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Venture Capital

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I’m here in Sunny California, at the beautiful Marriott Desert Springs Resort where the DEMO conference is being held this year. Yup, Standout Jobs was selected to present at DEMO!

It’s been a long journey for Standout Jobs, and this week marks a major milestone–Standout Jobs has launched our first product, Reception, at DEMO 08. We waited till exactly 7am EST on Monday January 28th, which is when the embargo is lifted according to DEMO rules, to launch the product. The reception (pun intended) has been amazing, we were covered by TechCrunch, GigaOM and Mashable, among the major news sites, as well as local sites such as A frog in the valley, I never nu, Web1979, MontrealTechWatch, TechCFO, Mikel.org, Guillaume Thoreau, and Quebec Valley.

(If you’re interested in all the details, you can of course consult the
Standout Jobs Blog.)

Most of my readers probably also read the likes of my cofounders Ben Yoskovitz and Austin Hill, so all this news is no surprise to you… But I do want to remind you that we will be presenting at 12:44PM EST LIVE on the web at demo.com, and this is where you’ll be able to finally see just exactly why I’ve been so reclusive over the last year! ;-) But to be completely serious for a second, we’d love to have your virtual moral support.

I’d like to also give big props to the Standout Jobs A-Team that made this happen–In alphabetical order:

Thank you for your hard work everyone. We’ll celebrate when I get back!

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I’ve been researching Venture Capital lately and I’ve found a couple of good resources I’d like to share with you.

First is a very new blog called Venture Hacks. It is an “Entrepreneur’s Guide to Hacking Venture Capital”, and has some great insights into the VC process. It started on April 1st but is definitely not a joke. Highly recommended.

Second is Brad Feld‘s Term Sheet Series. It explains all the various ideas related to the term sheet, such as Drag Along, Anti-Dilution, and Pay-to-Play. There is a lot of stuff here and I’m still getting through it, but so far so good.

So here I am in the Loews Le Concorde hotel lobby, because I can’t get the wireless network to work in my room. I was only able to connect to the hotel next door. (Oh well, there’s another pain point to solve for some enterprising entrepreneur!)

So far, it’s been a great conference. Speakers so far include Ken Morse from MIT, Guy Kawasaki and Bill Reichert from Garage, and a great panel of successful entrepreneurs led by Guy. Sitting on the panel was my friend and mentor Austin Hill. The panel discussion was particularly interesting because it reflected real-life experiences of those entrepreneurs trying to start companies in Quebec (except for Patrick Lor from istockphoto.com, who is based in Calgary).

I met a couple of guys here, Mathieu Ouellet and Carl-Frédéric De Celles, who are covering the event live on their blog Les Bonnes Frequentations, so I won’t recap the talks here. (Their blog is in French, but like Ken Morse said to me today… “Suck it up”.)

Speaking of Patrick, he just joined me on the couch here and we had an interesting conversation about BarCamp, the fact that developers don’t read stuff like Joel on Software, the fact that business guys don’t read stuff like GigaOM, and the lack of “Clued In” Angel Investors in Canada. I mentioned that Austin is trying to change that by convincing other former tech execs to start angel investing, and perhaps they should team up in some way. As more entrepreneurs become successful in Canada, I hope we will see such a network develop up here like it has in Silicon Valley.

I will leave you with a true story of the silliest thing I did at the conference so far. The event started last night with a “meet-and-greet” of fellow attendees. At some point I spotted two Asian guys talking to each other, so I approached them and said “Hey, I decided to come talk with the only other Asians here.” Since I approached from behind I did not realize that I was rudely interrupting Guy and Patrick! Being the great guys they are they welcomed me into their conversation about Hockey… And that’s the story of how I met Guy Kawasaki and Patrick Lor.

See you guys back in Montreal.

Startup Canada
I’m scrambling right now to get ready for Startup Canada, which is being held Thursday (tomorrow) to Saturday in Quebec City.

I really should have posted about this earlier in order to get a bigger Montreal delegation going, but that’s my life right now. Always “should have done this last week.” Still, there are at least a few of us from the Montreal tech scene going, including Ben Yoskovitz and Austin Hill. I hope to meet other familiar Montreal faces there.

What I cannot believe is they had the audacity to assign me homeworkTHIS MORNING! Actually it’s not so bad, only about 40 pages of assigned readings. I’ve gotten through about half of it so far and it’s actually quite interesting. The readings that are available publicly are linked below. Sorry, no time for commentary…

Well, I’m quite looking forward to the event. I mean, when is the next time I will get to meet Guy Kawasaki? Ah, yes… entrepreneurs are also susceptible to celebrities… Except I’m much more inclined to go to an event featuring Guy Kawasaki, than, say, Britney Spears.

As an aside, I just finished Art of the Start a couple of days ago. Recommended reading for any startup entrepreneur.

Props go to Garage Canada, who is one of the primary organizers of the conference and a sponsor of BarCampMontreal1. Thanks for bringing Silicon Valley to us, Garage.

Just getting home from work, I find the latest episode of Dragon’s Den playing on the TV. It was already half over but I figured I earned some relaxation after a long workday, so I plunked down in front of the couch with my dinner. It was actually quite interesting, the four founders from jobloft.com was asking for an investment of $200,000 for 20% of the company. The Dragons offered $200,000 for 50%, and after some agonizing the founders took the deal.

What is up with that?!? They must be flat broke to take such an awful deal. That means the company is worth only $400,000; and that is wrong on so many levels.

The founders divulged that each customer pays $599/month in fees. On their website they list 35 customers. A quick calculation shows a yearly gross income of $251,580. I don’t know how much profit they make on this gross income, but I think the company is worth at least $1M with that kind of gross income and much more potential. The dragons were right that they are charging too little money for their service, however.

This was essentially an angel deal, but they’ve already given away 50% of their company. They’ll be diluted down to nothing if they ever have to go for a Series A or B.

Maybe I don’t know anything, but I’d never go for that. Crazy! The founders totally got the short end of the stick on this one.