It's a wrap – Founders and Funders Toronto

The inaugural Founders & Funders went off without a hitch. It was a fantastic evening. It wouldn’t have been possible without our sponsors, thank you very much Microsoft and JLA Ventures, the event wouldn’t have happened without their support.

Jess and Chris from Istoica snapped a fantastic pictures of the event and the attendees. The gallery from Founders & Funders event is available. Maybe we should do a set of hockey cards of Founders & Funders. On the back of each card it could have stats like amount raised, fund size, number of deals, etc. Until then, check out the pictures from Istoica.

TechCapital and AideRSS Anand Agarawala, Bumptop Bogdan Chimleski Francis Fast

Craig Fitzpatrick StartupNorth - Jevon & Jonas Tom Purves Leila Boujnane

Selim Teja and Mark Skapinker Stephen Benson

The goal of Founders & Funders is to create a social environment where the people who fund companies and the people who start companies can begin conversations outside of the pitch. As an attendee, I’ll extend an invitation to connect you with any other attendee you might have missed.

Thank you for making the inaugural Toronto Founders & Funders a success. We look forward to hosting another event later in 2008.

David & Jevon
Jevon and David

Game On Finance – Browser going to wallop Super Mario

Last week we got our finance on at Game On, a top notch event by Interactive Ontario that brought together thought leaders from the games business. Right from the start it was apparent the games industry is incredibly diverse.

Over half the attendees were in the console game business, by and large a mature industry. More than a few people didn?t appreciate their industry being called mature? but what else can you call it when $15 million is required to create a new console title and there is virtually no way to get a project financed without the backing of an established publisher like Ubisoft or EA. “The large investments required rule out venture capital interest” noted Randy Thompson of Argon Venture Partners, so financing a title more closely resembles feature film (without the promise of Hollywood glamour). Eric Zimmerman, Co-Founder of Gamelab, made a particularly incisive point by posing the question ?do ever more realistic lumbering 3d giants really drive greater entertainment value??

Also in attendance were developers of mobile games. The mobile games business is currently controlled by carriers who use their decks (the preset homepage and application managers) to strong arm developers, control billing, limit distribution, and take a hefty cut. The challenges of mobile game developers are many, perhaps the most significant being porting (ensuring a game will work on the 1,500+ mobile phones on the market). Phil Giroux of Magmic Games, one of the most successful mobile game companies out there, noted Magmic spends significantly more time porting than creating new titles. There are definitely some opportunities in the mobile space for startups, but my guess is that they involve less game development and more figuring out how to ensure games work across devices. How many of you have tried entering the mobile application space? Have any of you succeeded?

Bowser - Game OnBy far the most exciting space at least as far as startups are concerned is internet gaming. The flash enabled browser represents a distribution channel larger than xbox, playstation, and wii combined. There are of course challenges, internet users have grown accustomed to free. John Walsh, CEO of Groove Media, really blew the crowd away with their plan to monetize free games with in-game advertising and upgrades. Others must also be impressed, the Toronto based Groove Media has already raised $30 million, talk about taking it to the next level!

We met a great group of Canadian entrepreneurs at Game On Finance. Vikas Gupta of Transgaming Technologies, John Walsh of Groove Media, and Nathan Gunn of BitCasters. We?ll be following up with profiles of each over the next few weeks, cause one thing is for sure, Canadian entrepreneurs will be behind the next revolution in gaming. – Create your own Knitting Pattern

smartpatterns.pngI wasn’t exactly sure what to think when I first took a look at, a Waterloo, On startup that has 2 employees and has been in development since 2003. Smartpatterns is a windows application, not a web application, that lets you create knitting patterns using a drag-and-drop interface.

Once you have created an image of the sweater you want, and have added the proper measurements as well, the software will produce a standard knitting pattern that will let even an amateur create a complex piece, such as a sweater. is a great example of how a company can build and leverage an Arts and Crafts community in order to build a healthy market. I think SmartPatterns, with their knitting-specific tools, has a huge opportunity to create a market for custom-made knitted items. This might sound crazy to some, but there might be a market for it: On-Demand custom knitted sweaters, scarfs, afghans and more.

One thing I loved about Indochino was their on-demand access to production labour that allows them to create tailored suits on demand. In that case, Indochino outsources to specific tailors in China.

I don’t know a lot of knitters, but the ones I do know all love to create things for their friends and family. I can imagine that they might enjoy getting paid to knit just as much. A sort of return to a more primitive economy, but with all the efficiencies and possibilities of a piece of custom-design software like SmartPatterns.

The opportunity for SmartPatterns is to provide their software so people can design the perfect item and then SmartPatterns provides the knitting pattern to the knitter, who will produce the item and then ship it to the buyer directly.

Is there are market for custom-made knitted goods? I am not sure, but I am convinced that it is far more scalable and profitable to become a platform for a market than it is to simply be selling software to a small community of users. That said, SmartPatterns seems to have a solid tool that produces solid results for their users. That can’t be underestimated.

Since their launch in December, SmartPatterns has brought in over 1000 paying customers and they have sold their first pattern to a yarn manufacturer (which I understand gets included in the yarn as a perk). That shows me that there is a huge need for their core product and that their opportunities to generate more profit, such as the way I suggest, could be something they experiment with as they grow their core market.

SmartPatterns is Angel funded, but is currently seeking a new round of funding.