I love Mesh Conference. I’ve called it “Toronto’s most important DIY conference“. It is an event that ebbs and flows with the opinions and interests of it’s founders:
It starts like a joke, did you hear the one about the marketer, the lawyer, the journalist, the founder and travel guy? These guys are all successful in their own right. And they continue to bring together a unique viewpoint that is different than the corporate marketing events and tradeshows. This is something about the underlying currents at the intersection of technology, marketing, politics and culture. I’m hoping they continue to bring people who challenge existing ideas and frameworks. (My keynote invite would go to Shanley Kane of Model View Culture.)
One of the interesting additions to the program has been a separate startup track. I’d like to see a little more overlap in the participating startups with the audience and attendees interest. It is great to see early-stage companies getting local support to reach the Mesh audience. The Mesh 14 Hosted Startup Program provides:
- Complimentary registration;
- Demo Alley;
- and 15 Minutes of Fame presentation.
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We’ve been talking about how much support and infrastructure has changes for young entrepreneurs. When I graduated from the University of Waterloo, I did not know about startups. I looked at places like Interval Research Corporation, Xerox PARC, Advanced Technology Group as where new technology and innovative products were built and launched. When I thought about becoming an “entrepreneur”, it looked more like owning a sports store or being a consultant. I did not have role models or experiences that showed me the path to becoming an entrepreneur.
I have been lucky to be a part of the creation of UW VeloCity. VeloCity happened because of a generous donation by Ted Livingston, the vision of Bud Walker and the leadership of Jesse Rodgers. For me, VeloCity was that thing I wish I had as an undergrad, beyond the cooperative education. The simplicity and support that high potential growth, technology companies were something that I could do (sure I had a degree in Kinesiology, but I was building software on NeXT machines). I did not have context or exposure to founders and the “startup” mindset.
It is great to see the support that IAF continues to offer Ontario entrepreneurs. The announcement of the Youth Investment Accelerator Fund is amazing. It was launched in 2013. We haven’t talked a lot about it as a funding source. But it is unique. The program invests up to $250,000 per company in technology-based startups founded by entrepreneurs under the age of 30.
The program has announced it first investments that include:
Go read Ian Hardy’s BetaKit piece for more details on the companies.
I continue to be surprised at the level of support for Canadian entrepreneurs with the government programs. There are conversations that need to be had about the efficacy of the direct versus indirect investing and services model. And it seems like this is happening at many levels from the Venture Capital Action Plan. (This is a conversation that needs much social lubricant – bring on the whisky).
I love seeing the changes and support of entrepreneurship as a career path with programs like UW VeloCity, Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone, UofT Creative Destruction Lab and others. The additional support of programs like the Youth IAF (and the IAF proper) where capital is deployed by real VCs to companies is fantastic.
Keep up the good work Barry, Michelle, Scott, Jared, Rob and the whole team.
In 2013, Angel List launched its syndicates feature, a way for angel investors to pool their funds. By turning syndicates into a turn-key process, Angel List has made this fundraising option broadly available and drastically lowered the barrier to entry for individual investors. Unfortunately, this feature is only available to startups that have a US entity as part of their structure. Can we kick off the process of having more syndicates in Canada?