On July 11th we attended the AccelerateAB conference in Calgary, AB during Stampede! Why would a Victoria company attend an Alberta Tech Entrepreneur conference? Well besides the fact that we are good neighbours, we are working on a project with the City Center of Fort McMurray in Alberta. And we were stoked that the event came with their own conference specific app!
Alright now back to the conference… Which was both engaging and awesome! After a brief introduction, the day began with CEO of Mozilla Gary Kovacks speaking about the global opportunity in mobile technology. One thing that he said really resonated with me, “the next 2 billion Internet users will skip straight to mobile.” Meaning that within the next couple of years 2 billion users in developing countries will finally gain internet access, but they will not browse the internet on computers but skip straight to mobile devices. Huge potential for the mobile industry as a whole.
Following some great insight from Gary (I can pretend we are on a first name basis right?), a panel of tech founders talked about how they began their successful companies. The following innovative thinkers went into detail about how their personal and professional lives both struggled and triumphed during the founding process. Dr. Ray Muzyka – Founder and CEO of Threshold Impact, Bill Karamouzis - CEO of TeachMe, Mike McCauley – Founder of Buffer Box, Shelley Kuipers – CEO of Chaordix.
Next was a quick lunch, as conference goers also wanted to take in Demo Alley. Demo Alley was a lineup of AB startup companies and founders, pitching their business to conference goers. If you managed to get through them all, at the end you could vote for your favorite with the AccelerateAB app.
Following this was the exciting Suit Case Pitch Competition, where 3 founders pitched their business to a panel of A100 and C100 investors, who decided the winner. The winner was given $1500 then taken immediately to San Francisco where they faced a week of meetings with top investors already set-up for them. The winner was Stephen Guppy of GNS3: an open source software that simulates complex networks without having dedicated network hardware such as routers and switches.
Immediately after this was a panel that divulged their personal secrets on “Selling.” Panelists included Ron Piovesan from Mozilla, Chris O’Neill-managing director of Google Canada, Michael Worry-CEO of Nuvation, and Mike Trevithick from Venrock. These guys provided some fantastic advice and methods of how to sell. Some resonating messages stuck with me:
“Aim to achieve company profit by creating value for you customers.”
“Get in the head of the customer and find one to two core things that the customer wants.”
“Professional/high level athletes and former soldiers make terrific sales people. They are used to pressure, and understand how to achieve goals in a competitive environment.”
Next up was my personal favorite, the PR Dragon’s Den. Five AB Startups had the opportunity to pitch their business to the following news or pubic relations specialists at: National Post, Techvibes, Metro Calgary, NewAd, and Berlin PR. After hearing all of the pitches they offerred these tips to increase the likelihood of being featured by such publications:
- Start your story off with a hook or some sort of emotion
- Show your business’/product’s functionality quickly and clearly
- Be sure to explain how your business affects people not just technology
- If you pitching/emailing to pr/news sources, bring readymade story ideas about your business
In the end an Edmonton company named Poppy Barley, who makes custom flats and boots for women in ethical facilities, won the approval of all judges and will receive articles in each of those news sources. Poppy Barley won because of their story, their carefully crafted pitch, and the fact that they actually brought story ideas to the PR experts.
To wrap up this extremely engaging and fast paced conference, Reg Cheramy – CEO of Stormboard, gave us a talk on ‘hustling’ and ‘getting lucky.’ Then he explained his 9 steps to ’Getting Lucky’ in regards to his approach to business success:
1 -Get New Experiences 5- Get Prepared
2- Get Positive 6- Get Deadlines
3- Get New Opportunities 7- Get Relationships
4- Get Persistent 8- Get Focused
9- Get Passionate
AccelerateAB was an action packed conference, with amazing speakers and insight!