Blog Submitted by: Ross Collicutt
What to expect as a Designer
As you probably know, design can make or break an app, website or presentation. That’s why your design skills are so critical to a Startup Weekend.
You’ll be working with non-technical folks like marketers, business people, copywriters and pr folks as well as developers to bring an idea to life in 54 hours.
You might be working on mockups and design for an app. You might be designing beautiful graphics for a new website idea. You’ll probably be putting together an eye-catching presentation to present your final pitch.
Startup weekend is a great way to stretch your design skills, break out of a rut and light a fire under that day to day creativity. It can also lead to freelance work because of all the new contacts you’ve made.
The exciting pace of the weekend shows you people’s true work habits. You might find some new people you love working with. You could work with them on contract. You might even start a business with them.
Or that idea you pitch for the weekend could become the next big thing online.
Blog Submitted by: Ross Collicutt
What makes a good Startup Weekend idea?
Startup weekend is all about the ideas. And it isn’t about the ideas.
A bad team won’t get far with even the best idea. Great times can take a mediocre idea and make it into something great.
Ideas at Startup Weekend have to be original, they can’t have already launched or have had substantial work on them already so you’ll be working on something very new.
Whatever it is, you’ll only be working on a minimum viable product version of it. There just isn’t time to make a suite of features so you’ll likely only focus on one thing. Getting a working demo of that features will be your goal. See this for what a minimum viable product is https://hbr.org/2013/09/building-a-minimum-viable-prod/. It will be an important idea over the course of the weekend!
Here are a few ideas from some other startup weekends around the globe.
Coordy App: iPad app customized to your body that you can drag and drop clothes on to see how they will fit.
Colish: find people with the same perspectives, professions and other things so they would get along and be able to share a house together better.
FutsalMatch: an app to help Futsal players find other places that want to play, organize a game and find a venue.
Patungan: Easy cost sharing between friends when you buy presents and want to share costs.
Koffee: meeting like-minded people around you for coffee.
InfitiniteLooks: Shows you what to wear today based on your mood and wardrobe.
CoHabit: Keep track of to do list items with your roomies.
Hopefully that gets your creative juices flowing and helps you come up with many great ideas.
See you April 17 for Startup Weekend Nanaimo!
Blog Submitted by: Ross Collicutt
Ummm, what’s a pitch? How to present at Startup Weekend.
Pitching is a huge part of startup culture. If you want to let anyone know what you are doing, then you’re pitching them your idea. Whether it’s giving an elevator pitch to a group at a networking event or going through a slide tech with potential investors, they are only going to understand and help you if you give a good pitch.
You have to convince them that you have the best team and the best idea.
How do you do it right?
Pitching is hard. No one is born to do pitches. Maybe Steve Jobs was but he might be a little bit of an exception. We’ve pulled together some good pitching resources to get you started. Remember that you’ll be doing 2 pitches at Startup Weekend Nanaimo. You’ll have 1 minute Friday night to convince potential teammates to help you build out your idea. Then you’ll have 5 minutes to convince the judges that your idea and team is best and win the internet.. I mean the weekend.
How to Pitch by Aron Solomon, senior advisor with MaRS Discovery District’s education practice and coach at Startup Weekend Toronto
The Best Startup Pitch Desk: How to present to Angels by J. Skyler Fernandes, Managing Director at Simon Venture Group
And the biggest tips from those resources?
Showcase yourself and your team. It’s not entirely about the idea. It’s about the team that could carry that implement that idea. People might work with a mediocre idea but they aren’t going to work with people they don’t like.
Short and sweet. You’ll have one minute Friday night to pitch your idea and 5 minutes Sunday night to pitch and demo. It’s not much time. Make an impact with it.
Be clear. If people don’t understand what you are talking about, they aren’t going to do join your team or vote for your idea. Start off with a short elevator pitch and fill in the details from there.
Tell a story. People relate to stories. You won’t have much time but a story can pull people into the problem your team is solving.
Blog submitted by Ross Collicutt
Do you have an idea?
Maybe a new website or mobile app that would change people’s lives?
Why aren’t you doing anything with it?
I’ll take a guess. Because taking ideas and bringing them to life is really hard. It’s even harder when you try on your own.
You need something that could put you together with a whole bunch of like minded people with a variety of skill sets and sit them in a room with some very knowledgeable mentors to help them flesh out the ideas.
Does that sound like exactly what you need? Then you need a Startup Weekend.
What is Startup Weekend?
A Startup Weekend is all about going from idea to prototype in one weekend. In 2 days and a bit you sit down, make a team, and crank out a a working version of what you want to do. No hesitating, no second-guessing, no procrastinating allowed here. Just fast decisions and more learning than you could get in months of working on your own.
