William Mougayar

William Mougayar is the founder of Startup Management. He is an advisor and mentor to startups and grownups. Previously, CEO/Founder of Engagio (sold to Influitive), and Eqentia. He has more than 30 years of strategic, operational, and leadership experience in the technology industry, as an entrepreneur, business executive, professional speaker, management consultant and best-selling author. His career spanned 14 years at Hewlett-Packard in a mix of senior sales & marketing management roles, 10 years as an independent thought leader, and 2.5 years as global VP of Corporate Marketing at Cognizant. Follow him on Twitter at wmougayar, and subscribe to his widely read weekly newsletter on Startup Management.

Announcing David Cohen’s Visit to Toronto and Waterloo, April 22-23 2014

I’m very excited to announce that David Cohen, Founder  & CEO of Techstars will visit Toronto and Waterloo, April 22nd-23rd 2014.

David Cohen PicTechstars is the largest accelerator network in the world, with programs running in New York, Boston, Boulder, Austin, New York City, Seattle, Chicago and London, UK.

This is David’s second Canadian visit (he was a speaker at Startup Empire in 2008), but this time I’m going to take him around to a few startups and tech accelerators in Toronto and Waterloo.

The two main public events that you don’t want to miss will be the fireside chat interviews, similar to the previous one I did with Albert Wenger on Oct 23rd 2013. David loves to interact with entrepreneurs, so we’ll be in for a treat during the Q&A period.

Schedule Details

  • Toronto: April 22nd, 5:30PM-8PM. Location: OneEleven Centre, 111 Richmond West, 5th Floor. Register early at $9, before the price goes up to $11.
  • Waterloo: April 23rd, 6PM-8:30PM. Location: Tannery Event Centre at the Communitech Hub, 151 Charles Street West. Details will be posted on the Communitech Events page.

As a preamble to this visit, I asked David a few questions:

Q- Why have you decided to spend 2 days in Toronto and Waterloo?
David: I’ve been hearing about the fantastic startup community that has evolved there, and I want to see it with my own eyes!

Q- What important trends are you seeing in the tech/VC startup scene that young entrepreneurs should know about?
David: I think there are now about 10 great startup communities in the world to build Internet startups. I won’t start a war by saying which cities I am referring to. However, part of my personal mission and part of the mission of Techstars is to bolster that number to 50 or 100. We can do it. The idea that you have to be in Silicon Valley is so passé now. Sure, that’s one great place to be. But there is widely available information about great startups starting in many other communities now, so it’s certainly not the only place these days. I love that our generation gets to drive this change.

Q- Reflect on 2014 vs. 2007 when you ran the first program, and where Techstars might be in 2018?
David: Well, in 2007 this was nothing more than an experiment. Could we use a little capital and a ton of intense mentorship and the support of an entire community to attract great startups to apply? It turns out we could. Would they be able to raise money? Yup, $500M and climbing. Would they be successful? Yup, 33 exits now and billions in portfolio value. It has far exceeded my expectations. We have taken the idea of mentorship driven accelerators to great markets in the US. I can see us expanding a bit internationally in the coming years. We are also helping amazing corporations like Disney, Barclays, Sprint, R/GA, Kaplan, and more by running accelerators for them as they “give first” to founders in their areas of expertise. We’ll do more of that.

These 2 events will be sold out to capacity, so I’m inviting you to register asap, for Toronto or Waterloo.

David Cohen’s Bio

David Cohen is the Founder, CEO and Managing Partner of Techstars. Previously, David was a founder of several software and web technology companies. He was the founder and CTO of Pinpoint Technologies which was acquired by ZOLL Medical Corporation (NASDAQ: ZOLL) in 1999. You can read about it in No Vision, All Drive [Amazon]. David was also the founder and CEO of earFeeder.com, a music service which was sold to SonicSwap.com in 2006. He also had what he likes to think of as a “graceful failure” in between.

David is an active startup advocate, advisor, board member, and technology advisor who comments on these topics on his blog at DavidGCohen.com. He recently co-authored Do More Faster with Brad Feld.  He is also very active at the University of Colorado, serving as a member of the Board of Advisors of the Computer Science Department, the Entrepreneurial Advisory Board at Silicon Flatirons, and the Board of Advisors of the Deming Center Venture Fund. He is a member of the selection committee for Venture Capital in the Rockies, and runs the Colorado chapter of the Open Angel Forum. His hobbies are technology, software/web startups, business history, and tennis. He is married to the coolest girl he’s ever met and has three amazing kids who always seem to be teaching him something new.

Toronto Location

OneEleven, 111 Richmond Street West, 5th Floor, Toronto. OneEleven is Toronto’s newest accelerator. It’s your chance to visit this brand new 15,000 square feet facility, dedicated to accelerate the commercialization of cutting edge research and development for the economic prosperity of the region.

