#LPGROW, It’s a Wrap.

On August 17, 2011, my desire to one day have a Canadian-wide Launch Party was finally realized as Bootup hosted the opening reception of the 2nd Annual Grow Conference in Vancouver, BC. From NB to BC, 15 startups from across Canada were selected to demo at the #LPGROW reception and mingle with over 750 investors, entrepreneurs and other influencers from all over Canada and the US.

Food.ee Demoing at #LPGROW

High Fives All Around
This was without a doubt our biggest Launch Party event ever. We could not have pulled it off without the support of our wonderful partners:

Payfirma
Vancouver born, Payfirma has answered Bootup’s prayers by finally solving our payment processing needs. Payfirma’s little chip plugs right into your iPhone to make it easy for you to take a credit card payment just about anywhere.  A huge thank you to the whole Payfirma team for being so supportive of LPGROW, Bootup and the whole startup community. Support this great, local company:

This may sound crazy but I have never just taken a cheque to pay for an event. We only partner with other companies and people, who truly care about and support entrepreneurs:
  • Initio Group – an Investment Group run by Managing Director, Mike Edwards. If you haven’t had a chance to meet or work with Mike yet, he’s one of the best angels an entrepreneur could ask for.
  • A Thinking Ape –  The Apes are making waves in Vancouver building seriously addictive games for the iPhone. The whole team rocks and we are happy they decided to call BC home. PS. They are Hiring!
  • LaBarge Weinstein –  A Canadian business law firm that totally gets startups. James Smith is a good guy, great lawyer and splits his time among startups from TDot to YVR. He’s on our top 3 referral list.
  • Freshbooks – One of Canada’s favorite companies makes it easy for startups and freelancers to save money and time on invoicing. Amazing product and customer service to boot! Bonus: Saul Colt is a genius WOM, who wears crazy pants.
  • Strutta – the platform behind the Launch @ GROW startup competition can help you create and manage beautiful branded promos online. Conversion without sacrificing your brand’s id! No coding necessary. (disclosure: Maura & Danny are founders)
  • Keith Spencer  – Keith is not only one of the best technology lawyers I know but someone, who dedicates a lot of personal time to help local startups and our tech community. They broke the mold with this guy.  Also, on our top 3 list.
  • Lonsdale Rentals – North Vancouver company Lonsdale Rentals came through again to support #LPGROW and provided us with all the things we needed to make the venue look great.  Super friendly staff. Don’t rent from anyone else!
  • Jet Cooper – A User Experience Agency in Toronto led by Satish Kanwar stepped up to help us with the LPGROW site, and twitter walls. Phew!
  • Layer 7 – Big thanks to Dimitri Sirota’s (one of the LP’s Co-founders) company for supporting our 11th event.
  • Queen’s Cross – From the beer to the flatbread pizzas, my good friend Chris Greenfield’s pub catered the entire event. Drop by his pub on Lonsdale in North Van. for a pint, ridiculously good food, and great staff. #Truth.
  • Yaletown Venture Partners-   I am looking forward to seeing YVP invest even more in the local startup community.
  • Urbandig – If you found yourself being served up a teacup sized portion of beer by a cheeky rabbit, you were not lost in a bad remake of Alice in Wonderland but rather at the UD booth. Big thanks to Team UD for throwing a great after party at the Hub in Yaletown! (disclosure: another company by Bootup ED, Maura)
  • Pop Chips & Smart Pics – If you nom nomed on their tasty chips or posed in the digital Photo booth, you have these two awesome companies to thank for all the fun.

Big thanks to our media sponsor, Techvibes for helping us spread the word and share your startup stories. True Story: Rob Lewis and his team can help you get your brand and message in front of thousands and thousands of readers. 

Bootup is run by a very passionate volunteer group of amazing entrepreneurs and startup peeps.  We seriously could not pull a rabbit out of a hat without their help (follow these awesome people now):

