Top 15 Startups for Launch @ Grow (#LPGROW) to be Announced August 2nd

As you may already know, the voting round for the Startup competition for Launch at Grow has ended, and the Top 25 finalists have been chosen by voters to move on to the next round. Check out the 25 Semi-Finalists here.

Our top-notch judges, from across Canada and Silicon Valley, are currently in deliberation until July 30th. The top 15 companies that will get do demo their startup live during the Opening Reception of Grow Conference will be announced Tuesday, August 2. So stay tuned! Feel free to tell us who your favourite startups are in the comments below, too.

Thank you to ALL of the startups who entered, and to all of the voters for supporting Canada’s startup community.

Also, if you haven’t bought your ticket for the Launch @ GROW reception yet (they’re free if you are attending GROW Conference), you’d better hurry, as they’re selling out fast. We hope to see you all there!

 

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Dave Olson’s Social Marketing Kung Fu, Green Belt: Building a Posse

Owly at Launch Party 9 Vancouver

On Wednesday, June 29th, we welcomed back Dave Olson, Community Wrangler at Hootsuite, for Social Marketing Kung Fu session number four at Bootup HQ, entitled Building a Posse.

Rockstars, Gardeners, & Interns

Dave talked about three different types of people that want to be a part of your posse: rockstars, gardeners, and interns. They all have different motivations for being a part of your community, and have different talents to offer you, thus, they should be rewarded accordingly. You must provide them with some restraints, though, so that no one is speaking on behalf of your brand but you.

  • Rockstars are the ones who are concerned with their personal brand, and what they get out of their relationship with you. A great example of a rockstar is a high profile blogger. If they help promote your product online, they are going to want to be rewarded publicly online, so Dave’s suggestion is to thank them on the blog with trackback links, pictures (flickr), twitter mentions, etc. Plus, everyone loves some good swag every now and again.
  • Gardeners are the power users of your product that do things for you because they are fans, and they care about the product. This might be a developer who discreetly tips you off about a bug or glitch in your system, or a keener who makes a video tutorial on a product you just launched. Dave’s tip for rewarding these types of people is obviously a huge personal THANK YOU, and a mail delivered package of company swag, to make them feel like the special person that they are.
  • Interns are exactly what you think they are. Recently graduated from university, looking for a career, and wanting to be a part of an awesome company. Dave’s advice on interns (and he’s an expert, he’s had about 20 at Hootsuite, and calls himself the “intern whisperer”) is to NOT treat them like interns. First of all, give them a title that means something, not just “intern.” Don’t make them go get your coffee. There are always going to be mundane tasks in every job, but give them inspiring tasks to feel like they are doing a real job. In the process, you will find out what they excel at. They are going to be an extension of your company, and they’re going to be talking about your company.

Twitter Lists

Hootsuite uses twitter lists to monitor these different types of people and their conversations. Using just search terms and hashtags gets too messy and too complicated. One thing Dave told us, is that when he finds someone who has said something interesting about Hootsuite on twitter, he will go to their profile and find out: who they are (even check their LinkedIn profile), where they’re from, what do they tweet about, and who are they having conversations with. He then jumps into their conversation to “lob the tennis ball,” and then waits for them to hit it back.

HootUps

A new initiative Hootsuite is working on is organizing Hootups (like a tweetup, but for Hootsuite users), and they have encouraged people to start organizing their own Hootups. If you organize an event, and send an e-mail to Hootsuite telling them about it, they’ll send you some hootkits (swag) to give away as door prizes. Obviously these people are going to be posting pictures, tweeting and blogging about the event, so it’s a wicked way to get people talking about your product.

Talk is Cheap

Another thing Dave pointed out is that it doesn’t require a lot of money to be an influential brand. Hootsuite was named one of the top 5 influential companies at SXSW in 2011, and the biggest expense for the conference was for handing out free beer koozies. They didn’t do any major stunts like sponsor parties and give away free booze, but they DID pay someone to wear the Owly mascot suit every day during the conference. See, marketing can be cheap!

Tips & Takeaways

Lastly, I’ll leave you with some of the main takeaways that stood out to me from Dave’s talk:

  • “Hi. You Matter. We’re Listening.”
  • What makes people want to feel a part of your community? Find out and amplify their story.
  • Inspiration is the key to motivation.
  • Amplify your success to make more!

Please share any ideas you have or takeaways we may have missed in the comments below.

Missed SMKF? Find the Notes here:

Our notes from the last couple of talks can be found here and here, and Dave posts all of his notes on Tumblr for those that have missed the previous talks.

 

Don’t Miss the VEF’s Year End Events

VEF Momentum Hosts GrowLab’s Mike Tippett

Join Vancouver Enterprise Forum (VEF) Momentum on Friday June 24th at 6pm at the Republic, as they host Mike Tippett, co-founder of NowPublic, and the Executive Director of GrowLab, Vancouver’s newest accelerator for early-stage startups and entrepreneurs. Mike will share some of his own experiences as an entrepreneur and talk about how incubators such as GrowLab can help accelerate the development of tech startups.

