tracking

The Role of Due Diligence 

Why is Due Diligence Necessary?

Due Diligence

“Due diligence is both an art and a science.” According to Investopedia, Due diligence is an investigation or audit of a potential investment or product to confirm all facts, that might include the review of financial records. Due diligence refers to the research done before entering into an agreement or a financial transaction with another party.

Because of the due diligence, your investors may come to a different or more nuanced understanding of the opportunity and seek to renegotiate the initially agreed terms or even decide to decline the investment.

Types of Due Diligence

Due Diligence

There are various types of due diligence given that every circumstance is different and there’s no formula for it. Mainly, there are four basic types of due diligence which include commercial, financial, tax and legal due diligence.

Commercial Due Diligence reports analyses company performance, the likelihood that the business will meet its targets, and highlights potential problems that may occur as a result of an acquisition. This report provides the potential buyer with in-depth knowledge of the target company and the market in which it is positioned. It is designed to enable the prospective buyer to make an informed decision, and highlight any potential risks associated with the target business.

Financial Due Diligence typically, the scope would include an analysis of the historical quality of earnings, quality of net assets, working capital requirements, capital expenditure requirements, financial debt and liabilities, and forecasted financial results. In short, it focuses solely on the financial health of the company.

Tax Due Diligence is a comprehensive examination of the different types of taxes that may be imposed upon a particular business, as well as the various taxing jurisdictions. To put it simply, it could be viewed as an extension of the financial due diligence, where the focus is on identifying potential additional tax liabilities arising from non-compliance or errors.

Legal Due Diligence covers a wide scope of legal matters, including proper incorporation and ownership, contractual obligations, ownership of assets, compliance, and litigation. It aims to confirm the validity of the rights being acquired by your investors and the absence of legal risks which could undermine the value of the investment.

How Long Does Due Diligence Take?

Duration

According to David Braun, CEO of a Capstone (they specialize in M&A) generally, on average due diligence should take between 30 and 60 days to complete. It is the optimal time to complete a thorough evaluation of the business without letting the process drag on. Why is this such a long process? Read on!

Due Diligence Process

Process

Before the Due Diligence, gather your internal and external team of lawyers, accountants, advisors, and investors. The internal and external team will come together to discuss an opportunity, and terms of investment. Key terms discussed are usually laid out in a non-binding document such as a Term Sheet or a Cap Table. These usually are discussed through a virtual data room whereby information is typically secured hence ensuring only approved viewers get to access the confidential documents. Virtual data rooms can be created virtually and many firms provide them. Datarooms.com, Drooms, etc. are just some of the few that provide safe due diligence with information like this. Need help in generating a Cap Table? Or don’t know what to include in your Term Sheet? We got you covered!

During the Due Diligence, there is a lot, when I say a lot, I meant a lot of information requesting and receiving. So be prepared for that! That aside, there will be on-site visits at the target business by the due diligence team. During the onsite visit, the due diligence team gets to interview with various management team members from various functions; they will discuss the findings as well as draft out a report on the findings. The report is then sent to your investors and further negotiation on changes to the term could take place. Overall, since it is not a one-man show; it involves various stakeholders and hence there is no doubt due diligence process is such a long process.

Conclusion

Process

To ensure a smooth due diligence process, I would advise every business to do a lot of research and do your own due diligence first, so you can answer all the questions raised by your internal and external team. Usually, a framework or checklist would come in handy when you want to do your own due diligence and they can be found here. It goes beyond the basic checks you would normally make and it’s safe to say that if you find it to be relatively straightforward, you probably didn’t do it right. On top of the checklist, follow this article on Due Diligence in 10 Easy Steps. Check out our article on What to include in an Investment Package, it will come in very handy when you do your own due diligence.

According to our experiences, some potential red flags that you should look out for when doing your own due diligence are and not limited to the following — Make sure your business’ contracts are fully disclosed, your business is not in the middle of any litigation case, and check the local laws to make sure there aren’t any violations. You should always try to overcome the red flags or the difficulties faced before the actual due diligence.

