This Week in Tech Events: Jan. 31 – Feb. 6, 2011

I hope everyone had an opportunity to enjoy the sunshine yesterday. What a magical Vancouver day!

Not too many events going on in the city this week, but we hope to see you at the VEF Momentum event on Friday night.

From Startup to Standout w/ Appature Inc.’s Kabir Shahani

  • Friday, February 4th
  • 6:00pm
  • Republic, 958 Granville St., Vancouver
  • $20

Social Marketing Kung Fu, White Belt with Dave Olson

If I had an all time favorite people in Vancouver list, Dave Olson, the Community Director for Hootsuite, would be on it.

He’s engaging, worldly, kind-hearted and always willing to share what he has learned with others.  And so, when I asked Dave to be a Mentor for Bootup Garage, he didn’t even hesitate.  However, instead of hosting regular mentor office hours, Dave wanted to put together a series of social marketing talks for startups. Yes, please!

On Wednesday, January 26 – Dave delivered his first Social Marketing (#smkf) presentation at Bootup and as expected, it was chock full of practical nuggets, steps and interesting stories to help attendees start building their own social marketing toolkit.

“Dave O’s talk was great. I have already implemented some of the strategies with my companies. Dave O is a wealth of information – entertaining with great practical application…..I can feel a book coming…” Mike Edwards, SMKF Attendee

Below are some of my notes from Dave O’s talk and you can also check out his notes over here:

Getting Started

  • Document everything you Do. From Day 1, Dave stressed that entrepreneurs should document everything and have one place to share all of their “collective intelligence,” such as an internal wiki. Writing everything down will help you stay focused and remind you what it is you set out to achieve.
  • Do not plan much farther out than 6 months.
  • Define the roll of each person in the company. This will help people focus on and take ownership over certain tasks

Naming Your Company/Product

  • Coming up with a name for your company that has an available URL is not an easy task.
  • Define what it is your product does first.
  • Start playing around with words that are easy to say, spell and remember.
  • Ask friends or your community for feedback or ideas.  For instance, HootSuite crowdsourced their name.

Describe Your Product

  • Try and define your product in 3 words. For example, Hootsuite at first chose “Professional Twitter Client” as it’s 3 word description and now defines itself as a “Social Media Dashboard.”
  • Take those 3 words and expand on them to create a 100 word description.
  • Reach out to users and get feedback and watch what terms they are searching for.  It is important to be using the same terms and descriptions that your users/customers are.

Start Listening

  • Create Lists.  Start following the people who care about your product as well as watching your competitors.
  • By listening and asking specific questions, you will start to build relationships with your customers.
  • Respond and participate in the conversation.
  • Each community is different. For example, your customers may act differently on Facebook vs. Linked In. Watch this and communicate accordingly.
  • Define what you want to get out of each of the social media channels you are using.

Media Kit

  • The first page you should create on your website is a media kit page.
  • Make it easy for people to write about you and tell your story.
  • Your kit should include artwork, logo, colors, typeface, TM with specific guidelines on how to use.
  • Be sure to have multiple descriptions that writers can snag to use in articles and posts such as a 100 or 500 word description.
  • Colorful screenshots or infographics like this one are a great resource for writers.
  • Keep your kit up to date and fresh.

Be Loud

  • Now that you have defined who you are and what you do, start telling the world.
  • Don’t wait until you launch.  Become an active participant in the community you are trying to reach.
  • If it is not on the Internet, it didn’t happen! So – Blog, Flickr, Tweet etc. starting right now.
  • When someone writes an article or post mentioning you or your area of expertise, COMMENT. It shows you are paying attention and care about your community and the people, who are taking the time to write about you and use your product.
  • Create 3-4 touchpoints to an article.  For example, Dave will comment on an article, social bookmark it and add it to an RSS Feed = juicy, indexable goodness.
  • Hashtag everything. Topics, brands, acronyms – be creative and always remember to listen to your audience and be consistent with your message.

Dave O will be back in the Garage next month to deliver another his 2nd Social Marketing Kung Fu preso.  In the meantime, please share your notes, questions and tips in the comments below for other startup founders.

