Founders & Funders – It’s a wrap

Founders and Funders

It’s now been 3 days since the first Founders & Funders in Toronto. I’ve travelled to Montreal for StartupCampMontreal and had some time to reflect on the events. Founders & Funders was a lot of fun. Istoica provided photo documentation of the people and the proceedings, check out the full gallery. StartupCampMontreal was a fantastic romp with Graham Hill and Albert Lai and 5 interesting startup presentations.

Founders & Funders was a great event. It was probably the most successful event for me about affecting a positive change in the startup community in Toronto. Back in 2005, this all started as a way to find others in the community interested in Web 2.0, starting companies and changing the world. Founders & Funders has always had a different mission. On the surface it looks very similar to DemoCamp and some of the other community activities. And there is a significant amount of overlap between the TorCamp community and the attendees at Founders & Funders. But there is not 100% overlap.

My apologies, if you wanted to attend Founders & Funders and did not get the chance. The size of the event. The cost of the venue. The price of the tickets. The sponsors. The budget. And the desired outcomes prevented us from being 275+ people like the last DemoCamp. The goal was to connect the people that start venture-fundable companies with the people that fund them. We charged $75 per person for a meal, that in the true web 2.0 fashion, cost approximately $140 per person. Honestly, maybe the next time I’ll take my own advice and start from the financial mechanics.

Attending StartupCampMontreal started me thinking about the experience of social networking events. It ties into previous posts, Value to the audience, about what is the goal of these events. Then how do you design the event experience to facilitate the goals. Thinking about Founders & Funders, the goal was a social evening that connected entrepreneurs and funders in a context outside of a pitch. We did a great job, we provide an awesome venue (it was a little noisy), a great meal, some social lubricant, and a great group of people. Many of the funders said “I feel like I know half the people but I haven’t connected with them”. This is no surprise the funders list in Toronto is pretty small (it’s missing a few folks like David Ossip, but he was invited just unable to attend). I watched a few entrepreneurs that were new to the crowd float around, struggle to enter conversations, not because they weren’t capable, but because the amount of effort required to network is huge.

What I realized at StartupCampMontreal is networking where you are the new guy is exhausting. I think there is a real role in the community for ambassadors. There are people who have been a fixture in the community since very, very early. The role of ambassador is to connect people. Every first-time attendee is assigned an ambassador, whose job it is to introduce them to 3 people. Not 3 random people. Not 3 people that are your friends. But 3 people that would benefit from the connection. This means learning a little bit about the n00b. Read their blogs. Check out their Social Graph. Talk to them before hand.

When Austin, Heri, Philippe Telio and Vincent Guyeaux of Embrase introduced me to someone there was a smarter conversation. It was because they had served as editors and were increasing the value of the connections. This is also the one thing, I wish we had done a little better at Founders & Funders. The understanding of that the connections matter, they are the conduits (a series of tubes if you will) that allow for commerce in the community. Figuring out the currency of community is key. It turns out the the currency is connections, it is dollars exchanged, it is link love, it’s jobs offered, networks shared. The challenge is that there is no exchange format.

We can begin improving our events by embracing the role of the ambassador. And working to improve the quality of the connections.

8 thoughts on “Founders & Funders – It’s a wrap”

  1. <p>The whole ambassador thing is so friggin' true. We were at The Crunchies last week and there was definitely a struggle to meet people. Having someone to take me under their wing and make the necessary introductions to the RIGHT people would be invaluable. And really, it benefits both me, and the person I'm being introduced to.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Having a more organized system of ambassadors/connectors would really help out in these networking sessions.</p>

  2. The whole ambassador thing is so friggin' true. We were at The Crunchies last week and there was definitely a struggle to meet people. Having someone to take me under their wing and make the necessary introductions to the RIGHT people would be invaluable. And really, it benefits both me, and the person I'm being introduced to.

    Having a more organized system of ambassadors/connectors would really help out in these networking sessions.

