While the ages of the Founders & Co-founders in the Spring 2014 range from barely 20 to almost 40, the majority are on the younger side. What exactly is it like to a be a young entrepreneur, especially in the Canadian tech landscape? There can be huge rewards but there are also huge risks involved. It can be difficult at a young age to be taken seriously and that means that it can be hard to secure funding, hire top talent, sell product, etc.
There’s a great Techvibes piece written by Qasim Mohammad about what his experience was like when he took the plunge towards building his own business at a young age. In it, he lists out 5 things that will help you succeed as a young entrepreneur.
1 – Question your motives
2 – Have a mentor
3 – Learn from your difficult experiences
4 – Know where to go for help
5 – Be persistent
Have other tips that would be useful for young entrepreneurs? Leave them in the comments section.
There are 67 days left until Demo Day. That means 1608 hours, 96,480 minutes or 57,788,800 seconds.
After doing that math, we were shocked that there were less than 2000 hours left for the teams to crank out code, push product and get traction before the big day. We got to thinking, if that number made us stress, how it would make the teams feel…To begin the conversation we asked the teams how many hours they each work on average a week, then followed that up with the real numbers to get their thoughts on their looming deadline.
How many hours a week do you work?
“Well let’s see, we work 8am to 10pm, 6 days a week so I’d say between 80 and 90 hours?”
“Easily 100. I work 14 hour days, 7 days a week.”
“Let’s just say I’ve closed Notman House every night this week. At 2am. I’ve also opened it every day this week. At 8am”
“How many hours are there in a week? That’s how many I work.”
So how does it make you feel that there are about 1600 hours left before Demo Day?
“Off the record? Can I swear in the blog?”
“Excuse me while I go cry in the corner.”
“I need to stop wasting hours on sleep!”
“I think I need to go change my pants…”
“Excited! I can’t wait to see how our company evolves”
And now there’s only 1607 hours left…
Are you a developer, designer, social guru, growth hacker or PR master for hire? If so, we want you!
We’re always looking to update our database with startup friendly freelancers.
The Spring 2014 cohort is about 2 months away from “graduation” and they’re in full crank mode. It’s prime time for them to bring in some amazing freelancers and consultants to help them reach their Demo Day goals. We thought we’d make their stressful lives easier by putting together a list of FounderFuel vetted talent. This is where you come in!
If you’re interested in helping out the companies in our program send us an email about the services you’ve got to offer and if we like what we see then we’ll add you to our list.
There’s only 75 days left until Demo Day!
To mark this occasion we set up a countdown board in the FounderFuel room.
As if things weren’t stressful enough, now the teams have a daily reminder of just how little time they have left. Since stress is at an all time high we went around to ask the teams “what keeps them up at night?”.
Here are some of their answers:
“I’m worried about doing the right thing at the right time in the right way because everything is moving so quickly!”
“Traction. All I can think about is how do we get a good level of traction.”
“Everything. My brain is always turning, wondering what can be done better or faster.”
“Are we building the right way? Are we building what the people want? Are we being stupid?…”
“Figuring out our growth strategy.”
“I think the better question is, what doesn’t keep me up at night?”
And with that, the countdown is officially on. Are you excited to meet the teams?
Get your Demo Day tickets now!
We’re only 3 weeks into the program and it feels like it’s been months! The teams are working hard all day and night to get their products ready and to build traction. Since it’s a rainy Friday, we decided to take some time to talk to the teams and have them reflect on how things have been going so far (considering the Molson Export and Redbull “decorations” seem to be popping up all around Notman House)
The Molson Export wall is expanding:
We’ve listed out below some of their thoughts:
“Everything is getting accelerated, even my sleeping ”
”We’ve talked to more people and formed more connections in 3 weeks than we ever have before.”
“We’ve been opened up to a whole other side of the MTL tech community. We’re still trying to process just how many people are truly committed to helping us grow and succeed.”
“Our heads are constantly spinning!”
“I’m getting really good at only sleeping a few hours a night.”
“It’s a shock to realize just how many people are interested in your company and willing to invest their time and knowledge”
And the Red Bull towers are growing…
We can only imagine what they’ll be thinking 3 months from now! The countdown to Demo Day is already on!
What’s one of the coolest parts of working at a startup? The awesome events, conferences, and get-togethers you get to attend. Networking, exchanging ideas, listening to influential speakers and enriching panels are all a part of these inspiring hour-long, day-long, or week-long gatherings. One of the coolest of them all? SXSW. An awesome thing about SXSW? Their panel picker. Yes, you get to vote for the panels that are presented. Now that’s power to the people.
The best part of SXSW 2014′s panel picker? One of our alumni, Cai Rintoul, CEO of Provender (Summer 2013), is on a potential panel. It also features three other Montrealers, LP Maurice of Busbud, Christine Renaud of E-180, and Angelique Mannella of Decode Global. It would be awesome if they were chosen to give their panel, “Moving Your Startup Up The Axis of Good” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).
