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Behind the Scenes at FounderFuel: Sam Haffar

April 29, 2015 at 11:47 am

Sam Haffar, Principal at Real Ventures

Sam joined Real Ventures in August 2014 after spending 8 years in Silicon Valley helping build some of the fastest growing companies in their category; Chegg, Kno and Eat Club. After starting his first company while in University, Sam helped scale companies from 5 to 300+ employees and helped grow revenue from $0 to $100 million. This was all in the span of a few years after university. 

Today, Sam is a Principal at Real Ventures where he helps lead seed deals, connect companies to exceptional talent and prepare companies for success beyond their seed round. His most recent investments include Vanhawks and Breezy HR.

At FounderFuel, Sam helps drive the recruitment and selection process of new companies into the program. He helps teams define their product strategy, build their go to market, refine their pitch, connect with customers, and plan their round of funding after the program. A current FounderFuel team working closely with Sam describes him as having genuine insight, a ton of experience and willing to roll up his sleeves to help get the job done (whatever it may be).

When it comes to funding the next big idea, Sam looks for ambitious teams that are maniacally focused and are hardcore geeks in their fields. He’s incredibly excited about AI, Robotics, VR/AR, the Internet of things and how automation will shape our future, but also is a sucker for obvious ideas that fulfill a huge present day demand that haven’t been so obvious to everyone else.

When asking Sam what’s the most rewarding part of FounderFuel to him, he described watching the transformation of the teams from the day that they walk through the door for their interview as raw entrepreneurs with a good idea but with far more potential, to the day that they are on stage at Demo Day pitching like world-class entrepreneurs with a massive idea and the confidence and know how to make it happen.

He explained that the success of a team hinges on the people involved, their passion and vision, and their ability to clearly communicate goals and objectives.

If you think that this describes your team and you would like to find success with Sam’s help, apply to the FounderFuel program here!   

Behind the Scenes at FounderFuel: Gabriel Sundaram

April 13, 2015 at 1:29 pm

[We're going to introduce ourselves over the next few weeks. We want to show you the faces behind FounderFuel and Real Ventures. That way, you’ll be able to see how and why we can accelerate your company.]

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Gabriel Sundaram is Director of Platform at Real Ventures. His arrival coincided with FounderFuel’s launch, so he’s been involved in its development since the very beginning. 

After having worked for a FinTech startup in the US, Gabriel moved back to his hometown of Montreal and dove headfirst into impacting the direction of its startup community. He seeks to give back, leveraging MTL talent to help the city’s business community thrive. Consequently, he’s become cofounder of Startup Open House, a mentor for Startup Weekend, as well as co-organizer of both Startup Drinks and TechNoel. His work at Real, FF and in the community coincide; his projects at work directly align with his startup network, access to information and ability to bring the right people together.

His specialties lie primarily in product development and management, as well as in fundraising strategy. His background in startup metrics and product road mapping, as well as his experience working with companies preparing for series A or Seed rounds, brings value to his part in FF’s selection committee and to his mentorship to FF companies. While working with FF, he works at Real on forcing new deals, the investment committee, back office projects and more. 

In his opinion, one main factor distinguishes a good FF company from a great one: their willingness to hustle. “If you find a way to leverage the resources that the program has to offer, as well as take seriously the artificial time constraint, you’ll find success,” he explains.  

His two favorite parts of the program? The selection process and Demo Day. Although the former can be gruelling (with application numbers now reaching the 400’s), he enjoys meeting excited and often first time entrepreneurs. They help him keep his finger on the pulse in terms of what’s happening within tech, both within and outside of MTL. Demo Day, on the other hand, brings together some of Gabriel’s favorite things: seeing the hustle pay off, the presentation of soon-to-be successful startups and, of course, community.

Hopefully we’ll see you there. 

Universe widget not working? Get your tickets here.

