Tag Archives: startup

Lead To Win for Women launches

Lead To Win is a popular boot camp for entrepreneurs starting or growing a business. They are now launching Lead To Win for Women in order to help more women entrepreneurs to succeed.


If you are a women with an idea and are serious about launching a profitable growth-oriented business in Canada’s Capital Region, or you have already founded a business and are trying to develop strategies for growth, then Lead To Win for Women (LTW) is for you.

What is Lead To Win for Women?

  • LTW is a 6 day program spread across 2 sessions
  • Each day runs from 8:00am – 4:30am
  • The program takes place at 3500 Carling Ave. (the former Nortel campus located at Moodie Drive and Carling Ave.)
  • All co-founders can attend all sessions (regardless of whether they are men or women)
  • Founders for all sectors are eligible (not just tech founders)
  • You will learn everything you need to evaluate your idea, improve it, and bring it to the market, or grow your opportunity
  • You will have access to mentors, experts, and other founders who will help you develop your opportunity

The next LTW sessions are scheduled for Oct 25-27 and Nov 22-24

Applications are now being accepted so if you or if you know any women entrepreneurs encourage them to apply.

By Natasha D'Souza

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

Getting media coverage for your startup: making the pitch

This is part three in a three-part series. Part one covered whether or not your news is worthy, while part two looked at the mechanics of writing a news release. Now let’s look at making the pitch…

So, you have a well-written, newsworthy news release. That means you should have no problem getting press, right? WRONG!

Just as having a kickass business idea doesn’t mean you’ll get funding, the pitch is the crucial element that will determine whether or not a reporter will do a story about you.

Now considering you’re asking for words, you’d think it’d be easier than say, asking for $1-million in seed funding, but it might not be. Reporters are overworked, underpaid and under a lot of stress to deliver high quality news in short amounts of time. Also, the sheer volume of pitches they receive means the reality is many get ignored all together.

Because of this, an email pitch should be short and succinct and include all the relevant facts. Think of the reporter’s audience and craft a message that would appeal to them. Paste or link to your news release directly in the email (no attachments) and send early during business hours. While this is standard procedure, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get coverage.

how do you cut through the clutter and dazzle reporters with your pitch? Here’s a few tips:

  1. Do your homework
    A journalists biggest complaint about pitches is they are off-target. Specifically the person making the pitch has no idea what the journalist actually writes about. Before you pitch, read some articles and make sure that person covers the type of news you’re pitching. Thanks to Google, this is incredibly easy to do.
  2. Flattery goes a long way
    And remember, big difference between flattery and ass kissing. You’ve already done your homework, maybe you really enjoyed something the reporter had written? Perhaps he/she recently made the move to a publication you really enjoy. Find common ground or a sincere compliment to assure the reporter you know what you’re doing.
  3. A phone call just might do the trick
    Personally, I hate calling reporters. And many of them say they hate being called. BUT the truth is a phone call is a much more personal touch and usually warrants great results (Others agree as well). Be sure to call in the morning as many journalists (especially at daily newspapers) spend the afternoon writing and don’t like to be interrupted. Also, you can follow up after emailing a news release, but don’t say “Hey did you get my release?” Be ready with additional facts or information that could help them. 

And as a final point, be persistent, but not annoying. Don’t expect to put out a bunch of pitches and even hear back from one reporter the first time. Continue to send relevant news as it happens and eventually your hard work will pay off.

That’s the end of this three-part series… But wait! I do have one final piece of advice:

Develop Relationships!

Despite the second word in media relations being relations, many seem to forget it. The absolute and best way to get press is develop great relationships with the reporters, editors and journalists in your space.

Above all the steps I’ve outlined in this series, remember to reach out to reporters even when you don’t have news. Ask them out for coffee, or just send along helpful info that doesn’t benefit you directly. It’s networking and relationship management! Remember: reporters are people too.

By Kelly Rusk

Open Source Debate

Adrew Ross has extended an invitation to anyone interested to an exciting open source debate hosted by FOSSLC and Gowlings, here’s the info:

FOSSLC and Gowlings would like to invite you to a thought provoking debate
on August 31st at 9:30am. The event takes place at Gowlings’ Elgin street

There are some high profile speakers debating open source licensing.
These include:

  • Matt Asay, VP of Business Development from Alfresco and chair of the Open Source Business Conference
  • Mike Milinkovich, Executive Director of the Eclipse Foundation.
  • David Maxwell, Open Source Strategist at Coverity and NetBSD board member

The event will feature the above speakers debating of the GPL, EPL, and BSD
licenses, which license is best for business, community growth, and working
with academia. The debate will provide cover the key factors that influence
the decision regarding an open source license. As well, it will cover
important things you should look out for.

