THE BLOG

19
Jun

Bulls*%t, Next Slide…

We had an entertaining speaker at last night’s meeting of Anges Quebec. Andy Nulman of Airborne Mobile and Just for Laughs fame, spoke about his experiences as an entrepreneur and his thoughts on Angel investing. I don’t know Andy but he’s absolutely hilarious.

One funny anecdote he mentioned was pitching some VCs during the early days of Airborne and being told that their financial projections were not nearly sophisticated enough. They dutifully hired a bunch of experts to create what he described as the most beautiful set of financial projections ever created. At their next pitch to a big strategic investor, they went through their powerpoint and got to the financial projections. As soon as the investor saw the projections he said “Bullsh!t, next slide.

Under “Lies Angels and Entrepreneurs Tell Themselves” #1 has to be that financial projections mean something. Projections are a good way to work out aspirations but they’re not good for predicting the future (in a startup). We’re investing in People right? Entrepreneurs are just as bad. When their pitch isn’t convincing they roll out excruciatingly complex financials to boost their case.

Angels and entrepreneurs should stop lying to each other. Entrepreneurs should be honest about what they don’t know (which would be refreshingly impressive) and Angels should realize that at the earliest stages they’re placing a big fat hairy bet on an individual. People who aren’t comfortable doing this probably shouldn’t be investing in startups.

Andy’s version was funnier…

09
Jun

June Startup Drinks + Montreal Girl Geeks

Startup Drinks has joined forces with Montreal’s Girl Geeks to bring you the networking juggernaut of the summer!

On location will be another fine installment in the Montreal Girl Geek speaker series featuring local tech entrepreneur Christine Renaud (E-180).  Christine will talk about her travels in social entrepreneurship in her talk entitled “The Good, The Lucrative and the Web Friendly”.

Here’s the deal:

The Date:

  • Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Times:

  • 5pm: Montreal Girl Geeks, featuring Christine Renaud.  Check out their blog for more details! You MUST register to reserve your berth as space is limited.
  • 6pm: Startup Drinks madness will kick off at 6pm until whenever with beer, networking and snacks.  Registration is recommended at techentreprise!

The Place:

  • UPSTAIRS (as in, not downstairs) at Brutopia,  1219 Crescent St (south of St-Catherine), Metro Guy-Concordia

The Cost:

  • Nothing, nada, zip.  Both events are free and you can come to one or other or both. As always, everyone is welcome!

Thanks to Tanya McGinnity for her collaboration on what promises to be a great night!

See you there!

Robin

08
Jun

Lead to Win: An Open source Business Accelerator

Here’s an interesting idea: take a city that is experiencing high-tech job loss, create a program that helps laid-off workers create startups, run it like a summer school program using local experts, charge nothing for the program and take no equity stake in the businesses. Oh, and Open Source all of the learning materials used!

It sounds too good to be true and it is, unless you live in Ottawa. Lead to Win

is an accelerator program created by Dr. Tony Bailetti. Currently underway with about 50 participants, this is actually the second time such an accelerator has been run in Ottawa, the first one being in 2002 during the last tech downturn. That program created about 15 new companies, 300 new jobs and a significant amount of investment dollars. More importantly, it created a new cohort of tech entrepreneurs that have gone on to found new companies.

Here’s a taste of some of the things covered in the agenda:

  • Design your business for success
  • Define compelling customer and partner value propositions
  • Lever ecosystems, open source projects, and open APIs
  • Identify customers most likely to buy from new company
  • Price and brand with confidence
  • Build team and organization
  • Define clear agreements, term sheets, and sales contracts
  • Protect intellectual property
  • As well as pitches and discussions with experts and LTW alumni

Since we all love to classify things, is Lead to Win a startup accelerator? Tech accelerators (remember, we don’t use the term “incubator” anymore…) are on the rise. StartupCFO has a nice post on the subject and First Ascent Ventures has probably the best early analysis of the accelerator space and guesses about early returns (Parts 1, 2, 3). We sometimes describe what we do at Flow Ventures as “acceleration” since we provide a mix of financing and operational services (though no office space!).

What is compelling about Lead to Win is its Open Source business model. It’s not only free (as in beer) but free as in all of their materials are available online. In fact, they’re encouraging other cities to follow suit. This openness allows LTW to easily partner with government, local tech organizations and the private sector. Unlike other accelerators, there is no implied goal of helping the company raise money at the end, e.g. there is no big funding pitch session for graduates. I like this because it emphasises bootstrapping and early profitability. Neither of these is friendly to VC funding models but they’re friendly to entrepreneurs and helping build products that markets need.

I would definitely call LTW an accelerator. After all, they help more people create new ventures quickly while providing some care and limited feeding along the way. Like many other accelerators, Prof. Bailetti has figured out that the most important thing entrepreneurs need is not cash but access to an ‘ecosystem‘ that can support the venture. This ecosystem can provide talent, technology, customers and financing.

Flow will be at Lead to Win later this month providing advice and feedback to entrepreneurs. I strongly recommend you check this program out and if you think this could work in your city, contact Tony Bailetti.