We’d love to hear from you! Let us know who you’d like profiled next, if you have any questions, or if you’d like to get in touch with Gabriel. You can find us on Twitter @founderfuel

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Meet the Fall 2014 Cohort

December 10, 2014 at 10:45 am

 

Elevator World Tour + FounderFuel

December 9, 2014 at 9:40 am

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Next January 21st, one hundred of the most promising startups will be pitching a panel of investors and experts, hoping to secure fame and funding. But this isn’t your ordinary startup contest, because each entrepreneur has only the time it takes to ride the elevator at the Eiffel Tower to convince judges they’re the best. 

The Elevator World Tour™ Paris, will have the best startups delivering their elevator pitches — in the actual elevator of the Eiffel Tower — as they compete for several prizes including, a guaranteed spot in the FounderFuel Spring 2015 Cohort! 

“We’re thrilled that the first European stop on the Elevator World Tour is in one of the most exciting cities in the world, in the most iconic building in the world,” said Philippe Telio, the event’s founder. Jerome Masurel, co-founder and CEO of 50 Partners adds, “Holding the event at the Eiffel Tower is a reminder that some of the most ambitious projects were built by engineers and entrepreneurs, and that the world’s greatest companies start with a great vision and unstoppable founders.”

The contest is part of a worldwide startup contest known as the Elevator World Tour that runs literal elevator pitches in some of the world’s most iconic buildings. Other stops on the tour have included Toronto’s CN tower and the Azrieli Tower in Tel Aviv, with upcoming events being planned in New York, Rio de Janeiro, Barcelona, Berlin, and Santiago.

The Elevator World Tour Paris is being organized by the International Startup Festival and the French accelerator, 50 Partners and is being hosted by the Société d’Explotation de la Tour Eiffel.

See you in Paris!

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Thanks for applying!

December 1, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Thanks to everyone who applied to the Fall 2014 Cohort. We can’t wait to check out all your applications!

We’ve received a lot of questions as to what happens after you submit your application to the next FounderFuel cohort. Because we get to many incredible applications, it will take us a bit of time to go through and review all of them.

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Don’t worry though! We promise we’ll go as quickly as we can! In the meantime here’s what’ll happen next:

- Online reviews happen this week and are completed by December 8th.

- Interviews begin the week of December 8th.

- Final decisions will be announced by the week of December 21st.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at info@founderfuel.com

 

Last chance to apply to the Spring 2015 cohort!

November 28, 2014 at 4:45 pm

It’s the final stretch! With just over 24 hours left to apply, now is the time get those last minute applications in! If you’re not convinced yet, or are still wondering what the program is really like, we’ve gathered some inside intel to give you some more insight. We want you to be as informed as possible so we thought, why not get some quotes directly from our Alumni. After all, who knows more about the program than those who have been through it.

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Here’s what those who have eat, breathed, and lived FounderFuel have to say about the experience.

“Pre-program we weren’t focused, we were working part-time gigs to pay the bills and FounderFuel gave us the opportunity to focus 110% on our dream. It was exactly what we needed to make our company work.”

“The network you get instant access to is one that would take most people years, even decades to build. It’s indispensable.”

“I’m not going to lie, it’s not a walk in the park. I barely smiled, or slept. But where am I now compared to where I was before. We never could have done that on our own.”

“Imagine your business in 2 years, then imagine that process accelerated so that it happens in 90 days.  That’s what you’re pitching to get into Founderfuel.  Anything less, and you will fail.”

“FounderFuel will motivate you to push harder and work harder than you ever had before. If you’re ready to adapt and learn like crazy, get your ass in there.”

“Leave the ego at the door or it’s gonna be a tough 3 months of beat-downs. Open minds and adaptability mixed with some grit and you’ll come out a great company.”

“FounderFuel provided us the insights and guidance to transition ourselves from just an app to a serious competitor in the EdTech space”

“Beyond making you aware of your own bullshit, FounderFuel connects you to an unbelievable network of everyone who can help you succeed. It really is all about their network”

“FounderFuel is a great opportunity to learn from smart people and test your teams strength. Eyes open though – no one will build your business for you. It’s about tools, opportunities and relationships.”

