Early bird pricing for StartupFest


Early bird pricing for tickets to International Startup Festival end on June 1, 2013.

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We can all gripe about why founders and startups should not attend events, and they should get down to figuring out  if there is quantified market demand for their product.

But lets face it, summer feels like it is here in Toronto (it’s hot). And we all need to blow off some steam. So why not take some 2-3 days and connect in Montreal (or Vancouver more on that soon). Startup Festival early bird tickets sales end tomorrow (June 1, 2013). There is an amazing lineup full of local, national and international recognizable talent. Come to Montreal. Be prepared to listen to amazing stories from real founders and investors about how they figured out traction for their companies.

Folks I’m looking forward to hearing stories from:

Dulcie MaddenDulcie Madden

Co-founder of Rest Devices, Inc.

Joe_ChernovJoe Chernov

VP Marketing at Kinvey

Fred DestinFred Destin

Early Stage VC at Atlas Venture

Jen van der Meer picJen van der Meer

Advisor, Luminary Labs

Michael BaumMichael Baum

Founder of Splunk, Venture Partner at Rembrandt Venture Partners

The part that I look forward to the most, is the part where I hang out with folks from Toronto (and beyond) because we’re all too busy with companies, family and kids. So I get to hang out with my friends Zak Homuth , Mark MacLeod , April Dunford , Harley Finkelstein , Ben Yoskovitz, Roger Chabra , Andrew D’Souza , Brydon Gilliss
and Ken Seto .

I’m going for the opportunity to learn from other people’s experiences. I’m going to connect with folks I’d otherwise have to travel to multiple places to connect with. And probably most importantly, I’m looking forward to strengthening the connections I have with folks I already know.

Register Now


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Where are the Canadian VC bloggers?

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I’m awarding Mark MacLeod (@startupcfo) of Real Ventures the Canadian VC Blogging Superhero Badge. Mark is producing world-class class content focused on SaaS Math including:

This is content that every entrepreneur looking to understand the basic metrics and mechanics of a SaaS business should read. Mark is the one Canadian VCs producing must read, world class content. It is the first time a Canadian VC has been producing content since Rick Segal switched teams (we’re much happier with Rick playing for the entrepreneurs). Rick’s post on Inside the Process is still the de facto standard for understanding the fundraising process from a VC perspective..

I keep wondering why more Canadian VCs don’t produce content.  It’s not like they don’t have access to blogging tools or the understand of how they should be used. For example, Inovia Capital uses their blog as a promotional tool for their portfolio and their activities in the community (not to pick on Chris, John, Kevin and team because they are really an amazing entrepreneur friendly firm that any entrepreneur would benefit from having involved in your company).  We have others like Boris Wertz blogging about his portfolio and his analysis of the industry including his support activities like StartupVisa Canada. It is just that in comparison to quantity and quality of US investors exploring the power of the medium to reach potential entrepreneurs. We have had some other interesting attempts like DigitalPuck.ca and The C100 to bring together Canada focused investment discussion. The other very interesting blog is Mark R McQueen’s blog (@markrmcqueen). But why are there only 2 Canadian VCs writing interesting content for the medium they are investing in?

Using the terrible “the Canadian market is one-tenth the US market” you might deduce there should be only 10 interesting US VCs blogging. Bullshit. Larry Cheng provides a list of 100 VC blogs by traffic, some of which like Rick’s blog are no longer active. Here is my short list of 30 very interest US VCs blogs you should be reading (or at least on your radar).

  1. David Skok (@bostonVC)
  2. Fred Wilson (@fredwilson)
  3. Mark Suster (@msuster)
  4. Paul Graham (@paulg)
  5. Dave McClure (@davemcclure)
  6. Albert Wenger (@albertwenger)
  7. Brad Feld (@bfeld)
  8. Roger Ehrenberg (@infoarbitrage)
  9. Ben Horowitz (@bhorowitz)
  10. Mark Andreessen (@pmarcablog)
  11. Chris Dixon (@cdixon)
  12. Jeff Bussgang (@bussgang)
  13. Nivi and Naval – Venture Hacks
  14. David Hornik (@davidhornik)
  15. Fred Destin (@fdestin)
  16. Josh Kopelman (@joshk)
  17. Will Price
  18. Bill Gurley (@bgurley)
  19. Mike Arrington (@arrington)
  20. Ed Sim (@edsim)
  21. Seth Levine (@sether)
  22. David Cowan
  23. Scott Weiss (@W_scottweiss)
  24. Bijan Sabet (@bijan)
  25. Lightspeed Venture Partners
  26. Mark Peter Davis (@markpeterdavis)
  27. Mike Hirshland (@VCMike)
  28. Larry Cheng
  29. Rob Go (@robgo)