  3. <p>It was great to see you last night David. I always enjoying catching up.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Congratulations to you, Jevon and the Toronto Founders & Funders group on what looks like a great event.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>When <a href="http://01entrepreneur.ca/&quot; target="_blank">Patrick Lauzon</a> and I organized the Montreal Founders & Funders event our goal was very similar which was to bring together Founders and Funders (Angels & VCs) in a social setting.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>In Montreal we had the added goal of uniting and encouraging networking among both the French and English entrepreneurs & CEOs who along with the Montreal angel community often do not network.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>After the work we had done in Montreal to get Barcamp and Democamp's going we noticed that while it was popular with the technology, Web startup and engineering; design & social media crowd we weren't getting the involvement of key members of our community who could act as mentors to the new emerging community of startups.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>By keeping our invite list hand selected for the first event we hoped to reach out to many of our 2nd & 3rd time entrepreneurs and angel investors who weren't coming out to other community events.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>It was a great success for us, but with a different twist. We had more VCs and Angels then we did 'Founders' in the sense we were looking for. We had a turn out of approx 75 (out of 110 invites) which was at capacity. The breakdown was about 40% Founders and 60% VC's and Angel investors.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>We are planning the next event soon and look forward to sharing our experience and continuing this trend. </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>David & <a href="http://www.socialwrite.com/&quot; target="_blank">Jevon</a>, you've already given me some great ideas to incorporate into our next event.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Congrats again.</p>

  4. It was great to see you last night David. I always enjoying catching up.

    Congratulations to you, Jevon and the Toronto Founders & Funders group on what looks like a great event.

    When Patrick Lauzon and I organized the Montreal Founders & Funders event our goal was very similar which was to bring together Founders and Funders (Angels & VCs) in a social setting.

    In Montreal we had the added goal of uniting and encouraging networking among both the French and English entrepreneurs & CEOs who along with the Montreal angel community often do not network.

    After the work we had done in Montreal to get Barcamp and Democamp's going we noticed that while it was popular with the technology, Web startup and engineering; design & social media crowd we weren't getting the involvement of key members of our community who could act as mentors to the new emerging community of startups.

    By keeping our invite list hand selected for the first event we hoped to reach out to many of our 2nd & 3rd time entrepreneurs and angel investors who weren't coming out to other community events.

    It was a great success for us, but with a different twist. We had more VCs and Angels then we did 'Founders' in the sense we were looking for. We had a turn out of approx 75 (out of 110 invites) which was at capacity. The breakdown was about 40% Founders and 60% VC's and Angel investors.

    We are planning the next event soon and look forward to sharing our experience and continuing this trend.

    David & Jevon, you've already given me some great ideas to incorporate into our next event.

    Congrats again.

  5. <p>Thanks for putting this together, David (and Jevon!). Was definitely worthwhile to fly out from Vancouver for. I'd like to do a 'west coast' version, perhaps in March.</p>

  6. Thanks for putting this together, David (and Jevon!). Was definitely worthwhile to fly out from Vancouver for. I'd like to do a 'west coast' version, perhaps in March.

  7. <p>David, great to have seen you at Startup Camp Montreal. </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I really like your ambassador concept. We all know how hard and uncomfortable it is to mingle in a crowd we are not familiar with. Add to this that it is virtually impossible to know ahead of time who would be the best connections, and just as difficult to find them even if you could identify them.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Classic trade shows and events have understood this problem, and they have developed sophisticated match-making engines and even devices that help attendees book face-to-face meetings. </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>You are spot on with your idea of ambassadors, which should be a component of any future events like Startup Camp. I will look into technology solutions that would facilitate the whole process, and let you know what I find.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>See you again soon.</p>

  8. David, great to have seen you at Startup Camp Montreal.

    I really like your ambassador concept. We all know how hard and uncomfortable it is to mingle in a crowd we are not familiar with. Add to this that it is virtually impossible to know ahead of time who would be the best connections, and just as difficult to find them even if you could identify them.

    Classic trade shows and events have understood this problem, and they have developed sophisticated match-making engines and even devices that help attendees book face-to-face meetings.

    You are spot on with your idea of ambassadors, which should be a component of any future events like Startup Camp. I will look into technology solutions that would facilitate the whole process, and let you know what I find.

    See you again soon.

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