  • Sonia Ryan – Previously my right hand at Bootup and now a Trouble Maker at A Thinking Ape, Sonia hustled hard to make #LPGROW a stellar event. She’s awesome but you already knew that!
  • Janis Behan  – Janis is part of team Bootup and helped organize everything from setup to labels to bunny suits. We could not have done it without her.
  • Robin Leskiw – One of my dearest friends, who has been with me since LPV1 at Section 3.  She did everything from keep your wine glasses filled to clean up. ❤
  • Toan Dang, Eliz Sarobhasa, Alex Shipillo & Tammy Yik – Thank you so much for all of your help setting up that morning. Huge Help!
  • Pauline Lipska & David Cameron – You were amazing at working the crowd  and doing whatever was needed during the event.  So great.
  • Leila Pejman – A big supporter of ours and the tech community, Leila is always willing to lend a hand. Thanks for working the door and then some. Big Hugs!
  • Rohit Tandon – Designer, Producer and awesome DJ, spinned up some sweet tracks to set the mood.  Thank you.
  • Jodi Day – talented UI Designer and member of Team Strutta worked the door and made all of your beautiful name badges. I can always count on her.
  • Tina Hoang – Communications Manager at Strutta kept the line moving at the door and ran the entire #LPGROW Startup Competition from start to finish.  My hero.
  • Keighty Gallagher – Surprise, Surprise – one of our newest members of Team Strutta and pro hand sandwich maker helped Tina & Jodi keep things tight at the door. You Rock.
  • Mack Flavelle – also part of Team Bootup, Mack did everything from pick out super heros to wear a bunny suit. An entrepreneur himself, Mack knows how to hustle and #GSD.

Until Next Time
Thank you so much for joining us and showing the world that Canada is one of the best places in the world to bootup. We hope you made some new connections, had a chance to reunite with old friends, challenged some Apes to a game of Foosball, saved bags of money with Freshbooks, tasted one of Dave O’s favorite craft brews at the Urbandig booth, snapped a photo or two in the Pop Chips & Smart Pic’s Lounge and  maybe even closed some financing or landed a new customer or two.  Rock on.

You can find more photos of the event on Flickr, of course. 🙂

Shira Lazar to Host #LPGROW Reception

Launch Party Alumni will be thrilled to hear that Canadian-born, Shira Lazar, creator and host of CBS’s popular weekly show What’s Trending and The Partner’s Project will be the Guest emcee for the Launch @ GROW opening reception on August 17, 2011.  Tickets are sold out.

You may remember that the lovely Shira hosted our 2nd LPV event, Launch Party with a Twist with Mike Macadaan way back in December 2007.

Looking forward to a very fun evening.

 

 

Deadline to Apply for GrowLab and Launch@GROW Fast Approaching

If you are an early stage startup, and you haven’t heard about GrowLab, Vancouver’s new startup accelerator, or the Launch @ GROW startup competition, you need to listen up!

Deadlines to apply for these amazing startup opportunities are coming up, and they’re coming up fast!

GrowLab: Vancouver Startup Accelerator

Deadline to Apply: June 15, 2011

GrowLab supports the world’s best entrepreneurs through seed funding, office space, mentorship & programming in Vancouver & San Francisco. GrowLab is now accepting applications for its Fall 2011 program, which begins August 15, 2011. Find out if you should apply. Five companies will be chosen for the first cohort.

GrowLab startups get access to:

  • Up to $25,000 in seed funding
  • Office space
  • Four months of intensive programming
  • Three months in Vancouver. One month in San Francisco

Deadline for Fall 2011 Program applications: June 15, 2011. Apply today!

Launch @ GROW Startup Competition

Deadline to Nominate Your Startup: June 17, 2011

Dealmaker Media and Launch Party Vancouver are joining forces to bring you Launch @ GROW, the opening reception for 2011 GROW Conference on August 17.

You could win the chance to be 1 of 15 companies to demo your startup at the Launch @ GROW reception, AND possibly qualify to be 1 of 4 companies, who get to pitch their startup live on stage during Day 2 of the GROW Conference, on August 18. The competition is open to startups across Canada.

You can nominate your startup by uploading a video, or a photo with a description of your company, on the competition site by June 17Don’t miss out on the June 17 deadline. Enter your startup today.

We will be highlighting entries throughout the competition. So, don’t wait until the last minute!

Good luck!

 

 

Announcement: Launch Party to Host Opening Reception of the GROW Conference

Launch Party, a launchpad event for early stage tech startups, is teaming up with Dealmaker Media’s GROW Conference to host Launch @ GROW for the Opening Reception in Vancouver on August 17th, 2011. The event will attract over 600 attendees including top tier investors, entrepreneurs and influencers from across Canada and Silicon Valley. And we are looking for 15 of the hottest Canadian tech startups from Vancouver to PEI to showoff their wares at the event.

Nominate your Startup
All you have to do is create and upload a two-minute video describing your company to the Launch @ GROW Startup site no later than June 17 for consideration. Tell the world what makes your startup unique and why you should be one of 15 companies to demo at Launch @ Grow.

