Avid Life Media – Rubyist

Toronto, ON

Avid Life Media is looking for great senior developers in Toronto that are interested in working full time with Ruby and Merb. We are a small team in Toronto that is extremely well funded and profitable. Our sites, in aggregate, serve over a billion page views a month!

What we are looking for

  • Extensive experience with web development and an excellent understanding of web technologies and databases.
  • Ruby experience
  • MySQL or Postgres experience.
  • Unix experience
  • Basic knowledge of Front end development (XHTML/CSS/JS)
  • Familiar with OOP principles

Nice things to have

  • Merb experience
  • Rails experience
  • Jquery/Prototype or other JS framework experience
  • Agile/Scrum dev experience
  • Familiarity with BDD/TDD (rspec rocks)

What we offer

  • A good environment for learning new technologies. We like to try new things here! All of us contribute to open source projects. We recently switched to Git from SVN and we think it is awesome 🙂
  • Opportunity to build a new property in merb from the ground up.
  • The ability to make a large difference in what our company does.
  • Build highly engaging properties with tens of thousands of concurrent users
  • Competitive salary and full benefits
  • A sweet computer with huge external screen (Most of use macbook pro’s with 24" external screens)

Apply

For me details contact me via email raja [at] avidlifemedia (dot) com.

E-axis.com Inc. – Flash Developer

Markham, ON

Located in Markham, we are an established interactive design and communications firm specializing in corporate communications, interactive marketing campaigns, and developing new tools and information management systems for the digital world. Our expertise includes award-winning web, Flash and on line game design, creative content development, copywriting, CD ROM and DVD media presentations, web application development, software design and streaming media solutions.

Great ideas come from talented people working in a fantastic environment. Our team consists of adept and enthusiastic professionals including creative Designers, Programmers and Strategists working in an environment that fosters and encourages creativity at it is fullest. In this environment the importance of expertise, passion and experience remains constant. We have worked hard to create this environment. we are proud of that.

We are seeking a full time developer to join our team. Experience is an asset but if you have the skills and recently finished from school we would still like to hear from you.

Main responsibilities include Flash programming and production.

Required Skills

  • Your strong organizational and time management Skills enable you to manage a varied array of time sensitive projects.
  • You have solid communication skills and are fluent in English as you will be required to communicate with clients directly on occasion
  • You are experienced in Action Script 2 and or 3 + OOP programming.
  • Previous online Flash game development considered an asset.
  • You have strong creative toolset knowledge (i.e. Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.)
    3D, PHP knowledge is considered a definite plus, but not a requirement

Compensation

  • Compensation commensurate with experience and ability.

Please send a resume, including Salary Expectations and your portfolio and or sites and projects you have worked on, only qualified applicants will be contacted.

Apply

Send resumes to: george at e-axis dot com

Congratulations Bryce

Bryce JohnsonWow, Bryce and W.R. and Veronica and Sadie are all moving to Seattle. Bryce announed yesterday his big, exciting news. Bryce is joining the Microsoft Dynamics team as a User Experience Designer. This is phenominal and sad. As a Microsoft shareholder, the value of the company has increased. Bryce has done fantastic user experience design for enterprise software deployments for many years at Navantis. He has helped solve complex business rules and software conditions for clients like the City of Hamilton, Microsoft Canada, and others.Bryce will join a contingent of Canadians in Redmond including:

However, it is also a sad day. Bryce is leaving Toronto (Toron-o, watch the video for details). Bryce was one of the driving forces behind InteractionCamp and EnterpriseCampToronto. He is a co-conspirator with Kaleem, Matthew, Audrey, and me for the UXIrregulars.  Bryce has been a tireless support of the community efforts and a great friend to have a bourbon or two with.

Congratulations Bryce! Microsoft is lucky to have a designer of your calibre in their cadre.

FreshBooks – Bill me already

freshbooks Mike McDerment has helped kick the Toronto software entrepreneur community in the pants. It’s hard to believe that he’s been doing it for as long as he has been. Three Mesh conferences in the past 3 years, building FreshBooks and a number of successful and not-so-successful DemoCamp experiences. Mike has been documenting his lessons and advice for entrepreneurs on his blog, and .

