VEF Momentum kicked off its series of events for younger entrepreneurs with its first event at Tunnel Multi-Lounge last night. In the keeping with its goal of inspiring young and aspiring entrepreneurs, the event kicked off with a quick "battle of the screencasts" from five young local companies:
- PeerFX: A peer-to-peer currency exchange that significantly lowers the cost of exchanging money
- Volo Innovations: Business management software for fitness clubs, studios and trainers.
- Goodboog: A virtual catalog that provides companies with a global web presence in 25 languages within 15 minutes
- TeamPages: A social network that makes it easier for coaches, team managers and players to: manage their teams.
- Recon Instruments: Developer of heads-up display goggles suitable for use while skiing, snowboarding, or other winter activities.
TeamPages emerged victorious as the clear crowd favorite with a slickly produced video that laid out its value proposition for coaches and parents in direct and clear terms. The main speaker, Geordie Rose of D-Wave Systems, followed their lead with a direct recipe for entrepreneurship and success raising money:
- Think bigger: Given D-Wave's "big science" background, it should be no surprise that Geordie is bullish on the value of big ideas. Whether it's Google working on machine learning, or General Fusion attempting to create fusion technology, big ideas inspire investor excitement, require lots of money, and have the potential for huge payouts, all of which make it easier to raise money.
- Look to Cascadia: From Geordie's perspective, North America is not divided into US, Canada, and Mexico, but rather Cascadia (the west coast of North America), the United States of Canada (Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes, and the North-East US), and Jesusland (everything else). He encourages technology entrepreneurs to look for money in Cascadia, which he likens to Steve Jobs - sharp, aggressive, technologically savvy. The US of Canada is filled with characters more akin to Warren Buffet (shrewd financial wizards, but lacking in technology knowledge), while Jesusland is filled with characters best left unmentioned.
- Preparation is critical: Take a strategic approach to fundraising - pitch local investors you don't expect to invest, use their feedback to refine your pitch, then pitch other investors in Seattle and Vancouver, refine your pitch again, then pitch the investors in Vancouver you really want. Repeat.
Geordie closed with an analogy to boxing. In boxing, the key to winning fights is keeping your feet correctly positioned. It's a simple rule, but executing on it in the ring is hard. Being an entrepreneur and raising money is similar - all you have to do is find a team, build a plan, create a pitch, and present it convincingly to investors, right? But the reality is a whole lot different. The process of raising money will be the most excruciating thing you've ever gone through, and no one can tell you exactly how to do it - you'll just have to go out there yourself and rise to the challenge.