Bootup – We are Just Getting Started.

As many of you have heard, Bootup Labs Managing Director and Co-Founder, Danny Robinson recently accepted the role of CEO of BCIC.   There has always been a bit of confusion with the Accelerator and the Non-profit b/c we share the Bootup name and understandably so.  But, BES has always been an independent organization. We have our own team, an independent Board, have to make our own money and raise our own funds. When Danny moved on to BCIC, the only thing that changed was he stepped down from our Board and Boris Wertz of WMedia Ventures stepped up as our Chairman.

In the past two years since we started Bootup Entrepreneurial Society, we have organized more than 40 of our own events and supported many other associations, organizations and international companies in their efforts as well.  These events include mentor talks and workshops, Democamps, Mentor speed dating, Co-Founder speed dating, Launch Party Vancouver, Facebook Developer Garage and more.  We have seen companies like UnbounceMobifyHootsuiteAyogoGistYowza and Weddingful attend and launch their companies at various BES events and continue to thrive.  We are their biggest fans and we want to see all of these companies and more hit it out of the park.

We have come this far with a team of 2 full time employees and the support of some amazing volunteers including Mack FlavelleParveen KalerLyal AveryBoris Mann, Angela Baldonero, Jodi Day, Tina Hoang, Ross Howard Jones, Alexa BoothJordan Behan, and Derek Shanahan, a rock star Board of Directors,  our sponsors and countless others, who have stepped up to help at many of our events.

What’s Next – Bootup Garage, an open space for Founders to Bootup
Bootup (BES) has always had an open door policy. We love having people drop by, plug in and work away while they are visiting from Toronto, SF, Boulder and even France.  Working in an environment like this is exciting and inspiring.  And as an entrepreneur, who’s first startup’s HQ was in my garage, I really appreciate and thrive on being surrounded by others, who are taking the same risks or have been there and can help me navigate through the sometimes unpredictable and challenging waters of entrepreneurship.

With this in mind, BES is launching the Bootup Garage Pilot Program.  The Bootup Garage is something we believe every healthy startup ecosystem needs and we want to create a space where Internet founders and developers know they can come, connect and hack away on their idea in a very supportive, collaborative and inspiring environment.  It is not meant to be a co-working space, where you rent a desk on a monthly basis.  The space will support new ventures from their earliest single-founder ideation stage through small-team prototype development, until the startup has achieved proof of demand and is ready to accept funding or establish their own workspace.

Mentors
We have lined up dozens of mentors already, who love Vancouver and want to support Canadian entrepreneurs.  Mentors will be on site, hosting office hours on a weekly basis (if not more) at Bootup Garage and you can set up meetings based on their schedule.  Everyone from Jason Bailey of Super Rewards, Boris Wertz of W Media Ventures, Boris Mann of IQMetrix, Angela Baldonero of Return Path, tech artist Kris Krug, David Ascher of Mozilla Messaging and Stewart Butterfield of Glitch and Flickr are on board and we are just getting started!  The list and mentor calendar will be posted soon.  Thanks to everyone for your support.

Funding
Bootup is a non-profit, supported by many wonderful partners and sponsors including BCIC, who has been a big supporter of us before Danny ever interviewed for the CEO job.  While BCIC has funded us again this year, which includes this pilot project, we are also talking to many other private and government organizations to help us in our mission to support and inspire entrepreneurship in BC and Canada.  If you are interested, please contact us or come to our Open House: 

Open House
On December 1, from 12:30-2:30pm – we invite you to an Open House at Bootup – 163 West Hastings St., Suite 200. Come find out more about the Pilot program, ask questions, meet other entrepreneurs and mentors and check out the space.

