Founder Spotlight

Founder Spotlight: Michael & Mathew (Slickspaces) – Revolutionizing Rental Space One Community at a Time

Founder Spotlight: Michael & Mathew (Slickspaces) – Revolutionizing Rental Space One Community at a Time

I had the great pleasure of spending time with Slickspaces in Vancouver. Both the team and the business illuminated as community business leaders of tomorrow.

Michael Driedger, CEO & Co Founder of Slickspaces

Michael Driedger, CEO & Co Founder of Slickspaces

Founders, Michael and Mathew, came together to join forces on 1 mission: to revolutionize the guest services space in a unique way. Michael (CEO) sprouted as a serial entrepreneur since the age of 10. Learning key operations from his past businesses paved the way to success for Slickspaces from Day 1. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Driedger, CEO & Co Founder of Slickspaces

Michael Driedger, CEO & Co Founder of Slickspaces

Mathew, Chief Technology Officer, leads the product and is equally strong in software and hardware. I had the opportunity to sit down with each of them to discuss their different takes on entrepreneurship today and what tips they would give others who are starting out.

Go grab your coffee and check out their live interviews.

 

 

 


“Coachability, an ability to learn on the fly and perseverance are key traits of great entrepreneurs. Matt has them all plus  a deep knowledge of trends in the short term rental market. ”

Clay Braziller, Advisor

About Slickspaces:

“Travel, sustainability and technology had a baby” — Slickspaces.com

SlickSpaces’ founders were both working towards a separate yet shared vision. To make travel accommodations easier to get into (they hate lines and looking for keys) and more sustainable (they really hate wasting energy). With backgrounds in building sustainability and technology integration they’ve created something that fulfils both of their dreams.

Slickspaces

Slickspaces

“Well positioned for success in the mushrooming short-term rental industry, Michael and his fellow founders have already distinguished Slickspaces by developing a paradigm-shifting solution to a critical challenge through their ability to listen to and follow his customer’s needs.” — David Dunnison, President & CEO at Global PVQ Canada, Harvard Business School.

About the team and environment:

When I arrived at their Vancouver headquarter, I noticed they had the opportunity to be surrounded by other community supporters such as BC Tech. Slickspaces won this great office space in a previous competition. One thing that I noticed about Slickspaces is their growing team and many moving parts. Slickspaces deal with both hardware and software. Because I got to walk into such a dynamic environment, I did a series of insightful interviews with the Founders that can be found here!

Click here for video

“Michael has a very clear vision on how technology will solve some fundamental pain points in the short term accommodation market. Michael possesses a combination of both industry and market knowledge and technical savvy that’s been key in Slickspace’s early development and market intro. It’s impressive to see the customer engagement the team have made in such a short period of time.” -Andy Edelmeier, President of Braemar West Capital

What does this company’s typical day look like:

Slickspaces’ scores on VenturX’s Entrepreneurship Tool

Slickspaces’ scores on VenturX’s Entrepreneurship Tool

Mornings:

· Gets to work at 6am

· Operational: Team meetings to discuss specific objectives such as contracts & upgrading to powerful accounting/CRM/etc.. software tools.

· Product: Focus product direction on scalability and channel distribution for Slickspaces’ future. This was handled by the CTO.

· Other: Work on tasks for the competition

Afternoons:

· Operational: Work on new community grants for their stage

· Other: Meetings with mentors to review upcoming presentation, business analytics, and content.

Evenings:

· Operational: Share feedback from individual meetings, discuss upcoming tasks for new hires.

Next Milestone

Bringing disruptive global innovation one community at a time has shone the spotlight onto Slickspaces.

Slickspaces just entered the BC New Ventures competition 2017, a 13 week competition. Their beta is making impressive footprints within the short term rental industry across North America. If you are in property management, be sure to keep updated on their leaps of achievements via their social media: Twitter and Facebook. Their direct contacts are listed below.

In conclusion, after spending time with this energetic team, it was clear that Canadian companies like this can achieve greatness by doing good.