Are you ready to give it your best shot? Apply here before TOMORROW night at midnight!

The Pitch Prep Roller Coaster

November 28, 2014 at 12:10 pm

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! 

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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??

Recruitment ends in just 3 days!

November 26, 2014 at 3:44 pm

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Can you believe it’s almost November 29th already?! Crazy to think but there are just 3 days left to apply for your spot in the Spring 2015 Cohort of FounderFuel!

Think you’re ready to be thrown into a high-octane environment where you’re surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurial teams, investors, execs, and entrepreneurs? Apply to FounderFuel before midnight this Saturday for the chance to have access to our incredible network and receive invaluable advice through workshops, feature presentations, and one-on-one meetings with mentors and investors.

Still not convinced? In addition, if selected, you’ll get immediate access to over $150K worth of perks and services from companies like Amazon AWS, Rackspace, and Azure, not to mention as much RedBull as you can handle. Gotta have something to keep you going late at night, right?

At the end of the program, you’ll have the chance to pitch before an audience of investors, members of the press and the startup community in efforts to secure financing for your startup on Demo Day. This provides you with a great opportunity to get exposure to investors from the US, Europe, and Canada, as well as with the media and startup community.

If you’re serious about taking your startup to the next level, we have the network and ecosystem to accelerate it. All you need to is apply today and bring your A-Game –  we’ll take care of the rest.

 

Final week to apply to FounderFuel!

November 24, 2014 at 12:36 pm

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A lot of work can be done in one week. Set your sights, and with the right hustle you’d be surprised what just one week could produce. Need something great to accomplish this week? Looking for that one task that is both achievable and rewarding? Apply to FounderFuel today! There’s only one week left to get your applications in, and while it definitely will not take you all week to apply, fill it out today and we guarantee you’ll feel more productive all week long!

Applying to FounderFuel can take your startup and help rocket it towards success. Show us your MVP, and we’ll help you find your product-market fit, exposing you throughout the program to our incredible mentors and exclusive guest speakers.

Ready for some numbers? Here are more details about what the application process and program entails:

Criteria:

- be a team of two or more: no single founders

- have at least one technical co-founder

- work full-time on the business

- be in Montreal for the full 12 weeks of the program

Timeline:

- November 29th (THIS SATURDAY!) – Applications close

- February 9th – Program starts

- May 7th – Demo Day

Here’s what you’ve got to lose by not applying:

- $50K – $100K for 6%-9% equity on Day 1 of the program

- $150K in convertible debt for “Venture Ready” companies at Demo Day  

- $150K of exclusive discounts on services you probably already use

- 3 months of free office space in the Valley for select companies

- 120 startup veteran Mentors: Serial Entrepreneurs, Investors and Senior Execs

- 1K+ people at Demo Day, the largest event of its kind in North America

- Read more of what our Alumni have to say here.

Ready to take the plunge? Show us what you’ve got and apply today!

FounderFuel CTO Panel

November 19, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Please note: this event will be rescheduled to a later date.

 

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Brrr it sure is cold outside! What better way then to cozy up with a fireside chat?! Are you considering applying for FounderFuel’s Spring 2015 cohort? Interested in the more technical side of the program? Come check out what the program has to offer as we host a panel of CTOs! Stay tuned – we’ll announce the 4 panelists from various stage startups in the next few days. Here’s what the night will look like:

Schedule
5:00PM - Doors open for a networking session
5:45PM -  Fireside chat with a FounderFuel alumni CTO 
6:00PM – The panel will begin and Sylvain Carle will lead the discussion 

With the Spring 2015 applications currently open, FounderFuel is actively seeking early-stage companies who have an MVP and can spend the program achieving product/market fit. Be sure to attend the event, and apply for the Spring 2015 Cohort if you think this applies to you!

 Want to learn more about FounderFuel? Check out our upcoming Demo Day on Dec 2nd!

 

Think your team has what it takes?

Apply