Technical + UX/Designer = Love? Yes Speed Dating is back!

Yes, you heard right… this time it’s TECHNICAL/UX DESIGNER ONLY!  No pesky business people allowed.

Registration for Co-Founder Speed Dating is now open on Crowdvine.

Log in, answer 6 easy questions and get ready to meet your match!

Event Details:

Wed Apr 6, 2011 @ Bootup HQ 163 West Hasting St, Suite 200

5-5:15p            Kickoff

5:15-6:15p       Speed Dating

6:15-7:15p       Drinks & Networking

Register here:  http://co-founderspeeddating.crowdvine.com/

Technical + Technical + UX/Design = Cool New Ideas

This unique event will bring together technical to meet technical and/or UX/Design folks to brainstorm, invent, re-create and get crazy.  No business people allowed!

See you April 6!

Your Dating Diva,

Angela

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.

This Week in Tech Events, February 21-25, 2011

Good Morning Vancouver!  Hope everyone had an amazing weekend and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine.

This week is a busy one in tech as the VEF, BCTIA and Bootup are all hosting events we think you should check out:

Clean Tech Panel Discussion: How to Capitalize on Current Business Opportunities hosted by the VEF

  • Tuesday, February 22nd – 5:30pm
  • Vancity Theatre
  • If you haven’t bought your ticket yet, your outta luck.  This one is Sold Out!

Social Marketing Kung Fu, Yellow Belt – “Listening Everywhere” with Dave Olson hosted by Bootup

  • Wednesday, February 23 – 5:00-7:00pm
  • Bootup Entrepreneurial Society – 163 West Hastings, Suite 200 Vancouver
  • $30 for non-members

Mac McIntosh – Marketing for Leads and Sales hosted by BCTIA

  • Thursday, February 24th – 8:00am -12:30pm
  • The Sutton Place Hotel
  • Tickets are $155.
  • Friends of Bootup can receive 20% off by using the Promo Code: Bootup when registering.

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.

The Art of the Investor Pitch with Boris Wertz

There are many posts, books, and seminars out there already that cover how to pitch investors.  As entrepreneurs, it is important to realize that there are many ways to pitch investors and each investor is different. For instance, some investors may care more about the team than the idea where others may want to see real traction before they invest.  The most important thing you can do first is identify the right investors for your business and learn everything you can about how and what they invest in before reaching out.  The right investor will be more than just an injection of cash. The right investor will bring loads of value in the form of mentorship, connections and added credibility.

Considering that Boris Wertz is one of Canada’s most notable super angels, we thought it would be helpful to learn his tips on pitching early stage investors.  As an angel, Boris has invested in more than 20 early stage consumer Internet companies in the Pacific Northwest including Summify, Sparkbuy, Tynt, Suite101.com and Techvibes to name only a few and sees his share of approximately 150-200+ pitches per year.  Out of those 200+ pitches, he many only invest in about 5-6 companies,  which means you have to be pretty stellar to cut through all that noise and land a term sheet.

Step 1 – How to Find the Right Investor
I know you are busy building a company but you have to poke your head out of the garage once and a while to meet other entrepreneurs, angels etc. and get to know the influencers in your community.  Through your interactions and presence at events, you will quickly learn more about the types of investors you should consider approaching.  Boris stressed that you really need to do your homework before you start knocking on doors, so you do not waste anyone’s time.  Once you have compiled a list of investors, dig deeper to find out more about the stage (early stage vs. later) what sector (software vs. ecommerce), business model (b2b or b2c) and geography each investor is interested in as well as who you know that can personally introduce you.

Step 2-  The Warm Introduction
As I have learned first hand and Boris noted in his presentation, it is always best to get a warm introduction to an investor rather than cold call or shoot off an email out of the blue.  An introduction from someone an investor trusts and respects could make all the difference in getting you a face-to-face meeting.  And when you finally do get an introduction – don’t send the investor a 20 page business plan ahead of time. Just an executive summary with a link to your product will do.

