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 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: 

Day 8: One Week until Mentor Day!

February 18, 2015 at 4:13 pm

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As the teams quickly learn what it is that they do and do not know, we look towards Mentor Day as an opportunity for them to seek – and find – support. 

Next Wednesday, mentors will be stopping by to hear pitches, offer guidance, and participate in roundtables with each of the seven startups. 

We hope to connect each team with a mentor of the perfect fit. 

Stay tuned to hear about our Wednesday afternoon Founder talks, where we invite seasoned entrepreneurs to host an open dialogue between themselves and the cohort.

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Day 6: Grind It Out + Think Smart

February 16, 2015 at 4:52 pm

We begin our second week with a nod towards our first. At this point, the teams have thought extensively about their focus. They’ve learnt how to sharply and succinctly articulate that focus. Striking out anything that isn’t core to their business, they’ve established a foundation upon which all else is to be built. This foundation, though necessarily always being open to revision, should constantly be revisited.

The next step is working on multiple Go-To-Market strategies and the value propositions associated with each. In doing so, the teams will develop an understanding of how successful different channels are likely to be, to then decide which are worth putting resources into.

Throughout the upcoming week the teams are asked to bear in mind the impossibility of growing quickly all on their own. They’ve been reminded that using the desires and resources of something or someone else is a necessity. This is the part of business that requires a combination of grind and cleverness: rapidly maximizing reach.



Day 5: Show & Tell

February 13, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Today is Show & Tell.

It’s the initial opportunity for each of our teams to showcase their product. The purpose of the exercise is to explore what’s critical to each business, to discuss the elements that make each idea big and to choose the right metrics to generate excitement.

We keep the companies within our cohort under wraps until Demo Day. For that reason, the following tips on how to create and execute the perfect pitch are being relayed to you at a high level. We hope you enjoy…

Frame your pitch around the question: if your company died tomorrow, who would care and why?
Describe why you’ll succeed now (time sensitivity is key).
Relate your one real insight – even though everything else is ancillary.
Describe what’s going to happen to the world as a result of your business.
Reference at a high level the way in which your company is taking advantage of a shift in the world.
Articulate why it is that you believe (aside from a gut feeling) that people need your product.  
Has your product turned something dumb into something smart? Explain how.
Be prepared to say, with confidence, that what you’re providing is necessary for reasons X, Y and Z.
Focus on your piece of the market, be specific about your place in that piece, then clearly describe how you’ve gotten there.
Meet your audience in the middle: not dumbed down, not at too high of a level.
Frame your product from two points of view: your consumers and your industry’s.
Don’t oversell; don’t overhype.
Don’t make your audience have to leap.
Never omit a mention of your competition.
Exclude anything un-impactful.

We can’t wait for what’s to come! Continue following the journey here:  

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Day 3: Why You, Why Now?

February 11, 2015 at 4:43 pm

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The hallways are empty as the teams prep for Show & Tell this Friday.

Today’s talk on establishing objectives in order to formulate the perfect pitch began with the question:  “why you, why now?”

This is why teams are working on describing their unique value in the space they want to dominate. Once the teams can articulate why them and why now, they’re well on their way to creating goals and objectives that will get them there as soon as possible. With these objectives, they can pitch their vision. After all, you pitch what you want to become. 

Goal-setting tips overheard today:
“Don’t set (non-investment related) goals over 12 months from now – for startups, these are science fiction.”
“Know what you don’t know, then find support.”
“Sometimes you have to suspend all disbelief.”
“Anchor everything on your long term value proposition.”
“Constantly re-prioritize.”
“Find a work/life balance (it IS possible).”
“Use your sounding board.”
“Get acquainted with what you have to offer and how you can optimize it.”

 Stay tuned for details on Show & Tell and, as always, you can find out about all things FounderFuel here:

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Day 1: Welcoming the Spring 2015 Teams!

February 9, 2015 at 4:37 pm

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“It’s not a program – it’s a process.”

Today is the first day of a 12-week process. The 7 startups within the 7th cohort have arrived and moved in. Following introductions over lunch, the teams jumped right into elevator pitches and value propositions.

We’re pumped for the rest of this jam-packed week! A schedule of talks, meet-ups and meals has been created in the hopes of acquainting this cohort with the fast-paced nature of FounderFuel. These events will be a chance to connect each of the seven teams to all networks now available to them: the FounderFuel/Real Ventures team, Alumni, Mentors and Partners.

Check out some of the snippets overheard today:
“We’ve been waiting for this for months.”
“Those that do the best at FounderFuel are those that are looking for other people to help them.”
“So none of you have gotten it right today, but that’s okay, that’s why you’re here.”
“Perspective comes from two things: (1) periodically disconnecting from your business to focus on the concept of business itself, and (2) constant, unambiguous feedback.”

 We’ve only just begun the process of fostering greatness, and we’ll be keeping you up-to date every step of the way.

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24 hours till Demo Day!

December 1, 2014 at 4:09 pm

We can’t believe it! In just 24 hours #FFDemoDay will be here! Pitches will be delivered, and more mingling than you could imagine will happen. It’s hard to believe that the 3 months of the cohort have already passed, but that’s the whirlwind that is FounderFuel!


Tomorrow will be one wild ride for the companies, and an incredible show for all those attending. We’re already so proud of all they’ve accomplished so far, and can’t wait to see what they deliver for you tomorrow.

Has the suspense gotten to you yet? Are you ready to finally see who is in the Fall 2014 cohort?! Be sure to be there at 3PM to grab the best seats and don’t miss the big reveal!

Think your team has what it takes?