No matter what, always remember that due diligence is your best opportunity for investors to understand the risks involved in your business before signing a long term relationship hence, be prepared to do everything to minimize the risk. Are you a startup seeking funding during Seed or Series A? Check us out here!

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About VenturX

VenturX is a web platform that helps entrepreneurs through their journey from idea to launch and beyond. VenturX uses data-driven analytics to score and connect startups and investors at Seed and Series A financing.

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Top 10 Questions from Investors 

Top 10 Questions from Investors 

questions from investors

questions from investors

If you’re raising money for your company and wanting to pitch to angel investors and venture capitalists, then it is essential for you to know and expect what questions will be asked and how you should approach these questions. More often than not, they will ask you the same questions over and over again which will help determine why they should choose you. Make sure you are taking notes on the questions from investors so that you can score during future meetings.

For the past 2 years, VenturX has been actively participating in pitching to investors and of course, we have compiled the top 10 questions your investor will ask you and how you should approach these questions.

Top 10 Questions and How to Approach Them

Q&A

1) Where do you see the sales trend over the next 1–2 years?

This is an open-ended question. To approach this question, you must give a broad response and even touch on a variety of issues that could prove valuable to the investor’s decision-making process. The time frame will give the investor a good gauge of the opportunities as well as the risks involved over a short term. You need to provide as much proof that your answer is not full of just speculations (ie. we have 5 signed letters of intent for the next 4 months, we already have $100,000 in purchase orders that we just need to fulfill, etc.)

2) Who are the competitors in the industry?

The investors want to know who the potential competitors in the market and they expect you to know them in detail. They would also want to be alerted with any new products or services that may appear in the market which could impact your company. You should already have a concrete plan on how to deal with these competitors and focus on what makes you so special over them before your pitch.

“If an entrepreneur tells me that they don’t have ANY competitors, that is a red flag! They didn’t do their homework!” — Marvin Liao, Partner at 500 Startups, San Francisco. 

3) What obstacles are you currently facing?

No doubt every business is prone to failures and weaknesses, they are part of the equation of growth and they are often where all of the great learnings come from. The investors want to know what are the vulnerabilities in your company. However, keep in mind that identifying the problem is only answering part of the question. It is more vital to convince them how are you going to overcome these problems in both short and long term and convince the investors you have what it takes to overcome any potential obstacles.

4) How is your business performing?

Your investors are interested in how your business is performing. You should give them an introduction to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and other non-financial metrics that are going to affect the company’s growth. For software companies like us, KPIs include the lifetime value of a customer, customer acquisition cost, and monthly recurring revenue. Whatever your key metric is, it’s usually unique to your specific business. For more info, check out one of my favourite books “Lean Analytics” — by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz

5) How do you track trends in your market?

Due to the nature of start-ups, especially tech-based start-ups, things change very quickly. Investors would like to know if you are aware of your industry, as well as how you find data to stay on top of industry trends. Before pitching, be prepared to share how you find data about your customers and industry, as well as how you can leverage this information to improve your business to stay on top of the game.

6) Can you tell me a story about a customer using your product?

This should not be a surprise as it should already be included in your pitch. According to our experiences, the best pitch usually is the ones that open with a story about how your products and services are helping customers. We would advise using real names to be as specific as possible to describe how your services have transformed your customers and get rid of their “pain.” Hence, be sure to craft an excellent story on your customer and let that tell a story for you!

7) How can I connect with some of your customers who have used your product or service?

If your investors ask this question, you are on the right track! They find your pitch interesting and begin what’s called the due diligence process. During due diligence, they want to know a lot more about your target market/customers. Some insights you should provide to your investors are: who they are, how you know who they are, how did you find them, what do they think about your product or service, how often are they using it, on what scale, how you interact with them, etc. This would be a good place to use metrics that we guide our startups with such as Conversion and Engagement.

8) How would you predict your market will be like in five years as a result of using your product and service?

This is a great opportunity to tell a story on the growth of your company. Predict or picture how your customers’ future as a result of using your product or service in five years’ time. Prove to your investors that you are able to envision and think critically about your product and how your customer will evolve over the next 5 years.