Eventbrite - Fireside Chat with David Cohen, CEO of Techstars

Location

OneEleven, 111 Richmond Street West, 5th Floor, Toronto. OneEleven is Toronto’s newest accelerator. It’s your chance to visit this brand new 15,000 square feet facility, dedicated to accelerate the commercialization of cutting edge research and development for the economic prosperity of the region.

This event is organized by Startup Management and hosted by OneEleven. It is made possible due to a sponsorship of OMERS Ventures.

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Startup Management is a knowledge resource for growing, scaling-up and managing startups.

OMERS Ventures invests in companies with significant growth potential and market opportunities, seeking partners with a shared vision of building a vibrant knowledge economy.

OneEleven is a unique centre for commercialization that will create the talent and technologies that shape our future in ‘Big Data’.

Eventbrite - Fireside Chat with David Cohen, CEO of Techstars

Fireside Chat with Albert Wenger – Oct. 23rd

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 5.00.12 PMWe’re very excited to host Albert Wenger of Union Square Ventures on Wednesday October 23rd 2013 in Toronto, at the spanking new OneEleven Accelerator, from 5:30pm to 8:00pm.

William Mougayar, founder of Startup Management will interview Albert on stage, and there will be a Q&A period with the audience. We will talk Network Effects, the changing landscape in venture capital, advice to entrepreneurs, government and technology, privacy and security, raising money from U.S. VCs, and anything you’ll be asking him. This is a unique event, not to be missed by any one involved in a Tech Startup or ecosystem.

Albert Wenger is a partner at Union Square Ventures (USV), a New York-based early stage VC firm focused on investing in disruptive networks. USV portfolio companies include:TwitterTumblrFoursquareEtsyKickstarterWattpad,Kik and Shapeways
Before joining USV, Albert was the president of del.icio.us through the company’s sale to Yahoo. He previously founded or co-founded five companies, including a management consulting firm (in Germany), a hosted data analytics company, a technology subsidiary for Telebanc (now E*Tradebank), an early stage investment firm, and most recently (with his wife), DailyLit, a service for reading books by email or RSS. His wife is also the co-founder of Ziggeo.

Albert is on the Board of EdmodoShapewaysHeyzapTwillioFoursquareAMEECovestor10genWattpad,
FirebaseSift Science and Tumblr (prior to its sale to Yahoo). Albert graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in economics and computer science, and holds a Ph.D. in Information Technology from MIT.

Location

OneEleven, 111 Richmond Street West, 5th Floor, Toronto. OneEleven is Toronto’s newest accelerator. It’s your chance to visit this brand new 15,000 square feet facility, dedicated to accelerate the commercialization of cutting edge research and development for the economic prosperity of the region.

Buy your ticket

This event is organized by Startup Management and hosted by OneEleven. It was made possible due to the generous Patronage of Wattpad, Sponsorship of OMERS Ventures, and Support of Ryerson Futures.

SUM Logo Horizontal                       Wattpad logo_200

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Startup Management is a knowledge resource for growing, scaling-up and managing startups.

Wattpad is the world’s largest community for reading and sharing stories.

OMERS Ventures invests in companies with significant growth potential and market opportunities, seeking partners with a shared vision of building a vibrant knowledge economy.

Ryerson Futures is an accelerator for early stage companies connected to the Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University, and manages a seed fund.

OneEleven is a unique centre for commercialization that will create the talent and technologies that shape our future in ‘Big Data’.

Eventbrite - A Conversation with Albert Wenger, Union Square Ventures

Book Review – Startup Communities: It’s About the Entrepreneur

Brad Feld, managing director of Foundry Group, is no stranger to the Canadian tech startup scene – he was a speaker at the C100′s AccelerateMTL event in 2011.

Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to get to know him and he has been a source of inspiration and support to me professionally. Brad is one of those rare VCs, his contributions don’t stop with the money. He is very generous with his advice and has been on a passionate mission in the past year to crack the code on how to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem in any city, hence the title of his new book: Startup Communities
.

Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City
(pre-order available) isn’t a book you that you will put down easily, but is one you will pick-up often. In fourteen chapters and one fell scoop; Brad makes us smarter and wiser about what it takes to nurture a vibrant startup ecosystem in any community.

Startups are Everything

Feld sets the tone early in the book by stating that “Startups are at the core of everything we do.” Feld implies that it’s easier today to create and evolve startup communities “as a result of our networked society”, and he tosses away long-drawn old-school frameworks and previous theories that were primarily based on macro-economics, socio-demographics or geographical parameters. His thinking is framed around what he labels as “The Boulder Thesis”, a fresh framework that is based on pragmatism and lower barriers of entry. It’s all about on-the-ground reality as a lever to making things happen.

The Boulder Thesis

“The key to every successful startup community is startups. If you do nothing else, make sure all the founders and founding teams are visible and connected to each other.” That’s a golden statement to be reminded of. Remember, his message is aimed at the entire community.

