#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. 🙂

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Shira Lazar to Host #LPGROW Reception

Launch Party Alumni will be thrilled to hear that Canadian-born, Shira Lazar, creator and host of CBS’s popular weekly show What’s Trending and The Partner’s Project will be the Guest emcee for the Launch @ GROW opening reception on August 17, 2011.  Tickets are sold out.

You may remember that the lovely Shira hosted our 2nd LPV event, Launch Party with a Twist with Mike Macadaan way back in December 2007.

Looking forward to a very fun evening.

 

 

Deadline to Apply for GrowLab and Launch@GROW Fast Approaching

If you are an early stage startup, and you haven’t heard about GrowLab, Vancouver’s new startup accelerator, or the Launch @ GROW startup competition, you need to listen up!

Deadlines to apply for these amazing startup opportunities are coming up, and they’re coming up fast!

GrowLab: Vancouver Startup Accelerator

Deadline to Apply: June 15, 2011

GrowLab supports the world’s best entrepreneurs through seed funding, office space, mentorship & programming in Vancouver & San Francisco. GrowLab is now accepting applications for its Fall 2011 program, which begins August 15, 2011. Find out if you should apply. Five companies will be chosen for the first cohort.

GrowLab startups get access to:

  • Up to $25,000 in seed funding
  • Office space
  • Four months of intensive programming
  • Three months in Vancouver. One month in San Francisco

Deadline for Fall 2011 Program applications: June 15, 2011. Apply today!

Launch @ GROW Startup Competition

Deadline to Nominate Your Startup: June 17, 2011

Dealmaker Media and Launch Party Vancouver are joining forces to bring you Launch @ GROW, the opening reception for 2011 GROW Conference on August 17.

You could win the chance to be 1 of 15 companies to demo your startup at the Launch @ GROW reception, AND possibly qualify to be 1 of 4 companies, who get to pitch their startup live on stage during Day 2 of the GROW Conference, on August 18. The competition is open to startups across Canada.

You can nominate your startup by uploading a video, or a photo with a description of your company, on the competition site by June 17Don’t miss out on the June 17 deadline. Enter your startup today.

We will be highlighting entries throughout the competition. So, don’t wait until the last minute!

Good luck!

 

 

Announcement: Launch Party to Host Opening Reception of the GROW Conference

Launch Party, a launchpad event for early stage tech startups, is teaming up with Dealmaker Media’s GROW Conference to host Launch @ GROW for the Opening Reception in Vancouver on August 17th, 2011. The event will attract over 600 attendees including top tier investors, entrepreneurs and influencers from across Canada and Silicon Valley. And we are looking for 15 of the hottest Canadian tech startups from Vancouver to PEI to showoff their wares at the event.

Nominate your Startup
All you have to do is create and upload a two-minute video describing your company to the Launch @ GROW Startup site no later than June 17 for consideration. Tell the world what makes your startup unique and why you should be one of 15 companies to demo at Launch @ Grow.

In order to be considered, you must:

  • Have launched within the past 18 months or plan to launch at GROW
  • Be a Canadian company
  • Have a demo or live site for voters and judges to view
  • Startups that have demoed previously at Launch Party in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton or Victoria can still enter Launch @ GROW

Voting Starts June 17
On June 17, the first round of voting will begin! At that time, you should rally your friends and local tech community to get out and vote because the top 25 startups with the highest ranking will move on to the Semi-Finals.

Semi-Finals
A panel of expert judges will review and rank the top 25 startups to determine the 15 companies to headline at Launch @ GROW.  From shiny boardrooms to quaint coffee shops, our judges hear all kinds of startup pitches everyday. Take this into consideration when creating your 2 minute startup video entry for the contest.

Danny Robinson, Martin Ertl and Maura Rodgers at Launch Party Vancouver 9

Pitch Live on Stage @ GROW
4 startups will be selected on August 17 to Pitch Live on Stage at the GROW Conference on August 18. You need to register to attend @growconf in order to be considered for the Final 4.

We will be telling the world about this Startup Competition and the Launch @ GROW event, so go enter now.

Follow the Launch Party Canada Team List for Updates.  Hashtag #LPGROW:

  • Ken Bautista – @kenbautista
  • Janis Behan – @janisbehan
  • Saul Colt – @saulcolt
  • Mack Flavelle – @mackflavelle
  • Tina Hoang – @t1nah
  • Satish Kanwar – @skanwar
  • Christian MacClean  – @fourslice
  • Danny Robinson – @dannyrobinson
  • Maura Rodgers – @maurar
  • Sonia Ryan  – @sonsryan
  • Derek Shanahan – @dshanahan


BCIC Town Hall with CEO Danny Robinson

How are we going to make BC the best place in the world to start and grow technology companies? Well, BC Innovation Council’s CEO, Danny Robinson, has a plan. And we all have to help.

Yesterday at the BCIC Town Hall, to a packed room at SFU Segal Graduate School of Business, Danny shared BCIC’s mission, strategies and guiding principles that will help to fortify BC’s technology ecosystem, and support the creation of thousands of new technology jobs in BC.

Prior to the Town Hall meeting, Danny wrote a blog post outlining these strategies and principles. At the meeting, which was also viewable via webcast, Danny explained BCIC’s plan in further detail, ensuring us that are to be no holes whatsoever in the technology entrepreneurial ecosystem. Danny further stated that this new mission can not be completed by one person, or one organization alone – that in order for BC to become be THE technology hub of North America, the startup community has to work together.

BCIC’s intention is to actively monitor the quality and availability of the support programs available to BC entrepreneurs, and ensure that there is always somewhere, in every region, for entrepreneurs to go for help in every stage or technology sector. Whether companies anchor, exit, or fail, BC will still benefit from the knowledge and experience gained. As Danny stated, “Never believe anyone that says they did it right the first time.” Those failures mean that they might get it right the next time. Or even the next time.

BCIC is also currently developing software to be able to track and help entrepreneurs as they progress through the stages with their startup companies.

An important item to mention, is that everything BCIC does, or plans to do, is going to be fully transparent. All of their plans will go up on their VOTE site, for the public to give feedback on, before they happen. And every year, program ideas available to entrepreneurs will go back up on VOTE, to re-evaluate them, and see if anyone has any suggestions to improve on them.

Entrepreneurs have already been pitching program ideas on the site, and voting and commenting on them. BCIC is reviewing all suggestions and will be responding to each of them. An entrepreneur added Bootup Garage to the list of Programs on Vote.BCIC.ca and it is the top Voted suggestion on the site.  Thanks so much to everyone who voted and commented.

Lastly, Danny reminded the crowd that we, the entrepreneurs in BC, need to start telling our stories “loudly and proudly.” Not enough people know that major startups like Flickr and HootSuite were started in Vancouver, BC.

At the end of the presentation, Danny opened up the floor to questions, and those watching via webcast could also contribute via twitter throught the hashtag: #BCICTownHall.

The webcast and Danny’s presentation slides are now available online, or below, for those that missed the first Town Hall, but if you already have ideas or suggestions on how to improve BC’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, make sure to drop by http://vote.bcic.ca/ to contribute them.

 

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.

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