Tag Archives: events

The State Valley Money in 2013 – Liveblogging from START SF


Unless you are feeling particularly exceptional, now’s not a great time to be raising money for your consumer internet startup. But there is money still out there.

Had the great opportunity to be invited to attend the private START in San Fran today put on by the folks behing f.ounders. One of the first panels on Micro VC I took a few notes. And I thought few of my friends would be interested in some inside scoop on the current valley funding environment circa mid-2013. If our rotating door on Ashbury st (aka The Unofficial Visiting B&B for Canadian Tech Nerds) is any indicator, there’s still lots of opportunity down here.

Here’s my speed notes on the session, errors or crazy-talk is probably my fault in typing.

Panel: Micro-VC – 4 Small Funds Focused on seed through series A software VC
Mike Maples (Floodgate), Aileen Lee (Cowboy Ventures/KPCB),
Jeff Clavier (SoftTech), Alex Mittal (Funders Club)
Moderator: Tomio Geron (Forbes)

For some reason, the panel started backwards – talking about big liquidity events and working backwards to seed funding.

Snapchat’s crazy round and founder liquidity

  • Snapchat exit at 800M really big news item this week at huge valuation. Seems like it was highly competitive funding deal to get such a deal. What do you guys think of the the 20M(!) payout to the founders? Huge founder liquidity after only 2 years is risky, because founders have made their money for life and might not be incentive to stick around
  • As an entrepreneur you need to think that you will overcome any obstacle and there is no plan B. taking money of the table with liquidity gives them a plan b. some folks who get rich just get more hungry, but not everyone. (Early cash-out is like the opposite of burning-the-boats motivational strategy)
  • better is founder liquidity after 3-5 years to keep them rewarded and engaged in the company
  • – w/o healthy IPO market, high valuation also creates problems finding a future acquirer at a valuation over a billion dollars

Current Funding Environment

  • Enterprise is strong, but Consumer VC is currently “brutal” vs 2 years ago
  • lots of companies were invested a few years ago and haven’t paid out yet, or at all, or went in too high, and investors do
  • Series A expectations: 1 Million users for a consumer service 2yrs ago, now you need 5 or 10 M users
  • Before you needed 4M revenue run rate for a service business to series A, now 10 M
  • This raising of the bar on series A, has also raised the bar on seed investment
  • Contrary point: the exceptional founders and companies (really about 5-15/year any year) are truly exceptional. They will always manage to get funded. What happens is that, cyclically, less exceptional also founders get funded.
  • Really, there’s always money. But often too much money flocking to certain hot segments or geographies, and not enough going to all opportunities which makes the industry cyclical.
  • Last point: (Panel may be biased but claim) Party rounds (lots of investors at 25-50k each) not great for seed rounds without an achor, institutional or specialized Micro-stage VC investor firm that will really work with you to get you to the next round

Got your ticket yet for PowerPoint Karaoke? [updated]


This Friday, my good friend Jay Goldman and I are organizing Toronto’s first PowerPoint Karaoke event. It’s going to be awesome. From the official description:

The Stage is Yours, the Slides Aren’t

PowerPoint Karaoke brings presentations from the conference room to the karaoke stage in an entertaining and competitive event. In PowerPoint Karaoke, contestants deliver PowerPoint presentations in a karaoke-styled venue. But there’s a twist: Presenters see the randomly chosen slides for the first time when they’re presenting. Presentations are on the clock and off the cuff.

PowerPoint Karaoke was invented in 2005 when a group of German artists combined Schadenfreude with Stagenfrighte to create an underground sensation that has since swept the world.

For your entertainment, 8 fearless speakers will be pitting their wits against decks of diabolically out of context slideware to tell you about important topics of our times. Presentations are 5 min each. We’ll have two heats of 4 presentations with the winners facing off for a final showdown. There may be fabulous prizes like a free beer (they’ll need it) or an ironic trophy. At least that is the plan so far.