BC Government Funding for Startups

We have all heard about SR & ED! In fact, I have even heard some entrepreneurs refer to SR&ED as the Canadian version of seed funding.  But there are many programs and resources available to startups.  To shed some light on what is available at various stages of a companies growth, I reached out to Riz Kheraj, Industrial Technology Advisor for IRAP in BC.  Riz came to Bootup on January 19 to share his knowledge and provide more information on the resources available.

Riz broke Goverment funding into 3 stages:

  • Early Stage: (BC – Before Customers)
  • Early Customers (EC)
  • Customers Customers (CC)

There are plenty of programs available in the BC & EC stages.  As your company matures, and you are trying to scale your business – there is not a lot of government funding available to you.   Riz, who has worked in startups before, stressed that it always better to focus on getting real customers for your business rather than chasing and applying for government funding.  Some of the applications do take time to complete and require additional reporting once approved.  Some IRAP programs, for instance, require monthly reports with receipts to release additional funds.

Bootup is in the process of finishing up a handy little spreadsheet on all of the different government programs available, including deadlines and contact information.  Until then, check out Riz presentation below and please share your feedback and experiences on what government programs you may have utilized in the past for fellow entrepreneurs.

This Week in Tech Events: Jan. 24 – Jan. 30, 2011

The last week of January is shaping up to be a busy one for tech events in the city.

An Evening With Alan Juristovski and Milun Tesovic, Founders Of MetroLeap Media hosted by VEF

  • Tuesday, January 25th
  • 5:30pm
  • Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour St., Vancouver
  • Free for members. $45 for non-members.

Tech Startup Co-Founder Speed Dating hosted by Foliomob

  • Tuesday, January 25th
  • 6:30pm
  • Ceili’s Irish Pub, 670 Smithe St., Vancouver
  • Free

Social Marketing Kung-Fu, White belt with Dave Olson hosted by Bootup

  • Wednesday, January 26th
  • 5:00pm
  • Bootup Garage, Suite 200 – 163 West Hastings St., Vancouver
  • $30

Tim Bray of Google presents the latest on Android and the Android Market hosted by airG

  • Thursday, January 27th
  • 6:00pm
  • Wavefront Conference Centre, 1055 West Hastings St. (Lower Level), Vancouver
  • Free

Founder Story #2 – Amielle Lake of Tagga Media

Founder Story #2

Amielle Lake, Tagga Media

Tagga Media is a mobile marketing company which was founded in Vancouver 3 years ago. Since launching at LPV5, Tagga has pivoted in and out of many different business models and will be announcing some new changes in early 2011. I sat with Amielle this week to find out what’s in store for Tagga this year.

Be sure to follow Tagga on Twitter to hear of their upcoming announcements!
Twitter: @tagga

Support the Startup Visa Canada Initiative

Working with and meeting entrepreneurs from around the Globe is one of the things I love most about my job.  And since I am very proud to call Canada my home, I want the rest of the world to know that not only is Canada a great place to live – it is also a great place to start a company.

That is why today, we are pleased to announce and support the launch of Startup Visa Canada – an initiative designed to attract the best entrepreneurial talent from around the world, create jobs and enable qualified immigrant entrepreneurs to obtain a visa to start a company in Canada by removing the current red tape.  Simply put, we want to make it easier for the future, bootstrapping Sergey Brin to be able to come to Canada to start the next Google.

Current Legislation
As it stands, the Canadian federal and provincial government’s entrepreneurial programs contain minimum personal fixed asset provisions of about $300,000 and a long approval process.  Many immigrant entrepreneurs just don’t have the money or capital required under these programs and are denied a visa to start a company here.

This needs to change.

Here is what Startup Visa Canada is proposing
The Startup Visa Canada Initiative would create an alternate visa program that:

  • would swap the minimum asset provisions with a minimum Canadian investment of $150,000.
  • enable qualified Immigrants to partner with local investor(s) to expedite their temporary work permits.
  • would require Immigrants to have at least a third equity position in their companies, be active in management and create at least 3 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs over the course of a 2-year program period.

Inspired by Startup Visa US
Startups Create Jobs. They boost the economy and help us compete on a global scale. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and investors like Dave McClure, Brad Feld, Paul Graham and Canadian born, Paul Kedrosky have been pushing this message hard and lobbying the US government to approve a Startup Visa program. As a result, legislation is now pending in Congress.  

