Sprouting up in Canada’s Capital

Post via Erin Bury…

So far this week we’ve had a great trip to Ottawa – we attended some great events (Third Tuesday, Girl Geek Dinner, Social Media Breakfast) and met a lot of great people – the community in Ottawa is close-knit and vibrant. So we were excited to hold our very first Sprout Up in Ottawa last night at the Velvet Room in the Byward Market. About 60 local entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts gathered to hear from local startups and our guest speaker Saul Colt, who traveled all the way from Toronto to be there. See below for a recap of how the evening went:

Startup presentations:

FluidSurveysAydin Mirzaee of FluidSurveys spoke about his startup, which is an online survey tool which offers features above and beyond other survey tools on the web. He developed it after sitting down with a customer and hearing their frustrations about the online survey tools that existed. FluidSurveys’ goal is to provide the most advanced survey features in a convenient, easy to use format on the web. The heart of their application is a drag & drop interface, and they also have several advanced features like piping and looping. They have a monthly and yearly pricing structure for clients, but they also have a unique one-time survey fee for anyone just looking to create one. Aydin also answered several questions from the crowd about the struggle to sign his first client, and offered the advice to always have several leads so if one turns you down it isn’t the end of the world. See below for a video of Aydin’s presentation:

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NetworkHippo – Scott Annan from NetworkHippo really impressed the crowd (and us) with his demo of NetworkHippo, a new and unique startup specializing in network relationship management. The idea is that everyone – individuals, startups, small business and entrepreneurs especially, have large networks. We have contacts on social networks and e-mail, and we’re constantly meeting new people. But once we have those relationships what do we do with them? Often we don’t keep in touch, and these connections are lost. Enter NetworkHippo. The software keeps track of all your contacts, their information, and even searches the web to import their Twitter stream, photos, and any news about them lately (so you can congratulate them on a great piece of media coverage, or ask how their recent trip was). You can rate people based on importance to you and your business, and NetworkHippo will remind you to check in with contacts based on their importance and the last time you connected with them. There is also e-mail integration within the software. And the best part? It’s free for individuals, and there’s a small fee per month for startups and small businesses – in our opinion well worth it. This has just scratched the surface of NetworkHippo so check out Scott’s presentation of NetworkHippo from SlideShare below to see what else you can do:

Guest speaker:

Guest speaker Saul Colt at Sprout Up

Guest speaker Saul Colt at Sprout Up

The evening’s guest speaker was Saul Colt, who spoke about the importance of creating relationships with your customers. Saul has a history of creative approaches to marketing – he brought ZipCar to Canada, and helped build popular startup Freshbooks into a success and build their customer base into evangelists. He is now the “Head of Magic” at Toronto startup Zoocasa, a brand new real estate search engine. Saul gave a presentation entitled “How building a community is like dating a pretty girl” – it’s all about his approach to community. He says building community is important because it can provide you with input, make brands human, communities can cheerlead for brands – and plus, a community already exists around your brand, so why not join the fun.He says that you should treat your relationships with your customers much like falling in love – and you do this in four stages:

  1. Introduction – Intros can come from anywhere – word of mouth, referrals, advertising, etc.
  2. Attraction – You attract people to your company by having a quality product/service
  3. Courting/dating – You can “date” your customers by caring about their lives and doing interesting things to get their attention – Saul gives the example of facilitating introductions, sending handwritten notes, and adding a personal touch to all interactions
  4. Love – You want your customers to be in love with you because love spreads, people talk about love, and love is infectious. Customers who love you will be evangelists for your brand. Once your customers are in love with you keep them that way by being accessible, treating them well, and keeping up your relationship – you can’t just disappear once you get to the love stage, which is why this approach to community can never be looked at as a campaign.

Finally, Saul spoke about the 4 E’s, created by Freshbooks’ CEO Mike McDerment: Execute on Extraordinary Experiences Everyday. He called the 4 E’s the biggest takeaway of the night for the audience, and asks people in companies of all sizes to strive for the 4 E’s whenever they interact with their customers. Saul definitely has an innovative view of how companies should be connecting with their customers/communities, so we’re glad he could share them with the Ottawa audience.

The crowd at Sprout Up

The crowd at Sprout Up

Thanks to Aydin, Scott and Saul for being a part of the evening, and to everyone who came out as attendees. You can check out a set of Flickr photos from Sprout Up Ottawa, as well as the other events we attended this week, here. If you couldn’t make it this time we’ll definitely be back – join the Meetup group here to stay informed about future events.



By Scott Lake