Registration is free and includes a free breakfast. Click here for details and registration instructions.

This event is brought to you by Alfresco, The Eclipse Foundation, Coverity,
Gowlings, and Ingres.

By Scott Lake

Financing Term Sheet Basics

Posted by Shane McLean.  Hi all.  I recently posted this on my blog and thought it might be of interest to the StartupOttawa readers:

If you are part of a growing business that requires a source of outside funding, chances are that you will at some point have to review a “term sheet”.  What is a term sheet?  Basically it is a high level summary of the terms on which someone is willing to invest in or lend money to your business.  In this post I am going to discuss financing term sheets only.  There are other circumstances in which you may be on the receiving end of a term sheet — a sale of your company, for example — but those will be left to be discussed in future posts.

Financing term sheets can vary widely in their terms and structure, but there are generally a few areas that are common (or should be common) to most:

Who:  Who is the party (or parties) who will be investing, lending etc.?

What:  What are they receiving in return for their investment?  This might be preferred shares, common shares (if you’re lucky), convertible debt, non-convertible debt or a host of other possibilities.  To give two examples, with high tech startups you’re often talking about preferred shares and with publicly listed companies you are often going to dealing with common shares and maybe warrants.  If your term sheet contemplates preferred shares, debt or other complex securities the term sheet will also include a fairly detailed breakdown of the terms of those shares, debt etc.

How Much:  How much $ will the investor(s) be putting up?

Price:  The term sheet has to include a price per share (or a price per whatever you’re selling).  With private companies this is typically the investor’s best guess (or best offer) of the value of your company.  This could be stated in the form of a “pre-money valuation” which attaches a value to the company before the investment.  If you know the  number of shares you have outstanding prior to the investment you can use this number to determine the value per share.  That’s what the investor hopes to pay.  Less frequently, the price might also be expressed as a post-money valuation.  Just take the aggregate amount to be invested away from this number to reach the “pre-money valuation” and do the math as described above to determine a per share price.  Sometimes the investor will do the math for you and just give a per share price in the term sheet. If you are dealing with a public company the price is probably based on the most recent market price, a discount to the market price or some average of the market price over a recent period of time.  The price or valuation can also tell you how much of the company is being purchased for the aggregate investment amount.  For example, if your pre money valuation is $2,000,000 and the investor is investing $2,000,000 the investor will own 1/2 of the equity in the company post investment.

Timing:  When do the parties hope to close the financing?

Other Closing Deliverables/Conditions:  There will typically be a laundry list of other deliverables and conditions to the closing possibly including: a shareholder agreement, board of director seats, delivery of certain information, amendment to the articles of incorporation etc.  This is where the investor will tell you what, if any, controls they expect to have over the operation of the business on a post closing basis.

Expenses:  Typically the term sheet will describe who is responsible for the expenses incurred by the investor and the company as part of the transaction.  Here’s a hint: It’s almost always the company.  As a company, if you are stuck paying the fees your goal should be to negotiate a cap on investor legal fees.

Exclusivity: Sometimes there will be a commitment to exclusivity — i.e. once you sign the term sheet you won’t talk to other potential investors for some defined period of time.

With the help of good advisers you can often negotiate some of the key points on a term sheet so if you are handed a term sheet you do not necessary have to sign it in the form presented.  If you want to see an example of a financing term sheet you can check out this term sheet generator developed by US law firm Wilson Sonsini, Goodrich and Rosati.  There are a few web based term sheet generators out there similar to this one and they generally get a lot of buzz.  They are definitely neat, but I often wonder whether they have any real life benefit to companies aside from preparing you for the types of things you will see in a term sheet that is handed to you.  Generally speaking the investor is going to present the term sheet to you in the investor’s “standard” form and a sophisticated investor is unlikely to accept or generate a term sheet from an Internet based term sheet generator.

Once everyone is happy with the term sheet, it is signed and the lawyers get to work preparing the definitive documentation to reflect the high level terms agreed on.

Posted by Shane McLean

By James Smith

Announcing Founders and Funders: part deux

After a very successful inaugural Founders and Funders Ottawa event last fall, The Ottawa Network has decided to organize a similar event again this spring. The event is set for May 20th at 6pm.

Founders and Funders is a unique networking event geared specifically for investors of all types (VC, angel, working capital, government) and start-up execs that may at some point try to raise money. The evening includes cocktails and dinner, with plenty of time for networking. There are no demos and no presentations … just tons of elevator pitches from investors trying to convince entrepreneurs to take their money.

