Category Archives: Canada

Atoms are the new bits

Today seems to be an Upverter kind of day, don’t believe me. Check out Zak’s post on the Toronto startup ecosystem.

CC-BY-20 Some rights reserved by oskay
Attribution
 Some rights reserved by oskay

Hardware startups are back with a vengeance. Thomas Tunguz (LinkedIn, @ttunguz) of Redpoint Ventures talks about his investments in hardware startups Sonos and Electric Imp. There are new set top boxes, watches, game controllers and entire communities around making and sharing. The rise of the Internet of things, sensors, and open hardware platforms like Raspberry Pi, Arduino and BugLabs are making it easier for activists, hackers and organizations to design, build, distribute and monetize hardware projects.

We are lucky in Toronto to have HackLab.TO, Upverter, Media Lab Toronto, Site3 and others working on cool hardware based projects. Are you interested in learning about building hardware projects? Curious at designing, testing and building a hardware project?

Hardware Hackathon by Upverter, Aug 10-12, 2012 in Toronto

The Upverter team and a bunch of other from around the GTA are hosting a hardware hackathon August 10-12, 2012 at the Mozilla Opensource Space. All you need is an interest in physical prototyping and a laptop (go crazy if you want to try to do circuit board layout on a mobile phone or tablet).

Should be an awesome time.

Looking for a direct line to Silicon Valley

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Mark Silva (LinkedIn, @marksilva), SVP Emerging Platforms at Anthem Worldwide. He was in attendance at GrowConf 2011. 

CC-BY-20 Some rights reserved by JD Hancock
Attribution Some rights reserved by JD Hancock

There’s a different business DNA here in Silicon Valley and there’s no other start-up ecosystem like it anywhere in the world.  We are the descendants of miners, pioneers, and manifest destiny. We’re comfortable crafting real value from the clay of chaos. In the 49er days you weren’t a failure if your mine went dry, only if you quit and that attitude persists here today. I always tell startups, if they’re serious, they need to come to Silicon Valley.  It’s tough enough to start a business. Why not start with an unfair advantage and remove some of those obstacles you face with an ecosystem that can help solve your biggest and smallest issues?

GrowConf Aug 22-24, 2012 in VancouverThat being said, you’re not doomed if you decide to start a business somewhere else.  Events like the GROW Conference in Vancouver have made the Silicon Valley ecosystem mobile and if only for a few days, you can have the Valley brought to you.  Between the speakers, mentors, investors, companies, and accelerators, GROW Week is like a high speed rail to Silicon Valley with exclusive access to the right players.

As we all know, there’s a serious echo chamber in Silicon Valley, and the chance to get out of our caves and be in new places is healthy and promotes good ideas.  I find that when I attend a good conference or event, I end up having more in depth conversations over the course of a few days with people I care about than I do in any other situation.

Some of the highlights for me from GROW last year were getting to know Vy Le, CEO of Rudy’s Barbershop, spending time with top Silicon Valley VCs like Chris Redlitz, Jeff Clavier and Rob Hayes, and networking with fellow mentors like Matt Galligan and Lane Becker from Get Satisfaction.  How awesome is that!?

GROW is the closest thing to a “Valley” experience outside of the Valley, and Vancouver is one of the most beautiful backdrops to inspire collaboration, discussion and innovation. I’ve never met a Canadian I didn’t like, and I’ll put that challenge to the test when I return to GROW in August!

Join Mark Silva, Julia Hartz, Sean Ellis, Dave McClure, David Cancel and others at GROW August 22-24th in Vancouver, BC

Register for GROW with a $100 discount using the promotional code “SN” at http://growconf.eventbrite.com/

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Mark Silva (LinkedIn, @marksilva), SVP Emerging Platforms at Anthem Worldwide. He was in attendance at GrowConf 2011. 

June 2012 in Review

Market Analysis & Industry News

“2.3 billion people are now globally connected by the Internet. There are 1.1 billion mobile 3G subscribers. Almost 30 percent of all US adults now own a tablet. Mobile is cited as source of 8% of all e-commerce.” from Forbes citing Mary Meeker’s 2012 Internet Trends

A must read post by Rick Segal on the Secret VC Handbook. If you are considering raising institutional money, you should read Rick Segal’s (@ricksegal) The Secret VC Handbook:

“The debate between building native applications vs. mobile web sites has raged.” from Adam Nash’s (@adamnash) User Acquisition: Mobile applications and the Mobile Web

“Global population 7 billion. Mobile phone subscriptions 6 billion. Internet users 2.3 billion.” from The App Generation

What are the typical top sources of customers for early-stage SaaS companies?

Company Announcements

Mike Beltzner joined Wattpad as Head of Product.

Extreme Startups Demo Day featured keynotes from 500 Startups Paul Singh (@paulsingh) and Mayfield Fund’s Tim Chang (@timechange), with launch of Shoplocket, Granify, Gijit, and SimplyUs and Verelo.

Plug and Play Tech Center announces cohort of Canadian startups for StartupCamp that includes Pinerly and Willet.

Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone announced four new tech startups moving in including: Komodo OpenLab, YC grad KytePhone, Electric Courage and Virtual Next.

Financings

Company Description Amount Investors
Wattpad Wattpad is the world’s largest online community of readers and writers. $17.3MM Khosla Ventures, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, Union Square Ventures, Golden Venture Partners
Lightspeed LightSpeed’s technology provides retailers with powerful tools that reinvent the shopping experience using Mac computers, iPads, and iPhones for retail management tools $30MM Accel Partners
BuildDirect BuildDirect is North America’s largest online destination for heavy weight building materials $16MM OMERS Ventures
Blacksquare BlackSquare is a leading market innovation for direct to consumer wine ecommerce globally. Seed Undisclosed
CommunityLend $3MM non-brokered private placement from a single investor
Novidev Santé Active Novidev Santé Active is a Québec agri-food business that has developed Vegetal IntelligenceTM, a unique process that preserves all the fruit’s natural bioactive compounds, and will be marketing its first ’super fruit juices’ under the Anti+ brand. $1.3MM 15 private Anges Québec investors including Charles Boulanger and Desjardins Innovatech