If you are interested in the new space, sponsorship or being a mentor, you can send me an email – maura [at] bootup [dot] ca or jeff [at] bootup [dot] ca or sonia [at] bootup [dot] ca, come to the Open House on Dec. 1st or connect with all of us at Launch Party Vancouver 10, http://lpv10.eventbrite.com

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Bootup Names Boris Wertz as New Chairman

Maura Rodgers, Danny Robinson, Dave Shea, and Boris Wertz. Photo Credit: Raul Pacheco, #LPV5

The Bootup (BES) board is filled with entrepreneurs and investors, who are committed to helping the Vancouver startup ecosystem grow and thrive including Danny Robinson. Danny has acted as Chairman of the BES board since our very first meeting and has done an amazing job helping us stay true to our mission to inspire and support Canadian Internet entrepreneurs.

Over the past two years, Danny has invested in 10 new Internet companies (8 via Bootup Labs), co-founded BES and Launch Party Vancouver with me and mentored many other startups. I have known Danny a long time both professionally and personally. But anyone, who has seen Danny interact with startup founders can easily see that rolling up his sleeves and working with entrepreneurs is the thing he loves the most about his job. It’s truly inspiring to watch a founder(s) Danny has worked with take an idea, get traction and go on to build a great company.

As of today, Danny is leaving Bootup to become the new CEO of BCIC. Board member Boris Wertz of W Media Ventures has accepted the role as BES’ new Chairman. Like Danny, Boris is incredibly passionate about entrepreneurship and has invested a lot of his time and money into Vancouver’s startup ecosystem. We are really excited to have Boris step up as Chairman to build on what Danny has started. In addition, Jeff Magnusson has joined me as the interim COO at Bootup to help roll out our plan for a cool new space for Founders, which we will be sharing more details about very soon.

Thank you, Danny for sharing your knowledge and passion with us. We will miss you around here but are incredibly excited that you will be able to continue your work at BCIC. We think they are pretty darn lucky to have you and wish you all the best in your new role.

More good things to come in 2011!

Maura Rodgers, Danny Robinson, Dave Shea and Boris Wertz – Photo Credit: Raul Pacheco, #LPV5″

OH at #GROWConf

All was atwitter last week in Vancouver as some of the best Internet entrepreneurs, influencers and investors flocked to our beautiful city from across Canada and Silicon Valley for the highly anticipated, first annual Grow Conference.

Here’s a little sample of funny, inspiring and thankful tweets and “overheards”  at the conference, around town and in the Bootup Labs office:

OH @growconf:

    • ellenlevy: nice to be back in Vancouver for the Grow 2010 Conference… last time I was here I was running the Vancouver marathon! #in
    • ericries: Feels like everyone I know is in Canada. Congrats #Grow “@danmartell: serious freakin’ #startup talent in this room http://yfrog.com/nekp6aj
    • RobHayes: Headed to #GROWconf up in Vancouver.  Can’t wait to get me some Tim Horton’s and a Molsen Canadian #broughtmytoque
    • tconrad: Vancouver is amazing — beautiful, clean, incredible setting. Met 100 inspiring Canadian entrepreneurs yesterday.
    • MayorGregor: potent morning @ grow conference. 450+ all stars in tech+finance. silicon valley #vancouver mashup#growconf
    • chrisarsenault: OH: @davemcclure to entrepreneurs: if you don’t feel “out of control” you aren’t going fast enough #growconf
    • jtoeman: Quantity of ipads at @growconf is astounding. Even for a tech conference it’s high.
    • barbie_t: The 2 rules from Lane Becker: #1 startups are hard, #2 nobody knows anything. Follow your own vision at the end of the day. #GrowConf
    • brian_wong: At #growconf – phenomenal day so far. Great to catch up with everyone!
    • kevin_swan: It’s not about accepting failing, it’s about not fearing failure – Lane Becker #growconf
    • robinaxon : 24 hours into the conf and the energy is still high. Tom Conrad from Pandora is just taking stage. #growconf
    • springad: @tconrad shares that Pandora has no product roadmap. Stays simble and allows them to react to market changes #growconf
    • alexcapehart: Maple Leaf Mafia. You heard it here first.#GrowConf (@deblanda, @flowtown)
    • sonsryan: building a billion dollar business in 2 years doesn’t accelerate how fast you’ll get through customs.#growconf
    • KatrinaCF: @Groupon’s Andrew Mason: “my biggest f**k up was waiting too long to launch”. #growconf #inspiring
    • @davemcclure just got the wave going in the conference room at #growconf!!
    • kevin_swan: They should put a 30 second delay on this panel with @davemcclure and @superrewardsCEO participating.#fbombs #growconf
    • GundersonLaw: awesome weekend @growconf . Many many thanks @deblanda. Top of the food chain event.
    • jeff : Back home. #growconf was a blast (congrats @deblanda). Jetlag + conference = beat. Way too many emails to dig in. Good night/week-end y’all!
    • bwertz: GROW was probably the best web conference ever organized in Canada – great speakers, very good networking, amazing event venue. #growconf
    • chrisalbinson: Awesome #growconf. @debbielanda rocks(-: Fun to see #c100 come north.

