Showing posts tagged as "startup"
Don’t miss out on the chance to accelerate your startup: AcceleratorYYC and VA Angels are hosting another BaseCamp investment bootcamp May 31- June 3, 2013.
In January 2013, R. Stewart (Randy) Thompson, Angel Investor and CEO of VA Angels, trained 10 local startup founders to ‘think like the investor.’ Given 3.5 days of in-depth exercises, guest speakers (Kevin Swan from iNovia), and peer feedback, founders completed the bootcamp “extremely satisfied” with ”huge improvements on their previous investment knowledge.” They came to realize how an investor’s mind works, how to calculate the numbers and to back those numbers up with their own companies.
Throughout the weekend, they helped one another out and grew stronger as a group of highly knowledgeable and educated entrepreneurs. They worked closely with a few angel investors from VA Angels & Espresso Capital and had some great discussions about venture capital funding with Kevin Swan from iNovia.
While learning the ins and outs of funding their startup, founders also received insight on their own Investor Pitch Deck. They feverishly worked on their pitch during any given spare moment throughout the weekend, perfecting it for their pitch opportunity on the Ironwood Grill’s stage. According to the founders, pitching and getting feedback was one of the most valuable outcomes from the bootcamp weekend!
The top 4 (there was a tie for third place) founders pitched to a live, eager audience of angelduring the catered Accelerate Fund Dinner at the Ironwood. Guests included: Dave Edmonds, Industry Chair, A100; Warren Bergen, VP of Corporate Development, AVAC; Paul Cataford, Partner, Espresso Capital; among many other industry leaders.
If this sounds like the opportunity you’ve been waiting for, Register Now!
Also, save $50 when you also become an AcceleratorYYC Community Member.
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You’re standing in line at the grocery store, when all of a sudden the person behind you compliments your shoes. Do you a) thank the person and then ignore them b) give the person a weird look and then pretend to read a magazine or c) thank the person and then strike up a conversation? If you answered ‘a’ or ‘b’, but wish you answered ‘c’, then look to Cam Adair and his company, Kingpin Social.
Photo credit: Chris Dowsett (@chris_dowsett)
Kingpin Social is dedicated to helping individuals elevate their social interactions. Kingpin social offers one-on-one and small group courses to develop and strengthen social skills; whether they be used for personal, networking or corporate oriented reasons.
“Everyone always says it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” says Cam. “But no one ever tells you how to know any of these people. That’s what we’re trying to solve. How do you build yourself into this person that you actually want to be?”
Cam knows a lot about building himself to the person he wants to be. When Cam was young, he dropped out of high school and decided to work in retail. He quickly learned that it wasn’t the life he wanted. He wanted to be his own boss and make a living doing something that he’s passionate about.
“I’ve always been a social guy but growing up I was bullied,” explained Cam. “I don’t know why. Half of the people liked me and half of the people didn’t. I wanted to understand that more, so I started going out and meeting people and journaling about it. I ended up meeting a lot of other people in Calgary that were doing the same thing [(studying and journaling their social interactions)] and eventually, formed it into a community. Soon, people started asking me to coach them on socializing.”
Kingpin Social is growing into a valuable service that is crossing borders. With the power of online video chat, Cam has worked with many people from the United States and Europe who all want to master the art of socializing. The company is currently developing a curriculum for schools that will teach children social skills at an early age. Once they leave the comfort of their school, they will be more likely to develop a network of friends.
Of course, starting a business has had many challenges.
“One mistake was definitely not hiring the right people or hiring just to hire…there has to be an actual position to fill.”
“Also, a lot of entrepreneurs make this mistake: not focusing on accounting at the very beginning. It’s very common for us to just avoid it and to deal with it later. It will later become a big headache.”
Through the challenges will come success and one major success that Cam says is the fact that he’s still standing strong in the entrepreneur world.
“I quit my job in October 2007, I didn’t have a degree to fall back on. I didn’t have any mentors, I didn’t go to school for business. I just had to learn on my own. To be here today is a huge accomplishment for me. Getting the business to the point where it is now, where we actually have a classroom we work in with real students [is a huge success]. Being able to help someone by helping them improve their life is very fulfilling.”
