Jimmy Ho and Mentor Connect

Next week is Mentor Connect– a speed networking charity event designed to create connections between tech (mobile, web, games, etc.) entrepreneurs and mentors (angels, VCs, entrepreneurs, etc.)

We figured we’d chat with the man behind the curtain, Jimmy Ho.

1. Jim, tell us about yourself and where you’re coming from and what you’re doing these days.

My name is Jimmy Ho. I am original from Toronto and I graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Computer Science degree. I have experience as an engineer at both Electronic Arts and Microsoft.

I started my first startup, NeverBored Studios, with my friend/classmate Thomas Ang. I ran the business in Waterloo for 1.5 years, but left on good terms because of differences in vision.

I moved to Vancouver and now currently work as an engineer for Microsoft Vancouver (BigPark). I volunteer my time with Entrepreneurs International Organization (EIO) and am a member of Vancouver Entrepreneurs Toastmaster Club.

2. What is Mentor Connect?

Mentor Connect is a speed networking charity event designed to create connections between tech (mobile, web, games, etc.) entrepreneurs and mentors (angels, VCs, entrepreneurs, etc.). Attendees can enjoy speed networking, opening mingling & networking, and raffle prizes.

Event Details:
Date: Monday, May 16, 2011.
Time: 6:30PM-9PM. [Private reserved section]
Location: Ceili’s Restaurant, 670 Smithe Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 2C9.
Price: $10/person or $15/group(2-3).

Purchase tickets at TheMentorConnect.eventbrite.com.
All proceeds will be donated to Big Brothers Vancouver.

Note: Mentee application submissions(here) for the mentor speed networking portion end May 9, 2011 @9PM. However, people can come watch the speed networking session and enjoy the rest of the evening.

3. Why are you putting Mentor Connect together?  Where did the inspiration come from?

Originally, I had a desire to start a project and the inspiration for Mentor Connect came about when I was assisting with EIO’s sponsored entrepreneurship course, “The First 99 Milestones”. The content speaker for that night was Thealzel Lee and a student had asked her a question about becoming an angel and how one could tell who to invest in.

One of Thealzel’s answers included her recommending mentoring (other start-ups) and the idea stuck with me.

Since then Mentor Connect has transformed from a single idea to an event that was created and made possible by the Vancouver entrepreneurial community. I personally see Mentor Connect as a way for individuals to really connect with mentors, organizations, and entrepreneurs in Vancouver.

4. What are your thoughts on the start up scene in Vancouver?  Where are we winning?  What do we need to work on?

I see Vancouver’s startup scene growing especially with Danny Robinson/BCIC supporting various organizations and programs in Vancouver. Vancouver’s greatest strength is that it is a great place to live and labour/talent costs are much lower compared to Silicon Valley. Vancouver’s weakness however is that labour/talent costs is irrelevant if a startup is not in a growth phase. Most startups in Canada lack the know-how and experience to quickly get to this stage in their start-up, whereas Silicon Valley has an influential community of experience that entrepreneurs can tap into (funding is also easier to obtain in the Valley from what I hear). Many organizations such as Bootup, AceTech, and EIO look to fill in this gap to create a community of development and support for entrepreneurs in Vancouver, thus Vancouver’s outlook is great.

5. What’s next? After mentor connect what other projects have you got on your radar, are there any other big events you’re excited to attending or organizing?

At the moment, I believe that anything is possible, but I do look forward to the next Vancouver Launch Party.

Social Marketing Kung Fu, Purple Belt with Dave Olson

Dave Olson

Photo by Kris Krug

On Wednesday, April 27th, I sat in on my first startup talk at the Bootup Garage. Dave Olson, Director of Marketing at Hootsuite, came in to do his third talk in a series aptly named Social Marketing Kung Fu (#smkf).

In January, Dave started off with Social Marketing Kung Fu, White Belt (Maura’s notes from that session are here), then in March, he came in for the Yellow Belt – “Listening Everywhere” session.

Dave is always a joy to listen to – I’ve seen him speak at a few different conferences – so I was eager to hear what he had to say in session number three: Social Marketing Kung Fu, Purple Belt – Release Day. His talks are always full of interesting tidbits and useful information, and this one was definitely no different.

I jotted down a few notes to share with you, but you can also find Dave’s notes on getting your Purple Belt here.

What to Release

  • Should be something substantial, or a few things bundled together and released around the same time.
  • Code names for product releases are always smart, as they’re memorable.

