This Week in Tech Events: Jan. 3rd – Jan. 9th, 2011

We hope everyone had a memorable time ringing in 2011. Here’s to a year full of great opportunities for BC’s Tech peeps.

This week, Bootup has an event we hope to see you at. Event details are as follows:

Co-Founder Speed Dating

  • Wednesday, January 5th
  • 6:00pm
  • Bootup HQ – Suite 200, 163 West Hastings St., Vancouver
  • Event is free, but please R.S.V.P to confirm attendance.

A huge thanks to Return Path’s Angela Baldonero with all her help in organizing this event.

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Co-Founder Speed Dating

Join us for Co-Founder Speed Dating to meet the RIGHT people for your business before Launch Party Vancouver 9.

Co-Founder Speed Dating

Picking a co-founder is your most important decision. It’s more important than your product, market, and investors. Co-Founder Speed Dating aims to bring together talented entrepreneurs with different backgrounds and skill sets to start innovative new companies.  All too often you know people with similar backgrounds and skills sets to your own.  We help you find co-founders with complimentary skill sets.  Entrepreneurship can be lonely.  It’s important to have someone else there with you to help you ride out the lows and celebrate your successes.  As the BES blog says,

.. finding a co-founder is a lot harder than finding a contractor or temporary help. So, how do you do it? As with all things people related, networking (off-line and on-line) is the answer. Yet, one of the biggest problems for early stage entrepreneurs, is that their social networks are small and local. We’ve been thinking about how we can help solve this problem (aside from manually introducing people we think might be a fit) and have come up with an idea: take all the early stage entrepreneurs, who are looking for co-founders, put them in a room together, and give them a chance to “speed date” with as many potential co-founders as they can.

How does it work? You’ll be matched with potential “dates” who have complimentary skills and interests.  You’ll get to spend some focused time with each of them discussing you and your big ideas.

Who should attend?

  • You have an idea that you want to pursue, but don’t have the right partner
  • You are a superstar with a job, but open to joining a founding team if the right idea came your way
  • You are an aspiring entrepreneur open to trying new ideas with the right mix of people

Interested? Fill out the form here.

Co-Founder Speed Dating is free to attend. If you’d like to continue the networking at LPV9, you must purchase tickets directly here.

Co Founder Corner at Launch Party

We’re not doing a full Co founder Speed Dating event for this Launch Party, but we do want to keep helping potential co-founders to connect.

We’ve decided that from now on, every Launch Party event will include a “Co Founder Corner”. We’ll have an area set aside where people who are looking for cofounders can hang out, leave their business cards, and in general know they’re in the right spot to meet other potential founders.

We’re not (yet) implementing any extra “technology” to help with this. Maybe a good excuse to start experimenting with checking in via Foursquare – we’ve already entered the Launch Party venue, the Circa Resto Lounge.

» Next Launch Party Registration: http://lpv8.eventbrite.com
» Vote for LPV8 Startup Most Likely to Succeed: http://lpv8.launchpartyhq.com

See you at 6pm on Wednesday, September 16th, and don’t forget your business cards!

Co Founder Speed Dating Review by Mack Flavelle

This is a guest post by McElroy Flavelle aka Mack. Mack was an enthusiastic participant of our last event. If you have blog posts to share with the wider community, please contact us. We’d love to have more guest bloggers.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the first ever Co Founder Speed Dating.

I assume that sounds as weird to you as it did to me.

Though the concept seemed strange, I had heard great things about the folks at Bootup Labs and they threw the event.  On top of that I planned on attending Launch Party 7 which was held immediately after in the same venue, so making it out to speed dating was really a no brainer.

THE INTRO

Before the speed dating started we were treated to a ten minute presentation by John Goodwin about how to find the right co founder.  John showed us how to identify our own strengths and weaknesses and how to find people who would complement our skill sets.  I found the whole presentation quite informative but one part in particular really stuck out for me.  John said…

“Our culture has been shaped so that you go to school, get educated and learn about the world.  You also learn about yourself.  And when you’re done school they hand you a sheet of paper.  On one side is a list of everything you’re good at, your skills and aptitudes.  On the other side is a list of everything you’re bad at.  The idea is that you spend the rest of your professional career improving the things you’re bad at.

That’s rubbish.

Surround yourself with people you trust and who can cover your back.  Then never think about your weaknesses again.  Your job is to take your strengths, and make them even stronger.  Become the best possible at whatever you’re good at.”

For me personally that nugget of wisdom alone made the speed dating worth while.

THE MAIN EVENT

Before the event the Bootup Entrepreneurial Society had set up a small social network that allowed you to talk about yourself and introduce yourself to other people.  Part of the site was a profile check box to indicate which people you would be interested in meeting.  This could be loosely compared to a Facebook friend request or Twitter follower but within the context of a much smaller, much more focused network.   Once the speed dating actually got started my worry was there seemed to be no reference to these “like-to-meets” and I was concerned about the relevance of the people I was going to sit down with.

Luckily my fears were unfounded.  Just like me, everybody who wanted to meet somebody specific had made their own list and people were looking for each other.  I didn’t need an official date with Mike Woods to recognize that we had common ground and needed to chat.  Same with Ben Hesketh (and many others.)  After the structured schedule was done I sat down and had a beer with each of them.  Since then I’ve been able to connect with both and have third meetings already set up.  From my perspective, I didn’t need to be chaperoned through a new relationship- I just needed a reason to meet and a place to do it and that’s what speed dating provided.