Who goes to a Startup Weekend?
Designers, developers and business people. You want to make a successful tech product? You need em all.
What do we do for 3 days?
Friday night April 17th at 6:30pm you’ll sit down, have dinner, meet everyone and pitch an idea if you want.
By 9pm Friday night, you’ll have formed teams and started to work on something. Bring an idea of your own or find a great one to work on.
Saturday is all about work. Breakfast followed by as much work as you can put in. Oh, and there’s lunch and one-on-one meetings with coaches in there too. Pick their brains as much as you can. Break for dinner and then work till late.
Sunday. Crunch time. Time to finish off as much as you can of your project and then pretty things up for the tech demo after dinner at 5pm. Judging and awards are last and then it’s wrap up and go home.
Then you can sit back and relax knowing you’ve done more work in 2 days than most people do in months.
And then you may want to get some sleep.
In case you missed our mass tweeting yesterday or haven’t picked up from the headline of this post, ConceptKicker has just beat out the world at Global Startup Battle 2014! It was announced yesterday via this blog post and we couldn’t be happier about the news!
About Global Startup Battle
Global Startup Battle (GSB), is a global event during Global Entrepreneurship Week in which startups that competed in Startup Weekends from around the world compete to show they are the best new idea and win an amazing basket of prizes. It’s the biggest startup competition where over 25,000 entrepreneurs from 83 countries came together to fight for the title.
There are 5 different tracks that the teams could enter, each with their own requirements and rules. The most important one though was the Champions Track. This was an exclusive track only available to those teams who had placed in the top 3 at their local Startup Weekend. It’s the track where we find out who is the best of the best.
The Road to Victory
The battle lasted for two weeks and happened in phases. The first phase required teams to win their regions. For ConceptKicker, this was the US West/Canada region — competing against startups from cities like San Francisco and Toronto (home of last year’s winning team).
To win the region required gathering votes. A lot of votes. ConceptKicker rallied hard though, utilizing social media, personal networks, and anything else they could to get the word out. To their success, all the hard work paid off and they were able to make it into the top two spots needed to make it into the finals.
The finals were to be decided very differently though. This time they were being judged by the experts on the merits of their startup. You know, experts like Daymond John (Shark Tank), Nas (Music Icon & Tech Investor), Dan Martell (Clarity), Chris Hollod (A-Grade Investments), and Lesa Mitchell (Network for Scale). So we waited for the judges to review and announce their decision. That is until yesterday when we finally heard that our Vancouver-based startup, ConceptKicker, was the big winner of Global Startup Battle 2014!!
Excuse me while I cheer uncontrollably for a minute… “WOOHOO!!!!”
Belief in Their Idea
Perhaps the most inspirational story about ConceptKicker is how they came to be. For anyone in the startup world, you always hear sayings like “if you believe in your idea, don’t give up — even if others tell you it’ll never happen or that it will fail”. This is exactly what happened with ConceptKicker at Startup Weekend Vancouver.
On the Friday of the weekend, everyone pitches their idea and then the participants vote on which ideas they liked and wanted to work on for the weekend. The top voted ideas then get teams formed around them. We tell everyone that if your idea isn’t picked that it doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea but to join one of the other ideas voted in or, if they can recruit enough people on their idea, then they can still form their team. Usually if you’re not voted in, it’s pretty hard to get support and build a team.
Tony, who pitched the idea of ConceptKicker, was pretty bummed that his idea wasn’t one of the top 15 ideas voted on. I remember him coming to me and asking if he could still build his idea. We understood his determination and told him that if he could get at least another 3 people behind his idea that we’d let him build on it for the weekend.
Tony struggled for a while and had trouble recruiting a team as people were more interested in the other ‘popular’ ideas. However, eventually, he got his small team and so we let him build. And build they did. In fact, between Friday evening and Saturday morning he was able to recruit a team of 9 talented people who would then go on to win Startup Weekend Vancouver — and now Global Startup Battle.
It’s inspiring to think about the determination, persistence, and belief Tony had in his idea. Too many entrepreneurs give up when others tell them “no” or when things get tough. While ConceptKicker is only at the beginning of their already very successful journey, I look forward to seeing them demonstrate more of this entrepreneurial spirit and be an example for other aspiring entrepreneurs — in Vancouver and the world.
Congratulations guys! You’ve worked hard and deserve all the success!
Startup Weekend Vancouver was an action packed weekend to say the least. There were lots of great ideas, inspiring moments, and many lost hours of sleep. However, even with the short timeline (Nov 14-16) to build out a company, it was awesome to see such great presentations and business ideas come out of the weekend.