9) What if five years down the road we think you’re not the right person to continue running this company-how will you address that?

Don’t be surprised when they ask you this question. Yes, it is rude and odd but often times, particularly with high growth start-ups, funding CEO does not remain the CEO who scales the company beyond the start-ups’ phase. This is the part where you convince the investors what kind of entrepreneur you are. The reason they asked this question is that more often than not, many founders’ ego get into the way of a company’s growth and they refuse to step down for the good of the company. It is important to address this issue and prove to the investors you do not have such “quality.”

10) How much equity are you offering?

This question usually comes at the end and if it does, it should tell you that you are on the right track and your investors are interested in the deal. The investors would like to know how their shares will be allocated and how it will be diluted assuming there are future rounds of funding such as Series rounds or even IPO when your company has matured enough. A good way to answer this would be to provide data such as generating a Capitalization Table and show them how much shares and how will that change down the road. If you need help generating a Simple Capitalization Table for your pitch, fear not, check out our article on Cap Table 101.

Pitch

That should be the top 10 questions you should expect your investors to ask during your pitch. It should have covered all grounds, if not I’d love to hear from you any types of questions that aren’t covered in this article — please post them in the comments down below and don’t forget to give us a clap if you enjoy reading this article. Interested in knowing how will VC invest in 2019? Our article got you covered! Are you a startup seeking funding during Seed or Series A? Check us out here!

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About VenturX

VenturX is a web platform that helps entrepreneurs through their journey from idea to launch and beyond. VenturX uses data-driven analytics to score and connect startups and investors at Seed and Series A financing.

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Should First Time Entrepreneurs Pay for a Startup Consultant or Not?

Should First Time Entrepreneurs Pay for a Startup Consultant or Not?

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” — famous Chinese proverb

With entrepreneurship becoming so popular nowadays, it is certainly overwhelming to know which resources are right for you (ie. investor platform, incubators, accelerators, startup consultants, etc..)

As our business who mainly targets startups, we devote a lot of time keeping our ears to the ground and finding interesting startup problems, solutions, and ideas to explore. Here is a post that inspired this post. It was from a popular Facebook group.

Facebook
Facebook Post

This post was from a first time entrepreneur who received 54 comments in 24 hours from startup consultants, entrepreneurs who have used consultants, people who have not used consultants, etc.. (This post has been edited several times and we cannot find the original post.)

The most detailed and interesting comment was this one:

“I started my business with $100 and a hunger to create freedom in my life.

At the time I couldn’t afford coaching or programs and guess what?

I didn’t buy any.

I did market research by talking to people (that costs me nothing).

I then created a membership program (in the B2C space) on WordPress (had to learn how to use WordPress) — that costed me the $100 of Siteground hosting and nothing else.

I had a Facebook group I was running the community in. That cost me nothing.

I then went on and started doing live videos and promote my membership (costed me nothing).

I sold 60 memberships, that replaced my banking job. So I quit.

I then with the money I made bought a new MacBook so I can work faster.

I then sold more memberships and more memberships and here I was making $5000 a month.

And that’s when I decided to invest $2000 in the 90 Day Year.

This year (1.5 years later) I am on track to have a 7 figure year by the end of 2018.

You see… all these programs you see.. you don’t have to buy them.

Also.. the people that sell them.. they don’t need to change their pricing to accommodate “people who can’t afford it”.

Coaching IS NOT a right.

It’s a privilege.

Programs and courses are NOT a right.

They are a privilege.

And Iike any privilege, you either

1) make money and work to deserve it (and reward yourself with it)

2) don’t make money and don’t buy it.

3) look for organizations that offer free mentorship for startups (lots of them in the World)

Sooooo

I don’t understand what the issue is.

Work hard.
Make money.
THEN invest.” — Anonymous

There were also other comments from the post explaining how startups who are new to the world of entrepreneurship have reservations about investing because of these following reasons.