Mike and the FreshBooks team have done a great job going after a under-served market with a product that solves a costly problem for a lot of small businesses. The FreshBooks product helps companies create and manage invoices. They quickly can show clients how much they can contribute to a companies bottom line. There are even rumors floating about the Interweb that FreshBooks has caused Intuit, the 800 pound gorilla, to change their marketing strategy for Quickbooks Simple Start. Why is FreshBooks a Toronto startup to watch?

Quick Analysis

Management Team

The FreshBooks executive team consists of a number of Mike McDerment, Joe Sawada, Levi Cooperman and Mitch Solway. Mike and Joe successfully built a web design professional services firm, Anicon, whose team includes 3 of the FreshBooks founders. The transition appears to be from a professional services firm doing web design and development professional services to a product company (whose name has changed from 2ndSite to FreshBooks). Mitch is an excellent senior marketer with experience of leading a marketing organization during the critical growth year. His LinkedIn profile indicates that Mitch managed a team of 26 people and grew sales from $3M to over $100M. Great acquisition to the FreshBooks team, a seasoned marketing veteran with experience driving traffic and growing sales.It’s a good team with personal experiences with the invoicing difficulties experienced by web design and development firms in managing the financial interactions with clients.

Market

The creator of Quickbooks, Ridgely Evers, has created a company to create a tool to solve business and financial management for smaller companies, he estimates the market size for the number of “True Small Businesses” at 5.1M in the United States. The business accounting market was estimated at $600M in 2005 with QuickBooks accounting for almost 87% market share. It’s obvious that companies need accounting and invoicing tools, and they are willing to pay for a solution that is aimed at enabling a better view into a business for small business owners instead of bookkeeping professionals.

Product

The focus on invoicing is a great strategy for FreshBooks. FreshBooks is a suite of tools that help customers get paid. This is a painkiller. FreshBooks has been aggressively filling in the product suite with tools for tracking time, expenses and estimates, these features help to refine the product offering beyond just invoicing into truly a financial management tool for service based organizations. FreshBooks has exposed most of their functionality through a developer API. The API offers a great way for external developers to integrate their applications to the provided services and for the FreshBooks team to build internal tools and user interfaces to consume and publish upon. Building on an API service, should help FreshBooks in extending the application going forward, adding features requires extending the API and building a browser based client to add to the FreshBooks web site.

The addition of roll up data analytics to provide customers with performance metrics and benchmarking shows that FreshBooks has been working on market leading features that have helped set companies like Mint apart from it’s peers.

Business Model

People pay FreshBooks to use their software. Check out their pricing. Mike McDerment has written about their experiences iterating through pricing models including the impact on conversion rates. But the business model is very simple get people to pay for your software. There are challenges related to the Freemium Pricing Model, where about 3% of registered users become paying customers. There are then 2 key metrics that the FreshBooks guys should be tracking: reach and conversion rate. Reach – how many people in their target market have had contact with FreshBooks advertising, at a conference, through customer evangelists, etc.? Conversion rate – how many registered users become paying users? Does pricing, features, adoption cycles, integration with other products, what are the pieces that drive the conversion to paying customer? The additional questions around customer retention exist, but lets assume that there is a high customer retention rate.

Strategic Relationships

FreshBooks has begun building some strategic relationships including:

Both of these relationships are a testament to the speed and flexibility of the FreshBooks offering. Sunir Shah blogged about the experience of integrating with Amazon FPS and compared it to PayPal and Google Checkout. Freshbooks will benefit in speed to market and additional early-adopter marketing once the FPS is generally available.The Authorize.Net Merchant Toolbox is very straight-forward, being on a list of 21 preferred vendors by a leading merchant account and credit card gateway, should help drive traffic and customers to FreshBooks.

One opportunity for FreshBooks is to seek a strategic relationship with third-party accounting and bookkeeping partners. Creating a referral or associates network for bookkeepers, including a set of offline tools that use the FreshBooks API, could help expand the reach of the product and build a strong indirect sales channel. 

Competition

Mike provides his thoughts on his competition in an interview with CenterNetworks

“I think there are two classes of competitors. There are traditional accounting software providers. The other group is other startups like BillingOrchard and BlinkSale.”