Step 3-  Nail the Pitch
Nailing your pitch is way easier said then done but if you have done your homework and been introduced to the right investors, you are off to a great start.  Boris and many Internet investors I know look at the team first.  A strong team can weather many storms and iterate and pivot when needed.  The idea will change, so Boris recommends that in your first meeting you:

  • pitch yourself not the idea
  • show a product demo
  • focus on a the high level concept, rather than digging deep into the long term plans and financials
  • keep your pitchdeck to 10 slides. Something Guy Kawasaki also preaches

What Not to Do:

  • Ask Investor to sign an NDA – If you ask for an investor to sign an NDA, you may not even get past your first slide. Investors see hundreds of pitches every year and chances are there are many other entrepreneurs, who are working on a similar idea. If you ask your investor to sign an NDA, you look like an amateur.
  • Share a detailed business plan and financials. In your first meeting, going into too much detail is not necessary.  Explain what problem you are solving first and show a demo of the product if you can.
  • Schedule a 30 minute or more meeting – Any meeting longer than 30 minutes is too much for Boris. If you are pitching an investor and he starts asking questions, seems engaged and you go over the allotted 30 minutes, that’s probably a good sign.  If you aim to deliver your presentation in less than 20 minutes and allow time for questions, you will be in good shape.

Remember, every investor is different.  Boris likes to spend time getting to know you before he invests. Other investors will be quicker to write a check.  Venture Capitalists usually take 4-6 months, if not more to paper a deal.  So, the be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to raise funds.

Boris’ Presentation
If you missed Boris’s presentation, he has posted the presentation on his blog here.  Thanks again Boris, for dropping by.

What Have You Learned?
As always, we love hearing from you too. If you have an investor Do or Don’t that you learned a long the way, please share with the rest of us in the comments below.

NOTE: Next Bootup seminar will be on February 23 – Social Marketing Ku Fu, Yellow Belt “Listening Everywhere” with Dave Olson. Sign up. He rocks!

Eric Ries coming back to Vancouver on March 3

Eric Ries, creator of the Lean Startup Methodology is no stranger to Vancouver. He dropped by Bootup Labs in April ’09, met with the startups and showed off his lean mug.

Last year, Eric’s Startup Lessons Learned Conference was happening in San Francisco on April 23rd, 2010.  Troy Angrignon and Bootup teamed up to host the simulcast conference live in our Gastown digs.  More than 5o entrepreneurs and developers signed up to attend the simulcast.

And now, BCTIA is bringing Eric to back BC with stopovers in Kelowna, Victoria and ending his tour in Vancouver on March 3rd.  Using examples drawn from his own experiences in Silicon Valley, Eric will guide you through key areas proven to increase the success and creativity of your innovation and tech company from business strategy, product, engineering, QA, marketing and delivery.

All registrants will also receive a free copy of Eric’s new book “The Lean Startup”.

Don’t miss your opportunity to hear him speak. Register here.

Upcoming Bootup Garage Startup Seminars

We have 3 upcoming Startup Seminars being held at Bootup Garage that we thought you all would be interested in.

The Art of the Investor Pitch w/ Boris Wertz

  • Thursday, February 17th
  • 3:00pm
  • Bootup Garage, 163 West Hastings St., Suite 200
  • Garage Members: Free
  • Non Members: $31.19
Social Marketing Kung Fu, Yellow Belt – “Listening Everywhere” with Dave Olson

  • Wednesday, February 23rd
  • 5:00pm
  • Bootup Garage, 163 West Hastings St., Suite 200
  • Garage Members: Free
  • Non Members: $31.19
Co-Founder and Captables with Danny Robinson

  • Wednesday, March 2nd
  • 3:00pm
  • Bootup Garage, 163 West Hastings St., Suite 200
  • Garage Members: Free
  • Non Members: $31.19

This Week in Tech Events: Feb. 7 – Feb. 13, 2011

We hope everyone had a great weekend! This week seems to be a jam packed week for Mobile and then ends with the Canadian Financing Forum. Details are below.

Mobile Monday hosted by DigiBC

  • Monday, February 7th
  • 5:00pm
  • Granville Island Brewery,  1441 Cartwright St., Vancouver
  • Free
  • Postponed to future date.

Introduction to Nokia Platforms and OVI Services hosted by Wavefront and DFAIT

  • Tuesday, February 8th
  • 8:30am
  • 1055 W. Hastings St., Conference Room, Vancouver
  • Free

Canadian Financing Forum

  • Thursday, February 10th
  • 8:00am
  • Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, 900 Georgia St., Vancouver
  • $795 + GST