OH @growconf after parties and around town:

OH @bootuplabs:

    • foodtree: The @bootuplabs office is BUZZING. If you’re in town stop by for tech talk, wifi, and coffee. (magic combo, right?).
    • bmann: I’m not getting much “work” done, but there is a ton of @growconf related networking happening at @bootuplabs. MTL is in the house.
    • skanwar: Out @bootuplabs – great conversations with @sonsryan, @summify, @strutta and more. #growconf
    • davidcrow: @extremevp I’ve had so much fun with open office hours @bootuplabs @wavefrontac met many companies, must repeat in TO at EVP.
    • alkarim: Finding masses of inspiration all in one place.
    • kevindahl: Just “put yo weight on it” during slideshow karaoke @bootuplabs. Human centipede not allowed…
    • anulman: Thanks again, @bootuplabs! #PPTKgrow was loads of fun. Presents in your fridge.

Launch Party Vancouver 9 Wrap Up

When we started LPV in September 2007, our goal was to shine a big bright light on the startup community and help connect entrepreneurs with investors, potential partners and their peers. Looking at photos from the last 9 events, it is clear that our community is growing and that the best of Canadian tech has consistently showed up to support and celebrate the latest crop of Internet startups in the great Northwest. It’s our hope that the startups you have seen demo at Launch Parties 1-9 will grow into the next generation of Canadian super angels.

Martin Ertl of Contractually, LPV9 Startup Competition People’s Choice Winner
Photo credit: Jeremy Lim

Our ninth edition of Launch Party Vancouver on June 17th was definitely our biggest event yet.  As Debbie Landa tweeted, LPV9 was definitely a “who’s who of Canadian tech.” We were thrilled to have Chris Albinson, Katherine Barr, Dan Martell, Debbie Landa, and Anthony Lee from the C100 fly up from Silicon Valley as well as Chris Arsenault and Shawn Abbott from iNovia Capital in the house.  A great big thank you to all of our out of town guests for making the trek to Vancouver.  Go Canada!

Chris Albinson of the C100 Organization and Panorama Capital
Photo Credit: Jeremy Lim

Put your hands together for…
We rely on public and private donations and a whole lot of sweat and sometimes tears to make this all possible.  Many thanks to Sonia Ryan and volunteers Melissa Joaquin, Angela Baldonero, Tarlan Klo, Tina Hoang, and Laurent Munier for working the door and helping us set-up.

