This blog has moved to http://pe.ma

I couldn’t resist the urge to have my very own URL any longer! So, this blog now lives at http://pe.ma

Please head on over for ramblings about starting tech companies (it’s hard!), what’s happening in Toronto, and inside info on GigPark.

If you’ve been subscribed to this RSS feed for a very long time you might need to update that too (sorry). The new feed is here.

GigPark is on TechCrunch :)

Just a short post to let you all know that Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch has just written a great article about our baby, GigPark. A fantastic way to finish a fun week at work!

Calling all Toronto tech founders

Noah and I, along with Malgosia and John from LearnHub are hosting a little get together this Saturday for founders of local tech startups. This is the second Founders Lunch in Toronto and I’m hoping these turn into regular events. They’re a great place for founders to share lessons learned, get a different perspective on challenges they’re facing and simply hang out with other people going through the madness of starting and running a tech business.

If you are a founder and haven’t been sent an invite yet, please drop me a line – pema AT gigpark DOT com.

Clever people saying smart things

Mesh

The Mesh Conference is coming up in a couple of weeks and, in my humble opinion, there is likely to be some clever people saying smart things. If you are in the music, media, marketing or tech startup worlds, and if Toronto isn’t too far away, I highly recommend you come along. The keynote lineup looks good and there will be plenty of interesting people to meet over the 3 days.

Some of the sessions I’m looking forward to:

I was also lucky enough to be invited to participate in a panel. Candice Faktor (toronto.com/OurFaves.com), Daniel Burka (Digg.com) and I will be chatting with Mathew Ingram about The New Font Page

In the past, the front page of the newspaper or the TV news was our main source of information. Now, as media becomes social, we are just as likely to see a link on Digg or StumbleUpon, or get sent one through Pownce, or see one on a friend’s blog. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Some feel this is making us more narrow in our interests, as we see only the content our friends agree is important, but others see these “recommendation engines” as a positive thing. Join Daniel Burka of Digg and Pema Hegan of GigPark in a discussion about how the Web is the new front page, moderated by Mathew Ingram.

I’m sure Candice, Daniel and Mathew will put on a good show. I’ll muddle along in my funny accent and try to keep up ;)

See you at Mesh!

Notes from the Rick Segal roadshow

The Canadian VC, Rick Segal, hosted a great round table session for startups last Thursday all about raising money. The 2 hour chat covered subject like term sheets, how to structure angel rounds, and how to avoid the common mistakes (land mines!). Suzanne Dingwall Williams (legal counsel to many Toronto startups) was at the event and contributed a ton of good perspective/advice. Scott Pelton from Growthworks was the third expert in the room and also added a lot to the conversation.

In the spirit of sharing, here are some of the notes I took. 

Important!: These are notes, not quotes (unless “” are used). I’m paraphrasing conversations and adding some of my own interpretation.

  • Raising VC in Canada takes 6 months and is “brutal”
  • Lots of lawyers involved (and lots of lawyers fees)
  • 6 months to raise the money and then you have 18 months to prove your business – then it’s time to raise again
  • Founders should never take the CEO title – CEOs get fired :)
  • $2-5m pre-money valuations seem to be the norm right now
  • Funding metrics are very consistent in Canada at the moment – the deals all look the same
  • VC will often (always) ask for preferred shares. The VC’s main stipulation is for liquidation preference. This means they get their money first in a disaster situation. Most of the time the VC is looking for protection, not voting preferences etc.
  • Matters requiring special approval: Sorting this out with a VC can be the thing that takes the most time and legal fees. Matters requiring special approval are the things a founder or CEO can’t do without getting the specific approval of the VC. These often include: hiring and firing senior people, selling (obviously), changes to the shareholders agreement. The list can be long if the founder/CEO is inexperienced and very short if the founder has done it (built and sold companies) a few times before.
  • How does Rick decide whether to invest? “Science experiment”, if it’s to do with social networking I “send it to my daughter”, rock paper scissors
  • What questions should you ask VC’s when evaluating them? [response by Suzy] What stage is your fund at? How may deals left? Let me talk to some of the founders you have funded
  • When a CEO is managing a board (especially if the board includes a VC) the first thing to do is to agree the metrics you are all going to measure success against. This makes updating and managing a board much easier.
  • Rick told the room to call Butch from PlanetEye if we want to know what Rick and Scott are like to deal with once they have invested
If you have any questions about the session please ask ‘em in the comments. Hope this was helpful!
Photo: View from the JLA boardroom

Hello? WordPress? Anyone home?

I’m a paying WordPress customer. A few weeks ago I registered a new domain for this blog inspired by the WordPress founder (Matt’s blog address is ma.tt). Unfortunately I couldn’t get domain mapping working so I emailed WordPress support. Five days later and… nothing.

I love WordPress software. I love everything I read about the company and their principals. I just wish they’d reply to support emails. Grrrrr.

UPDATE: Andy from WordPress support emailed me on April 22nd to say that the issue is fixed and domain mapping now works perfectly for .ma domains. Yay! Thanks Andy.

Photo by New Tony.

Smart money

 

In mid April Rick Segal is setting out across Canada to help educate us tech entrepreneurs about funding our companies. I’ve booked my ticket. Have you?

If you’ve met Rick (or read his great blog) you’ll know he calls a spade a spade, despises bullshit, and knows a great deal about the mechanics of funding (and running) a startup.  He is a partner at JLA Ventures so going to one of these sessions might turn into more than just an education.

Even if you’re not looking for funding right now (as is the case with GigPark) these will be great sessions to grow your knowledge in an important area of entrepreneurship.

Photo by Pieter Baert.