Tag Archives: startups

Sam Zaid gives you a step-by-step plan for funding via StartupPlays.com

In case you haven’t heard, StartupPlays.com is the hottest “startup for startups” with an all-star lineup of successful entrepreneurs who share their founder recipes on how to do everything from getting amazing press for your startup (Adrian Salamunovic) to building a content strategy to drive millions of readers to your blog (Dan Martell).  Past and upcoming authors include Jeremy Olson (Tapity), Cameron Herold (1-800-GOT-JUNK), and Aaron Hall (DressRush, Member of 500 Startups).

Today we launched the newest Play with local startup celebrity Sam Zaid on how to raise money for your startup.  I had the chance to sit down with Sam (CEO of Getaround.com and winner of 2011 TechCrunch Disrupt) to talk startup funding and he had some great insights on how startups should structure their business and focus on milestones to make funding much more straightforward (and successful).

Here are some of the highlights:

  • How to determine when you need money and alternative funding mechanisms
  • Do your research and hand-pick investors that will be a good fit
  • Setup milestones for your business.  Check with investors to see if they’re the right milestones
  • How to know when you’ve nailed a pitch
  • Tips on how to negotiate the best terms (and to get term sheets)

Raising money is a prerequisite for most startups – especially startups that want to scale and are working on the BIG idea.  If you’re launching a new startup or thinking about raising money in the future – you should buy this play NOW – not the night before your first pitch.

(note: I’m affiliated with the StartupPlays.com website… but I still think its ingenious!)

By Scott Annan

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

Now open: Mercury Grove, a shelter for aspiring startup entrepreneurs

Mercury Grove Office

As I announced at our launch party last week, we’re opening up the Mercury Grove office to innovative entrepreneurs who are looking for an alternative to the local Bridgehead or Starbucks.  It’s a funky place located downtown Ottawa (in the Glebe) with lots of place to work, a lounge, conference meeting space, a video-recording room (coming soon), and a ping-pong room.

And it’s free (almost).

The idea behind opening up our space is that I think that Ottawa has some of the greatest entrepreneurs, talent, and ideas in the world.  But we don’t spend enough time together collaborating on ideas, discussing technology opportunities, or discussing ways we’re changing the world.  I think the more we can be surrounded by people who are facing similar challenges (trying to get launched, trying to get noticed, and trying to get paid) the more we can feed off each other’s successes and learn from each other’s experiences.

There are plenty of models out there, and I think there’s a lot of legitimacy behind them, but I also think there’s a lot of negatives.

You can go out and get your own office if you have a few employees, and this works well to build the team and concentrate on your world domination.  But it can be expensive if you’re only one or two people.  Co-working spaces are an awesome modern alternative to renting office space, but there are costs involved there too, and often these spaces develop cultures that don’t meet everyone’s needs.  OCRI and a lot of experienced executives in Ottawa have been talking about an Innovation Centre (capital I, capital C) to rival MARS in Toronto as an innovation hub, but for web startups I think this is overkill and the focus with most “incubators”, “accelerators”, and other “-ators” is misplaced on “added value” of the mentors, fax machine, and receptionists and the cost is almost always way to high for what you get (usually equity).  What I want and think others may want as well, is a raw space with an internet connection where we can build a movement to change the world.

Last year I wrote about how startups don’t need offices and was interviewed by the Globe and Mail on the same subject.  I STILL don’t think startups need an office and felt compelled earlier this year to get an office in order to receive government funding.  Otherwise, I still wouldn’t have an office.  Mercury Grove has thrived for the last 6 years as a virtual company and I think the office is unnecessary for us to continue to be successful.

But, alas, I conceded, so now I have an office.  So, I figured if I had to have an office, you don’t have to.

Now I admit, it’s a bit of a social experiment and we’ll make it up as we go, but here’s the general idea:

  1. There is no financial cost to use the space
  2. You have to be open to collaborate and share with other people
  3. You can’t be all douche-baggy (not all the time)
  4. You have to participate in some of the events

So… the next time you’re heading out to Bridgehead or Starbucks but are looking for a little more collaboration and fun with other innovative startups, come on by and plug-in.  Oh, and if you’re looking for somewhere to host an event, send an email to info@mercurygrove.com and I’m sure we can hook you up.

Address: 738A Bank St. (map here)
Phone: 613-237-2071

By Scott Annan

Raising Venture Capital for Technology Start-ups

Just a reminder of this event. For those startups thinking VC funding this is a good opportunity for you.

Raising capital for your technology start-up can be an exhilarating experience—or an utter disappointment.  Why do some start-ups raise capital with ease while others have a long, drawn-out experience that never seems to get to the finish line?  Once the capital is raised, then the real work begins.

Meet speakers David Aronoff, Flybridge Capital Partners, and Carleton alumnus Charles Chi, Greylock Partners and Executive Chairman of Refocus Imaging, California, whose 30 years of combined experience in venture capital and start-ups will provide unique insights into this challenging issue.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010
9:00 – 10:00 am
Carleton University, Loeb C264

The event is FREE of charge.
To register, please e-mail: judy_cardo@carleton.ca or call (613) 520-2600 x1897 by October 4, 2010.

