Category Archives: Ontario

Waterloo Region StartupFest

Update: The team at Communitech recognize the gafoo. They are rebranding the event Tektoberfest (which I think is an amazing fun brand that is a fun play on Oktoberfest). Great work by Phil, Iain and a group of people that should be collaborating. 

Update 2: Looks like the Communitech folks have updated their branding. Calling the event Techtoberfest and the previously mentioned Tektoberfest. They’ve also rounded out the line up with more great speakers including Devon Galloway and Michael Litt from Vidyard, Carol Leaman of Axonify. This means you’ll get 2 Hot Sh!t Listers (Devon and Eric) and 2 more incredible CEOs as part of the line up. Shaping up to be a great event.

Techtoberfest, Waterloo Region, Oct 11-13, 2012

Apparently the Communitech team went to the rip, mix and burn school of branding. Founders & Funders – check. StartupFest – check. I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I gave permission for the Communitech team my support for using Founders & Funders in Waterloo Region. No bitching about that. Not sure how Phil Telio feels about his trademark being reused. I’d be upset. But I digress, maybe serves as evidence that more of the operational money goes directly to entrepreneurs and companies that Communitech helps, because it’s not going into new branding.

It looks like an amazing event!

They have a great line up featuring:

Given the strong history of Entrepreneur Week. And the speakers and types of events lined up, it is set to be a fantastic week.

Waterloo mafia invade Toronto

I’m guessing this is confirmation that Waterloo Region is really just part of the Toronto ecosystem.

CC-BY-NC-ND-30 Photo by nadiakushnir
AttributionNoncommercialCreative Commons - By NC-NDSome rights reserved photo by nadiakushnir

I have seen The Communitech HubSpot space. Not a bad name given the facility that houses Communitech is called The Hub, calling a smaller zone in Toronto “The HubSpot” would make sense. Other than one of the leading CRM vendors based in Boston that has raised a combined $65MM in financing is also called HubSpot. That’s got to be bad for SEO.

I first saw the Communitech HubSpot space when I looked at moving the Maintenance Assistant offices earlier this year. It’s space located on the 2nd floor of 170 University Ave, that doubles as offices for Phil Deck. Phil was previously the CEO and Chairman of MKS Inc. which was acquired by PLC for $305MM in 2011. Phil is also on the Board at Communitech, which features other key players in the Waterloo and Toronto ecosystem including John Ruffolo of OMERS Ventures, Carol Leaman of Axonify, Ali Asaria of Well.ca and John Baker of Desire2Learn.

“It’s been a lot of hard work and even more fun putting Waterloo Region tech on the map with the help of a hugely supportive community.”
Iain Klugman, Communitech Marks 15 Year Anniversary of Supporting Waterloo Tech

Communitech in Toronto

It’s great news as Well.ca already has offices in Toronto. Previously Waterloo-based companies like Top Hat Monocle have moved to Toronto. There are a large number of Waterloo alums actively working in the Toronto startup ecosystem (I’m a UWaterloo alum along with Farhan Thawar, Zak Homuth, Zach Aysan, John Phillip Green, Dan Holowack, Oshoma Momoh, Bruce Chin, Garry Seto, Mike Rhemtulla, Monica Goyal and that’s just off the top of my head).

Too bad they chose to leverage an existing StartupNorth brand for the event. The least they could have done was invite us. Oh well, they stuck with our own “invite only” model.

 

How to get the most out of AngelList: As a VC and as an Entrepreneur

I love AngelList.  I truly believe it is disrupting the way early stage deals are being discovered and funded.

When I was with BlackBerry Partners Fund (now Relay Ventures), I used AngelList to virtually meet and screen tons of companies.  I set up Super Fridays for myself, filling my mornings and/or afternoons with back-to-back 30 minute calls with 10-12 companies.  I really recommend this to any young VC looking for both dealflow and honing their game.  The velocity and juxtaposition of all these entrepreneurs, pitches, and companies really taught me how to evaluate deals along the VC spectrum:

  • (NO) polite and immediate no thank you
  • (NOT YET) check back with traction
  • (NOT SURE) send me your pitch deck so I can another set of eyes on this
  • (POTENTIALLY) let me bring this up at the next Monday partner meeting and see if someone bites
  • (YES) holy moly let me get John Albright right now

All told, I probably screened 150-200 companies every three months on AngelList alone.  Ultimately, after all those Super Fridays, the firm funded two great companies: PubNub and ClearFit.

Now as I sit somewhat on the other side, running Extreme Startups, I am spending time trying to get VCs to view our companies’ AngelList profiles.  To help figure out what companies should be doing on AngelList to help maximize their exposure, we at Extreme Startups recently had a session with Ash Fontana from AngelList to get his advixe.  Ash shared some best practices that I’d like to share with our community.  His advice included a lot of great tips and some common sense details that time-crunched entrepreneurs might glance over.

Company Profiles

  1. Fill it out completely.  All the sections and tabs.  Comprehensive profiles are definitely the best so that there is both pertinent and substantive information.  One good tip is for the Founder Bios – include university info as well as some investors search for key schools.
  2. Be open / generous with information.  Specifically for the Fundraising tab, the Deal Terms should be filled out.  You don’t need to put valuation, but some indication helps investors looking for certain price ranges or structures (convertible note vs. equity).
  3. Use graphics – slides, screenshots, graphs, and videos to make a static page pop.

Key tips to stand out

  • State the most original thing or function your product and company does.
  • Information about the market size is key.
  • Name something extraordinary about your company or founders.
  • State the hardest problem you solve.

How do you get featured?

For those lucky four startups on the feature page on the front page of AngelList, what is the process to get there?  It’s curated by Ash, who uses a number of different tools to track interest and traction.  Note that there are now over 80,000 startups on AngelList, with ~100 getting added every day.  Only five get featured per week – so only top 0.5% have the chance to be featured.  We are lucky to have our alumnus Granify on the feature page!  ShopLocketSimplyUs, and Verelo all have great profiles as well (shameless plug).

So what should you do after your profile is up?

  1. Be active.  It’s a social network.  Start and engage in conversations.  Follow interesting companies, entrepreneurs, and investors.  Comment on people’s status updates.  Refer interesting deals to other people.
  2. Be proactive.  Reach out to investors and advisors.  Ask for referrals and recommendations!
  3. Match your offline activity to your online profile.  Add an advisor or investor?  Make sure you AL profile reflects that.  Have your network post and share your traction and successes online!

Other AngelList resources recently launched

  • AngelList Docs is in beta, but only for US incorporated companies for now.  It’s a great resource to close your deal online, industry standard docs and no legal fees.
  • AngelListTalent recently launched and helps startups recruit, and talent identify great jobs.  It uses a double opt-in structure, so you only get shown the jobs of the companies you follow.  It’s a great resource for recruiting.

Hacking AngelList articles

Lastly, Ash mentioned he loved and supported the hacking AngelList posts.  Somewhat analogous to the black art of gaming the iTunes stores, there are ways to succeed on AngelList outside of what is included in this post.  I just googled and found a couple of hits.  There are the most useful imho.

Final thoughts

I really hope more Canadian companies use and publish on AngelList, Gust, and others.  It’s a great way to get your profile out to Canadian, US, and international investors.  Not to mention its a great way to help entire cities and regions get noticed for great deal flow.  Maybe some young VC down south will start arranging their own Canadian Super Fridays…

Please follow me on AngelList! (and Twitter).