Contact info: Michael Driedger and Mathew Hunter

Email: info@slickspaces.com

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-driedger-06363a13/ and https://www.linkedin.com/in/mathewhunter/

Website: https://www.slickspaces.com/

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Founder Spotlight: Jennifer Chan (Preview Careers) – #1 Career Platform for Students

Founder Spotlight: Jennifer Chan (Preview Careers) – #1 Career Platform for Students

This week, I had the lucky opportunity to follow and engage with a Vancouver-based entrepreneur who is a true Lead by Example type! Jennifer Chan, Co-Founder of Preview Careers opens the door into her startup world!

Jennifer Chan, Entrepreneur, Co-Founder of Preview Careers

Jennifer Chan, Entrepreneur, Co-Founder of Preview Careers

I knew that this startup was definitely someone to watch out for when she scored over 140+ personal customer discovery interviews in a matter of DAYS with just 3 people hustling like warriors; these are results that other entrepreneurs take a year to accomplish. Preview Careers’ passion is predicated by their actions and their impact. There is no doubt Jennifer Chan was the perfect choice to highlight as someone who truly stands out! Not only did we get to see the next big thing being built, but we also got a lot of great startup tips from Jennifer Chan that you can check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmpTxB8ZsSg&list=PLCZnT5ANSu9ZxOGg-dcyc9sqYXFWaw7eC

Preview Careers is the second product to come out of Appfabriqa, the parent company. Being education focused, Preview Careers took their mission back on campus. Jennifer took the bright initiative to personally survey students on campus one on one to understand their pain points when it comes to careers. She quickly built out a sign up page on Wix and starting building out features that the users wanted.

Jennifer’s customer-focused attitude is something that came from her previous startup experience and drove much of how the startup was run. It was a major influence on hiring decisions, product features, task management, etc..

What does a typical week look like for this founder?

She works from 9am-9pm consistently. (It’s pretty impressive!)

Preview Careers’ scores on VenturX’s Entrepreneurship Tool

Preview Careers’ scores on VenturX’s Entrepreneurship Tool

Mornings:

· Starts work at 9AM

· Design creative assets for marketing content in order to acquire new student users

· Send emails and update her team

Afternoons:

· Track user sign ups and send them over to product manager

· Customer research via online forums, social media, feedback from users to further identify the pain points and analyze in depth research of this market

· Attend afternoon meetings: check out new office space, interview new brand ambassador for student user recruiting at UBC, etc..

· Film mentor videos for website all around Vancouver

Evenings:

· Review marketing content from Marketing Intern

· 9PM meetings with her international team

What is Preview Careers?

The PREVIEW mission is to help driven, ambitious, young people explore and discover which career paths will lead them to doing work they love. PREVIEW believes that one of the key ways to exploring the career opportunities that exist, understanding the competitive landscape of the job market, and knowing the nuances of specific roles/titles is through connecting with mentors/advisors that can share their experiences, insight, and wisdom.

www.previewcareers.com

www.previewcareers.com

What is the next big milestone?

The next milestone is preparing for Back to School! If you are a university student in Vancouver, check out Preview’s student activities and giveaways on campus coming September 2017! Don’t miss out! Sign up today at www.previewcareers.com!

Get connected to your next mentor!

Preview Mentors

Preview Mentors

That is all for today! If you are a student or mentor and have questions for Preview Careers, we added her contact info at the bottom!

Contact info: Jennifer Chan

Email: Jennifer@appfabriqa.com

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenchanbarnes/

Website: https://www.previewcareers.com

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3 Startup Mistakes: What do young startups focus on besides their metrics?

3 Startup Mistakes: What do young startups focus on besides their metrics?

Early Stage Founders have a massive amount of things to do. As they progress in their startup, their days feel shorter and shorter. I found that a lot of them put a surprising amount of effort into things in the medium and long term instead of focusing on the now. When I ask them about what metrics they are currently looking at, what is important to them, etc.. it is surprising the range of answers they gave.

This article will go through some of the most common 3 examples of early stage startup mistakes and how focusing on their metrics can bring them back to reality. Keep in mind that we are just focusing on early stage startups who have recently started building their new business.

