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Day 15: IP Start-Up Guide with Fasken Martineau

February 27, 2015 at 12:06 pm

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This weeks Lunch N’ Learn was hosted by Fasken Martineau, a leading international business law and litigation firm. 

The teams were presented an IP Start-Up Guide. Here’s a quick snapshot of Fasken Martineau’s three rules for creating value while avoiding disruption: 

1. Own what you say you own 
Clear assignment language in contracts 
Clear waiver of moral rights language

2. Dissipate the fog (deal with what you do not control or are not yet aware of) 
Understand your IP landscape
Patents, trade-marks, etc. 

3. Keep your house in order 
Store documentation 
Documented Open Source Policy
Documented Processes 

Look out for Lunch N’ Learn notes on SR&ED by BDO and a Q & A with LaBarge Weinstein

Day 13: Mentor Day!

February 25, 2015 at 4:59 pm

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Mentor Day

This year Mentor Day was held at home, in Notman House, for the first time ever. It was a successful event with over 80 mentors present. Following the teams pitches, Mentors broke up into tables based on expertise: technology, marketing, business development, customer acquisition, fundraising, operations/strategy and product management. Teams then rotated through the room, having a focused discussion of their business at each table. 

For some teams, today was their first shot at a public pitch.  Thank you to our amazing mentors for their presence and guidance. If you’d like to get involved in the FounderFuel Mentor Program please contact us here: info@founderfuel.com. 

Now, after a long and exciting day, it’s time for drinks! Stay tuned for pictures from the 5 à 7 in the next few days! 

Day 12: Culture, the PasswordBox Way

February 24, 2015 at 4:01 pm

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Yesterday afternoon we had a visit from 4 core members of the PasswordBox team. They came to chat with the current Cohort about team culture, how you instill it and how you can maintain it through growth and acquisition by Intel Security. On the panel were Marc-Antoine Ross (Co-Founder & Director of Data Engineering), Greg Whiteside (Employee #1 & Director Engineering), Olivier Beaulieu (Employe #8 & Technical Team Lead) and Ian Jeffrey (Employee #32 & VP Product Marketing). 

Some of the key topics covered were:

1) Hiring
- Always hang-out with a potential employee before hiring them.  Would you want to have a beer with them on a Friday night after a long week of work? 
- Always hire people who are smarter than you. If you feel dumb in the interview, that’s a good sign!
- PasswordBox has instilled a culture of attracting great people to the company and spending time with them before hiring them.
- Everyone should have options. 

2) Transparency
- PasswordBox has a culture of transparency. This is key in building a strong culture. Every employee is always aware of everything going on, from potential investors to potential acquirers and deals on the table. 
- Set a weekly time to meet with the entire company, Monday works great because everyone is pumped up for the week. At PasswordBox they do all hands lunches every Monday where Dan gives the updates on the company and every team goes over what they’re working on. 

3) Firing
- If after one week you aren’t convinced about someone, you should let them go. After 1 week it gets harder and harder to fire someone.
- The biggest mistake is trying to keep someone who you know isn’t a good fit

Here are some of the tidbits shared with the Cohort:

“Invest in the culture of people, not in the space you work in”
“Dan comes in every morning and fist bumps every single employee, he did it when we were 3, 8 and now we’re 50+ and he still does it.”
“Culture creates retention.”
“When does culture start? It starts day 1, when you meet someone and want to work together and build something. From there, it grows organically.”
“Every morning when I show up to work, my colleagues are genuinely happy to see me and greet me with high-fives, it’s like one huge family.”
“We’re 50+ employees and I honestly can’t imagine PasswordBox without any of them. They’re all part of who we are. That’s when you know you have a strong culture.”

 

Day 11: A Call for Female Mentors

February 23, 2015 at 4:35 pm

As Mentor Day approaches, we can’t help but notice that there are simply not enough females on our Mentor list. 

Our Mentors are a vital part of the program. They offer insight, experience and guidance to earlier stage entrepreneurs. While they bring passion and expertise to teams regardless of gender, it’s important that we play a vital role in bringing about diversity within the tech industry.

It’s not surprising that women remain underrepresented in STEM related fields and that 1 out of 5 women have never had a mentor at work. Yet, it’s time that this comes to an end. Although the conversation of female equality is alive and well, it’s not always simple to turn discussion into action. 

So, we’re asking for your help. If you’re passionate about tech and women within it, if you’d like to be a FounderFuel Mentor, or if you think you can help us in any way, we would love for you to join us in succeeding at this mission. 

Here’s where you can get in touch: info@founderfuel.com. We look forward to hearing from you. 

Day 10: Introducing Founder Talks

February 20, 2015 at 3:16 pm

FounderFuel is introducing a new series into its program! 

On Wednesday afternoons the Founderfuel family will be welcoming North American founders through its doors. Seasoned entrepreneurs will share invaluable insight in a casual and private environment. The teams are welcome to come with any questions they may have, and the speakers are encouraged to focus their chat on topics of their choosing. 