Maybe if you compare at the Q2 investment comparison it’s $7.5B by NVCA vs. $328MM by the CVCA where Canadian investment is 4.37% or the US VC market is roughly 23x bigger. It doesn’t matter. It seems that an interesting blog with insight and analysis of the market and trends is a requirement to differentiate and attract entrepreneurs in the US market.Why not here? Are Canadian VCs just lawyers, bankers and accountants with no real insight into market trends or company operations that can help entrepreneurs? I don’t believe that. So why are only 2 Canadian VCs actively blogging and providing insights? Is it that there is a limited number of potential deals and VCs already see every interesting deal? Is it that they are worried about competing against US led deals and don’t want to expend the effort to write a high quality blog? Do Canadian VCs not understand the medium?

It doesn’t matter. This is an open call for any Canadian VC to become an active blogger on StartupNorth.ca we’d love to have you write insightful pieces about the funding, market and landscape to help educate and inspire entrepreneurs.

The Upside Of Canada’s Startup Buying Binge

Editor’s note: This is a cross post from StartupCFO written by Mark MacLeod, it is a response to Mark Evans’ post The Downside of Canada’s Startup Buying Binge. Mark MacLeod is a Partner at Real Ventures, Canada’s largest seed VC fund. He is also an advisor to some of Canada’s leading startups including Shopify and others. Follow him on Twitter @startupcfo or StartupCFO.ca. This post was originally published on September 14, 2011 on StartupCFO.ca.

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Mark Evans posted recently about the downside of Canada’s recent startup buying binge. Year-to-date, we have had 22 exits in Canada. But save for outliers like Radian6 and Algorithmics, most have been relatively small. Mark correctly argues that there are long term negative implications to these early exits: losing talent to the US and not building mid to large scale companies that can really bolster our tech scene.

Can’t argue with that and I have posted in the past about the importance of large tech companies to our ecosystem. But, exits are like pizza, even when they’re bad (small) they’re good. Why?

Returns to LPs: Returns in the Canadian venture industry since inception are negative. Some funds have delivered returns, but the industry as a whole has not. That won’t work if we want to attract non-government LPs who are motivated by returns vs. policy, job creation. So, any exit that contributes towards fund performance is good.

Generating repeat entrepreneurs: The reason (I believe) why many of our exits are relatively small is that the founders behind those companies have not had a positive exit before. As an investor, you should not bet against human nature. And I think it’s perfectly natural for an entrepreneur that has the opportunity to sell early and pocket a few million to do that. The trick is to keep that entrepreneur in the system and working on the next company. The next time, that same entrepreneur will set his or her sights much higher.

Eliminating borders: It used to be an uphill battle to convince US investors to come up here. Now with the elimination of witholding taxes on exit and with our companies doing great things US investors are coming up here more often and earlier in the startup lifecycle.

So when you think about what’s happening now, my hope is that we are setting the stage for long term success and the creation of some tech giants right here in Canada. To enable that, investors need to do more of the following:

Give Canadian Startups more capital: This might be ironic coming from a guy at a seed fund, but it’s a well known fact that Canadian startups raise less than their US counterparts. I think it’s fine to operate with small $ before product/ market fit but as soon as you are ready for goto market acceleration you need serious fuel. Canadian investors and entrepreneurs need to continue building strong syndicates that include US investors that can write big cheques.

We did that at Shopify. The investor group there includes two large tier 1 funds that can help Shopify become a giant in its industry.

Enable founders to take cash off the table: As a founder you’re more likely to “go for it” if you can sell some shares and not have to worry about cash. This is common practice in the US. We need to do it more up here. It does not make sense early on but series B and up, I think it makes sense.

Surround our CEOs with mentorship: When you look at the truly giant tech companies, they are almost always founder-led. So that tells me that we have to surround our founders with peers, mentors, coaches, advisors to help them make that transition from founder to CEO.

We also need tech companies going public here in Canada, but that’s another topic for another time. So, I say bring on these early exits and realize they are setting the stage for great things to come.

Editor’s note: This is a cross post from StartupCFO written by Mark MacLeod, it is a response to Mark Evans’ post The Downside of Canada’s Startup Buying Binge. Mark MacLeod is a Partner at Real Ventures, Canada’s largest seed VC fund. He is also an advisor to some of Canada’s leading startups including Shopify and others. Follow him on Twitter @startupcfo or StartupCFO.ca. This post was originally published on September 14, 2011 on StartupCFO.ca.