This event is happening as culmination of the Toronto’s Participation in World Socical Media Week. We’ll also be pooling revenues from this event with the (sold out) CaseCamp Toronto this week for donation to Sick Kids Hospital (details).

After the tweets were out the bag last week, PowerPoint Karaoke is now almost sold-out as well. But I just put up another block of free tickets, well “free” with a $25 or more donation to sick kids.

LINK:Get your tickets for PowerPoint Karaoke Toronto here

PowerPoint Karaoke is SOLD OUT. And so far, you have raised $800 for the CaseCamp Sick Kids CCU Project – you guys rock!


Thanks to the awesome folks at Microsoft Office Canada ( @MSOfficeCanada on twitter) and to Crumpler.ca for donating the grand prizes for tonight’s event.

Here is the presenter lineup. Doors open at 8, presentations at 8:30pm sharp:

Heat 1	
Bretton	MacLean
Rachael	Segal
Satish	Kanwar
Alain	Lepofsky 
Heat 2	
Liz	Radzick
Misha 	Glouberman
Saul 	Colt

?? vs ??

Some neat events coming up at Rotman this fall

gladwell speaking at rotman

My alma mater, the Rotman School at UofT has a great track record of bringing in some great speakers to Toronto and as well there’s a lot of excellent research that comes out of the school itself. I would say unfortunately though you may not hear about it if you are not on the alumni mailing list. The good news is they now have a Twitter stream (you should follow it) and here are a sampling of some of the public events I’d like to check (but there’s even more):

Sept 22: “Design and the Emotion Commotion – A Counter-Intuitive Emotional Design Approach and its Application to Things to Come” August de los Reyes, Principal Design Director, Microsoft Surface

Sept 30: “The G20 and the Future of the Dollar” Professors Wendy Dobson and Paul Masson (I’m fascinated by macroeconomic trends, especially when there isn’t a test afterwards)

Sept 30: “Constant Dissatisfaction: Google’s Approach to Understanding New Media” onathan Lister, Managing Director and Head, Google Canada

Oct 30: Rotman Leadership Conference Barbara Stymiest, COO, RBC Financial Group; Leigh Gallagher, Senior Editor, Fortune Magazine; Robert Deluce, CEO, Porter Airlines; George Butterfield, Co-President, Butterfield & Robinson; Jonathan Greenblatt, Co-Founder, Ethos Brands; Henry Gonzalez, VP, Morgan Stanley; Robert McEwen, Chair and CEO, US Gold; Andrew Winston, Founder, Winston Eco-Strategies; Michael Lee Chin, Chair, Portland Holdings; Don Morrison, COO, Research in Motion; Beth Comstock, CMO, GE

LINK and to sign up: Rotman events page

Get on this: CaseCamp is back, huger than ever and this time for SickKids


You might also call this CaseCampWorthTheWait, this one is bigger, huger and also larger than ever, featuring a full on mini-conference followed by a casecamp classic. The latter part is free as always, but your donations ($50 is suggested) is going towards SickKids. Eli Signer the superhuman behind CaseCamp and his team of rockstar collaborators have an ambitious target to raise $50,000 for the hospital for sick kids, specifically:

Funds raised at CaseCamp Benefit will go towards transforming the Critical Care Unit Waiting Room at SickKids Hospital in Toronto.

The Critical Care Unit at Toronto’s SickKids Hospital delivers round-the-clock care for children in urgent medical situations. The waiting room, located outside the unit, is a space designated for the families and friends who are visiting patients. Visitors use this room in a variety of ways: some are only dropping by en route to being admitted to the CCU while others will set up camp there for an extended period of time. The space must cater to a diverse population with multiple needs and preferences. Currently the space is in dire need of a renovation. –more

Great content, great cause, case closed.


Wednesday, September 16th, 2009


CiRCA 126 John St. Toronto ON


CaseCamp Conference

A grounding in internet culture and a crash course on social media strategy & tactics

CaseCamp Classic
The original! Four cases studies, followed by networking fun and drinks

LINK: CaseCamp.org