We could not do any of this without the backing of our LPV9 Partners:

  • BCIC – the lead organization charged with advancing innovation and commercialization in British Columbia.
  • Canpages – fastest growing local search company in Canada with a nationwide API for smart phone application developers.
  • Clark Wilson – BC’s Law Firm for Business. Mark Longo & Brock Smith are the go to guys.
  • HSBC – the world’s local bank with startup banking packages.
  • Fasken Martineau – a leading international business law and litigation firm. Keith Spencer and Shahrooz Navabi are the real deal.
  • Strutta – the platform for creating online contests and the brains behind the LPV9 Startup Competition.
  • Lonsdale Rentals – the place to go for all of your corporate and private party rental needs. From bar rentals to glasses, they have it all.
  • Pixstar – Pixstar Photo booths provide the perfect memento to remember any party.
  • Mission Hill – Mission Hill has an amazing selection of Okanagan wines. They featured Rigamorole red and white at LPV9.
  • Russell Brewing – committed to brewing 100% natural, real Canadian beer. And it shows!
  • Jeremy Lim – Check out Jeremy’s awesome LPV9 photo set on Flickr and contact him for your event.

Our Media Sponsors rock:

  • Techvibes – our favorite technology blog does an amazing job highlighting all of the LPV9 startups and covering daily tech news in cities across Canada and the United States. And best of all, Techvibe’s President & Editor, Rob Lewis always shows up as promised   ——->
  • Startup Digest – All you have to do is enter your email address and choose your favorite hubs to receive the best startup events in your inbox every week.  Jon Chui runs the weekly Vancouver newsletter.

Thank you all for making LPV9 so great!

Metabridge 2010 or Bust

After having a successful exit, I look back and found that in the early days the biggest challenge wasn’t the great idea we had, it was getting people worth talking too, to listen to what we had. – Steve Wandler, Founder of Metabridge

Last Thursday afternoon, Danny Robinson of Bootup Labs drove a big blue Suburban filled with 6 other entrepreneurs from Vancouver to Kelowna for the 2nd annual Metabridge event.  After a late start and a pitstop in Hope, BC to refuel at the iconic Hope Drive in & Restaurant, we were on our way!

Photo Credit : @dshanahan of Foodtree.com

Derek Shanahan of Foodtree, Lyal Avery of Outcome 3, Mack Flavelle of Compass Engine,  Cristian Strat of Summify and Dean Prelazzi of BCIC were all brave enough to make the trip with Danny at the helm. Both Derek and Cristian are from out of town so I was really happy they could join us and take in the beautiful scenery on the Coquahalla.  No companies were formed but many ideas were shared and my belly hurt from laughing so hard on the road to K-town.

Photo Credit : @dshanahan of Foodtree.com

Day 1
We arrived in Kelowna just in time to catch the bus to the Quails Gate Winery for the Welcome reception.  It was great to see so many old friends from Metabridge 1 including Ethan Anderson, Founder of Red Beacon, Peter Haubrich, Founder of ORIC, Jason Richards of Vineyard Networks and Gary Symons, Founder of Vericoder.  Unlike the first Metabridge, the room was full with many attendees from Vancouver and I was not the only female entrepreneur in the room.

Photo Credit : @dshanahan of Foodtree.com

Day 2
A pitch breakfast for attending startups kicked off Day 2 before a day of Golf or a Sparkling Hill Spa tour.  There were only 8 companies in attendance last year and over 30 startups at Metabridge 2.  Since I spent the day catching up on work, I did not get to experience either afternoon adventure personally but I heard that a full round of golf at the Okanagan Golf course was hands down the better choice!

Photo Credit : @stevewandler of Metabridge

Metabridge ended with a networking dinner at Earl’s Restaurant on the water. Various visiting VIPS were assigned seating throughout the venue and acted as hosts for each table.  I was paired up with Lars Lekkie from Hummer Winblad and Amy Leger of HuStream and Brent Bolleman from Axel Partners joined us.  I can’t sit still for very long so, as soon as dinner was over I was table hopping and mingling.  Without naming names, I made many great connections, who I intend to keep in touch with in the future.

Photo Credit : @dannyrobinson of Bootup Labs

Thanks
Many people were thanking Steve Wandler, the Founder and organizer of Metabridge throughout the evening and he deserved all the props he was getting.  It takes a lot of hard work to pull an event like this off successfully.  Luckily, he had the help of Chantelle Kshyk, Event Manager from Ostec, who is absolutely fantastic to ensure everything ran smoothly and left attendees raving.