Did everybody there love the Internet, Casual Games and Social Psychology?  Absolutely not.  So yes there was a date or two with somebody I had nothing to say to, but there was also 11 dates with fascinating, exciting and inspiring people.  These are people that could enrich my professional life and I can honestly say I wouldn’t have met outside of this context. Therein lies the power of Co Founder Speed Dating.

THE RESULT

For me personally, this event was an absolute success.

I have had six different follow up meetings with people I met at speed dating.  These are people that met me, talked to me and were so excited by my ideas that they wanted to get together again, and chat even more about the things I love.  Considering I didn’t know these people existed 10 days ago speed dating was very good for my professional network.

Did I find a co founder already?  Of course not.  Running a start up is the economic equivalent of a marriage and I’m not hopping into bed with any body that quick.  (I guess I’m just not that kind of guy!)  On the other hand I did find people who are exciting and motivational and who I expect I will be working with in the very near future.  Will we take down Google together… I’m not sure.   But will we have an iPhone game in the app store in three months… Undoubtedly.

I’m not sure what Bootup can do for the next event to make it better.  Everything ran smoothly and a good time was had by all but I suspect if I go to the next one there will be many of the same people sitting around the tables and at this point I’ve either ruled them out or am already looking forward to working with them.  None the less, I will certainly check out whatever event the Boot Up Entrepreneurial Society puts on next, regardless of what that is, as they seem to do a stand up job of connecting people who care about the things I do.

The Bootup Labs home page says “We are working hard to grow the technology ecosystem in Vancouver” and that’s exactly what this event did.

Cofounder Speed Dating Wrap Up

This is a short post to do a follow up on the Co Founder Speed Dating that we had before Launch Party 7. We had about 35 45 people attend with a mix of backgrounds, and in general the buzz in the room was great. It made for a long afternoon, as the attendees were networking and pitching from 4pm right through to Launch Party. Here are a few comments:

“From my perspective it was a smashing success, both the speed dating and the LP7” – Mack Flavelle
“Thanks for organizing the co-founder speed dating, it was a fantastic introduction to the start-up community on Vancouver.” – Ben Hesketh
“…people think the co-founder matchmaking event was a fantastic idea. Is there a chance that you would follow on with a matchmaking page on your web site” – Bernard Harris

We’re pleased at the enthusiasm around this first event. Thanks in particular to John Goodwin and Angela Baldonero for getting involved and helping to shape the event. Several people have emailed asking for a soft copy of the handout that John put together. Here’s the PDF of assessing the right co-founder. You can get in touch with John to book a one on one session. If there’s interest, we might run a group session.

One of the things that Angela noticed as she was asking people for feedback is that mentors & advisors is the other connection that entrepreneurs are looking to make locally. So we’ll do some planning around an event that will help with that, under the Mentor & Founder Connections Committee.

If you’re interested in similar events, then head over to the subscribe page. If you have other feedback, please leave a comment below.

Calling all Cofounders

We meet with a lot of early stage entrepreneurs and much of these meetings is about their needs. One of the most common needs they have is a co-founder. For example, just last week we met with two people who were at this stage.

The first one has an idea and the beginnings of a business model about how to make money from this idea, but he doesn’t have a technology background and isn’t capable of writing the code to implement the idea himself.

Now, it’s relatively easy for a budding entrepreneur in this circumstance to find and hire a contractor to do the work for him. This may seem attractive because it allows the entrepreneur to maintain control of development and complete ownership of the company, but the problem is this: when the contract is done, the entrepreneur may have legal ownership of the idea, but the contractor walks out the door with all the expertise and know how. What the entrepreneur really needs is a technical co-founder, who is as heavily invested in the idea and the enterprise as he is. Such people are much harder to find, but we believe that in this situation, finding a co-founder is critical to the success of the business.

In the other case last week, the would-be entrepreneur had the technical background to implement his idea, but knew nothing about sales, marketing or running a business. He too could solve his immediate problem by hiring a business consultant, but what he really needs a co-founder with business expertise.

There is also another argument in favour of bringing on a co-founder. Our experience and the experience of almost every entrepreneur that we know has been that building a startup is a large and difficult task and is simply more than one person can handle. Even if by some miracle you happen to have deep experience on both the technical and business side, there simply aren’t enough hours in a day to do everything by yourself that’s necessary to get a startup off the ground.

As I mentioned earlier, finding a co-founder is a lot harder than finding a contractor or temporary help. So, how do you do it? As with all things people related, networking (off-line and on-line) is the answer. Yet, one of the biggest problems for early stage entrepreneurs, is that their social networks are small and local. We’ve been thinking about how we can help solve this problem (aside from manually introducing people we think might be a fit) and have come up with an idea: take all the early stage entrepreneurs who are looking for co-founders, put them in a room together, and give them a chance to “speed date” with as many potential co-founders as they can.

So, our first Co-founder Connections event is June 2nd at 4pm. We’re holding it right before the next Launch Party at the SteamWorks “Uber Lounge”.

So, if you’re looking for a co-founder, or are looking to join a startup as “employee #1”, join us. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Register for Launch Party Vancouver 7.
  2. Head over to the Launch Party Crowdvine networking site and create a profile – if you joined the Launch Party Vancouver 6 site, you can login with your existing profile.
  3. Browse the people looking for cofounders or the business vs. technical listings
  4. Show up on June 2nd with a fistful of business cards and participate in 5 – 10 speed dating sessions – pitch your idea, pitch yourself, and see if you can connect with someone