Grow Conference 2014 – Day 1

Posted on September 3, 2014

Theme: Living in a connected world Is Disruptive Innovation Crossing the Chasm or Jumping the Shark? - Brian Solis (Altimeter Group) -digital analyst studying impact of tech on business -we don't challenge convention enough -amazed by how quickly Uber and Airbnb became verbs. -there is an unsaid belief that everyone is disruptive. But that isn't true. Too many people copying. Too many simply making iterative improvements. -we need to ...

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Does the AAA company ever get created now?

Posted on September 2, 2014

There are a large number of small businesses in Canada and the United States that include AAA in the name.  The reason for doing so goes back to how companies were typically found by their customers 20+ years ago - the phone book.  For those who missed the phone book, here is a sample page from one in Hurricane, Utah. If someone was looking for your business, being placed first in the list would be ideal.  That started a trend where ...

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Additional Thoughts – Book a Meeting Post Mortem

Posted on July 16, 2014

At the end of April, we shut down Book a Meeting after 8 months of effort to build a better way to find the right time for a meeting.  I have previously detailed my lessons learned from running Book a  Meeting. Over the past three months, I have reflected further on the lessons learned and I missed a big one. Meetings between people have class hierarchies or social stratification. When we go through the process of booking a ...

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The hidden benefits of Y Combinator

Posted on May 26, 2014

When startups consider participating in  Y Combinator (or any accelerator) there are a number of obvious benefits including mentorship and funding.  I would argue that the hidden or unspoken benefits of the program in many ways can outweigh the obvious benefits.  With 7 companies from Velocity attending Y Combinator we have some good anecdotal data on the additional benefits of joining the YC program. From my perspective there are three ...

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Collision Conference – Day 2

Posted on May 17, 2014

Day 2 of the Collision Conference was shorter (ended by 2:30pm) and I had the opportunity to attend two roundtable sessions rather than listening to everything on the main stage.  As such, my notes for the roundtable sessions included below are ones that many would not have received.  Mark Suster held a roundtable beside us which was very well attended - wish I had the notes from that one! The Optimism Bias - Tali Sharot -“remarri...

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Collision Conference – Day 1

Posted on May 17, 2014

I had the opportunity to attend the Collision Conference in Las Vegas which was the first time the team behind The Summit brought their conference to North America.  It was held in Downtown Las Vegas and spoke to much of the revitalization that is happening with the Downtown Project.  The conference is a blur of activity with numerous speakers for very short bursts along with startups pitching, showcases and tons of networking.  I tried ...

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Book a Meeting – Post Mortem

Posted on April 30, 2014

On Friday (April 25th), Brian Hogg and I decided to shut down Book a Meeting after 8 months of active development and work on the project. I want to share what I learned through this process in the hopes it can help the next startup founder. Background Info Book a Meeting was conceived in April 2013 based on a conversation I had with Ted Livingston where he told me to solve one of my own problems. As the Director of Velocity, I spend a ton of ...

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TEDxUW 2014 Talk – Productivity

Posted on March 20, 2014

I had the opportunity to share my thoughts on productivity with the TEDxUW community this past Saturday (March 15th).  For those that were not able to attend, I will link to the video when the TEDxUW team publishes it in a couple of weeks.  In the meantime, several people have asked for more information on the tips I provided and links to the products I suggested.  I hope my tips help you become more productive! I have found three items ...

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Dangers of Chained Assumptions

Posted on February 5, 2014

A common challenge for early stage entrepreneurs is finding a problem that is worth solving but struggling to come up with a viable business model that supports it. This is a challenge that tends to impact student entrepreneurs more than most because it is very difficult to make money when solving student problems. One of the common reactions to an inability to find a business model is simply to avoid that part of building the business. ...

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The 3 Competitor Rule

Posted on December 19, 2013

Last week in San Francisco, I played a game with several people where I would pitch a company in Waterloo and then ask for someone to name as many companies as they could that were attempting to solve the same problem.  I was blown away by the answers because almost every single time they were able to list at least 3 companies who were in that space. The companies named might have been trying a different approach or using different technology ...

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