After the 50 ideas from participants were pitched on Friday, everyone voted on their favorites and 15 ideas were picked to form teams. However, during the forming, one idea dissolved and another idea (ConceptKicker) formed – regardless of not being voted as a favorite. More on that in a moment.
Here is the line-up of the teams and ideas that were pitched to judges at the end of the weekend on Sunday:
The Winning Teams
The battle was fierce and so many of the ideas were great, well thought out, and presented well. The judges had a big task ahead of them to hand out our baskets of prizes.
The results of Startup Weekend Vancouver 2014 were as follows:
First Place: ConceptKicker
Runner-up: My Green Space
Third Place: Votely
Best “Purpose-Driven Idea” (Sponsored by Spring.is): Votely
Best Decentralized Idea (Sponsored by Vancouver Bitcoin Community): Reband
The most amazing and inspirational story of the weekend though had to come from ConceptKicker. Despite being told “No” because the idea was not voted as a favorite on the Friday, Tony Yang was determined to build out his idea. He persevered with his entrepreneurial attitude and was able to form a team. This team then would go on to win the weekend! It’s a complete underdog story but also a prime example of how you cannot give up on your dreams or your idea if you believe in it – even if no one else does.
Congrats to ConceptKicker and all the teams for an awesome weekend!
Weren’t able to make the event? Don’t worry!
Whether you were at the event or not, we have lots of pictures so you can feel like you were there (or relive the memories and experience)! Our full library of photos from the event is available for you to view, download, and share!
Startup Weekend is tonight! We have a great assortment of prizes for our top teams. Here is a breakdown:
- Complete founder team incorporation and organization package from LaBarge Weinstein LLP – $3,500 value
- 3 months premium access to the Kamloops Innovation co-working space
- 3 months of the Venture Acceleration Program at Kamloops Innovation
- 60 second product video from Joy Factory Films (this is your GSB entry video)
- 2 hours product development consulting with MemoryLeaf Media
- Advanced to regional global startup battle
- Venture Acceleration Program consultation with Kamloops Innovation
- 1 copy of The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- 1 hour product development consulting with MemoryLeaf Media
- Advanced to regional global startup battle
- Advanced to regional global startup battle
Don’t forget, winning teams are also advanced onto the Global Startup Battle. Each track has an amazing assortment of global prizes.
Good luck teams!
Clio has become a major presence in Vancouver’s tech scene and has grown from a small firm with three employees in 2007 to more than 130 strong with offices in Vancouver, Toronto, and Dublin, Ireland. As I walked into their office I was quickly greeted by one of their staff who kindly fixed me a cup of coffee and informed Christopher Yeh, Clio’s Talent Specialist. As I slipped my coffee and welcomed the sense of invigoration brought on by the caffeine, I began to notice the extensive renovations that were underway. Seeing the completed renovations gave visitors a sense of professionalism and growth but the friendliness of the staff and decor showed guests that Clio still has the heart of a scrappy startup. It was during this thought that Christopher and Derek Bolen, Clio’s communications coordinator, arrived.
I was surprised by the amount of attention I garnered, but realized perhaps this is one of the reasons why Clio has come so far: They treat everyone who comes their way with great importance and proudly Canadian hospitality. After the initial introductions, we quickly settled into a meeting room and began the interview.
1. What is Clio and what industry are you in?
We’re a SaaS company that provides the leading cloud-based product in the legal practice management space. We help lawyers be awesome at what they do with an accessible, user-friendly software solution that incorporates time tracking, billing, document management, client management, and calendaring.
2. How did Clio go from two friends working together to a successful startup with three offices (Vancouver, Toronto and Dublin)?
Jack and Rian met at elementary school in Edmonton and have been best of friends ever since. Rian moved to Vancouver for work and Jack stayed in Alberta, but they always knew they wanted to start a business together. They were already working full-time jobs and were doing contract work on the side to make money for ‘business’ trips to Las Vegas. At the time, back in 2007-08, they happened to pick up a contract job with the Law Society of BC and their conversations led to discussions on how unfeasible practice management software was in the legal space for small legal firms. These firms did not have the capital to purchase and set up the servers that were required to run what was then the standard practice management software: unwieldy on-premise software. The conversation led Jack and Rian to a lightbulb moment that gave them the motivation to build a cloud-based platform to address the pain points associated with incumbents. Taking inspiration from companies like Salesforce and 37Signals, they coded the first version of their cloud-based software in Ruby on Rails—and the rest, as they say, is history.