Feld doesn’t mince words when he places the role of the entrepreneurs as the most critical component. “Lots of different people are involved in the startup community and many non-entrepreneurs play key roles. But unless the entrepreneurs lead, the startup community will not be sustainable over time.” Amen.

The Boulder Thesis is grounded in four key components: a) entrepreneurs that lead, b) leaders that commit, c) an all-inclusive mentality, and d) activities up and down the entrepreneurial stack. The book details them.

A 17-year resident of Boulder, Brad observed that while Boulder didn’t have a lot of local VC’s, it did have a large number of VCs that viewed companies in Boulder as attractive to invest in. This fact alone means that any city cannot complain about not having a lot of local VC’s. Rather, they should focus on making themselves attractive to VC’s wherever these VC’s may be.

Rightfully so, Brad advocates that activities such as “hackathons, New Tech Meetups, Open Coffee Clubs, Startup Weekends, and accelerators” are more important than “entrepreneurial award events, periodic cocktail parties, monthly networking events, panel discussions, and open houses” because they engage deeper into the entrepreneurial stack. To each city that’s listening, take inventory and assess your gaps.

Leaders and Feeders

Then comes a key tenet of the book: there are Leaders and there are Feeders to any ecosystem. If you’re in a startup community, know who you are, and what your role is, but don’t confuse the two. So, who is a Leader and who is a Feeder? “Leaders of startup communities have to be entrepreneurs. Everyone else is a feeder into the startup community. This includes government, universities, investors, mentors, service providers, and large companies.” Entrepreneurs, rejoice.

Driving the Leaders vs. Feeders point hard, Brad asserts that “the absence of entrepreneurs as leaders, or the overwhelming leadership by feeders, will doom a startup community.” Message aimed at the Feeders mostly.

Classical Problems

Chapter Six gets at the crux of the community build-out, and something that every city wants to know: What are we doing wrong? Brad nails the classical problems:

  1. The Patriarch Problem, when those who made their money many years ago are still running the show.
  2. Complaining about capital, because there will always be an imbalance between supply of capital and demand for capital.
  3. Being too reliant on Government. This is self-explanatory, but there’s a whole chapter on it entitled: “Contrasts between entrepreneurs and government.”
  4. Making short-term commitments. Well, it takes a long time to build a startup community. Twenty years to be exact.
  5. Having a bias against newcomers. Instead, swarm the newcomers.
  6. Attempt by a feeder to control the community. Why? Feeders retard the actual growth of the startup community.
  7. Creating artificial geographic boundaries. They don’t matter much at all at the state and city level. Waterloo-Toronto: are you listening?
  8. Playing a zero-sum game. This means stop thinking that “Our community is better than yours”.
  9. Having a culture of risk aversion. Make sure you learn something from what didn’t work.
  10. Avoiding people because of past failures. Rather, embrace the failed entrepreneur because it encourages more entrepreneurs to take more risks.

Brad goes on to list in great details the many activities that make-up Boulder’s community what it is. My advice: when you get the book, use it a checklist and see what your city is missing.

Accelerators and Universities

In Chapter Eight, Brad takes us on the case study of TechStars, and in it he rubs in the fact that there is a distinction to be made between Accelerators and Incubators because they are formed differently and have different objectives.

Chapter Nine focuses on the role of Universities and it ends with this advice for the entrepreneur: “The relationship between a startup community and a university can be a powerful one, but is often complicated. By focusing on specific activities and remembering that the university is a feeder to the startup community, great things can happen.”

Myths of Community Building

Aided by Canadian Paul Kedrosky, one of the ending chapters lists the common myths about startup communities. I’ll highlight two of them:

  1. We need to be like Silicon Valley. “If that’s really your goal, save yourself a lot of heartache and simply move to Silicon Valley.”
  2. We need more local venture capital. “Venture capital is a service function, not materially different from accounting, law, or insurance. It is a type of organization that services existing businesses, not one that causes such companies to exist in the first place. While businesses need capital, it is not the capital that creates the business. Pretending otherwise is reversing the causality in a dangerous way.” That fits well within the Leaders vs. Feeders theory.

Startup Communities is a call for introspection aimed at any city, community, entrepreneur, developer, funder, leader or feeder. The book makes you think about whether you’re doing the right thing. It should prompt every city or ecosystem to answer the tough questions: Do we have enough leaders as entrepreneurs? Are we going to stop making excuses? Can we work better together?

If you’re involved in technology startups, this book will not just touch a nerve. It will run through your spine.

How do you think Canada is doing in regards to building entrepreneurial ecosystems in the major cities?

Editor’s Note: The author, William Mougayar is CEO of Engagio, a universal Inbox and Discovery Network for social conversations. You can pre-order Brad’s book on Amazon and ensure delivery as soon as it’s published in September.