A collection of shorts that portray the interactions between Startups and VCs.
Cultures clash in the introduction video.
The Startup finds getting involved with a VC isn't a straightforward process.
The Startup and VC have differing opinions on reading material.
The VC suffers some unfortunate injuries.
The VC shows some concern for an upcoming surgery on a deal.
The Startup and the VC attempt to let bygones be bygones for the holidays.
These are the food bank’s most needed items this season:
We’ll be announcing the date and details of our annual Festivus celebration shortly –stay tuned!
- Kelsey Black
There are very few Canadians who will simply shut down an offer with a firm rejection. We seem to favour the softer and more open-ended rejection. I think this probably stems from our fears of seeming to be impolite or hurt anyone’s feelings. For example, our friend Jimmy Rustles is trying to sell a SaaS solution to a prospective customer. Rather than hearing a simple “no, we’re not interested,” Jimmy is getting another response.
“Your product is really interesting, but I don’t think that’s a good fit for us right now.”
Okay, so some time in the future Jimmy’s SaaS solution might be a good fit then? It’s probably not likely. This is the Canadian rejection. Soft enough to avoid stepping on any toes, but sadly it leaves things rather open-ended and will likely waste a lot of Jimmy’s time. This is not commonplace in the United States.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t some drawbacks to the American style. They can be seen as brash and aggressive, which makes sense because, well, they are. The goal for Americans is to get things done and if something isn’t going to work out you’ll know about it. This seems to extend (sometimes) into their government view on business and innovation as well. Look at the Uber situation for example. Uber is thriving in the US, while in some European countries (France is a good example) unions and government intervention are severely hindering this innovative company. Innovation needs a can do attitude and constant pushing to succeed, which is probably a large part of the reason as to why the United States has seen unparalleled tech growth compared to other nations.
I love Canada and I’m sure Jimmy does too, but I think when it comes to business he’d be able to see why I love Americans.
Guest post by Gareth from Go Cloud Based.
I’m a big fan of spending time in Algonquin Park. I love the fresh air, portaging and spending a few days away from being connected (proving to be a harder and harder thing to do; especially considering how Algonquin Park is planning on setting up WIFI hotspots throughout!). On one such outing a path had been blocked by falling trees and the decision was made to circle around through the bush and continue on. It didn’t take long to realize that when you’re surrounded by trees just about everything looks the same. It’s nearly impossible to look at the big picture because you’re simply walking from tree to tree, trying to get where you’re going one step at a time.
What are his plans on a marketing strategy going forward now that he’s established himself? As the competition begins to notice Jimmy’s solution, does he have a strategy in place to carve out a market niche for himself? Jimmy is a great coder, but to be a successful entrepreneur you need to be able to focus on a lot more than simple tactical sprints.
This post on smallbusiness.chron.com gives a good, albeit brief, look at some strategic looks that every small business owner should have in mind. What are your long term goals, beyond simply creating a great product and fixing issues one at a time as they arise? Have you developed a solid competitive analysis to understand the market space you’re competing in and where you fit in amongst that competition?
The fact of the matter is a business won’t succeed without a solid strategic view. But neither can a business succeed without tactical goals to run in the short term. The two need to work together in tandem to create a successful business. Take a look at this post from the Web-Strategist on how strategy and tactics should work together to create a well-oiled business.
Do or do not...
I don’t know about you, but I did not expect a company to turn unsubscribing from a mailing list into a positive.
Enter Hubspot. Like many others, they have an email newsletter that they use to connect with their audience. Unlike many others, if they notice you haven’t been clicking on their notes, they send this:
There is no try...
A couple of weeks ago, Rogers was in the news for receiving the largest fine to date from the CRTC for violating the new anti-spam law. According to the CBC article, Rogers has agreed to pay $2 million for sending emails with a non-functioning unsubscribe button as well as for failing to remove users from their email lists within 10 business days between July 2014 and July 2015.
There were bound to be fines issued by the CRTC right off the bat to set examples and prove the anti-spam law is serious business. However, “There are no automatic penalties for violations. The CRTC judges each case based on a series of factors, including the nature of the violation, your history with CASL, whether you benefited financially from the violation and your ability to pay a penalty.”
Let's compare the two:
Just because a person has signed up for your email list or likes your product doesn’t mean they’ll be interested in hearing from you forever. You have to keep earning that interest, and as soon as it starts to disappear, either be more interesting or let them go. Don’t try to force them to stay, because not only will they be uninterested but they’ll be mad to boot.
The big lesson Rogers could have learned from Hubspot:
If your email relationship with a subscriber/potential customer/past customer is going to end, it’s going to end. Let it end on good terms – just because they’re leaving doesn’t mean they won’t still share the experience with their friends, and we all know the value of word of mouth advertising!