Why People Don’t Pay for Startup Consultants

  1. Insecure feelings about their business- or the consultant
  2. Not 100% sure about their own ROI from the business enough to pay for a consultant
  3. Lack trust in the consultant
  4. Feel that there are enough free resources about certain areas on the internet
  5. They do not understand the long term value of the business and how a consultant can make a difference (ie. spending $1000 to make $20,000)
  6. They cannot find the right fit for the exact field of expertise that they need

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

You don’t know what you don’t know

You don’t know what you don’t know

This famous saying rings true in entrepreneurship. This boils down to whether this million dollar idea is worth the risk you are taking or not. For most first startups who come to our team and ask for investment money, it tends to stop right here and they will tend to go back to their full time jobs or take our advice to ponder about whether or not they go forward for another 4–6 months.

Since we run a startup platform, VenturX, that helps prepare and connect early stage startups for investments, we have the opportunity to see with our own eyes what success and failures within startups look like everyday. Even though they come from diverse backgrounds, the checklist of startups we can accept in order to maintain a high level of successful launches and investments are still the same. We can quickly tell a) if they are in our target market and b) what their next step would be in order to best be prepare for big investors like ours.

Time VS Money VS Quality

Time, Money, Quality

Time, Money, Quality

From working with over 300 startups and hearing their stories of successes and failures, there are only so many things you can invest into your business if you don’t have the luxury of quality. Quality stems from knowledge and experience. Every investor who has been an entrepreneur in a previous life always talks about getting your hands dirty. That is where your “je ne sais quoi” value comes from and therefore enhancing your overall “quality.” If it is your first time, you really only have the options of investing your time (known as sweat equity) or your money (known as hiring people or purchasing resources).

Even though we have a platform where potential clients can already see there are startups using our platform and getting investment, they have valid questions before signing up or hiring our consultation services. Their questions are ones that all startups should consider when investing any amount of money into their business.

Why Should First Time Entrepreneurs Hire Startup Consultants? (What do potential clients ask?)

  1. What is your field of expertise? Why should I choose you?

Answer: Helping prepare you for your first big round of funding and helping get to you launch with business intelligenceFrom working in the startup industry, we get to see the ingredients of success and failures on a daily basis that we use to benefit our consultation clients so they don’t have to suffer with their time and money in the long run.

2. Do you have referrals from other startups?

Answer: Yes — some are on our website: www.venturx.ca and others can be sent to you privately. We strongly recommend our best practices such as developing good positive relationships with clients in order to collect those success stories!

3. How does the consultation services work?

Answer: You can purchase specific packages such as “Review my investor’s pitch deck” or purchase a set of 5 or 20 hours of consultation. We meet on a call to help you with specific goals and come up with a structured plan of implementation and we make sure this plan is executed in the best manner possible.

4. Do you connect us with contacts?

Yes! As an added bonuses are connections and contacts when applicable. We know that not all consultants, coaches or mentors do that; however, it is part of our practice. There are some that are exclusive to only VenturX platform users.

4. Can I get a discount?

Answer: Discounts are available to all VenturX platform users or those who purchased larger set of consultation hours (ie. over 20 hours).

There you have it! The reasons why first time entrepreneurs opt to hire or not hire help. We hope this article helps you make informed decisions that can help your startup in the future years to come! For more startup tips, check out our other blogs!

Work

Work

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BIG Mistakes business owners make when hiring ’TOP’ Employee’s

Guest Post by: Jeff Consul, Institute Of Innovation

1.) Skills can be Taught — VALUES CANNOT. Always first confirm that you would trust them to work on your grandmothers house, or babysit your kids — before you start to see how they handle the tools. People with crappy attitudes and bad values are NEVER worth the effort. Inevitably they find something to externalize about; you’re not paying them enough, they don’t get enough time off, the gravity is too heavy…

2.) Confirming GRINDABILTY — But don’t ask how hard there last job was. Ask How LONG this hard job lasted, ask why they DIDN’T quit, ask what they LEARNED from this hard job, and how it changed them as a person.

3.) Call References — BUT — ask questions that allow you to see if you were right about their character. Remember that’s what you’re ultimately judging. 70% of the stuff on any resume is going to be questionable/exaggerated. When they worked for you; What were they the most proud of? When were they the happiest? What’s something most people wouldn’t know about them?

