Archive for 'startups'

Hangin around with the smart people at Wherecloud

So it’s always nice to work with really smart people.  I’ve been pretty lucky in that respect, in that almost everything I have done has kept me in contact with people who are trying to change the world.  

I’ve known Martin Dufort for about six or seven years now.  We first met when he was working on Kakiloc which was an incredible company that was ahead of its time.  Lately, I’ve been doing some advisory work with Martin and his new company Wherecloud.  

Wherecloud is one of the most amazing mobile app development companies out there in that not only do they make great apps for their clients but they also make great apps for themselves.   If you’ve noticed the mobile revolution that has been going on at the Yellow Pages Group, it’s Wherecloud who have made that happen.

Well, earlier today my relationship with Wherecloud became a little more formal with the announcement of their new Advisory Board.  For me it’s a great, not only do I get to help out an amazing company but I also get to hang around super smart people like Martin, his partner Fred Brunel and advisor Jean Boisvert.  

 

By Scott Lake

ForkTime.com is a social food journal.

If you take pictures of what you eat, this is a great tool to help you keep them together and share them.

Please sign up and join us; it is free to use.  Create a food journal for yourself.  Follow other members to see what else everyone else is eating.

For the time being, our website provides the best way for uploading and viewing the food journals.

For uploading from mobile devices, we also provide a mobile web view of the site for Android, Blackberry and other non-iPhone devices.  The mobile web view is optimized for smaller-sized screens.

For uploading from iPhones, iPods and iPads, it is not possible for now.  We are working on an app for that.
We would love to hear from you.  Please feel free to contact us at any time at info@forktime.com.

——–

Forktime is the brainchild of my good friend An-min Kuo.  Have fun..

By Scott Lake

StartupPlays.com: A Great Resource for Entrepreneurs

startupPlays

As a startup entrepreneur, you have to be really good at lots of things to build a world class business – creating a business plan, raising money, IP protection, viral marketing, getting customers, etc….  I know a lot of entrepreneurs, and none of them are experts in all these areas, but they need to execute like an expert to grow their business.

So what do you do?  Well, if you’re well funded, you can hire experts with these skills.  Otherwise, you have to read a lot of blogs and books, seek out experienced mentors or advisors, and ask a lot of questions until you are an expert.  Which takes a lot of time – something no entrepreneur has enough of.

Which is why we launched StartupPlays.com.  The service incorporates concepts, advice, and recommendations from experienced entrepreneurs and packages them into executable, step by step actions that you need to take to nail a part of your business.  Each activity is called a “Play” – “How to pitch a VC Play”, “How to get on TechCrunch Play” – which when combined adds to your “Startup Playbook” of activities that you can execute.  Each Play has three sections:

  1. Brainstorming
    Full of content, videos, presentations that explain the concept and provide a place for you and your team to brainstorm ideas about the Play
  2. Tasks
    A checklist of all the specific activities you need to execute with detailed instructions on how to complete them – which can be assigned to team members with a due date
  3. Files / Templates
    Excel, powerpoint, and document templates that you and your team can collaborate on.

For example, say you wanted help Incorporating your business.  In that play there is brainstorming sections with information on choosing a name, selecting a location (federal or provincial, Canada or US), and deciding on structure (LLP, INC).  There are tasks for each of the brainstorming activities as well as filling out documents (which are in the files section), doing a name search, registering the company, and a bunch more very specific things that you can check off as you complete “the Play”.

Each Play tells you how long it should take to run, how many people you should need, and level of experience needed to execute.  The cost for a play is between free and $99.

What’s cool about it is that it can save entrepreneurs days or weeks of trying to figure this stuff out on their own, when so many other entrepreneurs have already done it.

The sites currently in closed beta.  Check it out at http://startupplays.com

sphome

By Scott Annan

Mercury Launch: Ottawa Accelerator for Startups

I’m really excited to announce the launch of a new accelerator in Ottawa for web and mobile startups called Mercury Launch.