It’s been hard to go more than a day or two at a time here without hearing about the Uber/taxi conflict. It’s unsurprising that taxi drivers are upset because Uber has done an amazing job completely revitalizing the market for single ride, paid transportation. It’s been even more interesting to watch events unfold as taxi drivers have protested frequently against the city for allowing Uber to operate (though perhaps the focus of their protests should be on the taxi medallion monopoly that’s causing their costs to be so high in the first place). Meanwhile, one thing has been surprisingly absent from the content of these protests - the customer.
Uber has succeeded and is continuing to eat up market share thanks to a customer first approach. Accessing an Uber is simple and straightforward. Wait times for an Uber to arrive are better than the competition. The cost of riding in one is significantly lower than the competition. Drivers are directly rated on their performance, giving Uber invaluable customer feedback seconds after a ride finishes. Their business model is highly disruptive and highly effective.
Personally I think there’s a similar market shakeup occurring in commercial real estate. Older real estate companies are still attempting to operate in the way they always have - leasing buildings as a whole, or entire floors at a time. Unfortunately, large companies are more frequently working with small teams spread around the globe as opposed to consolidating in a single spot. Many other large organizations are shedding employees and downsizing. On the other side of the coin, small companies are increasingly looking for space and talent. The issue with them searching for space is a small company of a handful of people does not need an entire floor. The real estate market has been extremely slow at moving to adapt to this new reality. I think this is something TheCodeFactory has been great at doing and is extremely disruptive given the current market. Small company friendly office space on shared floors is a solution that is catered directly toward small business.
It will be interesting to see where things go from here with regard to commercial real estate, but I think shared office space is going to become a more prominent fixture of it as we move forward.
Guest post from Gareth Graham of Go Cloud Based
I recently read an interesting article on Time about the future of work. I think a lot of the time we’re all so entrenched in what we’re currently doing that we view things as just the way they are. However, as the Time article writes about, Facebook didn’t exist a little over a decade ago. Google wasn’t a thing until the end of the 90s and the internet wasn’t even widespread until the early 90s. Things have changed drastically in my lifetime and the speed at which these changes seem to be happening is ever increasing. It’s always difficult to predict the future, but there are some trends that will (in my eyes) undoubtedly grow stronger as we surge forward.
Hierarchies in the private sphere are dying. The rise in success of flat organizations is becoming more commonplace and it’s not difficult to see why. Large, hierarchical organizations are not nimble. They’re massive, lumbering giants without the agility and ability to change direction swiftly. Flatter organizations are quick to adapt to problems and tend to use agile approaches to ensure that the customer is receiving the product/service that works for them. It’s even easier for small companies to change direction because there’s far less in the way of human resources and technical debt to manage. This has contributed greatly to the fact that small and medium enterprises have done much better adding jobs to the economy in recent times than larger ones. Expect to see ecosystems of smaller companies working to support one another become commonplace and massive hierarchies go the way of the dinosaur.
Secondly, remote workers are becoming the norm. There will always be a place for office space in the world, especially because I believe that small teams tend to work better than distributed individuals, but companies will have offices in many cities. The teams in each location will be smaller and they’ll link up together to further their product/service. The world has become a very small place thanks to the internet. Searches for talent don’t need to be restricted to a specific city or even a specific country anymore. At TheCodeFactory one of the companies (Blindside Networks) has their head office here in Ottawa with one team present and another office in Brazil where another team resides. For the most part the two offices work remotely from one another, but it does give a great excuse to visit each other’s countries now and then!
The rise of small companies and remote teams seems to be an assured reality going forward. However, the largest and most society altering changes tend to be ones that weren’t foreseen until they take hold. I for one am excited to see how the world changes as we go forward.
Guest post by Gareth Graham of Go Cloud Based
L-SPARK is looking for entrepreneurs with a customer-ready enterprise SaaS or cloud product to join their second Incubator cohort!
In the four-month program, you will receive: hands-on mentoring with an experienced executive who will work with your startup two days per week, operational support and access to a network of C-level and Business Development Directors.
What you else can expect from L-SPARK? A strategy to refine your value proposition, develop a go-to-market strategy and prepare an effective pitch. L-SPARK also facilitates guided meetings with early stage VCs and institutional investors, and provides the opportunity to travel to VC hubs in the US (Silicon Valley, Boston and NYC.)
Ready to join the #LSPARKIncubator? Apply here before December 18th!
We’d like to send a big congratulations to our friends at Lead to Win – earlier this week, they were named 7th on UBI Global’s top ten list of North American university business incubators!