Get your ticket now as this event is sure to sell out.

VEF Year End BBQ Event, June 28

A Casual Chat With Jonathan Ehrlich, Former Head Of Marketing At Facebook and Founder of Google Ventures Backed Copius

VEF is delighted to welcome guest speaker, Jonathan Ehrlich, former Head of Consumer Marketing at Facebook and Vancouver resident. Jonathan will talk about about his role and why he decided to leave and start up a new tech company all over again.

Jonathan will also share war stories about life in the Valley during the roller coaster years of the dot-com boom and bust as one of the founders of Mobshop, an early group buying pioneer that raised tens of millions of dollars and arguably paved the way for companies like Groupon a decade later.

Please note that NO tickets will be available/sold on the night. Pre-registration only.  Tickets include a yummy BBQ dinner.

VEF Members/Student $45
Non-members $80

Registration at www.vef.org.

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!

 

 

The PhoneGap Story with Brian LeRoux

On Wednesday, June 1st, we had Brian LeRoux from Nitobi come by Bootup to talk about the PhoneGap story and the future of mobile app development.

PhoneGap is the only open-source mobile framework that supports 6 platforms – Apple iOS, Android, Palm, Symbian, Blackberry, and even more platforms will be available soon. Nitobi built this framework for developers to decrease the difficulty of trying to build apps that will function across all mobile devices.

Brian gave some background on how Nitobi shifted from being mainly a product-based company to a service-based one, and how PhoneGap came together in the process. PhoneGap’s source code has been downloaded more than half a million times, and the open source community has jumped on board with fervor.

The entire presentation was based on the internet meme that Tanner Glass, of the Vancouver Canucks, can fight bears. Check out his slides from the presentation and you’ll see what I mean. It sounds like it makes no sense at all, but it was rather fitting, seeing as how Wednesday was Game 1 of Vancouver Canucks vs. Boston Bruins for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Brian had some great advice & suggestions for other startups in regards to web & mobile development:

  • Bill hourly. Nitobi tracks their time to the minute, and never gives fixed bids on projects. Makes sense.
  • NO overtime. Longer hours are detrimental to success.
  • Speaking at conferences is one of their best marketing tools. Not a lot of devs like to do presentations, but it is great for word of mouth and getting your name and your product or service out there.
  • Ship early. If a client wants a project completed in a month, see if you can ship it in two weeks.
  • Find a really tough problem and attempt to solve it. It’s more than anyone else is doing.

Some of the main takeaways from the talk were:

  • Tech deprecates. You do not have to. Stay on top of new tech by talking to devs.
  • Facilitate learning within your team.
  • Use devs wisely. Ask them about their passion projects. What are they hacking on over the weekend?

 

Brian then went into the actual PhoneGap code structure and ran some quick demos to show devs how fast you could deploy a mobile app on the platform. This is where the developers got all excited. If you’re technical, we highly suggest you walk through the slides below to take a look at the freedom the platform provides your mobile ambitions. With HTML, CSS, and Javascript you’re up and one multiple devices in minutes.

It’s really remarkable.

You can view the rest of the presentation slides here:

A huge thanks to Brian and Nitobi for such an enjoyable and technically exciting event. We hope to continue these PhoneGap events to follow the technology as it matures.

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


Startup Legal 101 – What’s the deal for startup financings?

Last Wednesday, Bootup and Contractually hosted a Startup Legal 101 session on the ins and outs of structuring financings for startups, with Mark Longo and Brock Smith from Clark, Wilson.

Here’s the slide deck that Mark and Brock presented:

 

Key points from the presentation included:

  • Getting your startup incorporated and organized properly, with advice from a lawyer with expertise working with tech startups, can smooth the path to a successful financing later (and save you time & money later).
  • In addition to raising money from investors, startups should look to other forms of funding, such as government programs like IRAP and SR&ED.
  • When raising money from investors, startups need to comply with securities law. For seed and angel financings, this means making sure that the shares are issued under an exemption from the requirement to file a prospectus.
  • For raising money from seed and angel investors, common financing structures are –

(1) ‘light’ preferred shares: the investor is issued shares that have certain preferences over the founders’ common shares — for example, on the sale of the company, the investor may have the option to get their money back, plus a minimum return and before the common shareholders get any sale proceeds, or to convert the preferred shares into common shares;

(2) convertible debt: the investor invests by lending money to the startup company, and that loan is convertible to shares at the time of the Series A financing (or when certain other events occur; and

(3) common shares.

  • Convertible debt has become more and more popular for early-stage financings in Vancouver, following the trend in the US.
  • Many other financing structures are possible depending on what the entrepreneur and the investor would like. However, opting for simpler, well-understood structures can facilitate later financings (it’s easier to explain the structure to later investors).

* * *

Big thanks to Mark and Brock for highlighting how startups can prepare for raising financing.

Got suggestions for future Startup Legal 101 sessions? Send them to Martin Ertl, at martin [at] contractual [dot] ly.