As I’ve often said, Ottawa has world class talent and the purpose of Mercury Launch is to rally the startup community to support entrepreneurs, build some world-class companies, and start celebrating our successes.

The program is similar to Y Combinator, TechStars, Founder Fuel, and Grow Labs with one notable exception.  You have to be in Ottawa to participate.  We’ve long been an exporter of talent in Ottawa.  It’s time we start helping ourselves and to put Ottawa on the map for the amazing companies that we build!

We will be selecting 4-5 companies to start a 3-month program beginning in September, 2011.  Each company will receive $25,000 in seed funding, a kick-ass office space (working with people like you who want to change the world), access to amazing mentors and key customers, and help launching your product on a global stage.

We’re actively seeking seasoned mentors and brilliant startups – so please check out the site, tell your friends, and be part of an exciting new chapter of the Ottawa startup scene!

We will be releasing additional information over the next couple of weeks including our all-star list of advisors, mentors, funders, and first class of startups!  You can follow the progress through our new twitter account here.

(ps. Huge cred to Robert Saric and the WhyHire.me team for building the new website.  Thanks Rob!!!)

By Scott Annan

Ruby on Rails CTO position at Network Hippo

We’re aggressively seeking a senior Ruby on Rails visionary to lead the charge at Network Hippo – an awesome product that changes how people connect and manage their relationships.  You may have heard or read about us on TechCrunch, VentureBeat, TechVibes, or This Week in Startups, but you should contact us to hear the story first hand and how together we can help create a new vibrant market.

More details below, but for the skinny, contact us at work@mercurygrove.com.

MERCURY-NINJA

By Scott Annan

Guaranteed Interview shows how to nail your 90 second startup pitch

civiside

Local startup entrepreneur Ken Seville of Guaranteed Interview.com – a program offered to employers that will guarantee an interview for military veterans who do not have a broad network in private industry – nails his pitch on the Business News Network (link here).

What Ken did especially well?

  1. Clearly described what his company does up front
  2. Provided context on the need and the market size
  3. Mentioned some well-known customers
  4. Outlined a killer team
  5. Defined what he was looking for and what he would do with it
  6. Closed with a great tagline that was memorable

Congrats Ken!

Here is the link again.

By Scott Annan

Sliced Bread sells Hello Referrals to Refertrac

Hello Referrals was born over a couple of beers on an Elgin street patio in the summer of 2009 after Sliced Bread co-founders Chris Saracino and Steve Palmer recognized small business owners had no easy way to exchange leads. Nearly 18 months later, after 10 months of private beta testing, the two formally launched a web application that helps groups who practice referral and word of mouth marketing to organize and centralize the exchange of leads. With said launch only in February of this year, Sliced Bread has already sold their flagship product to Refertrac, a Wisconsin based company competing in the same space with a product targeted at financial advisors and institutions.

By Carolynn Lacasse

FundChange Launch by local startup IdeaVibes

fundchange

In case you haven’t heard one of the 17ish episodes on CBC Radio about local startup IdeaVibes (run by Mercury Grove drop-in Paul Dombosky) – they’re doing some awesome stuff in the crowdsourcing / crowdfunding space that is gaining a lot of attention from national charities and businesses.  With reason, IdeaVibes is cutting administrative costs for worthy causes by significant amounts threatening a bunch of existing players.  Paul’s a great guy and his business is getting the attention it should!

At the start of 2011, Ideavibes completed development of its Crowd Engagement Platform – a hosted solution that is capable of running two types of campaigns. crowdsourcing and crowdfunding.

Last week, Ideavibes took the splash page off a new initiative with sponsor TELUS, called Fundchange (www.fundchange.com). Built on the Ideavibes Platform, this website is one of Canada’s first crowdfunding sites for charities focused on projects or doable ask type funding.

While crowdsourcing and crowdfunding are not new – the Ideavibes Platform is unique in that it makes launching ideation and funding campaigns easy and affordable for organizations of any size.