You can watch their introductory video below and you should definitely go vote for their panel here.
It’s been almost two weeks since the Summer 2013 Cohort pitched to a crowd of 900 people.
Can you pitch your business like them?
Now In Store
Check out our Demo Day video and some words from the teams about FounderFuel below:
I’ve had the chance to talk with some really smart entrepreneurs during FounderFuel’s search for its third cohort. There’s a recurring theme I see that really baffles me, because I had thought about it prior to making the life-changing decision of becoming a startup founder.
The nature of kickstarting a new company is by all means similar to kickstarting a new product development. Or is it? You think about what the ideal solution might be to that big problem you have insight to, you imagine a simple solution to that problem (probably by way of creating a new web app or iOS/Android app) and then you build it. Simple right?
Reason #1: You have no idea what you’re building
How do you know what you are building if you aren’t able to tell me what it is in two-three sentences? I talked about the importance of the pitch, how it is impossible for you to be building something if you’re not capable of distilling the essence of the venture in a short, bite-sized message.
But how is this possible? Of course you know what you’re building since you’re building it! You might have a really good idea for what it is, but does everyone else understand it?
Reason #2: Nobody will ever use what you’re building
Harsh. But true nevertheless. How can people find–never mind use–what you are building (and therefore selling) if you don’t make it obvious to them what pain you are fixing? How can your marketing groundwork function if you aren’t capable of targeting the right people, due to not knowing which people you should target?
You’re probably building the wrong thing. There, I’ve said it. Unless you have vast amounts of insight in a particular industry (unlikely at this early stage of your venture’s lifecycle), there is a very high likelihood you’re building a solution for a problem that does not exist.
“But Eyal,” you will say, “I’m in this industry for a reason,” you will say. “Of course I know what I’m building!” Industry insight can definitely drive vision for your company, but product development should be driven by customer development, not guesses.
We humans are absolutely terrible at gauging risk and options. Don’t let your gut make the decisions on what to build.
Reason #3: You’re not talking to your potential customers
The problem is you haven’t gone out and spoken to people you theorize are the right customers. It has happened time and time again. New idea comes up, give it a quick Google search to see “what’s up”, come up with a cool-looking website that changes on a two-week basis, rinse and repeat.
You need to speak to your customers to find out what you need to build. Construct a feedback loop. Find what they need, build it and iterate on it.
Many businesses start out, invalidate their thesis on what the problem they are building is, and decide to pivot to focus on a particular issue their customers have told them to fix.
One of the most famous pivots is undoubtedly Instagram. They started out as Burbn, a location-based service very similar to FourSquare.
Guess what they learned. They realize they were building something that wasn’t needed, and instead turned to their customers and usability data and made the call to focus on pictures instead. Definitely a high totem-pole idea (though up for debate) seeing as how millions of people get up every morning and yes, use Instagram for everything.
Reason #4: You’re building without testing
There’s a famous project management methodology called the Waterfall Model that you might be familiar with. Most people end up building things in one shot. That one shot went in your foot my friend, because you’ve just spent a lot of time and resources building something that not only you haven’t validated actually fixes a problem, but you’re also not surveying the usability of what you build and asking: “is this actually a feature that will be used?”
There are very simple tools available to you to get started on doing this. From project management (we use Planbox at IGL, it’s awesome) and ranging from Web Analytics (Google Analytics for web usability) to App Analytics (Mixpanel for in-app engagement) and even multivariate testing of your features (Optimizely for A/B Testing).
Integrate these tools into your development workflow and create a conversation with the people using your website (even if it’s 20 people). Start building as per what they need to attract more like-minded people (to an eventual like-minded website).
Reason #5: You’re spending time on things that will never produce money
There is a difference between a minimum viable product (the very first version of the product you can put out to test your assumptions about users) and a minimum sellable product (the very first version of the product that can produce revenue).
A lot of people assume that your MVP needs to hold all of the elements of a final product… this is the complete, polar opposite of what an MVP is.
Stop spending time on aesthetics (beautifying something you’re not even sure is useful) and concentrate on adding value in the areas you can prove represent interest in the minds of your customers. Areas you feel can produce revenue through additional features you might be building. If what you’re doing today doesn’t fit in any of those categories, chuck it.
Reason #6: You’re emotionally attached
This is probably one of the biggest, most terrible things that can happen to you. I realize this may sound weird, but being emotionally attached to your startup (this is normal for the record) is synonymous to driving decisions through emotions.
Emotional decisions aren’t decisions at all, they’re instincts. When’s the last time “instincts” scored brownie points in the stock market?
Disconnecting the emotional attachment to your startup allows you to lead without fear of failure and with a much clearer roadmap on what you want to do to accomplish your vision. Don’t let emotions get in the way of your startup’s success, because after all, your startup is bigger than just you. Remember that.
Think your team has what it takes?Apply