Crunchbase lists FreeAgentCentral as an additional competitor in the web-based accounting and money management tools for freelancers. Competition from traditional accounting software vendors including Intuit’s QuickBooks and NetSuite’s Accounting ERP solution. NetSuite is probably less of a competitor as it targets SME with an offering that is closer to small ERP than individual provider. QuickBooks is an interesting competitor because of the large ecosystem of accountants and bookkeepers that use QuickBooks to perform the accounting tasks for small businesses and freelancers. The same can be said for other competitors including: Sage; Peachtree; Microsoft Accounting; MYOB; etc.

BlinkSale and BillingOrchard are focused on invoicing. Where Freshbooks has evolved their offering to include many of financial functions that a small business needs including:  estimates, time tracking, and expenses. Freshbooks has built a suite of financial management tools for generating, managing and tracking invoices. A better competitor is NetBooks whose offering includes SaaS financial tools that include a wider set of ERP features including sales, invoicing, inventory, and costs. NetBooks appears to be focused on product-based businesses, where FreshBooks feels like it is optimized for services-based businesses.

Barriers to Entry

FreshBooks is a execution play. They have built a product that people want. It solves a very valuable problem. And they continue to add more value to the ecosystem than they take out. There is room for another larger, more established player to use their marketing might to box out FreshBoooks but it more likely that they might try to acquire FreshBooks and integrate it into their product offerings. Here’s what differentiates FreshBooks and provides barriers to entry in the market.

  • Intellectual property
    Just as discussed in the LearnHub analysis, there is nothing to indicate there is an intellectual property protection for FreshBooks. But as John Green points out in the commentary, intellectual property protections are not required to build success market play companies. The intellectual property protections may come in the understanding of the small market business owner and their financial practices and mindset. Having a process to quickly gather, assess, prototype and iterate on changing market conditions along with a easy to customize infrastructure should allow FreshBooks to have an advantage.
  • Customer loyalty
    Customer-centered design is in the DNA at FreshBooks. Adding conferences and generating support, while gathering feedback makes customers love FreshBooks. Check out the feedback on the RoadBurn tour. Understanding the needs, wants, desires and day-to-day lives of your customers lets you build solutions to their problems. It might help explain why FreshBooks had a 99% referral rate. I’m assuming that this means that 99% of existing customers sent a referral message to a potential new customer. I wonder what the conversion rate on referrals is for FreshBooks?
  • Advertising
    FreshBooks has not done a huge advertising spend, but they have been very effective in targeted advertising to the Web 2.0 service firms through placement on key sites (TechCrunch, The Deck, etc.) and by having a strong presence at key web design conferences: FOWA, Mesh and SxSW. The FreshBooks team has made very effective use of their marketing and PR budget to generate buzz and get on the radar of many of the Web 2.0 and startup media players.
  • Sunk costs
    Customers have sunk costs once their financial data has been entered into FreshBooks. However, with the FreshBooks API it is easy for a competitor to build a data migration tool and make an easy path for dissatisfied FreshBooks users to move off the platform.
  • Network effect
    The addition of the benchmarking service may help build additional network effect from participating in the FreshBooks ecosystem. However, billing and accounts receivable are a very individual company practice. There is some opportunity to gain improvements by implementing best practices, however, best practices are not network effects. Unless FreshBooks is able to negotiate lower transactional costs on merchant account transactions or leverage the behaviours of the crowd there is no network effect available.
  • Vertical integration
    This is potentially the most under investigated barrier to entry for FreshBooks. Building an integration with bookkeepers and accountants could offer FreshBooks an indirect sales channel and provide customers with both the tools and professional services.

Summary

FreshBooks is a company that is truly customer driven. You can see the commitment to the user experience with customer dinners when the FreshBooks team visits a city (San Francisco; the Roadburn and New York). They have build a great product that fills a gap in the offering by the 800 pound gorilla. They have assembled a star team of Toronto technology and marketing talent. They have built a successful business by adding value to their customers ecosystem. I have some questions around customer acquisition costs and the lifetime value of a customer including referrals, but it looks like a great business that needs some marketing muscle to grow to be a multi-hundred million dollar a year business.

FreshBooks is hiring and has openings for:

LearnHub: Social View of Learning

learnhubSaw on TechCrunch this week that John, Gosia and team had redeisgned the home page of LearnHub. Congratulations!