On Wednesday, Fundchange presented cheques to the first crowdfunded projects and TELUS also presented matching dollar cheques for these projects as well. The first to successfully crowdfund their projects were; The Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, The Ottawa Hospital Foundation, LiveWorkPlay, and FitSpirit.

Check out Fundchange at www.fundchange.com to learn more and fund an interesting project today.

By Scott Annan

WTF is Idea Camp?

You’ll never become a success if you execute a stupid idea  (except for the slapchop/shamwow guy … though he got arrested for punching a prostitute who bit his tongue and wouldn’t let go so perhaps success is debatable. I could make a "like my nuts?" joke, but I won’t)

Ideas are important and frankly I’m sick of hearing people deride them. You need good ideas to build  successful companies.

So with that, I have an  idea for you. If you were at the last democamp, you know I pitched the concept of idea camp.

We all have a pile of ideas locked away don’t we? I bet there’s gold in them hills and it is time to let others pan the river of ideas.

Ideas launch other ideas and amazing things can happen . Sad to lock them away, especially if it could spark something in another individual who is actually in a position to execute your idea.

I have no time. I just don’t. Between running favequest, isfan solutions and some music and art side projects, work with charities + three busy kids, I’m doing everything I can. Got no more to give.

My Vision for Idea Camp

My vision for this different from democamp or teamcamp. It consists of sessions where people pitch their ideas and keep a record of them on a site for anyone to check out. No NDA, no frieNDAs … Just free, no strings attached sharing. Any visitor or community member can visit, comment and run with any idea. He or she may choose to indicate that they are going to build a prototype and invite others to join. Perhaps people could vote ideas up and down digg style. Maybe it eventually includes a funding mechanism like kickstarter. Who knows.

Who is going to Step Up? Maybe you!

I’m giving this idea away and hoping some eager soul will pick it up and run with it.  Perhaps someone that is looking to make a difference and a name for himself or herself pick.

Why would you take this on? First, imagine if this spawned some amazing new companies. How cool would it be that you made that happen! It will allow your own reputation, experience and network to grow beyond what you can imagine. What if you crack the formula and it gets mimicked around the world and you get the cred.

Anything is possible. The key is to start. I’m happy to do consult and brainstorm but that’s it. This your baby.

So, who is going to lead the charge. Ping me at Allan.isfan@gmail or attend the next demo camp and we can chat.

By Allan Isfan

Hey Entrepreneurs: Win a golden boot!

What do Erin Blaskie and I have in common?  Well, we’re both very good looking, modest, shy, reserved… and we both have a golden boot!  We won them last year at the OCRI Bootstrap awards.  It was a great event hosted by OCRI and local celebrity Entrepreneur Bruce Firestone.

Last year recognized a lot of recognizable, and fast-growing startups including:

Network Hippo (just awesome)
Steward Supreme Vending
Wedding Republic
CrowdWave Games
UCreate Media
BSETC
MartSmart Shopping Network
Social Mention
Shopify

The Bootstrap awards are a great way to celebrate local entrepreneurs who battle it out daily to build their businesses.  If you know an entrepreneur, you would be doing a great honour to them by nominating them for an award.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you should nominate yourself.  It’s a great event and you’ll likely get some of the great benefits that I received by being a part of the event.  Here’s some of the benefits that I received from the event:

  • A golden boot!
  • Free legal advice that helped us get a cool office space (thanks to Steve Sheppard from Brazeau Seller!)
  • A new CFO (met at the event)
  • Some great leads (and a couple of new clients)
  • Press and social media shout outs
  • Helped develop relationships with some great leaders in Ottawa
  • Breakfast with Erin Blaskie and Trina Lamarche (no guarantee that you’ll have this opportunity!)

It’s hard running a startup and you deserve to get some recognition.  So take 5 minutes to nominate yourself (or another startup).  It’s worth it.

(Photo credit to Trina Lamarche’s iPhone!)

By Scott Annan