Know Your Coverers

  • Reach out to the media that you want to cover your story: RT them, comment on their stories, add them to twitter lists, etc.
  • Get to know them, and what they write about.
  • Personally invite them to join your media e-mail list.
  • When you send them info, make their life easy. Respect their time.
  • Spoon feed them the story, but never be condescending.

Craft Stories

  • Take 3 important talking points, and craft them into different forms.
  • Tell them why your story matters!
  • Get quotes from your customers, not your CEO (unless it’s a special circumstance, where a quote from the CEO is appropriate).
  • Putting a boiler plate “About” section at the bottom of a press release is unnecessary and a waste of space. Link to your website/blog instead.
  • Tune your vocab. Make it active, not passive. Lose the buzz words, and keep your vocab as consistent as possible.
  • Include image(s) to support your story, so they use your image and not their own.

Line up Dominoes &/or House of Cards

  • Constantly keep your media kit up to date. If you have one page on your website, this should be it.
  • Thursday before the release: Send an internal memo to your team to share the master plan. Include your 3 main talking points, who you’re telling, and why it matters.
  • Monday 1PM: Local press release, & media preview e-mail. Include assets, like an infographic, if possible. Make them feel like they are getting the story first.
  • You can also send a preview e-mail to your key clients, to keep them in the loop, and ultimately, make them feel special.
  • Tuesday 5AM: Scheduled blog post. Make everything point here, so it answers any questions people may have. This way you are controlling the conversation.
  • Next comes Twitter & Facebook updates, a general e-mail to clients, and a wire release (with links, tags, etc.) Keep the Facebook update light and airy. You don’t want it to become your main feedback channel.
  • Tuesday 9AM: Make sure your dominoes have fallen into place! You can also update any LinkedIn groups, Forums, Q & A sites like Quora, Formspring, etc.
  • Tuesday 11AM: Optionally, you can host a webinar, an hour at most, to go over any details that go along with the release.
  • Schedule any interviews requested by the media.

Then…

LISTEN
REPLY
THANK
SHARE
REPEAT

Prepare for the haters

  • If you comment on articles right away and thank the author for sharing your story, you may prevent a good portion of negative comments, because they know you’re there listening.
  • Prepare some stock comment copy for the trolls, so that you don’t take their criticism personally.

Finally

  • Thursday: Send a News Round-up. Share your favourite coverage from the release. If someone has created a video tutorial on your product, make sure to include that. Don’t forget to trackback to those articles.

Next month, Dave O will be back for the fourth installment of Social Marketing Kung Fu at the Garage, so be sure to come check it out.

After the talk, most of us headed over to the Alibi Room for Startup Drinks. Sign up for the Bootup Meetup Group if you haven’t yet, so you don’t miss out on the next one!

Additionally, if you have any other notes or tips that I have missed, please feel free share them here.

Mentor Speed Dating 2.0

Cross Posted from Techvibes.

Mentor Speed-Dating 2.0 – which is free, thank you Bootup – takes place again at the law offices of Clark Wilson (thank you, Clark Wilson) on Friday, May 7th from 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM. Start-up companies interested in participating will need to set up a profile at http://mentors.bootup.ca and submit a one-page Executive Summary before Friday, April 30th. The organizers ask that you please hang on to your one-pager for now as the site will be updated shortly regarding submission details. Twelve to sixteen participating companies will be chosen by the organizing team (MackSimonKaren). Companies are asked to arrive at MSD 2.0 having researched the mentors they’d like to meet and ready to identify two key issues (ie: legal, fundraising, technology, business development, sales, accounting etc.) they’d like help with.

Feel like sharing your wordly wisdom? MSD 2.0 isn’t a one-way street: Twelve participating mentors will also have the opportunity to mingle with each other at an informal dinner on the evening of Friday, April 30th.
If you’d like to help build Vancouver’s start-up community (which includes keeping track of companies you enjoy meeting for a follow-up after the event), sign up for a profile at http://mentors.bootup.ca.

There you go. Meet a Mentor at MSD 2.0. May 7th.  Mark your calendar: this is one date you can’t afford to miss.

Mentor Speed Dating Recap

Lyal Avery of Outcome3 was one of the mentors at yesterday mornings first Mentor Speed Dating event. His recap is below, as well as posted on Techvibes.

