful startups and founders have related this experience to me.

The fact that the 500 partners believe in us, put a bit of money in our bank account, and take the time to address any stupid question that we have – it makes a huge difference.

Christine Elliot Thuy Dave
Christine, Elliot, Thuy, Dave

I was recently reminded that Airbnb actually re-launched three separate times before gaining the traction they needed to succeed.

I see our current work as a re-launch of GreenGar. Not only are we changing the capitalization of the second “G”, but we’re also revamping everything from our product positioning to our development pipeline. I may write more about our past phases in the future, but suffice to say that things are moving quickly and I’m WAY more optimistic today than I was just two months ago.

And it’s not just the 500 partners and organization. The “500 family” is a big part of it as well, and even more specifically: the batch 6 founders and employees. The whole team is important. They call it the #500STRONG family, and these words are important. Words shape the way we think, and that begins to affect our actions.

The value of community is simply incredible. Making the video was just one of the ways that our batch is bonding and supporting each other.

So to wrap up…

Here’s that video we made:

4 Responses to “Behind the Scenes of Thrifty Startup, the 500 Startups Batch 6 Video”

  1. great story Elliot!

    keep busting ass and making a great product, and I know you & thuy will succeed :)

    • Beth says:

      Don’t worry too much about what journalists say. They need to figure out what to talk about on a daily basis b/c they’ve never started a startup or developed a product.

  2. Ari K says:

    Ha! Good stuff!

  3. […] a collaborative mobile Whiteboard app. With my co-founder Thuy and lead developer Long, we entered 500 Startups Batch 6 and then proceeded to take over the […]

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