Let’s Beat the Americans to the Punch!
In the next 30 days, we would like to get the support of at least 100 key influencers, including investors, entrepreneurs and industry associations. Then, we can take this initiative directly to the Federal Government.

To endorse this initiative:
  • visit the Startup Visa Canada site
  • submit your name and fill out the brief form
  • spread the word and share via Facebook, Twitter etc.
  • Follow our blog and twitter for updates

KPMG Prize Give-a-way at LPV10

“I had no idea what to expect from LPV10. I had a great feeling and went with it. Obviously, it was a good feeling.”  – Ramona Macleod

At Launch Party Vancouver 10, one of our sponsors KPMG decided to give away the seasons most coveted gadget. Upon arrival, all attendees were asked to drop their business cards into a box for a draw. Not a single attendee knew what was up for grabs. When Shana Korotash from KPMG pulled Ramona MacLeod’s name out of the box – Ramona was ecstatic. However, to win the prize — she had to entertain the crowd with a Christmas Carol. She sang her way to a brand spanking new iPad.

Shortly after LPV10, I saw Ramona at the Bootup offices where I learned she had signed up for the Bootup Garage program.  Ramona is working on a startup called BigMama, a site that makes it easy for students to rent textbooks.

You can follow BigMama on Twitter: @bigmamadotca

A huge congrats to Ramona for winning the iPad and a huge thanks to KPMG for supporting LPV10 and making the give-away possible.

This Week in Tech Events: Jan. 17 – Jan. 23, 2010

I can’t believe we are half-way through January already. Time sure does fly! I started to write this post and realized that our great friends at TechVibes had gone ahead and published – This Week in Events. So, I have gone ahead and included any cost details.

Angel Investor Overview Workshop

* Tuesday, January 19th – all day
* SFU Vancouver Campus
* Company Registrant: $330. Registration is closed.

Bootup presents Government Funding & Resources for Startups

* Wednesday, January 20th – 9:00am to 11:00am
* Bootup HQ
* Event is sold out. Registration is closed.

XcelerateU Workshop: HR Fundamentals to Drive Business Strategy

* Thursday, January 20th – 9:00am to noon
* BCTIA Boardroom
* Workshop: $75 Register here.

Events not included on TechVibes that you should check out this week.

  • Monday, January 17th
  • 11:30am
  • Wavefront, 1055 W Hastings St, Conference Room – Lower Level, Vancouver
  • Event is free. Registration is closed. Event is at capacity

Content Rules with C.C Chapman presented by Third Tuesday

  • Thursday, January 20th
  • 6:00pm
  • Ceili’s Irish Pub, 670 Smithe St., Vancouver
  • Event is sold out. Waitlist being coordinated.

Founder Story # 1 – Rick Perreault of Unbounce

Whenever I meet another entrepreneur at Bootup Garage or at tech events around town, I am eager to find out what inspired them to take the plunge into startup life, how they met their co-founders and their plans for changing the world. And since startup life is far from easy, I really enjoy hearing about the challenges a founder may have faced and how he/she pivoted to live another day.

At Bootup, it is not only our mission to inspire and support Canadian entrepreneurs – we also want to share their stories with you.  Starting NOW, we will be talking with various founders around town and sharing their videos on our site.  We are not professional videographers, nor do we possess mad editing skills like our friends at Giant Ant Media – Sonia just has a flip camera on her at all times and she is not afraid to use it.  If you have a Founder Story you would like to see or if you want to talk to us, email sonia at bootup [dot] ca or drop by our office.

And so without further ado, here’s our very first – of hopefully many,  Founder Stories:

Founder Story # 1
Rick Perreault, Unbounce

Unbounce is a DIY landing page platform for marketers, advertisers and designers.  Founded in late 2009, Unbounce was selected as one of the startups to join Bootup for Demo Days in the Valley in February 2010 and as one of the 8 showoffs to demo at Launch Party Vancouver 9 on June 17, 2010. At LPV9, Unbounce walked away with the Judge’s Choice award.

Sonia Ryan of Bootup caught up with Rick in his Gastown office to find out more about what they have been up to since LPV9 and what’s in store for 2011.