Call References

4.) Always remember that doing one or two more interviews is always MUCH less time than retraining anyone. Wait for the right person, even if their particular skill is lower — someone who lines up with your values can be leveraged over the long run, someone who quits in the middle of a job because the gravity is a little too heavy that day… is always going to be a let down

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3 Erreurs commises par les Startups: Sur quoi se concentrent les jeunes startups à part leurs Métriques?

Les startups en phase de démarrage ont énormément de choses à faire. Au fil de leur progression, leurs jours semblent de plus en plus courts. J’ai trouvé que beaucoup d’entre elles consacraient beaucoup de temps dans des choses à moyen et long terme plutôt que de se concentrer sur le présent. Lorsque je leur demande quelles sont les métriques sur lesquelles elles se concentrent, ce qui est important pour elles, etc… la variété de réponses obtenues est surprenante.

Cet article passe en revue les 3 erreurs les plus commises par les startups et explique comment un recentrage sur ses métriques remet les choses en perspective. Gardez à l’esprit que nous nous concentrons sur les startups en phase de démarrage et qui viennent seulement de créer leur entreprise.

1) Pas assez d’ACTION!

Les gens vous recommanderont toujours de lire ce dernier livre sur les startups ou bien les dernières tactiques de marketing pour atteindre des sommets.

Ce n’est pas pour vous décourager d’apprendre mais l’expérience de vos actions déterminera davantage ce que vous aurez appris que vos lectures. La stratégie marketing de quelqu’un d’autre, les canaux de distribution et la négociation commerciale ne sont peut-être pas adaptés à vous. Puisque chaque entreprise est si unique, vous ne saurez jamais quelles sont les meilleures pratiques à moins que vous sortiez et expérimentiez votre activité.

« L’ambition repose sur vos actions » — Gary Vaynerchuk, Entrepreneur, Animateur du AskGaryVee Show

POINT D’ACTION: Réservez-vous un ou deux jours dédiés à la lecture, la recherche, etc. Et consacrez les autres jours à la mise en pratique. (Je peux vous dire, par expérience, que si vous lisez un livre sur les startups, vous n’avez pas besoin de le terminer pour vous entraîner).

J’aime personnellement m’informer sur le marketing des réseaux sociaux car c’est un complément à ma formation de marketing en ligne. Je consacre généralement mon Samedi à apprendre de nouvelles choses. Pour atteindre mon public cible composé de startups, j’essaye tous les réseaux sociaux afin de voir où ma clientèle cible est la plus active et engagée. Je réalise des vidéos éducatives, des retransmissions en direct et des blogs sur Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter et Medium. Je cherche quotidiennement les canaux de communication qui fonctionnent les mieux afin de décider quels seront mes futurs investissements en marketing.

2) Se projeter trop loin dans le temps

Les fondateurs sont tiraillés dans tous les sens à cause des nombreuses sources d’influence qui les entourent, que ça soit l’effervescence des évènements de startups, des retours d’amis ou de la famille, des recommandations de partenariats potentiels ou encore des « tu sais à qui tu devrais parler? ». Je suis sur que vous avez des exemples en tête!

Il est peu judicieux de concentrer son énergie sur des partenariats à moyen et long terme, plutôt que de se concentrer sur le prochain essai ou projet pilote.

Exemple: N’attendez pas pour embaucher la personne parfaite qui vous aidera à mettre en place votre projet pilote ou votre test bêta plutôt que de le faire vous-même.

Je l’admets, je suis parfois tombé dans le piège mais une chose m’a encouragée à me concentrer sur les partenariats à établir maintenant, les recommandations à suivre ou bien où allouer mes précieuses 24 heures, l’analyse de mes métriques en temps-réel! (Voir diagramme ci-dessous).

