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Day 45: 3 Interesting Tidbits on the 3D Printing Space

April 9, 2015 at 2:22 pm

As you’ve probably read in our past blogs, we’ve got quite the wide ranging grouping of companies in the current FounderFuel Cohort. From aquaculture to 3D printing to transportation to education, we thought we’d start giving you some snapshots into the spaces that some of our companies are in.

Let’s begin with 3D printing. Check out some of the interesting tidbits they shared with us about the space.

vancouver_hackspace_3d_printer_demo_by_nyxchaotica-d6c8evc

1) The buzz around 3D printing has finally worn off and people are starting to really to understand and appreciate the space. 3D printers are becoming the norm, no longer just a fancy product that 1 in every 1000 people might own.

2) Following on point 1, we’re now seeing 3D printers being sold at stores such as Home Depot and Staples. Which means that it’s no longer just early adopters but there’s mass consumer adoption. 

3) All of a sudden, not only is Canada being put on the map in terms of 3D printing but Quebec and Ontario are becoming major players on the scene with some huge Kickstarter and IndieGoG0 campaigns. Some examples are:
- The Tiko printer, which is what most are saying is the most affordable 3D printer to hit the market at just $179. With 20 days still left to go on their campaign they’ve raised $1,349,500 from a goal of $100,000. 
- ProtoCylcer, who has created a way to recycle waste plastic into 3D printer filament. They managed to successfully fund their campaign by 146%! 
- There’s a 3rd one who is expected to have a massively successful Kickstarter campaign but you’ll have to wait until Demo Day to find out who that is…

 Make sure you come to Demo Day so you can see our 3D printing company pitch on stage!

 


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Day 24 – Do you know how to acquire users??

March 12, 2015 at 11:42 am

 ”A startup is a company designed to grow fast…the only essential thing is growth. Everything else we associate with startups follows from growth” – Paul Graham

This week we had Ian Jeffrey, VP Product Marketing at PasswordBox come in to talk to the teams about User Acquisition. The talk started off with a big laugh as Ian asked, “how does one acquire users? I honestly have no idea…”. He then clarified by saying that it’s different for every business out there, there’s no set formula. It’s all about A/B testing to find out what works for you. 

However, there are 6 KPIs that you can measure to see if the techniques you are using are working. 

1-  Retention: How long does the user tay?
2- Engagement: How active is the user?
3- Activation: This is different for every business, you need to find which metric is yours. What is it that a user needs to do to be considered an active user?
4- Acquisition: How many users can you get?
5- Revenues: How many users are paying?
6- Referrals: How many of my users are bringing in new users?

One key lesson that Ian shared was not to pay for advertising until you’ve figured out your KPIs, otherwise it’s just money down the drain. Once you know how to keep your users, then you can start buying ads. However, just because you don’t have the money to spend or you aren’t ready to buy ads, there are still PLENTY of ways to scale. You just need to find some kind of trick or exploit that is free. Look at some of these, now famous, examples. 

1- Airbnb used Craigslist 
2- Zynga used Facebook
3- PayPal used Ebay
4- Slideshare used LinkedIn

But before we go any further, let’s get back to the basics. What exactly is product marketing? According to Ian, it means “getting the largest amount of people to experience the core value of your product as quickly as possible”.  And this doesn’t mean saying that you’re going “to go viral”. Viral marketing is not a strategy, it’s a result of doing a great job.

At the end of the day, the best way to market your product is to have an amazing product. If you solve a real need, and do it well, then you’ll drive value and users will flock to you. Take Dropbox as an example. It adds storage space to your computer, by doing so it solves a real need and drives value to the user. They have a clear USP (Unique Selling Proposition), if you have that, then you have everything you need to grow. Great marketing should be indistinguishable from magic. 

Check-out some of the articles Ian suggested be read as a follow-up to his talk.

1- From 0 to $1B – Slack’s Founder Shares Their Epic Launch Strategy 

2- Real Engines Of Growth Have Nothing To Do With Growth Hacking

3-  Stealing Traction: How Youtube, Paypal, StumbleUpon and AirBnB Grew Through Piggybacking

4- The One Metric That Matters

5- The Scalable Startup Test: Bumps vs. Engines

6-  Growth Hacker is the new VP Marketing

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

March 5, 2015 at 10:57 am

valour

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 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 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!  

Application Time – What to Avoid!

November 13, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Businessman Behind Stack of File Folders

Being accepted to an accelerator can be a challenging feat. With hundreds of applicants vying for a spot in each cohort, the competition is steep and it can be hard to get noticed. With just 16 days left to apply to FounderFuel, it’s time to start thinking of how to set your startup apart from the others. However, when making your application memorable, make sure you stay away from these 7 common mistakes that startups make when applying to accelerators.

1. Building for Yourself Instead of a Market

2. Lack of Any Market Validation

3. One-Sided Competitive “Analysis”

4. No Route to Customers

5. Claiming False Competitive Advantages

6. Winging the 60-Second Pitch

7. Ignoring Your Faults

In the end, we’re looking for honest, solid applications from those that have developed a MVP and are ready to hustle during the program to find their product-market fit. Avoid these above mistakes, and your application will be sure to soar. Think you’re ready to put your startup to the test? APPLY TODAY and see if you have what it takes to be a part of FounderFuel!

Still curious as to how your startup will grow and develop during the program? Come check out Demo Day and see for yourself what the #FFMob is capable of.

Day 30: Crunch Time Sets In – Demo Day is 49 Days Away!

October 14, 2014 at 11:07 am

how-to-deal-with-difficult-boss-at-work

It is hard to believe the time has flown by so quickly, but we are already halfway through the Fall 2014 program and the pressure to deliver is building up! With Demo Day just 49 days away, now is officially crunch time for the teams. The teams are in full stress mode and the pressure is on as they have just a short amount of time to push out their MVP, achieve high levels of traction, and attempt to get some valuable press coverage before the big day. With a lot to accomplish in a short time, now is the time they’ll be applying everything that they’ve gained from the FounderFuel program  in a big push towards Demo Day.

We’re all feeling the pressure and getting really excited about Demo Day. Have you got your ticket yet? If not, do so here. You don’t want to miss your chance to watch the pitches from our strongest cohort yet and to mingle with the entire Montreal startup community!

Day 9: Mentor Day

September 12, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Yesterday was Mentor Day. Our full-day event where we bring in Mentors from across North America to give our teams feedback on their companies and progress. It’s a crucial day that exposes our teams to our vast Mentor network and helps them form relationships with people who will play a key role in the growth of their company. 

It was a very successful day and our companies took away several key learnings that they can apply as they grow.

Check out some of the pictures from the 5 à 7 at the end of the day. 

Day 4: FREE Toolkit for Startups

September 5, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Here’s an old post but a useful one! All startups need free tools to help them scale.

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As a startup, it’s often difficult to pay for services that help you prosper and grow as a company. With limited funds, a company can’t afford to hire a full-time employee to run their back-office or to act as their project manager. Because of this, there has been a growth in companies that offer special deals or completely free services to startups. 

Fast Company put together a pretty solid list entitled the “(Nearly) Complete Online Toolkit for Startups“.

Toolkit

They break the toolkit down into multiple categories including: General, Project Management, Marketing and Social Media Tools and list out a total of 18 tools that are almost all free to use. 

Any great (free) tool that they forgot to include in their list? We’ll create our very own #FFMob list! 

Think your team has what it takes?

Apply