Tag Archives: democamp

DemoCamp Toronto 29 WrapUp

Cross posted from StartupNorth.ca

Last night marked amazingly the 29th event of Toronto’s increasingly supernumerative DemoCamp scene. To warm up the crowd we had a little help from legendary Canadian investor and the man with a few more twitter followers than you, @howardlindzon. In case you didn’t make it, here’s my notes for you, of varying coherency, of the course of the evening.

    The job of entrepreneurs is to get in the way of trends. You don’t need to predict the future you just need to get in the way of trends. The larger and longer the trend the better. Lindzon is not a value investor, he’s a momentum and sentiment investor.

    Lindzon started his company through social leverage. But it didn’t come over night, he met Fred Wilson over the course of a year and becoming friends before starting Wallstrip which they sold to CBS. And gained some more cred. But once you sell your company you lose control of your vision. Then he passed on Twitter at 20M valuation. You don’t always catch the winner. You make mistakes. But he could see when he was wrong so he was, by force of will, able to get into Tweetdeck, Bit.ly and others, the idea was to put himself in the way of the trend. I didn’t understand Twitter but I knew it was a trend and was able to buy everything around Twitter. You have to use social leverage to find investors that understand your domain and understand your passion.

    Raising money is an art. We’re in a great environment to raise money but that doesn’t entitle you. You have to have a great angle of attack against your competitors, you have to be great at telling your story. You have to explain the benefits of the product not the features.
    Dashboards, I want to get my life down to as few screens as possible. Also I read Hackernews and TechMeme in order to understand the sentiment of my industry.

On to the Demos:

500 pixels – Oleg Gutsol @500px
There are many picture websites like it, but this one is ours. Very pretty pictures. We promote the best pictures in the world. Recently closed funding, getting some media buzz. Also a premium themed galleries for photographers. What we nailed was not just the product but the community. Something that they doing better than Flickr “Flickr has become a dump site” 500px is an art site.

Sending secure files, slick interface. Common demo gods, Soo… “lets assume that you received the email…”. No, wait it’s there, to the adulation of the crowd, stupid Gmail delay. You send an notification email and then it also calls you to IVR read you a passcode. Then everything is tracked. Wants to thank Assange for helping to push their business forward. Accountants, lawyers anyone who needs to make sure their documents get there every single time. And delivery receipt is an added value.

High Score House – turn household chores into a game for your kids
Great playful signup screen that sets the tone. Brilliant super obvious reminders and rewards for doing stuff like making a bookmark and remembering your PIN. App awards virtual currency (stars) that parents can set the price for like what the value of helping to make dinner and what points are worth for tv time or a new toy. The Ah Ha! moment is when kids are running up the stairs to do clean their room. Also great for kindness points, what have you done that’s kind today? Cool! You rock! You earned it! This app really rocks and has so much character. App works great on the ipad. Beta testing is spending just a tiny bit of money a day on facebook to bring on 10 moms at a time. Key dashboard metric number of exclamation points in emails from moms. Lookout ClubPenguin, with a little work, High Score House could will be the next big exit that gets Canada to a billion dollar year. Judging by Twitter response, High Score House wins Democamp this round.

Money quotes: we’ve got moms all over loving us, but like, in the acceptable way
Top question: Can you make a version that works on spouses? [I don’t know, but in our household we’re already debating who’d the “parent” side of the account…]

Vizualize.me – is a startup that won startup weekend. It’s a 5 day old startup.
Problem is how do you display yourself in a different way than a resume. It’s an infographic that scrapes your linkedin profile and makes really pretty graphs. Sign-up rate they just hi 12 thousand users 5 days after launching the company… [holy crap] Product itself is nicely viral because you post your infographic to twitter or facebook or linked and other people see it and feel compelled to create their own. Feemium businessmodel. We want to be the site you go to brand yourself visually and socially. Could easily expand into other personal visual branding applications… but that can wait at least until next week.

WeAreTOTech – A new community service launched by @Michele_Perras, @LeilaBoujnane & @AprilDunford
A Toronto-based Directory that will profile, showcase, promote and connect profiles of local tech heros in Toronto, to help you make connections, to help you find advisors, mentors and conference speakers. Inspired by WeAreTechNY and “in the hopes of connecting everyone, shining a spotlight on developers, CEOs and founders, executive, hackers who make our tech community what it is, we decided to give you We Are TO Tech.” This is a fantastic idea, and what they need right now is you if you fit the description to fill out this form here.

XtremelabsAlpha Slides demoed by James Woods
Remove some of the failings of presentations, by making a simple mobile app that broadcasts slide decks to everyone in your audience’s devices simultaneously. Works in a coffee shop, boardroom or conference. Alpha Slides is in the App Store now. I can cast a mini slide deck from one mobile device to another. When I slide a slide it slides on your slide too. Cross platform is the key (apple now has mobile keynote for iphone but only does iphones). Business model is to sell app space, and freemium features. You can follow a conference when not at a conference or I can follow a conference when I’m at one even if I can’t get close to the screen and take it with me when I’m done. A company like Dell could have their own secure instance if they want to as an internal meeting tool. App has potential, could see this taking off in the enterprise as well as the personal or conference usage.

