Shan Shan Fu and Denny Hollick are two of the founders of GSB winner, ConceptKicker; a Vancouver startup that helps artists sell their 2D artwork as 3D printed figures. Kickstarter for artists! Winners of the Global Startup Battle and #SWVan.
Q: Has your businesses or team changed since winning both Startup Weekend Vancouver and GSB?
Denny: “We were eight people, and now we’re four. We all had different priorities after the weekend… so we had to work through separating and being honest with ourselves about who was committed all the way. In terms of the business, we’ve pivoted a lot. We’ve really found a natural fit with individual concept artists, independent game studios and the like.”
Shan Shan: “We’ve had the opportunity to work with some great early customers who are helping us refine what we are doing. We’re thankful to have them trust us to work with them as such a young company and are excited about where those relationships can take us.”
Denny: “I think the right word is ‘snowballing’… We have our own jobs and lives and are still trying to do everything with the business… [Through winning] we’ve been provided office space and resources. We’re hoping we can pave the way for more startups to come through Vancouver and successfully fundraise on a global stage. The mayor even told us, ‘Thank you for putting Vancouver on the startup map!’”
Q: What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Denny: “We went through team changes right away, and being real about the team you have versus the team you need can be difficult. We’ve had a hard time finding exactly the talent we need, but we’re getting there. It’s also a constant pivot-or-pursue question that we face, it’s always looming. How do you know when to push through and when the feedback is telling you that you need to change if you want to survive? It’s a balance of persistence and insight and listening to your customers.”
Q: What has been your biggest opportunity as a startup thus far?
Shan Shan: “Our biggest opportunity is probably our partnership with Thinking Ape, they are a world renowned game studio, formerly of Y Combinator, and have been extremely supportive.”
Q: What does the next 6 months look like for your team?
Denny: “In the next 6 months we want to do more customer validation and get some real sales. We want to have proved that this model really works and look at the bigger picture of what we can be… we want to become a platform for artists to complete an offering, take what they’ve created, and show their customers something new.”
Q: What advice would you give to other SW teams or teams looking to compete in GSB next year?
Shan Shan: “If you want to work on an innovative team, Google search pitches as they are happening at the event, and don’t work on the teams that are doing something that has already been done.”
Denny: “You can’t undervalue the element of fun at a Startup Weekend. I was an orphaned team member at first and I joined ConceptKicker because it seemed like they were going to have fun together. I was motivated because of the excitement, the energy, and I knew I wanted to work on something I would enjoy, otherwise what’s the point? Your heart won’t be in it.”
Q: What was the coolest thing you saw at CES?
Shan Shan: I liked this startup called TZOA, a wearable enviro-tracker that measures pollution, UV, and more.
Denny: I saw an add-on to a filament printer that lets you print in full color… so that was interesting in consideration of our own business.