Top 7 Things I Learned at C100 48 Hrs in the Valley
I just attended C100’s 48 Hrs in the Valley program and it was fantastic. The C100 is is a nonprofit member-driven association that provides a bridge between Canadian startup founders and innovative corporations, and the highly influential Silicon Valley network. Co-chairs Terry Doyle, Interim Executive Director, and Angela Strange, Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, kicked things off on Wed. for an action packed 2-day immersion into everything startup, networking, and the valley. Here are the top 7 things I learned while attending the 12th cohort of 48 Hrs in the Valley.
7. It’s Not Just About Getting Funding
When we qualified for the June program, I immediately thought we wouldn’t be eligible anymore, as we just closed a $5M USD seed round. However, after talking with Andee Gardiner, Marketing Manager for the C100, she said “funding is only one of many reasons we run this program, you should still come”, and we are sure glad we did.
6. CEOs Need to Constantly Shift Between Founder and Executive Personas
There were many great sessions with C100 charter members and alumni. Sukhinder Singh-Cassidy is the CEO and Founder of Joyus.com, and was also was President of Asia-Pacific, and Latin America operations for Google for six years. She gave one of the best talks I have seen on the “Secrets to Scaling Yourself and Your Team”. There were many thoughtful, actionable, best practices she gave us, but one that really resonated with me is that as a CEO you need to constantly switch between your founder persona (entrepreneurial, in the details), to your executive persona (vision, outward facing), and it is your job to know which person needs to show up each and every day.
5. Venture Capital is Still Funding Great Startups But…
In a great panel with Arif Janmohamed, Lightspeed Ventures, Jon Quick, AIEST Capital, Katherine Barr, Wildcat Venture Partners, and Neal Sadaranganey, DoCoMo Capital there was some frothy discussion about the state of venture capital. “Series A Crunch”, “Valuation Crunch” were terms that were bounced around and discussed. But it was Katherine Barr who said that “it’s now much more of a balance between growth and business fundamentals, and in some ways Canadians are better at that vs. just growth.”
4. Scavenger Hunts Can Still be Fun
The first activity we did was a scavenger hunt across the downtown landscape of San Francisco. It was fun to see all of the landmarks, and startup HQs, but what we really got to do was bond with another startup, Bioconnect, which is building the next generation Identity-as-a-service platform. Rob Douglas, CEO and Bianca Lopes, Strategy Director were our partners in crime and it was great to learn about their vision for a new world where you yourself are the only identity you need. Oh and BTW the only reason we didn’t win was because one team actually went “skinny dipping” in the Bay to clinch the title.
3. Mentorship is Underrated and Underused
I think many first time entrepreneurs think that mentorship is not a valuable activity. To be truthful, in my first startup, I didn’t have a mentor in the entire 13 years I was there, I thought I knew it all and didn’t need the help. However as I have gotten older and wiser I realize how valuable having a mentor can be. So when I found out that the C100 program includes a mentor, I was thrilled. We (Steve and I) got assigned Elizabeth Patterson, Chief Talent Officer at both Mohr Davidow Ventures and Wildcat Venture Partners. As soon as we started our first call I could tell this was going to be very valuable. She was full of energy, ideas and a passionate networker herself. Immediately she set up connections to some key contacts she knew would be valuable to us, and also gave us insight into key organization and role changes she is seeing in successful startups. Thank you Elizabeth!
2. There are Many Super Cool Startups in Canada.
I loved talking to all the different founders in our cohort. Lots of great businesses on the verge of exploding into something bigger. SportlogiQ, won “Coolest Tech” in the pitch competition, and they deserved it. I am probably biased by my love of sports, but they have developed technology that can analyze the broadcast of a hockey game, and using a combination of player tracking, and activity recognition algorithms, flag specific game events such as shots or passes, timestamp them, and record their x-y coordinates on the ice. This gives them the ability to provide analysts, broadcasters and viewers an experience they have never seen before. They have already signed up the NHL, and are broadening to other sports, as well as use the analytics to fuel predictive applications in the huge fantasy sports industry. Backed by investors like Mark Cuban, I think they are going to go far.
1. It’s All About Your Network
Networking was a big theme of the program AND they got it right. Networking in groups with high affinity for each other is not work, it’s fun: founders, investors, and Canadians. I have always been a huge believer in helping others and building my professional network, and it was clear that some of that network needs to be in the valley if you want to be successful. In a panel on social capital, there were some great insights on how to think about growing your network. One of the ideas I loved was from Mallorie Brodie, CEO and co-founder of Bridgit. She said “I find I can add much more value as a hub between networks, so I never limit myself to just building relationships within tech.” This is something we all need to do more, and substantiated by the popular theory “the strength of weak ties.”
All in all, 48 hrs was probably not enough time, but as I sit here back at our office in Toronto, I am looking forward to the next time I get to see my fellow Canadians in the valley.