1) Not enough DOING!

People will always recommend you to read this startup book or learn the newest marketing tactics to “hack” your way to the top.
This is not to discourage you from learning but your experience through your actions will dictate how much you will learn more than any amount of reading can. Someone else’s best practice for marketing strategy, channel distribution, and business negotiation may not be yours. Since every business is so unique, you will never know what your best practice is until you go out there and try it out for your business.

“Ambition is predicated on your actions.” —Gary Vaynerchuk, Entrepreneur, Host of AskGaryVee Show

ACTION ITEM: Set aside one or two day as week to reading/researching/ etc.. and commit the other days to actually putting it into practice. (I can tell you from experience that if you are reading a startup book, you don’t have to finish the whole book to start practicing.)
I personally love learning about social media marketing, as it is an extension to my online marketing background. I usually take Saturdays to learn new things. To reach our target audience of startup companies, I actively try out every social channel to see where our audience is most engaged and active. I execute educational videos, live stream, and blogs on Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Medium. On a daily basis, I track to see which channels perform the best in order to decide where to invest our future marketing investment.

2) Focusing too far ahead

Founders are getting pulled in every direction these days due to many sources of influence whether that be from buzz going on at startup events, feedback from friends and family, or referrals to potential partnerships or “you know who would be great for you to talk to?” I bet you can think of some examples!

It is unwise to focus your energy on partnerships for medium-long term instead of focusing on upcoming pilot project or trial. Example: Don’t wait to hire the perfect person to help run your pilot project or beta test instead of dong it yourself. You can learn so much more from that experience.

I admit that for myself, I fell into spirals at times but one thing that kept me focused on which partnerships to pursue now, which recommendation to follow and where to allocate those precious 24 hours, were my Lean Analytics Metrics! (See diagram below.)

ACTION ITEM: Mark future tasks for 1–3 months from now. If you can quickly identify tasks or budding partnerships that should be implemented in a month then set that in your calendar to start 1 month from now. You don’t have to do everything at once and become overwhelmed because there are too many things in your plate. When these things start to pile on, a plate of opportunities can easily start to look like a plate of distractions. A practical thing to do is to pace yourself. If there is a new resource or future channel to explore, then put it off until you have completed what is important now such as making your first pilot project a huge success!

3) Avoiding Customers

“Sales cures all” — Mark Cuban, ABC’s Shark Tank, Investor, Entrepreneur

How can startups get that cure if their customers are not the forefront of their attention?

Avoiding customers can be classified into two ways:
a) Customer Discovery: Some early stage entrepreneurs go through cycles of procrastination before doing any kind of market research or product market fit surveying. Many first time startups will explain how they feel their product is not ready to show or they fear competition.

ACTION ITEM: To learn how to survey for product market fit in 24 hours, refer to this article: https://medium.com/@VenturX_team/how-to-survey-for-product-market-fit-in-24-hours-2f79571ea5d4
(It will guide you through all the basic steps with concrete examples.) If you want a template of survey questions, send me an email and I can send you one!

b) Ignore incoming customers to get product feedback and iterate
As human beings, we do things we want to do and not the things we are supposed to do. If it easier to for some to work creating a nice website rather than get feedback from their customers, you bet they will mainly put their efforts into option #1.

ACTION ITEM: Schedule appointments with your customers to get feedback on a regularly basis. Try to schedule them in advance. Even if you have new distractions such as startup events, hiring new team members, etc..you will ensure that your regular meetings will make sure that you are always in touch with your customers and you are not avoiding them.
To get startup feedback for VenturX’s product releases, I schedule Skype calls every 3 weeks with startup friends to show them the revamp and get their feedback. I also contact 1 startup about his VenturX Metrics every single afternoon between 2pm-4pm. He said he preferred SMS notifications. To show love, I send those individual daily reports from my phone.

What Metrics Should I Concentrate on?

That is a great question. One that I believe was well written in the book

“ Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster” — Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz

They explain that startups should focus on mainly one metric at a time and it would be dependent on your type of startup and what stage you are in. Here is a comprehensive chart from the book:

lean analytics

Lean Analytics Book: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster

Did you find out what stage you are in?

