Co Founder Corner at Launch Party

We’re not doing a full Co founder Speed Dating event for this Launch Party, but we do want to keep helping potential co-founders to connect.

We’ve decided that from now on, every Launch Party event will include a “Co Founder Corner”. We’ll have an area set aside where people who are looking for cofounders can hang out, leave their business cards, and in general know they’re in the right spot to meet other potential founders.

We’re not (yet) implementing any extra “technology” to help with this. Maybe a good excuse to start experimenting with checking in via Foursquare – we’ve already entered the Launch Party venue, the Circa Resto Lounge.

» Next Launch Party Registration: http://lpv8.eventbrite.com
» Vote for LPV8 Startup Most Likely to Succeed: http://lpv8.launchpartyhq.com

See you at 6pm on Wednesday, September 16th, and don’t forget your business cards!

Dean Prelazzi Interview

Originally posted at The Why of The Web.

Dean Prelazzi, Director of ICT, Wireless, & New Media Technologies Sectors British Columbia Innovation Council

That job title is fantastic. What exactly do you do and what experiences have you had that made you a good fit for the role?

I got my start with an Ottawa company called CrossKeys, one of Newbridge Networks’ first affiliate companies. We were making carrier-grade network and service management software – selling into the largest telecommunications carriers on the planet. I spent some time in product management, marketing, and later sales, selling into AT&T, Sprint, Qwest Communications, Global One, and a handful of CLECs on the east coast. Since then my career has spanned a number of areas related to thin client computing, internet performance and networking, data analysis, point of sale applications, SaaS applications and social networking. Generally, I guess you could say the diversity of my tech background and the breadth of roles I’ve had in sales, marketing, and product management – always with early stage companies or early stage technology – gives me a unique perspective with enough technical depth to be dangerous and some solid experience in product positioning and marketing. I also did an MBA focused specifically on high technology and I wrote a thesis (kind of) in the area of marketing and selling complex technology.

As far as my role at the BC Innovation Council is concerned, I tend to characterize it as business development. I’m passionate about B.C.’s tech sector and more importantly, its role in driving our economy in the 21st century. I’m focused on initiatives that help build B.C.’s entrepreneurship infrastructure as one of the key drivers of technology commercialization and startup growth. I’m also keen to meet companies one on one as I find I can help them think about their challenges from a different angle, brainstorm with them a little, connect them to valuable resources, and ultimately help them move the ball forward by bringing my marketing skills to the table. By the way, yes – it is a fantastic job. Love it. But I do miss being on the front lines selling too. Working directly with customers to address their needs is very satisfying. But, I feel I’m doing that today. It’s just a different kind of customer.

What is BCIC? Where did they come from, how long have they been around, what do they do and what direction are they heading in?

The BC Innovation Council (BCIC) is a Crown agency of the Province of British Columbia. It was formed in 2006 through the merger of the former (Innovation and) Science Council of British Columbia (SCBC) and Advanced Systems Institute (ASI). SCBC was established by Province in 1976 and became active in 1979 and ASI became active in 1991.

We’re the lead organization charged with driving the commercialization of innovation in the Province and we’re focused on accelerating the growth of our science and technology communities and competitively positioning British Columbia in the global science and technology economy in order to provide significant employment opportunities and a high standard of living for British Columbians. On the tactical side of things, one of our focus areas is talent development which we do through our Science Fair program in elementary and high school, and through any number of science and technology grants and scholarships to high school and university students – undergraduate and graduate.

We’re also involved, increasingly, in developing entrepreneurship talent though a number of programs both in universities and the private sector. Our partnership with New Ventures BC in support of their annual business competition is a big example of this. Every year, the competition helps 30 entrepreneurs think critically about their business and refine their business plan through a rigorous training and mentorship process. As I indicated earlier, entrepreneurship infrastructure is a key to commercialization and growing our tech sector so we’re getting more active in this area, with an increasing focus on aspiring technology entrepreneurs (whether from universities or the private sector) and tech startups. This was appealing for me when I was considering joining the organization.

Some of our other programs, for example partnering with ACM SIGGRAPH Vancouver, are designed to build community, stimulate job creation and commerce, and raise awareness, outside of B.C., regarding the depth of technology skills and competencies available in B.C. as a method of attracting investment and business to the region. ACM SIGGRAPH Vancouver is the most active SIGGRAH Chapter in the world and likely played a role in helping bring our region to the attention of Pixar and certainly helped secure the SIGGRAPH 2011 conference which will bring 20,000+ professionals in the animation and graphics industry from around the world to Vancouver in 2011. And some of our other initiatives still, are aimed at directly engaging innovators in universities and the private sector, and helping to drive the development of even greater innovation – for example by facilitating the development of a new association with common research interests, or at times by bringing together other federal and provincial departments to fund a new project rooted in either the development of a new innovation or the commercialization of one.

