Twice a year, the C100 brings 20 of Canada’s most promising startups to San Francisco for “48hrs in the Valley.” The selected companies go though mentorship, pitch workshops, meetings with C-level executives and have access to the C100’s elite network. By the end of this intense two-day program, startups walk out with fresh perspectives, new approaches and a stack of crisp business cards.
This year’s theme focused on all things capital: human, financial, and social. The event aimed to help founders navigate through the different types of capital associated with various stages of growth within a company.
We caught up with two of the December cohort grads, and Invest Ottawa portfolio companies, Zighra and Solink, to learn about their experience and hear their top three takeaways:
Zighra’s software, KineticID, allows mobile phones to recognize their users based on a myriad of behaviours and artificial intelligence. Using information on how a person holds their phone, and at what angle, Zighra’s machines create unique kinetic signatures (like a fingerprint but much more dynamic). By combining the power of artificial intelligence and users’ behavourial characteristics, Zighra is better able to detect account fraud and automated attacks in mobile transactions.
Faye Hosseini, Product Manager, at Zighra attended the two-day program with Founder and CEO, Deepak Dutt, and shared her top three takeaways from her time in the Valley:
- Strong Ecosystems Play A Big Role In Helping Create Successful Startups
What I noticed almost immediately was that the C100 understood the importance of how a strong eco-system can play a role in our, and every, startup’s road to success! There’s no doubt that a well rounded ecosystem will be able to better facilitate access to advisors, experts, investors, industry leaders, policy makers, networking, talent, best practices, etc. With that being said, a startup without access to an effective ecosystem, or the interest to join one, will face lots of challenges to thrive and the odds become heavily stacked against them moving forward.
But let’s face it, there’s no need to re-invent the wheel or make the same mistakes that other founders may have experienced in the past. By having access to a strong startup community where other founders share their best practices and lessons learned, all of these mistakes could very well be avoided. The goal of any great ecosystem is to create community, which ultimately creates value, accelerates the learning cycle for entrepreneurs and, without a doubt, leads to great odds of success!
- Our New Mantra: “Every Founder Needs To Maintain An Always Hiring Mentality”.
If there was one thing we heard over and over again throughout the 48Hrs program, it was this: “Hiring talent and having an always hiring mentality is something that every founder needs to be GREAT at.” We all know that recognizing talent is no easy feat. In fact, hiring and retaining talent or that next rockstar developer, UX/UI lead, data scientist etc…for a long period of time is even harder! Simply put, founders always need to be in hiring mode devoting as much as 30% of their time meeting with potential candidates.
Where do you find top talent? No further than your own backyard… Meeting and talking to candidates can easily be done at meet-ups, pitch events or conferences throughout your local ecosystem. Your ecosystem is too small? Then broaden your search and visit a neighbouring startup ecosystem… Better yet, start building one!
Yes, it’s not easy to always be in an “always hiring mentality,” but in order to build the right team capable of supporting the rapid growth of any startup, hiring is going to be quite possibly the single most critical thing every founder needs to truly nail down – and let’s face it, practice makes perfect!
- Power of the network
I’ve heard it said a lot that “your network is your currency.” I never really understood what that quite meant. This trip and the C100’s 48hrs in the Valley program not only taught me what it actually meant, but went well beyond that and validated it for me.
Having a strong network is like having a strong investment portfolio. It can pay back dividends for life if done right. Successful founders know this. They master it, and in return it can help expedite not only their personal growth, but also the growth of their startups. It is not inconceivable to think that the greater number of people in your network, the greater your opportunity to access the best resources like talent, investors and advisors on your road to a successful outcome.
Not only did Zighra walk away with new insights and a stronger network – we also won the award for ‘Best Technology’ at C100’s ’48Hrs in the Valley’!
Solink simplifies loss prevention by leveraging existing surveillance technologies and combining it with cloud storage, big data search capability and mobility. These processes transform users’ investigative efforts – cutting searching down from hours to minutes.
CEO, Mike Matta, and CFO, Cory Michalyshyn, share their biggest takeaways from their time at 48Hrs in the Valley:
- Before you head down
The C100 gave us the opportunity to head down to the valley, but it was up to us to make the most of it. The most important thing we did was build momentum two to three weeks before arriving, something that many companies forget to do. By reaching out to people we wanted to talk to, we were able to fill our evenings after C100 activities with additional investor meetings. This gave us a big advantage in getting follow-up meetings once we returned to Canada!
- The perfect pitch
There are countless online guides on how to build and deliver a killer pitch. While some of them might tell you what the optimal number of slides is, what really makes a great pitch is that you focus on building a relationship with the person sitting across the table and that you answer these 3 questions:
- Why is this idea big?
- Why is this the right time to go after it?
- Why are you and your team the right people to do it?
3. Canadian thinking
Many of the talks and breakout sessions focused on what it’s like to be a Canadian in the valley and how to adjust our mentality to fit the US investor market. The overarching message? Think BIGGER. Compared to our American neighbours, Canadian companies tend to set conservative goals. It’s a startup stereotype for a reason.
They’re not looking for companies building a better app; they’re looking for companies that want to change the way an entire industry thinks. So if you’re currently at place A in your business, don’t tell investors how you plan to get to B and C. Focus on what your Z destination is and work backwards on how you’re going to get there.
C100’s next 48Hrs in the Valley is scheduled to take place July 20 – 21st, 2017 – will you apply?!