Launch Party Vancouver 10 Gratitude

We kicked off the season with a bang at our 10th Launch Party Vancouver event on December 1st.  There were many familiar faces as well as newcomers, who dropped by Canvas Lounge to check out some fresh Vancouver startups, mingle with friends and colleagues and even sit on Santa’s lap:

Santa's Helper, kk, Santa, and Danielle Sipple

Launch Party is not just about the startups but about bringing our community together to have fun.  Thank you so much for joining us and for showing the world that Vancouver is one of the best places to start a company. We hope you had as much fun as we did.

Good peeps at LPV10. Photo Credit: John Biehler

Please Raise Your Glass to:
We have said it before but it has to be said again – Our sponsors + a whole lot of love and passion are what makes all of our events and existence possible.  If you are starting a company and need help finding the right lawyer, bank, SEO company etc, you should consider some of partners. They are giving back to the community and want to work with startups:

  • Canpages – fastest growing local search company in Canada with a nationwide API for smart phone application developers.
  • Clark Wilson – Mark Longo & Brock Smith are two of the best startup lawyers in town.
  • Outcome 3 – Need help with SEO? Want to improve traffic and conversion rates, contact Outcome 3. This team has helped Bootup with our site and many other startups in town.
  • HSBC –  This bank is interested in working with startups and has inexpensive packages that could work for you.
  • Fasken Martineau – Their office may boast one of the nicest views in town, but Keith Spencer and Shahrooz Navabi have definitely given back to the startup community many times. Good guys & lawyers.
  • KPMG – Most startups may not need the services of a big accounting firm in the early days but KPMG wants to work with and support startups at an early stage.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to learn how they can help you.
  • FMC – Lawyer, Gal Smolar has worked in the Internet startup Industry for a long time and loves it. He moved to YVR via Israel. Reach out.
  • Strutta – the platform behind the LPV10 Startup Competition. (disclosure: Maura & Danny are founders)

Big thanks to our Media Sponsors for helping us spread the word and share your startup stories:

  • Techvibes – If you want to get the word out about your startup or an event, then look no further than local tech blog, Techvibes. Rob Lewis had to miss LPV10 (a 1st!!) to cover the Canadian New Media Awards in Toronto but as always, did a great job spreading the word ahead of time.
  • The Next Web – Tris Hussey, who is now writing for the Next Web Canada did a great job interviewing of all of the LPV10 Startup Showoffs.  Thanks Tris!  If you haven’t seen their videos yet, check them out!
  • Startup DigestJon Chui, the curator of YVR Startup Digest is doing an amazing job keeping us all informed of weekly tech events. If you are feeling out of the loop, sign up to receive your Monday morning update in your inbox every week.

We may be a small team by day but when we need help, awesome people like this always have our back:

  • Jodi Day – talented UI Designer and member of Team Strutta, who makes us laugh and kept things rolling at the LPV10 door!
  • Chrissy Chrzan – Communications Junkie, who happens to be new to Vancouver, made sure everyone got thru the line on time.
  • Maral Artang and marketing pro, Nicole Steele helped check everyone in-and-out at LPV10.
  • Laurent Munier – Big shout out to Laurent for helping us with event logistics and planning.
  • John Biehler – Thanks for all the great snaps of LPV10, JB.
  • Lyal Avery – For making sure Santa showed up on time and for always being there.
  • Jeff Magnusson – For lending a hand with set-up and LPV10 candy canes for Santa. 🙂

And Last but DEFINITELY NOT LEAST:

Sonia Ryan – is my right hand at Bootup.  Thanks for hustling everyday and caring so much about Bootup and the startup community.  You are the best. I have enjoyed working with you and watching you come into your own this past year.  BAM! ❤

Sonia Ryan, Shelly Roche, Derek Shanahan Photo Credit: Weston Trimestra

You can find more photos of the event on Flickr, of course. 🙂  Until next time, keep on rockin’ Vancouver

How to Be Acquired by Microsoft

Jon Gelsey, Director of Corporate Development from Microsoft joined us in Vancouver yesterday to share some insights on the process that he goes through when considering to “buy vs. build:”

  1. Adjacency – For starters, Jon said they look for companies that are “adjacent to the core business.”  In some instances they have bought companies that are not necessarily adjacent but something they know they could benefit from moving forward. A perfect example of this is their acquisition of Aquantive in 2007, which they knew would help better monetize Microsoft’s online content.
  2. Valuation – Considering valuation and doing a model helps Jon decide how much more money they will make by buying your company today vs. developing the technology in-house and releasing it in 8-10months.  “At the end of the day, a valuation is all about what someone is willing to pay for you,” Jon said.
  3. Think like a VC – Since everything moves really quick in the tech industry, Jon needs to think like a VC and have an asymmetric risk return.  Models are imprecise.  And at the end of the day, Jon and his team have to decide that based on their model and the assumptions is this acquisition “directionally correct.”  What matters most to Microsoft is taking market share and keeping it.
  4. Market Traction & Technology –  Two girls in a garage with a few users vs. 20 people in an office with real customers makes a difference.  Microsoft is looking for traction, credibility and getting another point of “query share.”   That said, Jon stressed that the size of your company, number of employees, and price is all ultimately irrelevant.  Microsoft will happily consider buying a two person company or a larger entity.  However, they sweet spot is a company with less than 50 employees because of the low organizational impact.
  5. Team and Culture – This is something Microsoft looks closely at.  They have passed on deals for cultural reasons.  While culture is important, Jon’s team looks for good documentation, coding and hiring practices.  And after a price is negotiated, Microsoft will hire an independent third party of your choice to delve deep to find out if your code actually does what is advertised.
  6. Location – Microsoft has bought and invested in companies all over the world.  Location “matters only as much as it becomes a friction point.”  If Microsoft can manage a company remotely, then borders and location are not an issue.
  7. Patent Portfolio – As a startup, you probably don’t want to be spending your money on filing patents.  VCs like Brad Feld would like to abolish software patents all togther. Jon stressed that “any technology is replicable” and if you are concerned bout people stealing your ideas, don’t share your core IP.  Jon mentioned that Bruce Sewell, Apple’s Lawyer believes that a “patent is worth pretty much what it costs to process it.” Execution is what matters.
  8. Get Noticed – If you want to capture Microsoft or any acquirers attention, focus on building a quality company. Execute! Execute! Execute! Don’t worry about the exit.  Jon said, “Performance is the best advertisement.”

And once you do get noticed, be organized.  Eliminate as many friction points as possible to getting the deal done.  If Microsoft asks for your latest financials and historical projections, turn it around fast.  Let them be the bottleneck.

As you build your company, Jon recommends working with good attorneys, practicing good corporate hygiene and engineering practices and fully understanding all risks of the deals you sign.  If there are any weird contracts you sign or deals you do along the way, these can affect your success and possibility of a future exit.

Microsoft also invests in companies as a syndicate investor but they did lead the round for a multi-touch screen company called N-Trig in 2009.  “We will only invest, when we sign a commercial deal along side it,” Jon said.  Investing is a great opportunity for both sides to build a relationship that could lead to an acquisition down the road.

If you are interested in exploring a deal, all you have to do is send Jon an email jgelsey@microsoft.com and he will happily take a look at it.

Many thanks to Jon for taking the time to come to Vancouver to meet with us and to Fasken Martineau and BCIC for helping us bring Jon to town.

If you have any other mentors you would like to connect with – leave a comment here and we will see what we can do.

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!