What is Connect ’09? Is this the first Connect? Who is it for and what is the point?

Connect ’09 is designed for tech start-ups, aspiring entrepreneurs, and students. It’s intended to ‘connect’ this community to the knowledge, people, and resources that can really help them move their business forward and it’s aimed at all technology domains including ICT, Wireless, New Media, Clean Tech, Life Sciences, etc. An example is the structured networking part of the evening in which over 40 of B.C.’s top technology business leaders are making themselves available, formally, to be approached by technology entrepreneurs – maybe to answer a question or two, provide a sound bite of advice, or facilitate an introduction in the future.

The ‘structured’ part of the networking is characterized by all the mentors at stand up tables, their names and profiles clearly laid out in the event program enabling attendees to seek out certain people if they choose. It’s quite unique. I guess you could say we’re trying to break down any barriers that may be preventing some members of the community from approaching others. Ultimately, this event is about celebrating the spirit of entrepreneurship in our community and helping to make sure folks have the tools they need to be successful, or at least information of where to find them. Leonard Brody is delivering the Keynote speech this year. He’s a cofounder and CEO of Now Public – which, by the way, was just acquired for $25 million this week. Iain Black, the Provincial Minister of Small Business, Technology, and Economic Development will also be in attendance, and speaking at the event.

There are also a series of panel sessions aimed at some of the areas that are key to the success of a start up. (1) funding (2) building partnerships (3) the value of startup accelerators(4) building well designed products – and it’s all topped off by a let-your-hair down style cocktail reception that I know everyone will enjoy. Every tech entrepreneur in B.C. should be at this event. It will not disappoint. Get to www.bcic.ca/connect to register soon as it will sell out.

What do you see as major trends evolving in the ICT, Wireless, & New Media Technologies Sectors? In your mind what are some of the big picture ideas that we will see emerge over the next 2 years? What about 10 – 20 years?

Wow, that’s quite a question. Well firstly, during the next few years on the new media side of things, social networking is increasingly hitting the mainstream. We’re seeing it in mainstream business applications more and more as companies take notice of the powerful effect of online networking in the context of what’s been demonstrated through Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. And it’s not just about the networking part of it. There’s tremendous value in being able to assemble a crowd quickly on the basis of common interests or a common profile or demographic, perhaps to answer a question, enter a contest, promote a cause or hey – BUY A PRODUCT! So I think this will continue. Companies will find new and creative ways of generating big business commerce by bringing together online crowds – essentially pushing the bounds of what we understand exists in the applications currently at the forefront of this space.

Also, I think the adoption of SaaS-based business applications (software as a service) is accelerating, especially in the small business space. Core business applications to run your business are no longer one size fits all. You can find on-line applications to run your Personal Training business, your Life Coaching business, your Brand Marketing business, your hockey team, your charity – all customized to meet the unique structure of those businesses in terms of how you interact with your customers – and the kind and scope of applications available today is continuing to grow. I don’t know if this is an earth shattering observation as a major trend, but I think it’s a trend that may be flying under radar a little as folks tend to get most excited about the Twitter-ish things going on. Point is, some of the basics of business are still a hot target for online productivity applications. In many cases it ain’t sexy, but it’s paying you $30 a month per user which adds up fast if you can get the word out with a great application.

On the wireless side of things, two things immediately come to mind. First, I think Wireless Health represents a monumental tidal wave of innovation and opportunity in the longer term. Wireless applications used in an electronic health records context as well as a medical diagnosis and treatment context with transmitters sending vital signs to a database for immediate analysis and diagnosis, along with an alerting system which loops your physician into the situation. There’s some very wild stuff coming down the pipe. From an infrastructure point of view, I’m excited about the jump from 3G up to LTE (Long Term Evolution) or sometimes referred to as 4G designed to increase the capacity and speed of mobile telephone networks. New and improved quality of service capabilities are also built into the LTE architecture which will open up a plethora of new high bandwidth applications in the wireless world – streaming high definition video is one of them along other applications in consumer media and entertainment, enterprise collaboration and health care, and cloud computing.