I think we can count this first event as a success, and we’ll be doing more of them. In the mean time, head over to mentors.bootup.ca to continue the discussion. If you’re a mentor or a company, sign up and add your profile, and feel free to connect with people directly. Just because there isn’t an active event doesn’t mean you can’t reach out online.

This was also the first event that was community suggested AND organized. Have an idea for an event? Head over to wantit.bootup.ca and add your suggestion.


This morning, Bootup Entrepreneurial Society had their first Mentor Speed Dating event. Graciously hosted by Clark Wilson, LLP, the event took place at the ungodly hour of 7:30am… although the finance guys and lawyers seemed to think it was a late start, us technology folk weren’t nearly as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Plenty of coffee and food to be had more than perked me up though (a big thank you to the Clark Wilson folks for that!)

Ten Mentors were on one side of the table, with about thirty visiting entrepreneurs from fifteen companies looking for wisdom. As one of the ten mentors, it was really thrilling for me to see so many early startups looking to showcase their five-minute pitch.

The particular entrepreneurs will give a much better version, but the 140-character summary pitch of the companies I had a chance to speak with are:

  • Scallable – A quality/location/other-metric based brokerage system for medium-sized VOIP providers.
  • CompassEngine – A geolocation platform service for mobile developers in the gaming space.
  • FoodTree – A directory service providing point of purchase information on the ethics and other consideration of food providers.
  • InnovationCamp – A consulting service providing guidance and training in the area of personal expertise for departments in business organizations.
  • Viira – A Getting Things Done consolidation application for the Blackberry, spanning projects through contact management.
  • SpottedDoing – A middleware component for mobile cause marketing.
  • ReadFu – A link preview system to provide a summary of a link’s destination on roll over without having to leave the linking page.
  • Redrovr – Helps artists and speakers book more gigs by connecting them directly with their audiences through an auction system.
  • Contextual Search Inc – An innovative search model that “brings the content to you.”
  • Bitmain Studios – Pointkit is half Unfuddle, half Freshbooks – a project management tool with invoicing built in.

Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I didn’t have a chance to meet with all of the entrepreneurs, but if they were anything like the eleven I did get to meet with, I’m sure they were fantastic.

Overall, the event was a huge success. I believe the structure as presented was really clear – particularly the overall session question of “What are the 3 things you need help with.” Both the mentors and potential mentees I surveyed after-wards had a fantastic time. The good news is that this event will likely be happening again in a few months. In the interim, there’s a social networking site built around the topic that is anything but static. If you’re a mentor looking to talk to early stage entrepreneurs, or a founder looking for business advice or support, register at mentors.bootup.ca and start connecting!

Event Announcement: Mentor Speed Dating! Feb 10th

Vancouver’s technology scene is thriving! But who among us has the time to stop and find that special someone? With all the challenges of working on a technology startup, it’s hard to find Mr.-or-Mrs. Right (now?)!

The Bootup Entrepreneurial Society is looking to help.

Not sure where to find that advisor you’ve been seeking? Mentor Speed Dating may be just the event you’re looking for. If you are a startup-phase company with a problem you need help solving, clear up some space on your calendar for two hours on the morning of Wednesday, February 10th.  Bootup is looking to help connect thirty local companies with interested mentors.

The format for the event will follow the speed dating model — after giving a brief introduction to the attendees, each mentor will hear from the companies.

The goal of Mentor Speed Dating is to set follow-up ‘dates’ between mentors and companies.

Companies should expect to come to Mentor Speed Dating prepared with a one-minute summary of the company, founders, and product. Additionally, companies should have a good grasp of the areas where the mentors can help them — legal, fundraising, technology, business development, sales, accounting, etc.; advice particular to a specific problem. Or two!

Mentors at the event will have a two-minute bio prepared which highlights what companies can expect from their expertise, and be ready to keep track of the companies they meet for follow up after the event.

Mentor Speed Dating is NOT a Q&A session or a venture capital pitch forum! Our goal is to focus on the meetings as a means to stimulate the local startup ecosystem.

Here’s how you can get involved: visit http://mentors.bootup.ca and fill out a brief profile, and then show up the morning of February 10th.

Who: Startup-phase Companies and Mentors
When: 8-10 AM, Wednesday February 10th
What: Mentor Speed Dating
Why: Connect mentors with startup companies. Come to the event prepared to find opportunities!
How: Register at http://mentors.bootup.ca!