Bootup Puts A Bow On It and Passes the Torch to Launch Academy and Van Pixel Crafters

On June 12, Bootup Entrepreneurial Society hosted our last #hurrah to celebrate the past three years and say thank you to our many supporters, advisors, and all of the entrepreneurs, who hustle hard everyday to build something that matters in Vancouver.

I didn’t get a chance to say all of the things I wanted to last night. So, if you will indulge me, here goes…

It’s in Our Blood.
One of the questions I was frequently asked over the past three years was why were we doing this?  If you are an entrepreneur, you will understand my answer was quite simple: From our amazing board and mentors to our GSD organizing committee, we were and forever will be entrepreneurs. And when you have risked it all and sold your house to seed fund your startup, helping other entrepreneurs is just part of your DNA.

As fellow Yankee and local Vancouver entrepreneur, Paul DeJoe of Ecquire so eloquently wrote in his popular Quora response about What it feels like to be a Startup CEO:

You start to see that the word “entrepreneur” is a personality. It’s difficult to talk to your friends that are not risking the same things you are, because they are content with not pushing themselves or putting it all out there in the public with the likelihood of failure staring at them every day. You start to turn a lot of your conversations with relatives into how they might exploit opportunities for profit. Those close to you will view your focus as something completely different because they don’t understand. You don’t blame them. They can’t understand if they haven’t done it themselves. It’s why you will gravitate towards other entrepreneurs. You will find reward in helping other entrepreneurs.

Finding reward in helping other entrepreneurs was at the heart of everything we did at Bootup.   One day last March, I recall looking around Bootup and noting an international mix of entrepreneurs from Belgium, Czechlovakia, England, Singapore, Canada, and the US, working out of our office. I kid you not. I loved that they felt welcome at Bootup and that many of them were choosing to start their companies here, in Vancouver. It was a very cool moment for me and something you can’t really quantify.

By the Numbers.
I have worked with and met some incredibly talented people and I am really proud of what we have accomplished over the past three years. While there are many things I can’t quantify or measure, I can tell you that our team:

  • Organized 100 startup events and supported many others like Metabridge and Grow Conference.
  • Welcomed 10,000 attendees
  • Launched 95 companies
  • Hosted more than 30 startup talks with experienced mentors like Brad Feld, Dan Martell, Mike Macadaan, Paul Kedrosky, Dave Olson, Guy Kawasaki, Jonathan Ehrlich, Matt Galligan, Tom Higgins, Patrick Lor and many others
  • Launched Bootup Garage Pilot Program and had over 40 signups
  • Worked with 40 Local Mentors and hosted regular office hours at Bootup including Boris Wertz, Jason Bailey, Ryan Holmes, Dennis Pilarinos, Danny Robinson, Milun Tesovic, and David Ascher to name a few
  • Brought 8 startups to SF on a road trip to pitch Valley VCs
Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!
You have all made a huge difference and helped many.  Thanks again.
Passing the Torch.
If you are looking for great startup events and programs for entrepreneurs, here are two organizations you need to check out and get behind:
  • Launch Academy a collaborative community space for tech founders and hackers was founded by Ray Walia, Jesse Heaslip and Roger Patterson. It is everything that Bootup Garage aspired to be and they are just getting started. If you are looking for a place to start your company and learn from the best, you should apply now. Their space is presently located in the GrowLab open office.  We need this in Vancouver. Support this and get involved.
  • VanPixelCrafters is a community driven organization recently founded by Boris Mann and Mack Flavelle. Boris and Mack have been organizing popular tech events like Democamp, Lean Startup talks and HackVan since I have known them. Vanpixelcraft will continue to put on community tech events targeted at the web, software, and design craftspeople of Vancouver and share your startup stories on their blog. If you want to help out or contribute, you should get at them.
As for me, I am still here to help.  I will be focused on working with Mike Edwards at Initio Group, my startups, supporting the groups above and personally, trying to spend more time with my growing family.
It’s been a good run!  Thanks for everything.
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#LPGROW, It’s a Wrap.