Organized by:
Carleton University
SIFE, Carleton University
Lead to Win

By Natasha D'Souza

Kudos to Startups and the OBJ


Last week the Ottawa Business Journal published their annual “Startups to Watch” piece that showcased some awesome Ottawa-based companies.  Network Hippo was profiled in last year’s article and we sure appreciated the press.  This year’s stock is very impressive and really highlights the breadth of technology-based startups in the region:

Benbria – Broadcast messaging system

Dogood Headquarters – a really smart, ecological approach to web browsing

Esight – Wearable low-vision device for people with inoperable eye conditions

Eventbots – An innovative and great service by Amy Yee that allows people to video-comment at events

Gazaro – An online (and iphone) shopping comparison site

OneChip Photonics – Robotically assembled photonic chips (gotta love robots that do good!)

Purple Forge – Mobile applications (some political ones, which I love)

Rideshark – Ridesharing and ride-matching application

Swix – Awesome social media monitoring service by “the other Scott”, Craig, and whiz team

VDOLife – Embedded online spokesperson (nifty-cool)

Congratulations to all the teams above – a very impressive list of startups to emerge from Ottawa.

And congratulations to the OBJ for all their support of the startup community.  They have been the leading local press in supporting our community and we really appreciate all of the publicity they have generated for us.

By Scott Annan

Free Legal Advice for Startups

Luke Clare sent me a quick note to thank StartupOttawa for driving awareness to their June 23 Seminar. We always like it when we’re thanked :) It seems that their event was a great success and they have been nice enough to provide the material resulting from their course which can be found here: Free Legal Advice for Startups.

Check it out!


By Aydin Mirzaee

Bluefest harnesses social media with Favequest

Ottawa Bluesfest just recently wrapped up, having had great band, large crowds, and this year, a greater social media connection. An Ottawa startup Favequest created an interactive web portal for Bluesfest that aggregates youtube videos of the performers so that interested fans could get a taste both known and unknown acts. The portal also integrated the capability for people to personalize calendars for which shows they wanted to see, and to be able to pass on notifications to friends about the acts.

Bluesfest saw a three fold increase in time spent by people on the website, all thanks to employing social media and making content easier to view and share. If you’re interested in seeing the how content was tied in you can check the Cisco Ottawa bluesfest website to see how it all came together. 

By Scott Lake

Startup 101 by Gowlings

Luke Clare from Gowlings just told me about an interesting event that is being held by his firm to teach startups about the basics of law as it relates to them. The information is below (register here: http://www.gowlings.com/e-form/event.asp?eventId=166):

(click on the picture for a bigger view)

By Aydin Mirzaee

Bright Side of Life Part II

Last week I introduced the first of what I plan to be a short series of good news postings.  Here is my second offering.      

Bright Side of Life #2:  Maybe we don’t need as much money as we used to – The design and manufacture of certain products and the provision of certain services will be as costly as ever, but in many areas new forms of production and service delivery (think open and more collaborative models) are often not as capital intensive and if you go truly open and make it compelling people might even pitch in for free.  Maybe the need for millions of dollars from a Venture Capitalist is not as pressing in some of these models (at least not initially anyway) and entrepreneurs can get by for longer by bootstrapping and pulling funds from other traditional and not so traditional sources to allow businesses to mature longer before needing to get a pile of money in from a major investor (if ever).  This is good for an entrepreneur community facing investors that often seem to be out of money or keeping their money close and good for those businesses and founders who can manage it.  By waiting until their companies are at a more mature stage before seeking investment they should command higher valuations and have to offer less equity for more money.

Shane McLean

By James Smith

When economic times look bad, Companies turn to tech

The Dow Jones opened under 8,000 points this morning.

Many people couldn’t believe it when it dropped below 10,000 last week, now, even with the massive bailout package in the US, investors are still in panic mode.

These market depressions will likely mean a lot of job cuts and budget cut-backs, but for local tech entrepreneurs, its time to increase your marketing and get your value proposition out there.  There are a lot of opportunities for small tech companies when the market goes bad, and here are a few reasons why:

  1. Tough times mean hiring freezes and job cuts as companies are nervous about growing HR costs.  But the same amount of work needs to get done, so companies outsource a lot of work as a temporary fix.
  2. Fewer staff to achieve the same results means a higher dependency on technology.  Although companies may need to delay the $5 million Oracle implementation, the $80,000 productivity enhancement could mean immediate savings.
  3. Companies will be looking for low-cost high innovation products for non-critical processes – they will be more responsive than usual.
  4. Job seekers will be turning to social networks.  Websites that connect people will likely see a pretty big jump in traffic.
  5. Tough love.  With less angel and VC money flowing, now is a time to focus on making your business cash-positive and fast.  Figure out that equation and you’ll weather the storm and come out the other side with very strong fundamentals.

I’m convinced its a good time to be in a startup and to double-down efforts to grab more customers during these turbulent times. 

What do you think?

By Scott Annan