LearnHub is the evolution of Nuvvo. It’s a set of online tools designed to make learning fun and engaging for students, and easy and effective for teachers. It’s built on new technology, Nuvvo was built on a Java stack using Hibernate and Struts. LearnHub is build on the Ruby stack using Rails. It also represents an evolution in understanding of how important communities and interaction are in the learning process.

“We participate, therefore we are”

What is the social view of learning? Joshua Porter summaries very nicely,

The mere threat of social interaction changes our behavior…if you know your work is going to be put on public display, you’ll be much more motivated to make it good.

John Seely Brown presents Learn 2.0 as a shift from a view where knowledge is something that can be transferred to students. To a view where it is the social interactions and activities that help support the learning of content.

“This perspective shifts the focus of our attention from the content of a subject to the learning activities and human interactions around which that content is situated. This perspective also helps to explain the effectiveness of study groups. Students in these groups can ask questions to clarify areas of uncertainty or confusion, can improve their grasp of the material by hearing the answers to questions from fellow students, and perhaps most powerfully, can take on the role of teacher to help other group members benefit from their understanding (one of the best ways to learn something is, after all, to teach it to others).” – John Seely Brown [Minds on Fire – PDF]

LearnHub supports a set of social activities. Including blogging, comments, quizzes, tutoring, testing, and a reputation system. The reputation system provides a mechanism for students to evaluate teachers, the input and tutoring advice of other students, and generally create a public mechanism for building trust amongst the participants. The combination of using a socially motivated reward system, i.e., reputation, along with participatory social tools seems like a fantastic start for successful social learning communities. Coupled with the lessons from Nuvvo about how to build efficient course management tools, it sets LearnHub up to be a competitive player.

Quick Analysis

Management Team

The management team consists of Malgosia Green, John Green and Michelle Caers. The team is relatively inexperienced, but looks like a strong young team. Recent experiences building a succesful acquisition in Silicon Valley and lessons learned from a failed attempt at Nuvvo, should provide a strong basis for keeping LearnHub’s product development and business development on track.

Market

Bersin & Associates estimates the LMS market in 2006 at approximately $480 million/year and growing at 26% per year. March 2008 post shows the market at over $700 million with a strong focus on Web 2.0 and participatory tools as a important focus for vendors. There is a strong market for LMS solutions in India where there is a good mix of public and private sector adoption of learning management tools, there is a strong educational market with a strong group of private universities that account for 90% of the educational spend.

Product

The LearnHub product offering shows the experience of having build Nuvvo. The learning management tools included for teachers are comparable to those included with Moodle and Blackboard: courses, lessons, polls, quizzes, tests, student management, multimedia instruction, etc. The advantage for LearnHub is the participatory nature of the product is not bolted on after the fact. The LearnHub tools appear to be built around social learning. The integration of a reputation system that leverages many of the standard social design patterns, allows LearnHub to build tools for educators around a participatory community that supports individual learners improving the learning experience. The reputation system combined with the focus on easy-to-use instructor and participant experiences really set LearnHub apart from their enterprise competitors.

Business Model

There are still some open questions about the business model. The current model appears on the surface to be advertising based, there are Google Adsense on each pages, and larger educational institution brand advertising. With an investor like Educomp, there is bound to be additional business models brewing.

Strategic Relationships

The investment and strategic relationship with Educomp places LearnHub in a very good spot. Educomp is a large Indian educational technology provider with a strong presence the K-12 market in India. This is a strength for Savvica.

Competition

There are 2 leaders in the LMS space with the closed source Blackboard/WebCT offering, and the open-sourced Moodle. Moodle offers individual professors and instructors a great course management system, but it is missing many of the features and functionality necessary to run an institution. Blackboard is the 800 pound gorilla in North America and has recently added managed hosting and community features.

Barriers to Entry

Much of the barriers to entry analysis requires looking at information dependent on details of the business model, marketing plan, and a better understanding of the relationship with LearnHub’s investor Educomp. The barriers to entry in the LMS market appear to be related to existing vertical integration and key agreements in the educational market.