That’s it folks. Awesome caliber of demos again this round. We’re now looking forward to the big DemoCampTO 3-oh. You know what they say, thirty is flirty.

Further reading: @Sachac’s nifty sketchnotes of DemoCamp Toronto 29

Live notes from DemoCamp22 with Yossi Vardi


The Jewish mother is the secret weapon of the Isreal tech success. It’s a state of mind. All of your life you aspire to prove to your mother that you are not an idiot. (This is a lost cause). But this is a matter of culture that create success. In particular jewish culture it is panic and guilt. And if one morning you wake up and you don’t feel guilt then you panic. This is what Yossi Vardi, the great Israeli entrepreneur and generally hilarious guy is telling us, somewhere amidst the first 37 minutes or so of his answer to David Crow’s question, the first introductory question of the night I might add of “how would Toronto recreate Israel’s vibrant startup scene”.

It’s like the piano and the pianist. You need infrastructure the finance, the support, the institutions but you need the pianist drive and aspirations and community. You need attitude towards failure that means failure is not shameful. The biggest barrier to innovation is the fear to look stupid.

You have to have an ecosystem. It’s not just one component, it’s the education, the government, the media, the community.

Why do you invest in so many companies? The nominal answer is that I am greedy and want to make money The true answer is that I love to work with smart and young people. Newton said if I have achieved greatness it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants. In my case I stand on the shoulders of children.

I don’t read business plans, I consider it a personal offense to give me one. Business plans are a sub-genre of science fiction. The common thing with business plans and sausages, is that the only people who are eating them don’t know how they are made.

I don’t like demos because you have to fake that you like it. Either they think that you don’t get it or they think that you are just being considerate. and at my age you can only fake an orgasm so many times a day.

So I look first for talent. You have to go to the talent. When I see a talented kid, I feel like I am collecting rare butterflies. To find the talented kid in the class, you don’t ask the teacher, you don’t ask the parents you ask the other kids in the class. So I ask my investees to help me find talent. Then I look for character (no jerks).

I don’t do diligence, I like to fund the proof on concept. If after half a year the kid is still doing what he said he would do six months ago then he’s doing it wrong. Talented, nimble, nice character is what you look for in people

As last word, David asks Yosi Vardi one last piece of advice for entrepreneurs. Says Yossi, quoting Paul Getty, an oil man: there are three rules for success
1. rise early,
2. work hard,
3. strike oil.

A word from our sponsor. Rogers Venture Group formed in January, already they have funded a few mobile startups. Ready to start all the way a seed stage, as well as provide connections, resources and access of Rogers. Always looking for powerful ideas and amazing talent. Founded among others, Thoora presenters and techcrunch finalists. [Rogers Ventures is pretty cool, you may want to get in touch]


Agilebuddy “Simplyfying Scrum Online”
Part of brightspark companies. brings soc media to dev teams. Apparently 75% of companies still using outdated techonologies (that means excel) for managing projects. The problem with this demo is that it is not a demo. We are supposed to be compassionate to the demoers but there used to be rule about powerpoint. Some screenshots now, it’s pretty much facebook for your project with a wall and comments per item etc.

First of three startups in Toronto to emerge from extreme ventures incubation program. Assetize lets social media users monetize their accounts. The idea is to connect brands with micro bloggers on for example twitter. They “know” what users are talking about and connect them to advertisers. Slick interface for buying adds or setting up. Waiting for the wicked problem of economics in social media. No one micro-blogger has enough traffic to make any money at this, let alone spam their friends for pennies. the examples are say semi-pro tweeters like NBA news or women’s fashion twitter account. This isn’t for you personal twitter. Yossi’s question, what is the reaction of the users. Answer oh they love it. honest.

another brightspark venture. It’s like post-money night at dc. istopover is ebay for home owners. This is another powerpoint demo arg. Does someone need to borrow my rocket stick so they can do a proper demo? They also provide a secure escrow service for the rental so it’s lower risk for the renters. It’s hip to be frugal and the world is more social now so these trends apparently fit in. By god man where is the demo? Question about safety: a lot safer than craigslist because you can get to know each other on facebook first.

Trying to solve the web problem of local information. The place database created by you. Google search fails frequently at common local searches this is true. So he wants to create augmented reality and so forth. Marketers and internet companies pay 20billion/yr for local databases. Data is free to use, free to add and crowdsourced model. so all this is fine but how does it get populated. It’s a gold rush model, first one to populate gets a piece of the revenue stream.