This Wednesday we hosted Dan Robichaud, a serial entrepreneur and angel investor. Dan was most recently CEO at Passwordbox, which was acquired last year by Intel Security. Discussed this week was the importance of hiring passionate people, team cohesiveness, how to tell when it’s time to pivot, and much, much more. 

We’re looking forward to sitting down with Ethan Song, CEO and Creative Director of Frank & Oak next – stay tuned!

You can learn more about Dan here: http://www.danrobichaud.com/ 

Day 8: One Week until Mentor Day!

February 18, 2015 at 4:13 pm

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As the teams quickly learn what it is that they do and do not know, we look towards Mentor Day as an opportunity for them to seek – and find – support. 

Next Wednesday, mentors will be stopping by to hear pitches, offer guidance, and participate in roundtables with each of the seven startups. 

We hope to connect each team with a mentor of the perfect fit. 

Stay tuned to hear about our Wednesday afternoon Founder talks, where we invite seasoned entrepreneurs to host an open dialogue between themselves and the cohort.

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Day 6: Grind It Out + Think Smart

February 16, 2015 at 4:52 pm

We begin our second week with a nod towards our first. At this point, the teams have thought extensively about their focus. They’ve learnt how to sharply and succinctly articulate that focus. Striking out anything that isn’t core to their business, they’ve established a foundation upon which all else is to be built. This foundation, though necessarily always being open to revision, should constantly be revisited.

The next step is working on multiple Go-To-Market strategies and the value propositions associated with each. In doing so, the teams will develop an understanding of how successful different channels are likely to be, to then decide which are worth putting resources into.

Throughout the upcoming week the teams are asked to bear in mind the impossibility of growing quickly all on their own. They’ve been reminded that using the desires and resources of something or someone else is a necessity. This is the part of business that requires a combination of grind and cleverness: rapidly maximizing reach.

 

 

Day 5: Show & Tell

February 13, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Today is Show & Tell.

It’s the initial opportunity for each of our teams to showcase their product. The purpose of the exercise is to explore what’s critical to each business, to discuss the elements that make each idea big and to choose the right metrics to generate excitement.

We keep the companies within our cohort under wraps until Demo Day. For that reason, the following tips on how to create and execute the perfect pitch are being relayed to you at a high level. We hope you enjoy…

Frame your pitch around the question: if your company died tomorrow, who would care and why?
Describe why you’ll succeed now (time sensitivity is key).
Relate your one real insight – even though everything else is ancillary.
Describe what’s going to happen to the world as a result of your business.
Reference at a high level the way in which your company is taking advantage of a shift in the world.
Articulate why it is that you believe (aside from a gut feeling) that people need your product.  
Has your product turned something dumb into something smart? Explain how.
Be prepared to say, with confidence, that what you’re providing is necessary for reasons X, Y and Z.
Focus on your piece of the market, be specific about your place in that piece, then clearly describe how you’ve gotten there.
Meet your audience in the middle: not dumbed down, not at too high of a level.
Frame your product from two points of view: your consumers and your industry’s.
Don’t oversell; don’t overhype.
Don’t make your audience have to leap.
Never omit a mention of your competition.
Exclude anything un-impactful.

We can’t wait for what’s to come! Continue following the journey here:  

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Day 4: Alumni Meet-up!

February 12, 2015 at 7:10 pm

 

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The room is silent as our Alumni Meet-up panel kicks off.

Ty Danco (Director at Techstars Boston), Thiago Da Costa (CEO at Lagoa) and Lee Silverstone (CEO at GymTrack) make up our panel on fundraising and acquisitions. The conversation quickly evolves into a candid discussion about all things startups.

Ty, Thiago and Lee touch on choosing investors wisely, the importance of delegation, what they would have done differently, the surprises involved in growing a business and even tips on maintaining personal relationships through the stresses of scaling a business.

While tonight is an amazing opportunity for our newest cohort to soak up open and honest advice, it’s also about much more. Tonight is a manifestation of one of the most important aspects of the FounderFuel program. We pride ourselves on the networks that we make available to each team that walks through our doors. This event is meant to introduce the newest additions of the FounderFuel family to an amazing network: our Alumni! 

Stay tuned for news on Show & Tell tomorrow!  

Day 3: Why You, Why Now?

February 11, 2015 at 4:43 pm

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The hallways are empty as the teams prep for Show & Tell this Friday.

Today’s talk on establishing objectives in order to formulate the perfect pitch began with the question:  “why you, why now?”

This is why teams are working on describing their unique value in the space they want to dominate. Once the teams can articulate why them and why now, they’re well on their way to creating goals and objectives that will get them there as soon as possible. With these objectives, they can pitch their vision. After all, you pitch what you want to become. 

Goal-setting tips overheard today:
“Don’t set (non-investment related) goals over 12 months from now – for startups, these are science fiction.”
“Know what you don’t know, then find support.”
“Sometimes you have to suspend all disbelief.”
“Anchor everything on your long term value proposition.”
“Constantly re-prioritize.”
“Find a work/life balance (it IS possible).”
“Use your sounding board.”
“Get acquainted with what you have to offer and how you can optimize it.”

 Stay tuned for details on Show & Tell and, as always, you can find out about all things FounderFuel here:

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