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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
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!
“Success is focusing the full power of all you are on what you have a burning desire to achieve.”
- William Peterson
FounderFuel is gearing up to welcome its Spring 2015 cohort on Monday, February 9th. 7 companies will comprise our 7th batch of startups. This time around, we’re trying something new.
After a deep-dive re-evaluating the past 6 cohorts, we’ve altered the structure of the program in order to capitalize on our strengths and improve upon our weaknesses. We want to more accurately reflect our purpose: to offer an in-depth and mentor-driven acceleration of your startup.
This is why this cohort will see a refocusing of the program, oriented even more towards the specific needs of the entrepreneur, and towards providing them with what will satisfy those needs. We want to have a higher impact upon the outcome and success of each startup embarking on this journey with us.
Stay tuned for more changes to come.
To remain up-to-date on the progress of FounderFuel and the 7 companies within its 7th cohort, follow us here:
The finalists for the 2014 Canadian Startup Awards have just been announced and our very own Vanhawks (Spring 2014) has been nominated as Accelerator Graduate of the Year!
Vanhawks’s mission is to make connected bikes for the urban commuter to encourage bike rides for greener and less congested cities with the best experience possible. The Vanhawks Valour, is the first Bluetooth connected bike built from carbon fibre, giving riders safety,comfort and insight for every ride.
Vanhawks came into the FounderFuel program with a big idea and were in the early stages of manufacturing their prototype. They then went one to raise the most amount of money in crowdfunding in Canada through Kickstarter which was 820k, have attracted major media attention, made key hires and have a lot more exciting news on the way! 2015 is going to be a big year for Vanhawks! Let’s start it off right by helping them win Accelerator Graduate of the Year!
And help us spread the word!
We’re in full-blown pitch prep all day, every day and boy, is it a roller coaster!
With just a few days to go until Demo Day the CEOs have given up sleep so that they can focus 100% of their time on their pitch. We’ve got John Stokes and Austin Hill working tirelessly with them every day so that when they walk onto stage at the Rialto Theatre next Tuesday afternoon they’ll blow you away!
Here’s some of the quotes we’ve overheard throughout the week:
“I read your most updated pitch and I’m just so frustrated.”
“That’s it! That was awesome-sauce! What an improvement!”
“You’re not vitamins, you’re a pain killer. You’re killing their pain.”
“You come to this meeting looking for help, you should come to this meeting looking to impress.”
“All you have to do is listen, and learn”
“Wow. Compared to yesterday, I’m blown away. I think we’re finally getting somewhere.”
Will you be there next Tuesday to witness the Fall 2014 pitches??
Exactly one week from today the Fall 2014 Cohort of FounderFuel will be taking the stage at the Rialto Theatre as they present at Demo Day! We’re incredibly thrilled to see what they’ve achieved in the past 3 months, and we know it’ll be a great show! We’ve booked a local band to perform after the pitches, and are excited to have the entire #FFMob together to mingle with the Montreal tech community.
Just like last year, we’re opening up the floor during the “5 à 7″ for everyone to mingle with the Fall 2014 Cohort, not to mention the entire FounderFuel network: Investors, Entrepreneurs and Senior Executives (don’t worry we’ll make sure all the tables are moved so it isn’t as cramped).
Don’t miss out, this is a unique opportunity to help you accelerate your own startup!
Here’s what the evening will look like!
3PM - Doors Open | Grab A Seat
4PM – Show Time | Fall 2014 Pitches
5PM – “5 à 7″ Beers & Drinks
8PM – END
10PM – Official After-Party TBD
Have you gotten your tickets? There’s a few left!
With only 12 days left until Demo Day, today was another big day of preparation as the teams visited the Rialto Theatre where they’ll be pitching soon. Seeing the space for the first time, the teams were shown firsthand what they’ll be facing on the big day, minus the 1K+ audience! When returning to Notman this afternoon, the house was abuzz with final pitch preparations as everyone continued to work incredibly hard to get all of the final bugs out before December 2nd.
The teams are pushing themselves to their limits to be ready for Demo Day – will you be there to see the fruits of their labors?! Miss this, and you’ll be missing out big time! Come hang out with FounderFuel Founders and investors from Silicon Valley, New York, Boston, Montreal, Toronto as well as the entire #FFMob including the Fall 2014 Cohort, Investors, Entrepreneurs and Senior Executives. There are less than 50 tickets left, so be sure not to lose this opportunity to mingle with the Montreal tech community!