Superheroes Alliance
Our demoer today was born in 1986. Facebook made him verify his date of birth to login. It’s a social RPG, in facebook where you can create little superheroes in an image based game. And you can fight with/against friends and build up alliances (which helps with vitality). You can level up, you can hire sidekicks, you can buy vehicles. He just hired a ninja for 150k. Mostly played by males mostly 30 and up. Ok I think I would play this as a casual game. But not for 12hrs a day. Monetized by selling a virtual currency called science points and special items. Cash-flow positive, some users have spent triple digits. Next up is a celebrity game for women, where you can have showdowns with your girlfriends. Says Yossi “real world is the escape for people who cannot play online games”

Gets a big cheer for “so we’re not going to show a powerpoint and just go straight into the demo”. These kids are good. Thoora aggregates the blogosphere, the twittersphere and news stories to aggregate everything that everyone is talking about right now. This is pretty cool. Indexing 80M blogs and 4.5k news sources. Has ways of viewing news, by blogger view and by discussion. They also filterout say 80 different news stories that are actually just the same AP story. So this is technocrati mixed with google news, mixed with twitter trending topics all in one big “will it blend” moment. The money quote: “Aggregating is not that hard, all you gotta do is: sit down, think, and do a lot of crazy science”.

That, my friends, is how you strike oil.

Toronto DemoCamp keeps on ticking: number 18

DemoCamp Packed
Crowding in to watch the demos

Toronto’s venerable Democamp event kept on ticking last night at the “supermarket” in Toronto (after too long a break since February). Wonderful crowd out last night. But with the long hiatus the it seems the demand for camps is exceeding supply. The event was long sold out and so packed some might have called it barely legal. Before the first demo, we’d already drank the bar out of glassware.

It was refreshing to have DemoCamp back at a more social venue (read hipster drinking establishment). The problem was that supermarket is built like a long flat tube. Sight and sound was a challenge and presenters had a challenge keeping the crowd engaged. Kindof like presenting from the wrong end of a subway tunnel. The good news was several good demoers last night rose to the challenge.

Here are my hasty notes on the demos as they happened:

Refresh partners Roy
Refresh presenting analytics, for facebook aps. Better than google analytics their differentiator is they track influencer scores, viral coefficients that you can blend into your facebook aps which is key for growing your cpm from cents to dollars (that’s the theory anyway). Been running it in house for their brand customers, but are now releasing it? Looks like a handy tool for anyone trying to build viral apps.

Blueprint requirements centre
To do with increasing quality of requirements. It’s based on eclipse its for capturing requirements. Um the app is fine, but why are we watching a sales demo? Quote of the day: What the audience gets out of the demo: increased awareness of blueprint analytics. But Woo! seat licences are 10 grand. The audience appreciates this, also wants a version for free (not likely). It does have commenting and collaboration tools built in. For what it’s worth, looks like it does what it says on the tin: looks like it does a thorough job of capturing requirements for a major software project.

Demo3: labs.well.ca
Ali and his intern (you have to yell at interns) are up and they are hollering into the mic like rockstars so eveyone can hear and they are demoing live chat for ecommerce websites, it has avatars, the usual webchat features and looks pretty good. If you have a simple question to ask a website you might have a quick solution. They looked at free and paid solution and wanted something better. Its comet based so its scalable, its not webbased in the backend it’s jabber. and the live chat can push pages on the site without losing the conversation thread. Slick, a proper demo and the well guys have panache. Works with any jabber client, eg adium. Sign up, try it out at labs.well.ca

Demo 4: A Dr project student demo it seems like?, this one a little harder to follow. IRC Chat interface of sorts for drprojectbot for injecting and receiving ticket info.

Jesse brown Bitsrips
Introducing himself as the creator of the most fun website ever made in Toronto. This may actually be the most fun website ever made in Toronto. Bitstrips lets anyone make cartoons. You can pretty much make anybody. Its sort of a ridicule engine. Jesse is making himself now and it’s pretty cool. As soon as you make a character it exists in a number of expressions and poses. You can make a comic share with friends they can edit it. Its fully social you can embed on your blog and soon facebook. I now want to put bitstips in all my future blog posts.

Spreed is an iphone news and it speed reads articles for you with keywords somehow. So you can in theory read 300 to 400 words per minute. An unfortunate fail on the playing of audio with their demo video, but then we didn’t really want to see a canned marketing demo anyway. Combining cognitive science on reading comprehension with software. Nice to see mobile aps and apps with science behind them like this coming out of Toronto. Will have to try it first however to know if it really works.

Lastly: Jevon‘s Ignite rant
Great ignite rant by jevon on the vc industry in Canada. Vc investment has cratered in Canada, plethora of stats, it’s up to vcs and start-ups to save the industry, dream bigger connect to your communities, what’s new now are that communities are holding each other accountable, that there is a flood of new and connected talent in Canada. It’s up to investors to take risks discover this opportunity, it’s up to startups to kick ass and save the VC industry. More always at StartupNorth.ca and StartupIndex.ca.

That’s it. Was great to see everyone again, we’ll have to get more camps going again sooner (mental note). Personal fav demos of the night: well.ca, bitstrips and Jevon’s VC rant.