  • Globalisation
    My thought here is that the partnership with Educomp provides rapid access into the larger local Indian educational market. And that the size of this market will allow LearnHub to be able to adjust the tools for use in other English speaking markets.
  • Customer loyalty
    LearnHub is building tools that people enjoy using. And is trying to build a community around learning that allows students to eventually become teachers. Customer loyalty and community liveliness are metrics that can be track as LearnHub develops. First steps include their agile, human-centered design and development process.
  • Network effect
    There are strong network effects that are dependent on finding the right instructors, institutions and courses. Content is still king, and with the right participatory model surrounding the content LearnHub is set to build a vibrant community that replenishes the content but also improves the learning experience.
  • Sunk costs
    It’s pretty easy, once you get your courses and material entered into the system there is a huge cost to move them to another provider. Getting the right content and instructors is key to leverage the learning tools and community tools.
  • Research and development
    Let’s just assume that LearnHub continues to be out in front of the R&F curve. Leveraging an existing community and layering in new tools and techniques as they are discovered, invented or evaluated for effectiveness.

One key barrier that is difficult to assess from the outside is the one of intellectual property. Much of the LearnHub system is public, and many of the social design patterns are freely available an published by others (see Yahoo’s Reputation Design Patterns). It will be interesting to see how quickly existing LMS providers adopt social tools, Blackboard has a Community System but appears to be offering this as enterprise software to educational institutions to deploy. Missing the internal insight it’s very difficult to assess the intellectual property protections. In my search of the US Patent Office, I could not find any filings related to Savvica or LearnHub.

Summary

The experience in Silicon Valley appears to have prepared John & Gosia in building a solid business plan around an existing problem with key differentiators in the community tools for elearning. There are a few open questions around a business model that allows LearnHub to generate significant revenues, and the barrirers to entry for a competitor. However, the investment by Educomp and the existing Educomp salesforce and business development efforts lends significant credibility to the LearnHub efforts. LearnHub is building tools that are leading the social learning trend and have strong investment and business development relationships in India.

Savvica, the company that makes LearnHub, is hiring.

TinEye

I am impressed with the progress that Leila, Paul and gang at Idée Inc. are making on TinEye. Yesterday, they released an IE browser plugin for TinEye. This follows their Firefox plugin and nicely rounds out the offering.

tineye-plugin

TinEye is a visual search solution. It allows you to find the web pages where an image appears.

tineye-ieOne example is you’re looking at purchasing a stock image to use on your homepage, and iStockPhoto.com says the image has been download 11,337 times, but you want to know where it appears online. You can use TinEye to find where the image has appeared. Check out what Rick has to say about the power of TinEye.

Lessons for you? Suck up to Leila and Paul. Check out the software they are building and run a check on the stock photography you are using; you never know who else is doing the same voodoo as you.

Voodoo! TinEye is like speculative fiction, that is, it meets Clarke’s Third Law.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Idee has built a great base technology for doing visual search in very large image collections. They have built a strong business around image and video monitoring. You can think of this services as a compliance and monitoring service. They help clients by providing right management and tracking. The monitoring reports provide clients a snapshot of where their images have appeared. The reports are used to automate editorial photo sales, perform competitive analysis, and copyright monitoring of collections.

Idée monitors and actively tracks millions of clients images and can identify where their clients images have been used in both print publications and the internet. They are the only company in the world to do this. Their image recognition system analyzes each client’s images and creates a digital fingerprint for each image and compares it to images scanned from publications and crawled from the Internet. The image matches found for their clients can be partial image matches as well. This means that a person appearing in one image, and then reappearing in another image but with a different background, will be found by Idée. – Jevon MacDonald on StarupNorth

TinEye is a diversification of the existing Idée technologies. Leila and Paul are trying to figure out the power of visual search.

Links for 2008-06-11

This is posted from ecto, which is a perfectly fine editor, but it’s no Live Writer, looks like I need to auto-run Parallels.

