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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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Success Doesn’t Just Happen, It’s Planned For!

Success Doesn’t Just Happen, It’s Planned For!

Success Doesn’t Just Happen, It’s Planned For!

Startups plan and plan and plan…but where does it all go?

We wanted to find out how many startups like to draw out plans so we sent out a survey across Canada and the US to 175 startups. A whopping 68% of startups still like to use Post Its and visually draw it out. Nowadays, we have so many amazing business tool that we can use to make sure that your plan is:

  1. Improving your metrics (ie. conversion, engagement, etc..)
  2. Thorough (so not a single note gets lost)
  3. Visual (65% of people are visual learners according to Forbes Magazine Article — https://www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccue/2013/01/08/what-is-an-infographic-and-ways-to-make-it-go-viral/#6452cd047272)

So check out how your startup is planning for your success!

Old and New Ways to Build Your Strategic Plan

Old and New Ways to Build Your Strategic Plan

For more ways to make sure you are planning SMART, check out this great read: http://blog.venturx.ca/2017/08/23/smart-startup-goals/

Thanks for reading!  If you enjoyed this article,

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4 Reasons Why Startups Should Take Advantage of Business Intelligence

4 Reasons Why Startups Should Take Advantage of Business Intelligence

What is Business Intelligence?

Since starting my customer discovery, I have noticed that a lot of startups do not track their metrics. I don’t just mean the metrics that VenturX focuses on (Product Market Fit, Real-time Runway, Conversion, and Engagement); I mean most startups do not look at any metrics on a weekly basis. At first, I thought it was because some people may be less analytical types than others. But one day, a startup finally told me the answer.

I don’t have enough data to track! [It is not reflective of my business.]” — Local Montreal Startup

What do we mean by data?

Data is a collection of facts and quantities used for analysis. In this case, we mean tracking your customer interviews and meetings, revenues and expenses, industry metrics, how many customers signed up this week, how many customers are retained, etc.. All data is good data as long as it is tracked accurately and updated regularly. Business intelligence is the process of analyzing data to make business decisions. 

1. I don’t have enough data to input!

Quality over quantity. Keep in mind that 2 early adopters who love your product is far better than 100 surveyed people who are only so-so about it. Those 2 that really felt the problem your startup is trying to solve should definitely be tracked.

What to do next: Investors want to see how much you have evolved over time. Tracking early is the only way to show improvement!

2. I am too busy to input my data

Time is Money! If you don’t start tracking from the very beginning, you might end up losing running into dead ends without even knowing it!

What to do next: Spend 10 mins/day to track your data with VenturX and save yourself months of pursuing the wrong path. Almost all startups who ignore data tracking don’t see how much time is wasted. It is just a way for founders to be very conscious of where they invest their time and money.

Time is money

3. I won’t want investors to see my metrics

Investors do want to see that startups are using business tools to monitor their customers, finances, teams, and project. Not only do you need to have intimate knowledge about how well your startups is doing but you also have to be able to prove it. There is nothing better than seeing a visual of how your business is doing. Investors are keen on data driven results and decisions which is a great habit to form for all startups. Don’t worry if your progress at that stage looks bad, the improvement is the most important part. If you only track when you are rising, it doesn’t look like you improved by very much. You need to show how much you have learned.

“It is not about how much you fall, it is about how quickly you get back up.” — Barbara Cocoran

What to do next: Sign up today www.venturx.ca to get into the good graces of VenturX’s list of investors.

4. It is not reflective of my business

Business intelligence focuses on the business as a whole, not just one particular part. The business includes customers and users, finance, product,etc.. Some founders are technical product managers while others have team management skills. All founders need to be focused on the overall well being of the business, not just the parts they are comfortable with. This is a big reason why some founders feel discomfort when seeing that their metrics are low regarding some parts of their business. The good news is that modern business tools also come with hints on how to improve on weaker parts of the business!

VenturX Startup Dashboard with Hints

What to do next: Make sure to use a credible and well-rounded tool like VenturX to get the most benefit!

The bottom line is why wouldn’t startups want to use every resource in their toolbox including tracking their data to make smart decisions? Corporations have been using business intelligence with all their C-level executives forever so wouldn’t startups want to model after those best practices?

VenturX is a startup success tracker that focuses on early stage startups who want an operational view of their Product Market Fit, Conversion, Real-Time Runway, and Engagement. Its unique SMART scoring mechanism will provide hints and daily SMS notifications when you reach danger zones in your scores to help you quickly improve. As an added value, you can also submit your metrics and application directly to Seed and Series A investors on the platform with just one click! For more info, go to www.venturx.ca

Why Venturx? In comparison to corporate business tools that are not customized for startups, this is is only a fraction of the price. So this is a very affordable tool with credible value, real time metrics, and even connect to investors who favour analytics and metrics at the startup stage.

