5 Thoughts on 5 Things I learned in 48 Hours

5 Things I learned in 48 Hours – Techvibes.com.

Some of my thoughts on some of his thoughts:

#1 The Valley Feel- yes, it is true it does exist and it is unique to Silicon Valley.  That is not to say other areas don’t have a great innovation vibe, far from it! Some other areas have great innovation. But regardless where you are, it is good to stay on top of what is happening in the Valley.

#2 The Valley Model- This I could take or leave. Yes, the Valley does have a unique VC-backed approach to innovation. But it isn’t the only way to fund and promote start-ups.

#3- Think Small in Scope, and Large in Market- I love this idea. So true. Focus on what you want to do, do it super-amazing well, and then do what you do to conquer a huge (and growing) market.

#4- You Can’t Phone It In- You really can’t. It takes work and preparation.

#5- Be Yourself- Leave the impersonations to the comedians.

#6- Start Local- I think this is the most interesting and ties in with points #1 and #2. Yes, be aware of what is happening in the Valley. Hell, be inspired by it, but don’t try to copy it (so I guess this ties in to point #5 also.) Find what is unique about your area and then build on that existing strength found, fund and grow your start-up.

Cognovision acquired by Intel

UPDATE: We are hearing that the acquisition price tag is closer to $30m and possibly even higher. 

Another great exit for the Toronto startup community and some great news in advance of CIX in a few weeks. Toronto based Cognovision has reportedly been acquired by intel. According to DailyDOOH, which covers the digital out of home market, the pricetag was $17m.

Cognovision was the winner of the CIX pitch competition last year.

I have to admit that when I first heard the Cognovision pitch, it felt holodeck cool. It also seemed “too good to be true” — Turns out I was wrong and the company shot to ~$1m in revenue pretty quickly. Using a camera on top of a digital display, Cognovision could give you some rough estimates that covered:

  • Actual Impressions – The number of people who look at your displays
  • Length of Impressions – How long people look for
  • Potential Audience Size – The number of people who walk by
  • Dwell Time – How long people stay near your displays
  • Anonymous Demographics – Demographics of your audience (gender and age bracket)

Congrats to Shahzad, Haroon an the entire team.

It's about to get a little crazy out there . . .

Ok, here’s the thing. The “is this another bubble?” conversation has been going on for a while, and everyone was able to agree that there hasn’t been a bust imminent so far. It might have been dragged out by the sluggish economy, it might have been a function of a lot of effort going in to building actual technology and less going in to building companies, I don’t know.

But it is clear now that a change has taken place. I no longer talk to breathless and frustrated entrepreneurs who can’t find anyone to do their deal, instead I am hearing from frustrated and excited VCs who are trying to get in to the next hot deal. Personally, I LOVE it. Some really great deals are going to get done that SHOULD get done, but might not have just a few years ago.

Fred wilson put the stake in the ground today and his post will go down in history as the first one to truly call the bubble.

Things are going to get wild very soon. This is a great time to be raising capital as a startup. A lot of fundamentals are now either stable or rapidly moving up. From economic indicators (and their relation to the Web) to the creation of new funds. From consumer to enterprise. Things are good, all good. Get out there and build build build!


This is where we can easily start to make mistakes as a community. I have written about our need to think differently about the Canadian startup ecosystem and that feels more important than ever now.

The first DemoCamps, which were started at the lowest point of the trough between the last bubble and today, were focused on finding the most innovative, interesting and valuable ideas/companies and there was very little focus on anything other than a few fundamentals. Who would pay for this? Why is it valuable? Will you be able to scale it?

Let’s keep asking those questions and lets make sure we build STRONG startups in the next 5 years. Valuations will rise and the volume of startups will continue to increase, but I believe we can do it in a healthy and sustainable way.

LPs need to focus on backing funds that can create value in their portfolio, not just the ones that can get them the sexiest deals (at the highest valuations no doubt).

VCs need to avoid acting like every deal is the deal of a lifetime. We are JUST getting to a place where we can create startups in some quantity here in Canada. Overfeeding the newborns will just mean there is less for the kids who come later.

Startups need to remember that valuation isn’t everything. A VC who understands your business, your customers and who can stick with you for longer than a few years is going to be critical. Don’t just jump at the first goofball who gives you the valuation you want. They’ll be coming out of the woodwork.

Chances that anyone will listen to this? Zero.