I don’t know about the 20 year time horizon (I’d really like to see a transporter, or hyperspace capability like in the old Asteroids game) but over the longer term, I think we’ll see a fundamental shift in how humans interact with digital content and applications whether from desktop workstations or mobile devices. I think the user interface will transform, driven by the science and engineering behind computer animation and graphics, which will evolve into mainstream business applications. In a nutshell, I see the user experience becoming more fluid, more immersed or integrated in the application rather than separate from it as it is today. It’s hard to put into words. This company I discovered recently right here in Vancouver, Mingleverse, embodies my vision here a little. Mingleverse is a new way to communicate which immerses the person right in the digital communication medium. It has a telepresence angle to it. It’s pretty wild.

Do all good technologies in the ICT, Wireless, & New Media Technologies Sectors take off? If it’s a useful product/technology/idea is that enough to commercialize something or does it take more then that? If it takes more then what are the other ingredients in getting something new and innovative to the level of the accepted norm?

Great question. Short answer is no. Good ideas fail every day. I think what makes or breaks the success of many startups is the extent to which the new product or service is solving a problem worth solving. That is, there have to be people or business processes suffering in some way even though at times they may not know it until they see a new way of doing something. But once that new method is introduced, the old is recognized as inferior which drives the desire to buy the new. There’s a fine line here though that I often struggle with myself, because sometimes people don’t know what they want or need. That is, market research – while I’m a big advocate of doing it, and doing it well – doesn’t do a great job, if at all, in telling you the future.

Regardless, if you have an idea, I think you should grow it incrementally and along the way seed the market with a prototype for the purpose of acquiring feedback and validating its utility. One of the best things I think startups can do is spend some time identifying their ideal customer profile. And then get to know that customer segment intimately to test the assumptions that were made about that audience. Sometimes the best way to get to know them is by asking them to use your prototype, and then watch them use it – or not use it. Bottom line, know your customers! This gets you through the first hurdle of early adopters. But then you have to chase widespread or viral adoption, so to speak. To do this, you really have to have the value proposition nailed, and it has to be written through the eyes and experiences of your customers and through their perspective of the problem you are solving. Don’t skimp here. Get real clear about the value of solving your customer’s problem, in their own words. To a degree, this should optimize your chance of success in marketing and selling your technology.

Further Reading:

Innovation Camp is Coming

An exciting new workshop called Innovation Camp is coming to Vancouver! Join us as we expand our creativity and innovation by participating in engaging activities and challenges designed to inspire your inner entrepreneur, without the boring lectures. Practice invaluable skills such as identifying opportunities, learning from failure, resourcefulness, collaborating with a team and adapting to changing environments. Connect with brilliant people like yourself and work together to build on great ideas and find innovative solutions.

At Innovation Camp you will:

  • learn techniques to view problems from fresh perspectives in order to identify opportunities
  • apply those techniques in entrepreneurial situations and reflected on what was learned in the process
  • receive clear, concise feedback on your ability to work as part of a team
  • analyze and learn from failures in your own and others lives
  • laugh and have fun!

Price: $75.00 CAD
Location: the beautiful Kontent Creative offices, 55 Water St, Vancouver, Canada
Dates and Times:

  • October 13, Tuesday, 6:30pm – 9:30pm
  • October 15, Thursday, 6:30pm – 9:30pm
  • October 17, Saturday, 10:00am – 6:00pm
  • October 19, Monday, 6:30pm – 8:30pm(16 hours total)

Register now or check out InnovationCamp.org for more details .

Please note that this event is not being put on by The Bootup Entrepreneurial Society though it’s definitely geared towards people who are excited by what BES is building.

How to get started in Vancouver Tech

Trevor O is one of the founders of Layerboom Systems. This was originally posted on his personal blog at http://trevoro.ca/blog/2009/09/02/how-to-get-started-in-vancouver-tech/

I’ve been meeting quite a few people who are new to Vancouver and are looking to get involved in the local Web and Tech scenes. There’s quite a bit going on, and Google is your friend, but if you want to save some time here are the best places to go, meet people and see what’s going on. There’s also a score for how nerdy or business-y (?) the event is on a scale of 1-10.

Do your research

Nerdy: 5
Business: 4

Find out what you’re interested and search for companies based in Vancouver that do what you love. If you’re enthusiastic people will make time for you. Ask someone out for coffee or a pint and just talk. Don’t try and get a job, just figure out what’s going on. Like any “scene” you’re likely to hear conflicting viewpoints. Keep an open mind. Look for and talk with local bloggers and tech reporters. Look for events happening in your area. If you’re interested in Open source projects, find out if the people who work on them are in the area.

Democamp Vancouver

Nerdy: 7
Business: 5

Like most unconferences, Democamp is a loosely organized evening event where the people that attend make up the conference. In this case you bring an idea, and the idea is your demo. You don’t have to present, and it’s a good way to meet people that are interested in starting something new, or are working a project already. Democamp doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should, so if you’re interested in helping out there, check out the site and get in touch.

