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.

 

For Startups, Target Audiences can be a Challenge

Bullseye by Joe Prosperi (prosperij) on 500px.com
Bullseye by Joe Prosperi

Within a marketing strategy, it goes without saying that target audiences are a key consideration.

For all the focus on nurturing an idea, addressing a point of pain and developing a product, the ability to achieve traction hinges on the ability to connect with target audiences. Again, it’s an obvious statement.

The trick and challenge is identifying target audiences, their demographics, needs and buying behaviour. For some products, target audiences can be straightforward, while other products appeal to a variety of target audiences with slightly different needs.

For startups, getting a good grasp on target audiences can be a challenge because they may not have the resources to conduct in-depth research – be it through surveys, interviews, focus groups, etc.

It means developing target audiences can be a quasi-guessing game that include a number of assumptions. In an ideal world, these assumption are pretty accurate so a startup’s sales and marketing activities are aimed in the right direction.

It also possible the target audiences that had been identified are either not right or a startup attract customers who weren’t originally identified or seen as a priority.

It is important to continually get as much information about their customers. Who are they? How did they find you? What are their needs and motivations? How did you find you? What alternatives or competitors did they consider?

Getting this information provides valuable insight that can confirm target audiences or deliver eye-opening information about new customers and new sales opportunities.

So how does a startup begin the target audience process?

It begins with creating personas that identify a customer’s age, education, needs, goals, purchase risks, how they get information and do research, and the buying process. This will help you create a pretty good buyer profile. Keep in mind, there can be multiple buyer personas for your products.

Buyer personas provide direction and insight into the ways to reach the different parts of your target audiences. If possible, you can interview people who fall into these buyer personas to test your assumptions and, if necessary, tweak or overhaul them.

The reality for startups is nailing their target audiences can be difficult to achieve out of their gate. But by taking the right approach, you can establish a good foundation upon which to build.

Editor’s note: This is a cross post from Mark Evans Tech written by Mark Evans of ME Consulting. Follow him on Twitter @markevans or MarkEvansTech.com. This post was originally published in Sept 18, 2012 on MarkEvansTech.com.