POINT D’ACTION: Marquez vos futures tâches sur une durée de 1 à 3 mois. Si vous pouvez rapidement identifier les missions ou les partenariats possibles à exécuter en un mois, alors inscrivez-les dans votre calendrier sur un délai d’un mois à compter d’aujourd’hui. Vous n’avez pas besoin de tout faire d’un coup et être dépassé par la quantité de choses à faire. Quand tout cela commence à s’empiler, un tas d’opportunités peut facilement devenir un tas de distractions. Une chose pratique à faire est de trouver un rythme. S’il y a une nouvelle ressource ou un nouveau canal à explorer, mettez-le de côté jusqu’à ce que vous ayez complété ce qui est important pour le moment comme faire de votre premier projet pilote un succès!

3) Éviter ses Clients

« La vente est le remède de tous les maux » — Mark Cuban, Shark Tank de ABC, Investisseur, Entrepreneur

Comment les startups peuvent avoir ce remède si leurs clients ne sont pas le centre de leur attention?

Éviter ses clients peut être expliqué de deux façons:

a) Découverte Client: Certains entrepreneurs en phase de démarrage connaissent des cycles de procrastination avant de faire quelconque étude de marché ou enquête sur leur Product Market Fit.

POINT D’ACTION: Pour apprendre à enquêter sur votre Product Market Fit en 24 heures, référez-vous à cet article: https://medium.com/@VenturX_team/comment-trouver-son-product-market-fit-en-24-heures-c00d07c77820

(Il va vous guider à travers les différentes étapes avec des exemples concrets). Si vous voulez un modèle de questionnaire, envoyez-moi un courriel, et je vous en enverrai un!

b) Ignorer les retours de nouveaux clients et réitérer

En tant qu’être humain, nous faisons ce que nous voulons faire et non pas ce que nous devrions faire. Si c’est plus simple pour certains de travailler sur la création d’un beau site internet plutôt que de récolter des retours clients, vous pouvez être sur qu’ils concentreront leurs efforts dans l’option #1.

POINT D’ACTION: Planifiez des rendez-vous avec vos clients pour avoir leurs retours de façon régulière. Essayez de les programmer en avance. Même si vous avez de nouvelles distractions telles que des évènements de startups, embaucher des nouveaux membres dans votre équipe, etc. ces rencontres régulières vont vous assurer de rester au contact de vos clients et montrer que vous ne les évitez pas.

Afin d’avoir des retours pour le lancement du produit VenturX, je programme des appels Skype toutes les 3 semaines avec des amis en startup pour leur montrer la refonte du site et avoir leurs retours. Je contacte aussi une startup, tous les après-midis entre 14H et 16H, pour lui parler de ses Métriques VenturX. Il m’a dit qu’il préférait les notifications SMS. Pour lui montrer ma gratitude, je lui envoie ces rapports individuels journaliers depuis mon téléphone.

Sur quelles Métriques devrais-je me concentrer?

C’est une très bonne question. Une question bien détaillée dans ce livre:

« Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster » — Alistair Croll et Benjamin Yoskovitz

Ils expliquent que les startups devraient se concentrer sur une métrique à la fois, et que cela dépend du type d’industrie et de leur phase de développement. Voici un diagramme détaillé provenant du livre:

Avez-vous découvert dans quelle phase vous vous positionnez?

Génial!

Pouvez-vous déterminer quelle métrique est la plus importante?

Excellent travail!

Maintenant vous pouvez inverser la formule pour vous débarrasser de ces 3 erreurs commises par les startups en phase de démarrage!

Gardez en tête que même si ces informations proviennent principalement de nos observations de startups en phase de démarrage et de jeunes entrepreneurs, de nouvelles informations sont amenées à venir!

Il pourrait y avoir plus qu’une métrique que vous allez pointer du doigt comme un faible Product Market Fit ou des finances trop basses.

En tant que chercheuse dans le monde des startups, je souhaitais vous partager mes observations sur cette industrie fascinante. J’espère qu’avec ce simple guide, les débuts de votre entreprise seront sans heurt! Si vous avez des questions concernant vos métriques, envoyez-moi un courriel à l’adresse sydney.wong@venturx.ca et nous jetterons un coup d’œil ensemble!

