Video: A look Inside #LPGROW

Dan Kelly from Dank Media put together this great video recap of #LPGROW on August 17, 2011 featuring interviews by the lovely What’s Trending Host and Fellow Canadian, Shira Lazar and an inspiring speech by Payfirma‘s Founder and CEO, Michael Gokturk.

If you missed the event, you can see Shira’s interviews with the Founders from the top 4 Launch Party companies: Unbounce, Tiipz, Rocketr and Summify, highlights of the other 11 amazing LPGROW startups, snippets of a jampacked, lively room full of Canada’s best and brightest, and lots of bunnies hopping about.

 

Until next time…

 

 

 

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Announced: 15 Startups to Demo at Launch@GROW

It’s the announcement you’ve all been waiting for! Our awesome judges have chosen the 15 Finalists to demo their startups at Launch @ GROW on August 17th.

Congratulations and good luck to all of the companies. Without further ado, here they are:

Launch @ GROW’s 15 Finalists:

Cargoh.com

  • Cargoh.com is a curated marketplace for independent artists and designers. View Cargoh.com’s entry.

Food.ee

  • Food.ee is the easiest way to order take out and delivery food online. View Food.ee’s entry.

Hipsell

  • Hipsell is the easiest way to buy and sell things. View Hipsell’s entry.

Hoseanna – Serving Busy Women Everywhere

  • Hoseanna.com is the new auto-ship service that delivers the monthly essentials women have to (but sometimes hate to) buy. View Hoseanna’s entry.

Jostle.me

  • The Jostle™ SaaS platform is the modern way for employees to navigate their organization and be more effective contributors. View Jostle.me’s entry.

MentionMapp

  • MentionMapp provides powerful new ways to understand the rapidly changing social network. Starting with Twitter, MentionMapp displays the unique characteristics of how messages map, through the social community. View MentionMapp’s entry.

Rocketr – Social Notetaking

  • Rocketr is a cloud-synced, web and mobile application, designed for social notetaking across your public and private groups. View Rocketr’s entry.

Storypanda

  • Storypanda is building an iPad publishing platform for kids and parent to co-create kids stories together. View Storypanda’s entry.

Summify

  • Summify creates a periodic summary of the most relevant news stories, from all of your social networks, and delivers it by email and on the web. View Summify’s entry.

Tiipz – A Social Platform for Micro Research

  • The Tiipz plaform gives businesses a brand new way to reach out and gain insights from customers by creating and sharing Micropinions. View Tiipz’ entry.

ToggleMe with Tradable Bits Platform

  • With ToggleMe, you can create custom Facebook Pages and Places in minutes, and use simple Apps to engage your fans/customers. View ToggleMe’s entry.

Unbounce – DIY Landing Pages

  • The Unbounce Landing Page Platform makes it easy to create, publish and A/B test targeted landing pages without having to rely on IT or web developers. View Unbounce’s entry.

Warranty Life – Manage all your purchases & warranties for free

  • Warranty Life provides free instant online access to receipts, product registration, warranty claim information and even manuals in one central place. View Warranty Life’s entry.

Wishpond.com

  • Wishpond is a shopping search engine that brings together all the products your local stores carry. View Wishpond’s entry.

ZapTap

  • ZapTap makes product-specific information and customized incentives available when and where in-store purchasing decisions are made. View ZapTap’s entry.

 

Media Coverage
Techvibes will be highlighting each of these 15 startups in the coming weeks leading up to the event. They have already profiled Vancouver startup, Unbounce.

Tickets
Also, if you are still looking for tickets to the Launch @ GROW Reception, there are a few left  here on Eventbrite.

Feel free to leave some love for the finalists in the comments below!

The Art of the Investor Pitch with Boris Wertz

There are many posts, books, and seminars out there already that cover how to pitch investors.  As entrepreneurs, it is important to realize that there are many ways to pitch investors and each investor is different. For instance, some investors may care more about the team than the idea where others may want to see real traction before they invest.  The most important thing you can do first is identify the right investors for your business and learn everything you can about how and what they invest in before reaching out.  The right investor will be more than just an injection of cash. The right investor will bring loads of value in the form of mentorship, connections and added credibility.

Considering that Boris Wertz is one of Canada’s most notable super angels, we thought it would be helpful to learn his tips on pitching early stage investors.  As an angel, Boris has invested in more than 20 early stage consumer Internet companies in the Pacific Northwest including Summify, Sparkbuy, Tynt, Suite101.com and Techvibes to name only a few and sees his share of approximately 150-200+ pitches per year.  Out of those 200+ pitches, he many only invest in about 5-6 companies,  which means you have to be pretty stellar to cut through all that noise and land a term sheet.

Step 1 – How to Find the Right Investor
I know you are busy building a company but you have to poke your head out of the garage once and a while to meet other entrepreneurs, angels etc. and get to know the influencers in your community.  Through your interactions and presence at events, you will quickly learn more about the types of investors you should consider approaching.  Boris stressed that you really need to do your homework before you start knocking on doors, so you do not waste anyone’s time.  Once you have compiled a list of investors, dig deeper to find out more about the stage (early stage vs. later) what sector (software vs. ecommerce), business model (b2b or b2c) and geography each investor is interested in as well as who you know that can personally introduce you.

Step 2-  The Warm Introduction
As I have learned first hand and Boris noted in his presentation, it is always best to get a warm introduction to an investor rather than cold call or shoot off an email out of the blue.  An introduction from someone an investor trusts and respects could make all the difference in getting you a face-to-face meeting.  And when you finally do get an introduction – don’t send the investor a 20 page business plan ahead of time. Just an executive summary with a link to your product will do.