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How to Survey for Product Market Fit in 24 hours

With all the buzzwords surrounding entrepreneurship like venture capital, acceleration, growth hacking, etc., there is always one phrase that stumps most entrepreneurs in their track! PRODUCT MARKET FIT!

This topic was fascinating to me to the point where I have been researching it since 2016 and built a startup tool to measure it. That was how VenturX was created, a startup that focuses on leveraging data to help early stage startups get from product market fit to funding. We focus on the most important KPIs for young companies such as product market fit.

At VenturX, we’re creating tools to help early-stage startups succeed; the first thing we always suggest is assessing the product-market fit. Not only is it the number one reason why startups fail (according to a report by CBInsights), but also the hardest to achieve because it can seem daunting to collect all the data in order to prove that their idea addresses a real need. The initial assessment of product market fit doesn’t necessarily require huge amounts of time or money. In this post, we’ll lay out four straightforward steps that you can follow to get a solid first look at how well your idea fits a market need.

top 20 reasons startups fail

What exactly is product market fit?

“Product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.” — Marc Andreessen, Entrepreneur & Co-founder of Silicon Valley Venture Capital Firm (Source: http://web.stanford.edu/class/ee204/ProductMarketFit.html)

4 steps for assessing product-market fit

1. Determine Your Target Audience

If you don’t know where to start, ask yourself who are you selling to and who needs your product/service?

From researching entrepreneurs for the past year, I learned that the hardest step is surveying those first 5 customers. To do it in 24 hours, can you find an event or location where your target audience happens to be? Remember you are doing research and not selling to them.

Example: For VenturX, part of my target audience is venture capital investors. I knew that they could often be found at startup competitions where they serve as judges. I knew that attending an event like this would be ideal to get the most amount of research done in 24 hours.

“If you can do 5 [customer interviews], you can do 35” — Robert Bennett, Viatec Accelerator

Tip: Not everyone likes talking to strangers, so why not bring a friend who LOVES it!! If you are in Montreal, send me a message or comment below and I’ll take the first 5 people to go surveying for their startups!

2. Ask the Right Questions

I asked multiple startups how they were currently researching product market fit and they all told me they input information into a spreadsheet and never used it again. Their issue was that they were collecting only qualitative information and had no way of comparing answers. If they had quantitative information, they would be able to compare the target market’s level of pain and benefit.

The solution? Rather than asking purely open-ended questions like “What do you think of this idea?” get them to describe the pain your idea addresses and the benefit it provides and asks participants to rate them on a numerical scale. Here’s an example of how your survey might look. If you’d like a copy of the survey, shoot an email to sydney.wong@venturx.ca with the subject line “Product Market Fit Survey” and I’ll send it your way.

Example of Pain: Startups who are not ready for funding take up a lot of the investors’ time with everything from initial pitches to due diligence and follow-ups. Investors often end up telling these startups to keep in touch, that it is not a good fit at this time, or to come back later.

Example of Benefit: What if you had a solution that would replace your current application process and cut your due diligence in half? You would see the best startups who have reached their product market fit level and score higher than their industry benchmarks.

TIP: Always ask about the pain before the benefit. If you only talk about your solution, it is no longer research, but rather a sales pitch!

TIP: If you are unsure of your pain and benefit statements and only have limited time at one event to get all those responses, then bring two different pain and benefit statements, and compare responses to both.

3. Track Answers

Currently, most startups are manually tracking their answers on a spreadsheet. The benefit of spreadsheet tools is that it’s familiar, and you can manually create graphs from the data and present them to your team.

Another option is to use the startup tool that we’ve created at VenturX, that takes in your survey data and automatically calculates a product market fit score. It takes 30 secs to get a score like the one below! You can try it out at www.venturx.ca.

Example of my score when I interviewed Early Stage Venture Capitalists regarding their Pain and Benefit:

Find out your product market fit score @ www.venturx.ca

TIP: Do not let your target audience see other people’s answers or else it might influence their answers too.

4. Rinse and Repeat

It is normal that you do not get a lot of 9’s and 10’s on your first iteration, but the important thing is to stay consistent. Do not change your pain or benefit statement after just a few responses. (You’ll know that you are on the right track when you consistently get high scores (9’s or 10’s) when you survey.

Example: I had to narrow my target market to only early stage venture capitalists, rather than all VCs. If I expand my product with more features, I will have to rinse and repeat this process all over again with a new product market fit survey for a new audience!

Once you’ve completed these steps, take a step back and look at your results. Whether your scores are low or high, you’ve certainly achieved something. You now have a quantified score that either validates your idea or tells to you to try a different target market or tweak your angle. Either way, stay strong, motivated, and persistent, and keep on quantifying!

So there you have it! Steps on how you can quickly and efficiently get your product market fit and get a real analysis of what your market is really looking for. Product Market Fit is one of the key KPIs that VenturX helps startups track and improve on in real time. For more information about this topic or other startups KPIs, please visit www.venturx.ca

Or contact the author sydney.wong@ventux.ca

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