Great!

Can you see which metric is the most important?

Excellent job!

Now you can reverse-engineer the formula to get rid of those 3 startup mistakes for early stage entrepreneurs!

Keep in mind that even though this article was mainly from our observations with early stage, first time entrepreneurs, there may still be more information to come! There may also be more than 1 metric that will yield a red flag such as low product market fit and finances.

As someone who studies startups, I wanted to share with you my learnings about this fascinating industry. I hope that with this simple guide, your early stages in your company will go much smoother! If you have any questions about your metrics, send me an email at sydney.wong@venturx.ca and let’s take a look together!

 

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Founder Spotlight: Jennae Gedeon (Eco Eats) – Not your ordinary food sales app!

Jennae Gedeon

 

In this article, we explore how a visionary mind focuses on her success path, how Ecoeats works, and how you can get involved!

This month, our team had an amazing opportunity to shadow Jennae Gedeon around for a few days in the City of Vancouver. We learned about the process it takes to build Ecoeats an up and coming top company of our generation! Ecoeats holds one of VenturX’s core values which is Impact, and they do it one bite at a time! The more we got to know Jennae, the easier it was to to see why this visionary was the right leader to drive Eco Eats’ purpose and share it with the
masses!Eco Eats Contact Information: Jennae Gedeon

It all began in October when Jennae entered Youth Biis Start-up Program where she completed the incubator program in downtown Vancouver in December 2016. Since then, Jennae founded Eco Eats and has made great strides, in build lasting partnerships for the Metro Vancouver hub and witness the tech development take off with the help of Red Academy and BCIT ISSP program all leading up to a solid foundation for launch this fall. Phil, one of Youth Biis SFU teacher/business mentor describes how this founder is different from those entering the program in the past.

“[Jennae is] energetic, passionate and knows what she wants. This is usually a sign of a very effective person because she works back to the goals she sets. She has a destination…very visionary!” – Philippe, Youth Biis Start-up Program

 

Tell us about your company

Eco Eats app connects people to grocery stores and restaurants with healthy food reaching its best before date. What’s amazing is the perception of date and quality is completely being redefined; as the food is completely good and it’s just about letting more people know about it and providing them with better opportunities to pick it up. To me, we connect missed relationships in the community so people become each other’s answers to eat, live and thrive. In today’s world, there is a massive problem within the food waste chain and we’ve found unique collaboration channels to make the world a better place.

 

Eco Eats, food waste technology of tomorrow

Ecoeats is welcoming all consumers to sign up today! More contact info at the bottom

 

What is the next big milestone?

The next milestone is preparing for the pilot. The pilot consists of the minimum viable product (mvp) connects groceries stores to consumers and charities in the Metro Vancouver area. Come back to check out our website (https://www.ecoeats.ca/) to see if your favorite restaurant or grocery store made it on the list after our launch this Fall 2017!

 

What does a typical week look like for this founder?

Entrepreneur Dashboard

VenturX Startup Success Scores

Mornings:

  • Wakes up to respond to emails between 7am-9am

Afternoons:

  • Attend product meetings to focus on transitioning prototype to MVP
  • Trains new team members
  • Lead partnership and strategy meetings with mentors, colleagues, and partners
  • Create Google docs to handover information to product teams and strategy teams
  • Create visual infographics to bring to meetings to adapt to visual learners (they look great!)

Evenings:

  • At the end of every day, spends 15 mins to review and update the tasks for the following day
  • Updates her timeline of short term goals
  • Replies to emails
  • Prepares things for long term goals, such as partner relationships

 

One thing that we noticed that made Jennae very focused as a leader was her organization skills. She always had a notebook with her to write things! What a great habit for all founders to adopt!

“No matter what the future holds, this is something I am very passionate about and will always be a part of me!” –Jennae Gedeon

Contact info: Jennae Gedeon

Email: team@ecoeats.ca
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennaeclg/
Website: https://www.ecoeats.ca/

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