Bring Back the Boat!
When I caught up with Steve at the end of Day 2 to thank him as well, he turned to me and said “I don’t want to just hear how great the event was.  I want to hear how I can make it better and better.”  To which, I replied – “well, I have a couple of ideas…”,  which includes a boat, Dale Fuller 😉 and a few other suggestions I will share with Steve the next time he is in town.

Photo Credit : @stevewandler from Metabridge 1

All and all it was a great event!  Kelowna has a growing and very supportive tech community.

Thank you Steve, Robert Fine, Chantelle and the entire Kelowna Tech Community for being such great hosts. You are welcome at casa Bootup anytime.

F5 Expo: The Secret to Success: Avoiding Start-up Pitfalls

If you fail, fail in style – Michael Fergusson on starting your own company.

On April 7th, I was amongst thousands who attended the F5 Expo, which was full of familiar faces, gadgets and mascots and buzzing with talks on innovation.

Cybele, Founder of Webnames.ca and me.

I sat in on the The Secret to Success: Avoiding Start-up Pitfalls panel with Bootup Labs’ Danny Robinson, HootSuite’s Ryan Holmes and Ayogo Games’ Michael Fergusson, and moderated by SoMedios’ Carisa Miklusak.

These startup stars shared their stories and opinions on passion vs. experience to funding and finding that work/life balance we all strive for.

Passion VS. Experience – What’s more important?

When looking for a Co-Founder or expanding your team, Ryan said he prefers passion over experience. “Passion cannot be taught or bought. When you are passionate, you will hustle hard and work through the hard knocks.”

Danny believes that passion and experience deliver the same result: “the ability to rely on your intuition to make the right decision.” Danny explains his thoughts on passion vs experience in more detail here.

Michael, on the other hand, felt that many startup founders lacked experience, but few lacked passion. Passion is usually what motivates entrepreneurs to start a business in the first place. “You obviously need both to succeed. Having said that, experience is usually what’s missing.”

Funding – When should you start raising money and which VC should you go after?

Ryan, Danny & Michael

Danny explained that it’s not about the firm, it’s about the partner. The partner is the one sitting on your board and is the person you keep updated with company stats and information.  It’s really important to establish a good relationship with your partner as they become a vital part of your start-up. He also mentioned that when raising money, you need to know how much money you need to raise, and once you have this number, work backwards.

Ryan believes that raising money is highly dependent on the circumstances. He suggested looking into angel investment and convertible debt earlier on if you can’t generate revenue from day one.

Michael didn’t comment too much on funding but did say that the process of raising money and managing investors should distract you as little as possible from your vision and plan for the company.

Balance – Why it’s important for you and your company.

Michael expressed the importance of work / life balance when starting your own company. You need to be distracted by these things, though, if you’re going to stay healthy (for yourself) and productive (for your business).

Ending Notes

In summary, the panel was insightful, personable and honest. They did a great job in painting a picture on how to avoid certain pitfalls when starting a company. Listening to how passionate they were about starting a company has me itching to start one of my own.  Who’s with me?

If you are an entrepreneur, who has been or is currently on the startup roller coaster, what do you think is important? What lessons have you learned?

Missed the show, here are some great shots by Jeremy Lim.

New Year, New Office

As some of you may know the folks at Bootup Labs, Bootup Entrepreneurial Society and Strutta spent last weekend moving to our new digs, quite fine digs if I say so myself.

2010 is starting to smell really good as our new office is equipped with a full kitchen where resident foodie Boris Mann has already started to whip us up some delicious Bacon & Egger sandwiches and pizza!

Here’s a short video Jordan and I created touring our new office.

Come on by and visit us at our new office for a tour. I might even whip you up some butter chicken!

*Post written by Sonia*