On August 17, 2011, my desire to one day have a Canadian-wide Launch Party was finally realized as Bootup hosted the opening reception of the 2nd Annual Grow Conference in Vancouver, BC. From NB to BC, 15 startups from across Canada were selected to demo at the #LPGROW reception and mingle with over 750 investors, entrepreneurs and other influencers from all over Canada and the US.

Food.ee Demoing at #LPGROW

High Fives All Around
This was without a doubt our biggest Launch Party event ever. We could not have pulled it off without the support of our wonderful partners:

Payfirma
Vancouver born, Payfirma has answered Bootup’s prayers by finally solving our payment processing needs. Payfirma’s little chip plugs right into your iPhone to make it easy for you to take a credit card payment just about anywhere.  A huge thank you to the whole Payfirma team for being so supportive of LPGROW, Bootup and the whole startup community. Support this great, local company:

This may sound crazy but I have never just taken a cheque to pay for an event. We only partner with other companies and people, who truly care about and support entrepreneurs:
  • Initio Group – an Investment Group run by Managing Director, Mike Edwards. If you haven’t had a chance to meet or work with Mike yet, he’s one of the best angels an entrepreneur could ask for.
  • A Thinking Ape –  The Apes are making waves in Vancouver building seriously addictive games for the iPhone. The whole team rocks and we are happy they decided to call BC home. PS. They are Hiring!
  • LaBarge Weinstein –  A Canadian business law firm that totally gets startups. James Smith is a good guy, great lawyer and splits his time among startups from TDot to YVR. He’s on our top 3 referral list.
  • Freshbooks – One of Canada’s favorite companies makes it easy for startups and freelancers to save money and time on invoicing. Amazing product and customer service to boot! Bonus: Saul Colt is a genius WOM, who wears crazy pants.
  • Strutta – the platform behind the Launch @ GROW startup competition can help you create and manage beautiful branded promos online. Conversion without sacrificing your brand’s id! No coding necessary. (disclosure: Maura & Danny are founders)
  • Keith Spencer  – Keith is not only one of the best technology lawyers I know but someone, who dedicates a lot of personal time to help local startups and our tech community. They broke the mold with this guy.  Also, on our top 3 list.
  • Lonsdale Rentals – North Vancouver company Lonsdale Rentals came through again to support #LPGROW and provided us with all the things we needed to make the venue look great.  Super friendly staff. Don’t rent from anyone else!
  • Jet Cooper – A User Experience Agency in Toronto led by Satish Kanwar stepped up to help us with the LPGROW site, and twitter walls. Phew!
  • Layer 7 – Big thanks to Dimitri Sirota’s (one of the LP’s Co-founders) company for supporting our 11th event.
  • Queen’s Cross – From the beer to the flatbread pizzas, my good friend Chris Greenfield’s pub catered the entire event. Drop by his pub on Lonsdale in North Van. for a pint, ridiculously good food, and great staff. #Truth.
  • Yaletown Venture Partners-   I am looking forward to seeing YVP invest even more in the local startup community.
  • Urbandig – If you found yourself being served up a teacup sized portion of beer by a cheeky rabbit, you were not lost in a bad remake of Alice in Wonderland but rather at the UD booth. Big thanks to Team UD for throwing a great after party at the Hub in Yaletown! (disclosure: another company by Bootup ED, Maura)
  • Pop Chips & Smart Pics – If you nom nomed on their tasty chips or posed in the digital Photo booth, you have these two awesome companies to thank for all the fun.

Big thanks to our media sponsor, Techvibes for helping us spread the word and share your startup stories. True Story: Rob Lewis and his team can help you get your brand and message in front of thousands and thousands of readers. 