Launch Party Vancouver

Nerdy: 4
Business: 8

Every few months local entrepreneurs who are launching their projects meet up to celebrate all their hard work. Walk around and talk with people and get to know the people behind these projects. Most of the time the executives are presenting but ask to chat with some of the developers if that’s more up your alley. This is usually a very social event where you’re bound to meet a lot of interesting people – just don’t be shy.

Bootup Labs

Nerdy: 8
Business: 6

Bootup Labs is a local startup incubator which helps companies go from “zero to fundable”. The offices are located at 375 Water St, in Gastown and house a rotating group of Vancouver based startups which are always looking for talented help. Bootup has an open door policy so if you’re new to the area you can generally just pop in, but I suggest getting in touch with them first to arrange a quick (<30 minute) chat. Everyone is really friendly, and it’s a good way to plug in, or at least get pointed in the right direction.  Bootup helps run a few of the events in town, so pay attention to their upcoming feed for things that are happening

Techvibes

Nerdy: 5
Business: 5

Techvibes is a tech community blog and business directory. It’s a really good way to get to know which businesses are in the area and what they do. They also publish a list of events happening in town that range from an Entrepreneurial to Developer focus.

VEF

Nerdy: 2
Business: 10

If you’re more into the business and entrepreneurial side of things, I suggest checking out Vancouver Enterprise Forum or VEF. VEF hosts events on a monthly basis and it’s a great way to connect with other like-minded individuals.

Developer Meetups

Nerdy: 10
Business: 3

There are plenty of developer meetups happening in town. The umbrella meetup for all of these is the VanDev network. Join that and you’re bound to meet quite a few people. The most popular is the Ruby/Merb/Rails meetup which has events on a monthly basis.

I hope that’s enough to get you started! Let me know if there’s anything else you want added to the list.

Launch Party Vancouver 8 Companies Announced

The judges have chosen and 8 companies have been selected to demo at LPV8, 5 from Vancouver, 2 from Seattle and 1 from Kelowna.

As usual, we’ll feature each of the companies in a 2 min video and give you the chance to vote on which is most likely to succeed. Voting will begin starting Saturday, September 5th.

We present to you the 8 companies (in no particular order) chosen to demo at LPV8.

Lilipip
Seattle-based Lilipip will be one of 3 out-of-towners at LPV8.

What is Lilipip all about? Check out what they have in store:

We make animated videos about products, services, and concepts – putting stories into a form that help them go where they need to go. Unlike traditional agencies, we make business fun and deliver projects with a predictable price and a guaranteed date. We advocate an “Open-Source Creative” approach with transparent pricing, processes, and direct links to the people we work with.

Hootsuite
Vancouver’s very own Hootsuite will make an appearance at LPV, demoing their shiny new 2.0 features. Maybe they will surprise us with some exciting new features on September 16th.

get Yowza
Not only is the co-founder on a hit NBC TV series, he also likes to start internet companies. In their own words, they let us know what Yowza is all about.

Yowza is a FREE application for the Apple iPhone and iPod touch that uses the device’s built-in GPS to find coupons and deals from participating merchants in your vicinity.

Gist
Seattle-based Gist is #2 of 3 out-of-towners for this installment of LPV. Straight from Pioneer Square, check them out:

Gist is an online service that helps you build stronger relationships. By connecting your inbox to the web, you get business-critical information about key people and companies.

My Wedding Match
Check out what founder Angel Pui has in store for LPV.

My Wedding Match is the ultimate wedding marketplace. Brides can set their profile and criteria and find relevant search of vendors. We will be demoing the newly launched website.

DEQQ
The team from DEQQ will be there to answer all your questions regarding DEQQ. From DEQQ themselves:

DEQQ is a service that helps artists, celebrities, and broadcasters connect and manage deeper fan relationships across multiple social networks

Groove Systems
Located in Kelowna, in the heart of Canada’s Silicon Vineyard comes to you Groove Systems. The team from Kelowna will be there to let you know of their service.

Groove Systems’ Collaboration Suite lets you spend less time managing email and more time getting things done!

Wireless-Image
Wireless Image is an early stage company in Mobile Brand Engagement.

We will be demonstrating ShoutOut – our patent pending branded ringtone download , monitoring and reporting mobile web service.

What a great bunch of companies. It’s not too late to get a ticket (though it will be soon) so you can meet these founders in person to find out more. And don’t forget to cast your votes for your favorite starting Saturday morning!