In order to be considered, you must:

  • Have launched within the past 18 months or plan to launch at GROW
  • Be a Canadian company
  • Have a demo or live site for voters and judges to view
  • Startups that have demoed previously at Launch Party in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton or Victoria can still enter Launch @ GROW

Voting Starts June 17
On June 17, the first round of voting will begin! At that time, you should rally your friends and local tech community to get out and vote because the top 25 startups with the highest ranking will move on to the Semi-Finals.

Semi-Finals
A panel of expert judges will review and rank the top 25 startups to determine the 15 companies to headline at Launch @ GROW.  From shiny boardrooms to quaint coffee shops, our judges hear all kinds of startup pitches everyday. Take this into consideration when creating your 2 minute startup video entry for the contest.

Danny Robinson, Martin Ertl and Maura Rodgers at Launch Party Vancouver 9

Pitch Live on Stage @ GROW
4 startups will be selected on August 17 to Pitch Live on Stage at the GROW Conference on August 18. You need to register to attend @growconf in order to be considered for the Final 4.

We will be telling the world about this Startup Competition and the Launch @ GROW event, so go enter now.

Follow the Launch Party Canada Team List for Updates.  Hashtag #LPGROW:

  • Ken Bautista – @kenbautista
  • Janis Behan – @janisbehan
  • Saul Colt – @saulcolt
  • Mack Flavelle – @mackflavelle
  • Tina Hoang – @t1nah
  • Satish Kanwar – @skanwar
  • Christian MacClean  – @fourslice
  • Danny Robinson – @dannyrobinson
  • Maura Rodgers – @maurar
  • Sonia Ryan  – @sonsryan
  • Derek Shanahan – @dshanahan


Co-Founders & Captables with Danny Robinson

Choosing the right co-founder is definitely one of the most important decisions you will have when starting your company.  It is very much like a marriage of sorts. You want to find someone, who shares the same values as you, yet has different strengths to balance things out and keep things interesting.  Of course, you can start a company on your own but entrepreneurship can be quite lonely and very challenging at times and it is nice to have someone to share the load, ride out the lows and celebrate all of the small successes.

I have been lucky enough to have co-founded two companies with Danny Robinson and I would absolutely do it again. We both have different strengths, want the same things and respect each other immensely. Danny is also really good at having the uncomfortable conversations, which many of us want to avoid and has always taken the lead on raising money.  He is a great mentor, friend and the best person I could think of to deliver a C0-Founder & Captable talk at Bootup last Wednesday.  Danny kicked things off with a very timely joke:

“There’s a little Sheen in All of Us.”
Entrepreneurs are typically very passionate individuals, who have opted out of the safer, climb-the-corporate-ladder career path and put it all on the line (read: sold house, minimal salary- if any, eating ramen) in the hopes of creating something bigger, even changing the world and WINNING.

Splitting up the Pie
Once you find your co-founder soul mate(s), you may be tempted to just dig in and move fast so you can experience the ultimate high of WINNING sooner!  As a result, you may not take the time to have the important C0-founder discussions like shareholder splits, vesting schedules and employment agreements but before you start to turn that idea into a valuable product, it’s best to have a co-founder heart-to-heart.

Danny stressed not to delay the equity conversation because it will only get harder down the road. You may also be tempted to just split the company 50/50 and call it a day. DON’T!  If you do, you could put the company in serious jeopardy at a future date.  Danny always take a few things into account when splitting up the company pie:

  • Commitment
  • Skill
  • Connections
  • Experience
  • Responsibilities
  • Idea

Danny places the highest value on a founder’s commitment to the company. For instance, if you quit your day job and are hustling nearly every waking hour on your startup, while your co-founder has a lot of connections but has a family and can’t commit full time until the company either raises or starts making money, then you score higher on the commitment front. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Danny places the least emphasis on the Idea itself. The idea will change, so just because you may come up with the idea, it does not mean you should get more equity then another founder.

After you look at all of the above factors, you may end up with a 50/50 split in the end but Danny rarely sees that as the case. So, have the difficult conversation first because it will force you to really think not only about the shareholder “PIE” but also about your roles and responsibilities within the organization and each cofounder’s ultimate vision for the company. For example, do each of you see the company as a long term play or would you prefer to build and sell the company in a few years?  In the end, don’t get hung up on the % too much. Just get going…

Vesting
Founder Vesting is usually different than employee vesting in the company. To start, Danny recommends keeping it simple and using a single class of voting common shares for founders with a standard vesting schedule of equal monthly installments over the course of 3 years. (e.g. 1/36 per month)  Not all founders will stay on for the long haul, so if you are going to stick with the company – then your shares should vest.