Bootup is run by a very passionate volunteer group of amazing entrepreneurs and startup peeps.  We seriously could not pull a rabbit out of a hat without their help (follow these awesome people now):

  • Sonia Ryan – Previously my right hand at Bootup and now a Trouble Maker at A Thinking Ape, Sonia hustled hard to make #LPGROW a stellar event. She’s awesome but you already knew that!
  • Janis Behan  – Janis is part of team Bootup and helped organize everything from setup to labels to bunny suits. We could not have done it without her.
  • Robin Leskiw – One of my dearest friends, who has been with me since LPV1 at Section 3.  She did everything from keep your wine glasses filled to clean up. ❤
  • Toan Dang, Eliz Sarobhasa, Alex Shipillo & Tammy Yik – Thank you so much for all of your help setting up that morning. Huge Help!
  • Pauline Lipska & David Cameron – You were amazing at working the crowd  and doing whatever was needed during the event.  So great.
  • Leila Pejman – A big supporter of ours and the tech community, Leila is always willing to lend a hand. Thanks for working the door and then some. Big Hugs!
  • Rohit Tandon – Designer, Producer and awesome DJ, spinned up some sweet tracks to set the mood.  Thank you.
  • Jodi Day – talented UI Designer and member of Team Strutta worked the door and made all of your beautiful name badges. I can always count on her.
  • Tina Hoang – Communications Manager at Strutta kept the line moving at the door and ran the entire #LPGROW Startup Competition from start to finish.  My hero.
  • Keighty Gallagher – Surprise, Surprise – one of our newest members of Team Strutta and pro hand sandwich maker helped Tina & Jodi keep things tight at the door. You Rock.
  • Mack Flavelle – also part of Team Bootup, Mack did everything from pick out super heros to wear a bunny suit. An entrepreneur himself, Mack knows how to hustle and #GSD.

Until Next Time
Thank you so much for joining us and showing the world that Canada is one of the best places in the world to bootup. We hope you made some new connections, had a chance to reunite with old friends, challenged some Apes to a game of Foosball, saved bags of money with Freshbooks, tasted one of Dave O’s favorite craft brews at the Urbandig booth, snapped a photo or two in the Pop Chips & Smart Pic’s Lounge and  maybe even closed some financing or landed a new customer or two.  Rock on.

You can find more photos of the event on Flickr, of course. 🙂

Founder Story # 1 – Rick Perreault of Unbounce

Whenever I meet another entrepreneur at Bootup Garage or at tech events around town, I am eager to find out what inspired them to take the plunge into startup life, how they met their co-founders and their plans for changing the world. And since startup life is far from easy, I really enjoy hearing about the challenges a founder may have faced and how he/she pivoted to live another day.

At Bootup, it is not only our mission to inspire and support Canadian entrepreneurs – we also want to share their stories with you.  Starting NOW, we will be talking with various founders around town and sharing their videos on our site.  We are not professional videographers, nor do we possess mad editing skills like our friends at Giant Ant Media – Sonia just has a flip camera on her at all times and she is not afraid to use it.  If you have a Founder Story you would like to see or if you want to talk to us, email sonia at bootup [dot] ca or drop by our office.

And so without further ado, here’s our very first – of hopefully many,  Founder Stories:

Founder Story # 1
Rick Perreault, Unbounce

Unbounce is a DIY landing page platform for marketers, advertisers and designers.  Founded in late 2009, Unbounce was selected as one of the startups to join Bootup for Demo Days in the Valley in February 2010 and as one of the 8 showoffs to demo at Launch Party Vancouver 9 on June 17, 2010. At LPV9, Unbounce walked away with the Judge’s Choice award.

Sonia Ryan of Bootup caught up with Rick in his Gastown office to find out more about what they have been up to since LPV9 and what’s in store for 2011.

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

Launch Party Vancouver 1-9 in Photos

At our first LPV in September 2007, we had 120 attendees and a handful of startups and at LPV9, we had 9 amazing companies and over 500 people in the room.  To me, this just proves Vancouver is for Startups and our community is growing.  Here’s a snapshot of LPV over the years.

