The Art (and science) of the Pitch

March 7, 2015 at 12:48 pm

Talk by Sylvain today at the John Molson Startup Conference at Concordia University.

Day 20: SR&ED with BDO

March 6, 2015 at 2:28 pm

Mike Slater and Matthew Harrison from BDO Canada came to speak to the teams about compensation, crowdfunding, Canadian Sales Taxes and Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED).

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Stressed during the conversation on SR&ED was the following:
1) The reduction in returns due to recent QC tax changes:
- Non-ccpc – reduced from 20% to 15%
- Sub-contractors – reduced from 0% to 80%
- Proxy reduced from 65% to 55%
- 20% reduction in all tax credits: 37.5% ~ 30%
- Threshold on minimum expenditures: $50K – no ITC (scales up to $220K based on total assets)

2) The critical emphasis on documentation in this new system
- Note: 2014 filing is not the year to file a poor SR&ED claim
- Return on $50K combined 54% vs 78%
- Return on $100K combined 64% vs 78%
- Build up a process of time tracking and proper documentation that helps your consultant make the link

3) The importance of not rolling the dice on risky SR&ED claims and hurting your reputation with the government

All information is courtesy of BDO Canada. Thanks to Mike Slater and Matthew Harrison for stopping by!

Day 19: 1 year later, Vanhawks is on a roll!

March 5, 2015 at 10:57 am


We’re coming up on the 1 year anniversary of Vanhawks launching their Valour Kickstarter campaign, the most successful one in Canada, during their 3 month stint at FounderFuel. To celebrate this we couldn’t be more excited for the 2 major announcements Vanhawks made yesterday.

They announced through TechCrunch that:

- They have raised $1.6 million from Real VenturesOlympic triathlon gold medallist Simon Whitfield and Brenda Irwin of Relentless Pursuit Partners

- They joined the Winter 2015 Y Combinator class in San Francisco and have been making major strides there.

The future is limitless for Vanhawks. Co-Founder & COO Ali Zahid confirmed this in their TechCrunch article. “The vision is a lot bigger than just making bikes,” Zahid explains. “Think of us as the software layer for the bike industry of the future. Everyone says that software is eating the world, and we see that in the bike industry, too, which has been sitting in the past.”

We can’t wait to see what comes next for Vanhawks! 

Day 18: Founder Talk with Ethan Song

March 4, 2015 at 4:53 pm

Founder Talks - a brand new FounderFuel initiative – connects seasoned entrepreneurs to the current batch of startups in a casual and private environment. 

For our second Talk we welcomed Ethan Song, CEO & Creative Director of Frank & Oak. Frank & Oak is a Montreal based e-retailer with the mission of helping a generation of men dress and live well. 

Ethan, with a passion for walking the line between art and technology, chatted to the teams about getting started, entrepreneurship, and pivoting. He stressed their being no direct path from getting to where you are to where you want to be.

Beginning in corporate strategy consulting, Ethan had no experience in the e-retailer space. In his own words, “if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s all good.” While he had little experience, he wasn’t worried – he describes the Frank & Oak team as entrepreneurs first and tech/fashion entrepreneurs second. While this is often perceived negatively, Ethan thinks its an asset.

Frank & Oak (and Ethan by proxy) is all about understanding human behaviour, openness and taking risks. 

Thanks to Ethan for chatting with us. Stay tuned for a FounderFuel talk with Dax Dasilva from Lightspeed next week!  

To shop Frank & Oak or to learn more, click here.  

Day 16: Alistair Croll on Lean Analytics

March 2, 2015 at 3:56 pm

We had the chance to sit down with Alistair Croll, an experienced author, speaker and entrepreneur, about all things analytics. Here’s what we learnt.

First and foremost, don’t sell what you can make – make what you can sell. In other words, don’t build anything that people don’t want.

At the core of Lean is iteration:

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This is because most startups don’t know what they’ll be when they grow up. Wikipedia was to be written only by experts. Paypay was first built for Palmpilots. Twitter was a podcasting company. You are most likely not going to succeed doing what you’re doing now.

Analytics can help because it is the measurement of movement towards your business goals. In a startup, the purpose of analytics is to iterate to product/market fit before the money runs out.

So, what makes a metric helpful? A good metric is understandable, comparative, a ratio or rate and behaviour changing. The last is especially key: what will you do differently based on the results you collect? If you don’t have an answer, the metric is unimportant. In this way, a good metric helps you to know that you know yourself.

Here lies the secret to being a leader: someone who knows which questions to ask. Successful startups are built upon (1) a big vision that’s obvious in hindsight and (2) baby steps to help you get there. Success comes when you ask the right questions, use analytics to step back dispassionately and find the answers, and take the necessary steps to put those answers into action.

All info is courtesy of @acroll. To read more, check out his book @LeanAnalytics

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: 

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


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: 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: 

Think your team has what it takes?