Currently, Kingpin Social is developing the program for schools by working with autistic children to help them develop their social skills. After the program is fully developed, Kingpin Social hopes to implement it into the school system for all children.
So what are Cam’s thoughts on AcceleratorYYC?
“I quite like it,” explains Cam. “Some other co-working spaces in Calgary are very big and I like that [AcceleratorYYC] is a bit smaller. You actually get to know everyone. It’s a bit more of a close-knit community.”
For 2013, Cam says he really wants to understand the long-term goals of the business.
“During the first four years, it was something we were doing to pay our bills and help people out. We weren’t as focused on the long-term vision. Going forward, we want to make sure that everything in the business is in-line and in-sync with our long-term goals.”
Kingpin Social is also looking into turning their proven interactive method into a software program that schools can used to help teach social skills.
So the next time you want to meet new people and develop new connections, look to Cam and Kingpin Social. You have nothing to lose but the opportunity to meet someone new.
Connect with Cam and Kingpin Social at www.kingpinsocial.com.
Have you ever dreamed of having your very own robot? A robot who would play music when you ask, dance for your entertainment and bring you a beer? It may seem like something from a futuristic science fiction movie, but those dreams are becoming realities thanks to EZ-Robot!
Founded by DJ Sures, EZ-Robot is a company that creates a platform for regular people to build their dream robot using their unified hardware and software. Users can program their creations to do almost anything they imagine. How did this amazing company with an amazing product come into being? DJ credits a moment with his grandfather as the starting point for the company.
“I started building robots for fun,” DJ explained. “I was sitting with my grandfather one day at the beach. I was working on a robot and he said, ‘would you teach me how to build one of those?’ I replied ‘that’s impossible; you can’t just teach someone how to build a robot.’ Then he said, ‘If you want to change the world, that’s what you should do, make it so everybody can build a robot,’ and I said ‘Alright, I’ll try it!’ A year later, I came up with the technical foundation of [EZ-Robot]’s product line.”
EZ-Robot has grown into a company that has allowed people to create robots that can walk, dance, fly, listen to speech commands, and visually track and detect objects. It’s not just regular people who are fans too, but also many universities and even NASA, are using EZ-Robot products to develop some incredible machines.
DJ describes his experience as an entrepreneur as a ‘personal evolution.’
“I’ve always worked for startups,” says DJ. “I’ve been a co-founder but never a creator from ground up. It was a personal evolution that was bound to happen.”
DJ also notes that as an entrepreneur, he learned that it could get lonely at times and that it’s important to assemble a trusting support team. However, this yearning for others to see what you’re doing and get a little help could also lead to mistakes while hunting for the right team.
“[Looking] for support from others can distract you from the work you need to do. I spent a lot of time meeting with people and companies that I thought wanted to help, but really they just wanted money or equity, or didn’t even know what the [heck] they wanted. My suggestion to early entrepreneurs is to believe and trust your gut… That’s one of the advantages of being human – intuition.”
“People have come and gone over the past year and a half, and those who stuck around are truly remarkable people. There’s no real hierarchy, everybody participates in the same level playing field. It’s what I’m most proud of.”
Throughout the process of growing his company, DJ says that AcceleratorYYC has been a resource that he utilized many times and is proud to be a virtual member of the co-working space.
“AcceleratorYYC has been able to offer a wide variety of informative programs, speakers and events,” says DJ. “These were huge assets to supporting the early growth of EZ-Robot.”
So what does EZ-Robot have in store for 2013? DJ says there will be an unveiling of a new product called “EZ-Robot Revolution.” He describes it as a lifestyle product that will produce a Lego-type robot platform. The new product will be accompanied by an app store where users can make apps for robot functionality to share with other users. EZ-Robot will also be jumping on the 3D printer bandwagon, utilizing the technology as a part of the robot building process. Of course, the company is also growing and DJ is looking to double or even triple the team this summer of 2013.
When it comes down to it, DJ truly wants the world to understand what “robot” really means. It could be an EZ-Robot companion that brings you coffee, something that dances to Rihanna’s music, can act as a security system, or aid disabilities. The possibilities are endless. When you think about it, it only took a bit of imagination and an entrepreneur that listened to his grandfather to make people’s sci-fi dreams into realities.
Connect with DJ Sures and EZ-Robot at www.ez-robot.com.