Lead to Win is operated out of Carleton University and helps young entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground by providing a variety of business support. In 2014, they helped companies started within the last five years generate $19.3 million in sales.
The LTW team was honoured by UBI Global at a dinner in Toronto this past Tuesday – check out this article for the full story, as well as another awesome photo of the team!
The methodology behind reaching customers has changed dramatically over the turn of the last century. The reach that the mass media has (such as television, radio and print ads) is rapidly diminishing and being replaced by online sources. It’s likely that if you’ve got a few years under your belt you’ll remember what this is:
It’s also just as likely that if you’re under 20 years of age you have absolutely no idea what the printed Yellow Pages is. It used to be a holy book for advertisers. Divided up into industry subheadings, you’d flip through the pages and find local businesses that could deliver whatever service or product you needed. Those days are long gone, but a new player stepped up to the plate:
So, there are all of these new tools available to small business owners to market and connect with customers; how do you take advantage of them?
Establish your online presence with a website.
The first and most essential step for any small business is to create a website. A website is akin to a virtual window into your business. It lets customers know what you’re about, it helps generate leads and it can be used as a virtual store to sell products/services. A great example of this are the Virtual Offices at TheCodeFactory. A simple page set up to allow future customers to pay for the service online in seconds. Even if you don’t intend to sell directly from your website (though I think that should be a goal for any small business!) it can be used as a portfolio or filled with customer testimonials. A website is an awesome and powerful tool.
Optimize your website (with Search Engine Optimization) and track its data.
Awesome, you’ve got a website now. There’s just one small problem: people aren’t finding it yet. You can still use more traditional marketing approaches and direct people to your site, but you should also want it to generate leads on its own. This is why optimizing your site with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques is a necessity. SEO has changed a lot and still continues to change rapidly as Google updates its search algorithms, so a lot of older “tricks and tips” aren’t very effective anymore. One such trick was generating as many back links (links from another website to your own) as possible. Now Google punishes low quality and irrelevant back links, making this practice obsolete. Another trick that had been commonly used was “keyword stuffing.” This was the practice of filling up web content with repeated uses of keywords that the user wanted to be found with. Google is now punishing that practice as well.
So what do you do? How do you increase your ranking?
Write great content!
Stay active with your website. Google’s goal with its search engine is to bring users to high quality, relevant content. So instead of thinking about how to game the system, spend your time creating pieces with substance.
Just as important as creating good content is monitoring your website’s statistics to know what’s working and what isn’t. If you write a post that generates a ton of page views and has a rather high average time on page then you know you’ve written something that people are interested in and would like to spend more time reading. Now I’m sure you’re asking yourself, how do I monitor these things? Well, luckily Google has given people an amazing tool to do just that. It’s called Google Analytics. Hook your website up with Google Analytics and watch the statistics roll in. The only way to create better content and make your site more navigable is via usage statistics. Spend some time and learn how to maximize your website’s potential!
Advertise with Google AdWords.
You’re set on your path now, you’ve got your website up and running and you’re generating great content! It’s still going to take time to move your way up the rankings, however. Optimizing a website to rank well is not an overnight venture! So let’s go about getting some visitors to your website right now.
How you ask? With Google AdWords.
AdWords is a platform that allows you to place ads on Google search results, as well as the Google Display Network (GDN). Ads that are placed on the search network will show up as such:
Whereas ads on the GDN will show up on a network of Google approved sites that have similarities to the keywords and phrases you’re targeting. Finding the sweet spot as to what works best for you will take some time and data analysis. The huge benefit to Google AdWords is that your site will begin receiving hits almost immediately. Keep an eye on your daily and campaign budgets, however! It’s quite easy to burn through a lot of money if your ads aren’t set up properly.
Use social media to build brand and reach customers.
Social media is an immensely powerful tool as it will allow you to connect with your customers individually. Remember all of that content you were working on when we were talking about SEO? Social media platforms offer the perfect solution to help share your content and receive feedback. The larger your network, the more people you connect with and the easier it becomes to share with others. The great thing about social media from the customer’s point of view is that it gives them a direct avenue to speak with you. If they had a great experience with your business they may share it with their followers, offering you a great opportunity to thank them!
Likewise, if they had a negative experience or are having issues they may reach out via social media, giving you an opportunity to help resolve them.
A happy customer is a good customer and social media gives you a lot of opportunities to put smiles on faces.
So what does it all mean?
The world of advertising and customer relations has changed dramatically. You have unparalleled access to your customers and they to you. Establish your online presence, sell products/services online and keep your customers happy. I truly hope this article has brought some value to those who are new to the digital marketing game. If you have any questions or comments please get in touch. I’d also be more than happy to help you establish your business’ online presence.
President, Go Cloud Based