Step 3-  Nail the Pitch
Nailing your pitch is way easier said then done but if you have done your homework and been introduced to the right investors, you are off to a great start.  Boris and many Internet investors I know look at the team first.  A strong team can weather many storms and iterate and pivot when needed.  The idea will change, so Boris recommends that in your first meeting you:

  • pitch yourself not the idea
  • show a product demo
  • focus on a the high level concept, rather than digging deep into the long term plans and financials
  • keep your pitchdeck to 10 slides. Something Guy Kawasaki also preaches

What Not to Do:

  • Ask Investor to sign an NDA – If you ask for an investor to sign an NDA, you may not even get past your first slide. Investors see hundreds of pitches every year and chances are there are many other entrepreneurs, who are working on a similar idea. If you ask your investor to sign an NDA, you look like an amateur.
  • Share a detailed business plan and financials. In your first meeting, going into too much detail is not necessary.  Explain what problem you are solving first and show a demo of the product if you can.
  • Schedule a 30 minute or more meeting – Any meeting longer than 30 minutes is too much for Boris. If you are pitching an investor and he starts asking questions, seems engaged and you go over the allotted 30 minutes, that’s probably a good sign.  If you aim to deliver your presentation in less than 20 minutes and allow time for questions, you will be in good shape.

Remember, every investor is different.  Boris likes to spend time getting to know you before he invests. Other investors will be quicker to write a check.  Venture Capitalists usually take 4-6 months, if not more to paper a deal.  So, the be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to raise funds.

Boris’ Presentation
If you missed Boris’s presentation, he has posted the presentation on his blog here.  Thanks again Boris, for dropping by.

What Have You Learned?
As always, we love hearing from you too. If you have an investor Do or Don’t that you learned a long the way, please share with the rest of us in the comments below.

NOTE: Next Bootup seminar will be on February 23 – Social Marketing Ku Fu, Yellow Belt “Listening Everywhere” with Dave Olson. Sign up. He rocks!

Metabridge 2010 or Bust

After having a successful exit, I look back and found that in the early days the biggest challenge wasn’t the great idea we had, it was getting people worth talking too, to listen to what we had. – Steve Wandler, Founder of Metabridge

Last Thursday afternoon, Danny Robinson of Bootup Labs drove a big blue Suburban filled with 6 other entrepreneurs from Vancouver to Kelowna for the 2nd annual Metabridge event.  After a late start and a pitstop in Hope, BC to refuel at the iconic Hope Drive in & Restaurant, we were on our way!

Photo Credit : @dshanahan of Foodtree.com

Derek Shanahan of Foodtree, Lyal Avery of Outcome 3, Mack Flavelle of Compass Engine,  Cristian Strat of Summify and Dean Prelazzi of BCIC were all brave enough to make the trip with Danny at the helm. Both Derek and Cristian are from out of town so I was really happy they could join us and take in the beautiful scenery on the Coquahalla.  No companies were formed but many ideas were shared and my belly hurt from laughing so hard on the road to K-town.

Photo Credit : @dshanahan of Foodtree.com

Day 1
We arrived in Kelowna just in time to catch the bus to the Quails Gate Winery for the Welcome reception.  It was great to see so many old friends from Metabridge 1 including Ethan Anderson, Founder of Red Beacon, Peter Haubrich, Founder of ORIC, Jason Richards of Vineyard Networks and Gary Symons, Founder of Vericoder.  Unlike the first Metabridge, the room was full with many attendees from Vancouver and I was not the only female entrepreneur in the room.

Photo Credit : @dshanahan of Foodtree.com

Day 2
A pitch breakfast for attending startups kicked off Day 2 before a day of Golf or a Sparkling Hill Spa tour.  There were only 8 companies in attendance last year and over 30 startups at Metabridge 2.  Since I spent the day catching up on work, I did not get to experience either afternoon adventure personally but I heard that a full round of golf at the Okanagan Golf course was hands down the better choice!

Photo Credit : @stevewandler of Metabridge

Metabridge ended with a networking dinner at Earl’s Restaurant on the water. Various visiting VIPS were assigned seating throughout the venue and acted as hosts for each table.  I was paired up with Lars Lekkie from Hummer Winblad and Amy Leger of HuStream and Brent Bolleman from Axel Partners joined us.  I can’t sit still for very long so, as soon as dinner was over I was table hopping and mingling.  Without naming names, I made many great connections, who I intend to keep in touch with in the future.

Photo Credit : @dannyrobinson of Bootup Labs

Thanks
Many people were thanking Steve Wandler, the Founder and organizer of Metabridge throughout the evening and he deserved all the props he was getting.  It takes a lot of hard work to pull an event like this off successfully.  Luckily, he had the help of Chantelle Kshyk, Event Manager from Ostec, who is absolutely fantastic to ensure everything ran smoothly and left attendees raving.

Bring Back the Boat!
When I caught up with Steve at the end of Day 2 to thank him as well, he turned to me and said “I don’t want to just hear how great the event was.  I want to hear how I can make it better and better.”  To which, I replied – “well, I have a couple of ideas…”,  which includes a boat, Dale Fuller 😉 and a few other suggestions I will share with Steve the next time he is in town.

Photo Credit : @stevewandler from Metabridge 1

All and all it was a great event!  Kelowna has a growing and very supportive tech community.

Thank you Steve, Robert Fine, Chantelle and the entire Kelowna Tech Community for being such great hosts. You are welcome at casa Bootup anytime.