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5 best free apps for startups for 2018

5 best free apps for startups for 2018

5 best free apps for startups for 2018

Here is a countdown of the top must-have apps that startups should have on their phones or computers to start 2018 on the right foot. As a startup in this digital age, you can bet that there are very creative solutions out there to help savvy entrepreneurs save time, money, or headache. Here are our top picks.

5. Vidyard

Vidyard is a Google Chrome extension that captures videos and uploads it for you. From there, you can share the link to the video or upload it directly into gmail email or your Youtube channel. With just one click, you can capture video and audio on what is happening on your screen. You do need strong internet to in order for this to work. As a technology software startup, we mainly use this for demonstrations to clients to showing bugs to the development team.

A video tells a better story about what the user is seeing or should be seeing than screenshots with text. To see an example of how it works, here is an example of a video we made recently for a prospective startup customer: https://share.vidyard.com/watch/Qwm9VwRj5udCNZ74Evwd86

4. Hellosign

HelloSign

This is a digital way to sign contracts. You can use the web version for free at www.hellosign.com. The neat thing about this fan favourite is that you can sign your own signature and email it to others to sign too within a few clicks. Not only do we not have to find an old school printer somewhere in the city…but it saves us a lot of time and money! Make sure this is marked down as one of your must have’s. Personally, I use the web version to do this.

 

 

 

 

3. Paperspan

PaperSpan

Paperspan is a very interesting app that instantly downloads webpages/articles to save offline and reads it out loud to you later. This is particularly useful when I was flying a lot this year from Montreal to Vancouver to run beta tests with incubators for our startup success tool. This came in handy because I got to read up on different Facebook campaigns, eBooks, etc..It is perfect to catch up on reading and research during transport such as in airplanes, subways, or even just walking.

Voicealoud is a similar app that reads out loud but you require internet.

These audio apps are what I used to read one of my favourite eBooks, Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk, Entrepreneur and CEO of Vayner Media. Voice is dominating because it gives the concept of saving time. Here is a great segment on Gary Vaynerchuk’s take on voice https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgGllljdC-k&t=1698s

That means that these audio apps are the ultimate “time saving” apps especially for people who don’t like read. I put it on the startup list because we have to learn so much in such a short time. We put on many hats during the day. Any time we want to find research on best practices can be done here.

2. Crowdfire

Crowdfire

A lot of first time entrepreneurs know they should use social media but don’t know how. They either don’t know what content to put, when to publish or what channels would be most effective. Crowdfire has a long free trial (about 100 posts) that helps you post cross Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. It can include other mediums as a part of the premium paid package. We used this and saw instant success that helped VenturX grow:

400–900 followers on Twitter

from 0 to 500 followers on Instagram,

boost engagement on our Facebook.

It also teaches users how to do it and what to look for. For example, the app encourages users to like similar topics, when to repost your latest Youtube video or Medium blog post, etc.. It helped us maximize exposure to our startup fans and it drove traffic to our website.

One thing that really stood out about Crowdfire was how user-friendly it was. They had a unique chatbox technology combined with their AI algorithm to maximize its effective interaction with the users. Even though VenturX used it for B2B, I expected it would be even more successful for B2C startup businesses.

1. Shapr

Shapr

Welcome to the “Tinder for LinkedIn.” You can swipe left and right on people’s profile and get matched. It is especially great for B2B businesses like VenturX because it targets keywords and job titles. For example, VenturX would interested in these job titles: “CEO, Founder, or investor” and we scroll through 20 daily picks with those related job titles as close to our geographical area as possible. Just like the hot in market dating mobile applications, you can only talk to each other when you match. Also, users can get suggestions such as “ask them for a coffee meeting” in order to encourage more offline meetings.

I loved this app so much that I tweeted a customer testimonial video to them directly.

This is how you know your work is really changing the market.

The forgotten app of 2018:

Saying goodbye to Hunter.io app.

Hunter.io

This Google Chrome extension was a stellar business development assistant that helps you search email addresses on Linkedin. They had to shut down or got acquired unfortunately. Otherwise, this would be on the list of top 5 too.

So there you have it! You are well on your way to boost your startup with a bang in 2018!

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

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

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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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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