GROWtalks in Toronto Feb 21


Debbie Landa, Clare Ryan and the Dealmaker Media team are part of the reason that I love GROWConf and GROWtalks. They put on amazing events by putting entrepreneurs first, foremost, and front and centre. They are bringing GROWtalks to Toronto (Feb 21) and Montreal (Feb 19). And we have a discount code at the end of the post.

“A hands-on playbook for creating startup success”

I like learning by example. It’s a mixture of seeing what worked for someone else, and then trying the appropriate tactics customized for my situation. The challenge is trying to do with more efficiently than 9 or 10 coffee meetings. GROWtalks brings together the best entrepreneurs, who are killing it, and has them present what is working for them. THis is what GROWtalks is, an event for entrepreneurs with entrepreneurs sharing their strategy, tactics, metrics and successes, even the failures. (Full disclosure: I am MCing the GROWtalks event, however, I am not being compensated for this, but I do get the opportunity to participate and learn).

Check out photos from the 2012 GROWtalks event in Vancouver:

It’s rare we get this many awesome startup founders all talking about the hard part of their business. I know that all of these folks will be around throughout the day, they’ll be hanging out, answering questions. It’s going to be a fantastic day. Check out the line up:

I might be biased. My employer is an investor in some of the presenters. My cofounder is one of the presenters. But I’m honestly stoked about the speakers. I’m really looking forward to hearing Beltzner, Rutter, Fitton and Morrill. The mix of product, early customer acquisition and understanding lifetime value are converations I have with almost every founder. I’m very curious to hear the opinons, experiences and thoughts of this group.

Part of my MCing was to request StartupNorth logo tattoos for all the speakers (we’ll see if that happens), and a discount code. Register before Februrary 1, 2013 and get 10% off (use promotional code: startupnorth). It reduces the ticket price from $195 to $175.50.

GROWtalks Toronto

February 21, 2013, 10am-4pm

Size: 200-300 people
Speakers: 9 Industry leaders
Time: 10am-4pm

GROWtalks is a one day conference focused on how to create simple, actionable metrics, and use them to make better product and marketing decisions for startup success. Industry experts will share actionable advice to startup teams on how to improve design, product and customer development, acquisition, retention, and more.

Topics Covered:

  • Customer Development
  • UX/UI Design
  • Growth Hacking
  • Customer Retention
  • Fundraising
  • Customer Engagement
  • Product Development

Nail it before you scale it

Editor’s note: This is a cross post from The Meaford Group written by Peter Smith (LinkedIn). This post was originally published in January 28, 2012 on The Meaford Group.

The Homer by Carlos Bisquertt © 2007

I love working with Robin Hopper, my co-EIR at the Innovation Factory, for the simple fact that the guy has more catchy cool acronyms and phrases that make me sound so smart when I repeat them. “Nail it before you Scale it” is one of his latest.

Put simply, too many start-ups try to scale their marketing and sales organization before they have nailed their value proposition and the sales story that goes along with it. The consequences can be disastrous.  Over a beer, ask Robin about the story of how he blew through $3,000,000 in investment capital on one of his early start-ups because he expanded too early without really having the customer-compelling value proposition figured out.

Howard Gwin talks about the need for first time founders to create momentum and velocity in order to overcome the investor bias against funding first-time teams. (The Three P’s of a Technology Company). If you haven’t read his blog, do so now. He offers sage advice to wait before seeking VC funding until you have “proof points and a traction story that is damn near breathtaking”. Beyond that, don’t fall into the trap of trying to create that momentum before you fully understand why the market wants your technology and how you package it for consistent, reliable and predictable sales.

At the Innovation Factory, we work with many start-ups. Most go through one or more “Pivots” before they find the kernel at the core of their product or idea that will really sell.  Unfortunately, some will never find it because even though the idea or technology was interesting or cool, the product will never be compelling to an intensely competitive marketplace. Good entrepreneurs figure this out fast and kill the idea but then move on to another.

I recently met one of these entrepreneurs. He built and sold his first company when he was 19 for $100,000. (It may not sound like much but I wish I had a hundred grand when I was 19). His second company was a professional services company. He built it, had success and then killed it because he realized he could never scale it fast enough to fulfill his dream. His third company was a software company and dealt with project management infrastructure. The idea and technology were good but the market was crowded and more importantly, the sales process would be long. There also were too many factors out of his company’s control in the value chain of customers getting value from his product. He had arranged Angel funding and was ready to launch but instead he listened to advice and killed the company before taking the investment. His fourth company looks like a winner. It is in a hot space, has uniqueness, has the ability to scale quickly around a solid value proposition and he has surrounded himself with a good team. He has also already pivoted at least once on his value prop in order to get ready for traction.

So, if you are early in your game, my advice to you is simple:
  1. Figure out your value prop
  2. Keep pivoting it and your company until you have proof points that you can create massive momentum and traction quickly
  3. Use Friends & Family and Angel funding to keep you going through these phases
  4. Then go talk to VC’s.

In other words, “Nail it before you Scale it.”

Editor’s note: This is a cross post from The Meaford Group written by Peter Smith (LinkedIn). This post was originally published in January 28, 2012 on The Meaford Group.

CanCon 3.0

I was doing some evening reading I came across and interesting  thought on the intersection of social networks and content:

Media is fast-becoming an important area for the social network. The news feed, long a place for friends to share personal photos and thoughts, is becoming more of a content discovery engine

I’ve posited elsewhere on the role of content in the evolution of the Internet. In a nutshell, if Web 2.0 is the social web, then I respectfully submit for your consideration that Web 3.0 is the content web. What I mean by this isn’t that the Web 3.0 is about taking traditional content that has been available in traditional media (literature in books; movies on film; music on CDs) and putting them on the web, obviously we are well into that trend. What I’m referring to is entirely new forms of content that have yet to be created for the social web

Then my thoughts drift to Canada and the potential behind Canadian start-ups. Canadians have always been innovators in content, even if that innovation didn’t happen at home. Note:

So does all this bode well for Canadian content companies? As we think about national competitive differentiators, aspects of a country’s economy that sets it apart from the rest of the world- should we be thinking content?

If Canadian start-ups could combine technology smarts and content smarts, could the result be a whole new class of content, the likes of which we haven’t seen yet?