3. Success is about learning from those who have succeeded before you; what qualities should Startup Weekend participants who wish to build a Saas (particularly cloud-based software) learn from Clio?
When Clio launched, it was the first cloud-based legal practice management software to market. Being the first mover was an advantage for the company as it was able to do business with a large and underserved market. As time passed we saw other companies throw their hats into the ring which reminded us to not rest our laurels. In the SaaS market it’s not necessarily about who’s first, it’s about who’s best, so it’s critical to iterate and improve upon the product and consistently add new features clients tell us they want.
4. Vancouver has been named one of the best places to create a startup. Can you please tell us what resources Startup Weekend participants can capitalize on in order to maximize their growth and momentum?
We’re incredibly fortunate to live in a tech hub like Vancouver that was grown organically from grassroots innovation. Vancouverites aspiring to be startup founders are a fortunate lot as they have access to homegrown mentorship opportunities that a lot of people yearn for. There are many intelligent and successful leaders within the Greater Vancouver area who are extremely open, accessible, and willing share their experiences. Lastly, Vancouverites are becoming less inclined to leave the city, preferring to build their startup here. The city has some great accelerators and incubators as well as becoming known for its pool of great talent, and while VC attention was scarce before, they have started to keep a keen eye on Vancouver-built companies.
5. How can Startup Weekend participants maximize their social media presence and marketing efforts over the 54-hour event?
Startup Weekend hashtags have always drawn a lot of attention and action during and after the event. Hashtags gives participants the opportunity to reach out to individuals and community influencers to gain visibility on the web they wouldn’t usually have had the opportunity. It’s also crucial to remember for participants to engage in discussions rather than use social media as a tool for a one way marketing push.
6. What are some of Clio’s upcoming milestones and events that excite you?
We held Clio’s second annual user conference down in Chicago on September 22nd where we made a great number of new feature announcements. We believe these new features will catapult the company to the next level. Locally, we’re growing at an incredible rate. We’re in the midst of our office renovations and our aim is to be identified as the next major tech anchor within the startup community. We’re hoping to grow into that role through mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs and startups and helping them succeed.
In the world of startups, creativity and innovation will always trump heritage and background. Take Picatic, a startup founded in humble Saskatoon that has been making waves in the event management industry for the past two years. Jayesh Parmar, Picatic’s CEO and co-founder shares with us how Picatic is removing barriers and lowering costs with its “Fair Pay” model and how event organizers and small medium businesses cough* your startup* cough can utilize its upcoming products.
Through their travels to Toronto, New York City, Vancouver and Silicon Valley, Team Picatic realized that although they had a slick platform, an establish user base and are generating a profit they were competing in a crowded space with giants like Eventbrite and Ticketfly. While they came to the realization that their platform was a “me too” product during their travels, the exposure to other ideas and businesses also gave Jayesh and the Picatic team ideas on how to expand and stand out from the event ticketing pack. With service fees skyrocketing as high as 62% markup, consumers around the world were desperate for a solution. Jayesh went back to his investors and proposed an audacious idea: Fair Pay.
Fair Pay empowers event organizers to pay what they believe is fair for utilizing Picatic’s services, whether it’s ticketing and/or crowdfunding an event. With the exception of payment processing fee, it does away with the old fee model such as application, setup, service and transaction fees.On top of choosing their own service fee costs, organizers are empowered to create beautiful event websites through an intuitive user experience. Picatic’s features help organizers sell more tickets as does the new value add feature; Picatic Pro for the professional market. In an industry where dominant companies push event organizers and venues to sign long term exclusivity contracts means the cost of missed opportunities are passed on as service charges onto ticket buyers. Fair Pay aims to break the stranglehold by offering event organizers the freedom of choice and ticket buyers’ freedom from miscellaneous fees.
Although it took some time to convince all the investors, the ideas paid off handsomely. When Fair Pay rolled out, not only were people purchasing through Picatic, it was getting referral business as well. Revisions and feedback loops increased compliance (payment) from 62% of its users to as high as 92% with payment ranging from 1.5% to 3% of their net revenue. Metrics built within the platform help Team Picatic perform cohort analysis and discovering which cohorts (usually businesses) were generating the most revenue per event, paying the most for the use of Picatic’s services and frequency in use. Team Picatic knew they were onto something. Within a year of offering both services the company saw over 100,000 tickets produced, 45,000 account signups, $4.2 million gross revenue and year over year growth calculated at over 100%. Understanding customer loyalty is critical to the company’s long term business, Team Picatic measured its own net promoter score. Where a 6 is high in the ticketing industry, the Picatic platform was rated at 9.16, in Jayesh’s own words: “People love our product.” This is mighty impressive for a startup that hasn’t spent a dime on marketing or advertising.