LPV 1 – September 27, 2007
Section 3, Vancouver
120 attendees, 6 Startups

Photo Credit: Phillip Jeffrey

LPV 2 – Launch Party with a Twist
December 5, 2007
The Republic
Special Guests – Mike Macadaan, Shira Lazar, Bill Wetherell, David Robinson & Heather Vescent from Twiistup in Los Angeles.
200 attendees, 6 startups. Check out the Video here

Photo Credit: Duane Storey

LPV 3 – January 28, 2008
The Lamplighter
250 attendees,  6 startups

Photo Credit: Philip Jeffrey

LPV4 – May 21, 2008
The Republic
300 attendees, 7 Startups

Photo Credit: Ianiv & Arieanna

LPV5 – September 18, 2008
Unwine’d
300 attendees, 6 Startups

Photo Credits: Tris Hussey, Raul Pacheco

LPV6 – February 26, 2009
Uber Lounge
350 attendees, 6 Startups

Photo Credit: Bobby Dassler, Ianiv & Arieanna

LPV 7 – June 2, 2009
Uber Lounge
400 attendees, 7 Startups

Photo Credit: Jason Brown

LPV8 – Under the Launch Party with Dealmaker Media
September 16, 2009
Circa Resto Lounge
400+ people, 8 Startups

Photo Credit: Bootup Labs

LPV9 – June 17, 2010
The Roundhouse
Special Guests: C100 Organization, iNovia Capital, Dealmaker Media
500+ attendees, 9 Startups

Photo Credit: Jeremy Lim

Thanks for all the fun and support over the years.

To view more LPV photos or share some that you have taken, please add them to our Launch Party Photo Group on Flickr and tag them with LPV#.

“The Brand of Me” with Shira Lazar

On March 18, our good friend Shira Lazar, flew up to Vancouver to present at Social Networking in Transmedia Hollywood: A Strategic Master Class presented by DigiBC and DFAIT.

Shira was joined by other social media specialists from LA, Darcy Jouan, Peter Huh & Gregory Markel, who spent the day discussing transmedia storytelling and how to engage audiences across multiple platforms including mobile and social networking sites.  For example, Darcy discussed the TV Series, Ghost Whisperer and how they created a series of webisodes to create a themed experience for viewers both on and offline.  The webisodes named The Dark Side were spawned by fans of the TV series. The purpose of the webisodes was to allow the audience to experience something beyond what they experienced from week-to-week on TV. In return, both audiences tuned in on and offline as the series runs parallel.

Shira’s presentation focused on her personal brand and how she bridges the online and on air worlds together using multi-media platforms.  Here are Shira’s “Five Steps to Becoming a Media Empress”:

  1. Be you! People can see through a fake brand of image, and it’ll drain you to maintain something that you’re really not. Once you embrace your authentic voice, you’ll find your audience and your audience will find you.
  2. Balance PR/buzz with actual work, i.e. new content and projects. As much as it’s great for everyone to see you at that party or getting interviewed by a cool outlet, it can only go so far. If you’re not continuing to challenge yourself and your audience with some real projects outside of publicity than you’ll lose engagement. Your brand isn’t just about you, but the conversation you create and what you contribute.
  3. Maintain a consistent presence on and offline. As powerful as all these online tools can be to make an impact and be heard, meeting your network and community in person is the incing on the cake.
  4. Think multi-platform. Whenever you have an idea, think of how you can integrate other mediums to get the message out there.
  5. Call yourself a media empress. Michael Jackson actually pegged himself the King of Pop, and he delivered that above and beyond. Don’t wait around for someone to discover and brand you. You have the power to create what and who you are now — and as we all know, perception is reality.

Shira and I sat down during lunch to discuss her presentation.  At the end, she gives a shot out to some of her favourite Vancouver peeps!

Lunch with Shira from Sonia Ryan on Vimeo.

Many thanks to DigiBC for letting me attend this event on behalf of BES.

Introducing Sonia with an I.

n8337968006_1521951_15741862Namaste!

I’m Sonia. I currently work a Coordinator of “Things” at Bootup Entrepreneurial Society (BES).

Preceding BES, I was working as a Sales Coordinator at the Opus Hotel and a Sales & Catering Coordinator at the Hilton Vancouver Airport. I needed a change from Vancouver and decided to satisfy this “change” craving by leaving Vancouver to work for Royal Caribbean as an Entertainment Coordinator. Unfortunately, I became a victim of the big (R)ecession and used this time as an opportunity to explore other areas of interest. Fast-forward to a few months back, I applied as an intern with Strutta, loved it and the rest is history.

You can find me running around at BES Events or on twitter @sonsryan. Don’t be shy come and say hi.