The event is restricted to investors and those who want to take their money and multiply it (start-up entrepreneurs).  If you fit the bill, please contact Allan Isfan at allan.isfan [at] favequest [dot] com , and briefly let him know who you are and why you are interested in the event.

Finally note that the event sells out very quickly. We were able to lower the price and there are early bird tickets so don’t delay.

Feel free to tweet about it with hashtags #ton #foundersandfunders or blog about it. You can include my email allan.isfan [at] favequest [dot] com (I don’t feel like getting emails from bots :) .


Allan Isfan on behalf of The Ottawa Network

By Allan Isfan

Startups, Get Lucky!

Hey all, via an intro from the consummate startup CFO, Mark Macleod, on Thursday I appeared as a guest in a chatroom broadcast by a Telluride-CO based site, luckystartups.com. The site conducts and stores live interviews with startup founders from around the world, with a pretty heavy digital media focus. They have a regular broadcast schedule, and pretty good reach into some institutional funders like Garage and the like. The experience was pretty cool, and if you want to check out my appearance, here it is. Please note the salmon (some would say pinkish) shirt for the appearance, and the prominent display of my Martin Brodeur Olympic gold medal-winning jersey in the background (take that, Yanks!). Only regrets: no green room buffet, no clip of current film project, and no opportunity to dispel rumours of my May-December romance with Madonna (they are totally untrue, no matter what you’ve heard).

 Seriously, if you’d like to get interviewed on the site, Dannie McLain the site’s co-founder would love to host you. Connect via the site or let me know at js@lwlaw.com and I’ll hook you up. Dannie would also love a moderator or two for regular features on Canadian tech companies – my suggestions to him were Jev McDonald here in Ontario, Austin Hill in Montreal, and Boris Mann out in Vancouver, but weigh in with your suggestions and I’ll pass them on to Dannie Mac.  

By James Smith

Startup club kickoff: WOW!

The inaugural startup club took place at the Codefactory last week and I have to say that it was great. We had roughly a dozen people gathered for nearly two hours over lunch. For the kickoff, we spent quite a bit of time introducing ourselves but people were already quick to jump in and share ideas, thought, tips and advice for funding, business plans, getting advisors and more. People were very open about their strenghts and weaknesses. Each in turn identified areas in which they could help others in the group and also highlighted areas of weakness where they need some assistance (writing a business plan, marketing, business model …)

We had a great mix of entrepreneurs ranging from very experienced to some that were considering their first venture. A very positive and supportive atmosphere existed right from the start which was awesome to see. I personally learned of some government grants I didn’t know about, got some excellent help and feedback on usability of an app we’re launching (thx Olivier). Most important though is that I met a bunch of great new people and deepened my understanding and relationship with those I already knew.

I’m now convinced that this is going to fly but the trick is to keep the momentum going by kicking off some breakout sessions on specific topics. Two topics being teed up and moderated by me are: 1) getting advisors (why, how many, how much…) 2) presentation skills. These are going to be very interactive working sessions over lunch. Ian Graham and I are also considering inviting some investors to join us around the table for some of these sessions as well for those that may be looking to eventually get on a investor roadshow.

If you are a serious startup entrepreneur, the startup club may be a real help and a fantastic network building opportunity. If you think that you may want to join, please contact me directly at allan.isfan [at] gmail.com . The tatoo didn’t hurt at all.


Allan "your servant" Isfan

By Allan Isfan

what do startups really need?

Before I get going on his blog, I just want to mention to those receiving the "Made to Stick" book from me, please hang tight. I have an added surprise that is adding a bit of time to the delivery. You’ll see.

So on to the subject at hand.


What kind of assistance will really help YOU get your start-up off the ground?

Is it business partners to join you to share the work and bring expertise?

Is it cold hard cash?

Is it advisors with connections?

Is it mentors?

Is it software or hardware developers with the courage and energy to work extra time?

I could add lots of other things to the list but I would rather you tell us, your start-up community, what you need.

The answer will depend on the market and stage that your are at so when you answer, please provide a bit of info about that. Let’s get everything out onto the table and help each other out. You never know where this might lead. Ball is your court, start commenting and sharing. Don’t be shy, we’re all here to help.

Let’s get the discussion going and if there is enough energy around it, I’ll organize an off-line event at a fave watering hole.



Allan Isfan




By Allan Isfan

Fired Up! A Startup-Primer

Click on image to see details.

By Aydin Mirzaee