Looking to the future and realizing the potential in decentralization, Team Picatic plans to double down on their achievements by introducing a white label product for small and medium businesses and API for events. Beta tested and soft launched to Picatic’s clients and international partners, the white label product enables businesses to make use of Picatic services and brand it as their own. From Jayesh’s perspective API is where software to software communication is headed. These days, an event management company’s software integration is decided by its IT department rather than event organizers. Picatic’s API easily integrates its services with client’s software without the IT department worrying about disrupting existing tech infrastructure concerns and webhooks. Jayesh concluded that giving power to the people and the event organizers had one underlying premise: “When the consumer purchases, it’s going to be ridiculously easy.”
Being ideally positioned, Picatic has concrete metrics to support it’s customer cost of acquisition, average revenue per user and customer lifetime value. The company has a strong team, proven traction and a disruptive product that will lead to increased profits and fuel it’s current accelerated growth. In an 18 billion dollar general assembly market, Picatic is ready to scale and become the market leader.
The media portrays founders as visionaries braving against the odds and changing the world while emerging to become financially successful. This portrayal of glamour and wealth has led many to pursue the path of startup creation. As with any large influx of interest arising from the potential of glamour and wealth, scruples may be left in the wayside in the pursuit of success. The media have in recent years have covered a slew of scandals within the startup world. From betrayal, to sexual harassment to misogynous comments on founder’s own social media accounts, the list of questionable ethics goes on and on. According to an article on Pando Daily, even VCs are uncomfortable with this shift in founders’ character. It seems that the greed mentality which many still associate with Wall Street bankers since the 2008 financial recession has spread to startup hubs and become ingrained as a part of its culture as well. However, there are still founders working against that grain of thinking. Alan Clements, co-founder and director of dana.io, a “mindful crowdfunding” startup for artists, activists and innovators, hopes the idea behind dana.io and its utilization will change the greed mentality shared by many founders in startup communities across the world. Alan, an author, activist, and former Buddhist monk in Burma (aka Myanmar), shares with us the philosophy behind dana.io, how it works and how dana.io can benefit Startup weekend participants.
Dana is the term in ancient Sanskrit originating from the Pali Buddhist canon for unconditional giving and the practice of generosity. Buddhist practitioners hold the belief that all life is interconnected. “Our intention is run a first class Zen-like crowdfunding platform driven by dana consciousness, that fosters a global culture of caring with giving or dana as the ground of liberation,” states Alan. “The basis of dana.io is to operate as a mindful crowdfunding platform; mindful meaning, that by utilizing dana.io’s services one is focused on creating conscious or mindful relationships with each other.”
To bring one’s vision to dana.io, project creators only need to setup a complimentary account, and create a project page with a pitch video in order to then start a crowdfunding campaign. To ensure campaigns are effectively developed, the platform freely provides users with customer service and professional and coherent online guides. One such guide, the ‘dana.io guide to mindful crowdfunding’ covers the a – z of how to build and run a successful crowdfunding campaign, including such topics as how to craft a great pitch video and guidelines on creating a set of great gifts or rewards campaigners offer to donors based on their level of contribution. To give supporters as many options as possible for making donations, dana.io uniquely enables and encourages donors to make use of offline payments such as cheques and wire transfers as well as facilitate use of crypto-currency, such as Bitcoin.
Unlike other crowdfunding platforms, dana.io offers a voluntary payment model. This comes in the form of a sliding “dana scale,” gifting or paying-forward a percentage of funds raised through one’s campaign. In the spirit of dana, Alanand fellow co-founder and CTO, Scott Nelson, have agreed to cap their salaries and instead invest the majority of income from voluntary payments into dana.io services and fund campaigns through the creation of a “dana pool.” When this feature is fully developed, votes will be held on a weekly basis by the community of campaigners to decide which campaigns will receive “dana funds.” Since coming on beta a little over 4 months ago, there have been close to 50 campaigns, with tens of thousands of dollars raised for projects, including films, books, music albums, and human rights initiatives. From such a brilliant start, there’s every indication that a huge demand exists for dana.io’s services as well as an appreciation for their dana practice of goodwill.
The team behind dana.io feels honored to offer the services provided by their crowdfunding platform to all Startup Weekend participants. They hope with the assistance of the platform, participants will find the playing field more leveled when facing existing incumbents of their industry. They consider it to be their gift back to the heart of innovation and contribution to the startup community. Coming out from my interview with Alan, I feel relieved that there are those within the startup community working to embody kindness and generosity. It is up to us to see how we can instill this in our startup ventures as well.