Other types of vesting to consider:

  • Cliff Vesting – when an employee/founder becomes fully invested at specified time rather than vested in increasing amounts over an extended period of time.
  • Single trigger – upon change of control, 100% of your unvested shares would vest.
  • Double trigger – accelerate 100% of your unvested shares if terminated after a change of control

Captable – “Your budget for dilution.”
This is a core document when you are starting a company.  On Day 1, when the company consists only of Founders, your captable may look something like this:

As you hire new employees and raise money, your Captable will expand to include ESOP and financing information. Here’s an example of a Captable for a 2M Series A Financing Round:

The Captable is a reminder that you do not have an unlimited amount of shares to give away and will help you budget and plan for “What if” scenarios. What if I raise 2M dollars in Series A financing or What if we sell for $10M dollars? You can see in the above example that the founders went from owning 100% to 80% with the ESOP to 43% after raising a Series A round.

Danny covered a lot of ground in just two hours and left me thinking we could even go deeper into how to structure shareholder agreements, set up captables and other legal documents. Stay tuned for more info on that.

Thank You Danny!
Many Thanks To Danny for educating us and sharing his tips on the Captable & CoFounder topic and to Martin Ertl from Contractual.ly for offering some legal insight and helping answer questions.  If you missed Danny’s talk, you can check out his slides below.

Q & A

1) What is the ideal # of co-founders?
Danny doesn’t think there is an ideal number while Venture Hacks recommends 2-3 co-founders. Each co-founder is just a shareholder. It can get complicated the more co-founders you have but it really depends on you, your company and the value each person brings.

2) Are titles important?
Danny thinks titles are a necessary evil.  It helps people outside the company know what you do and also forces you to take ownership over certain things. Though in a startup, you may be doing everything from the dishes to pumping out code.  He does not like to see Co-CEO titles or Vice Chair. In most cases, he thinks this is a result of not wanting to have the tough discussion but in some cases, like @summify he has seen the Co-CEO role work out nicely.

3) What if my co-founder invests more $ then I do in the business?
Danny thinks you need to keep money out of the shareholder discussion and treat the money as investment in the company, which could be treated as convertible debt.

4) We started a company 6 months ago, built out a product and there is a key employee who has been with us for a while.  Should we make her a co-founder?
Danny said “No but do make sure she realizes how important she is to the company.”  Perhaps, this would mean more stock options, responsibility and recognition but she does not need to have the title of co-founder.

If you have more questions or would like to see us cover another Startup topic, please leave a comment below.

Bounty Island Is Now Available in the App Store

Our friends over at Compass Engine have just released their second location based game, Bounty Island. Their latest version features an improved UI and tutorial.

How it Works
Players check in to various locations and venues to unlock maps, which will aid them in their hunt for the mysterious Bounty Island.  Along the way, players earn money, collect treasure, dodge critters and stuff themselves on exotic fruits to restore their energy levels as they explore the world around them.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to get this game out to market and show the world that location doesn’t just have to be about coupons and deals but can simply be fun. Bounty Island is going to prove that location can be used to personalize a game, and we all know that the more personal the game the more engaging it is,” said Compass Engine CEO Mack Flavelle.

Get It!
I have not downloaded the game yet but Flavelle told me that 1000’s of others like me already have!  And you can too as Bounty Island is now available in the App Store for the iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone.

This Week in Tech Events, Feb. 28 – March 5, 2011

Bootup will be hosting a startup workshop with Danny Robinson:

Co-Founder’s & Captables

Here are some other local startup events worth checking out this week:

The Lean Startup with Eric Ries hosted by BCTIA

Introduction to Samsung Bada Platform hosted by WaveFront

  • Thursday, March 3 8:30-11am
  • WaveFront – 1055 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
  • Free

6th Annual Women In Film Festival – Digital Media Forum

  • Friday, March 4 9:ooam
  • Vancity Theatre – 1181 Seymour Street, Vancouver
  • Tickets $75, WIFTV members and $90, non-members

If we missed  your event, feel free to let us know by leaving a comment below.

For more tech events and news, you can also check out our media partner, Techvibes.