  • Bumptop beta invite
    I received my Bumptop invitation last night. And it looks like I’m not alone, Connor Turner published his experiences running it under XP. I haven’t read the requirements yet, assuming it will install on my Dell m1330, it will be going on later today after a backup. I’ll publish screenshots later.
  • Angel, VC, or Bootstrap?
    Anand Rajaraman from Cambrian Ventures (not associated with Cambrian House) talks about the risks and benefits of bootstrapping versus raising angel money. In particular, he discusses Greg Linden’s post-mortem of Findory, and the risks some entrepreneurs may experience when bootstrapping. It’s interesting model for angels that relies on personal relationships and technology expertise in the area of the company. This makes sense when looking for an individual investor, but I’m having a hard time understanding how this advice impacts organized angel groups, like National Angel Organization, maybe Dan or Bryan can help clarify.
  • The business that are now dead
    Ever since I heard Albert Lai say “How many of you work in traditional media, well, you’re f@&%ed!” at Mesh 2006, I’ve been trying to figure this out. It’s a great article challenging the death of traditional media. These are huge advertising markets, TV, radio, print are still big parts of the ad spend. They may not be growing markets. There may be greater opportunity and less capital risk on the Interwebs, i.e., it takes less money to start a blog network than a newspaper. But NY Times, BBC, World Online (never heard of them, well Django started there), News Corp and other traditional media folks are doing interesting business online. That said, bloggers and online media are not something you can ignore (even though you may think i said something else last week).
  • 9 Companies building on top of SharePoint
    ReadWriteWeb has a story from Enterprise 2.0 about 9 companies launching integrations with SharePoint. I wrote about nForm’s Midori which offers project management on top of SharePoint. There are 9 other companies including: Awareness; NewsGator Social Sites; Atlassian Confluence; WorkLight for SharePoint; Spotlight Connect for SharePoint; Telligent’s Community Sever Evolution; Tomoye’s Ecco and others. Tomoye is based in Gatineau, QC and has been building communities of practice tools.
  • Patterns for Designing a Reputation System
    Yahoo! User Interface Blog has published Reputation Design Patterns. Great work by the Yahoo team including Randy Farmer, it’s a great understanding of the social-design related UI elements for communitys and social networks.
  • The realities of life and startups
    James Robertson responds to Aaron Swartz about what keeps people from joining startups. For the first time since I started doing the startup thing in 1998, I deeply related to James’ comments. I have a new baby, I had a failed startup, and I’ve joined Microsoft. Time is the most important thing. Followed very closely by money. I try to spend as much time with my daughter as possible. Even at Nakama, I had a different viewpoint on work than my 20-something coworkers, I work a lot, but I don’t expect to spend 65+ hours a week in the office. For me, being able to have a pay cheque to pay my mortgage, to put food on the table, to provide the best possibilities for my child (hopefully children), these are the things that require either a well funded company or a job that I define at a company like Microsoft. The long and short of it, if you’re a student or a recent graduate, you should think about programs like YCombinator, even Canadians get accepted.

Canadian VCs: Wake Up!

Canadian entrepreneurs give Canadian VCs a really hard time. Suzie Dingwall Williams on the CVCA blog, VC Rants (which at the time of writing was not responding to http requests), puts forth a great challenge to Venture Capitalists. 

If Canadian innovation is to scale, there needs to be a call to action for all participants in the ecosystem. This is a marketing exercise that needs to be led by you, the VCs. When was the last time you went to a bootcamp? Provided sponsorship dollars to entrepreneur-generated initiatives? Extended your channels in the US to provide a broader network for your portfolio? Many of these events are not immediately accretive to you, but they are vital to community creation. Let me re-phrase that; there has never been a more vital startup community, but it is one being fostered largely without VC involvement. This must not continue. The need to take a long-term approach to deal flow has never been greater.

This is the reason that Jevon attended the CVCA conference. It is the reason we supported the Canadian Innovation Exchange. It’s the primary reason that we decided to host Founders & Funders events. There are a lot of potential misunderstandings between the people that start high-potential-growth technology companies and the people that fund them, it’s about bringing them together that these differences begin to resolved. Rick identifies VC’s and entrepreneurs need to talk early, these helps work out the kinks (I also love the tension between VCs and angels identified in Rick’s observations).

I’m unfortunately not at StartupCampWaterloo tonight. The only VC present was Peter Frisella of TechCapital. I love the Waterloo events, they are small, they are focused and there is a lot of feedback for entrepreneurs. I attended StartupCampMontreal last month, which is a totally different experience for me than a Toronto event (as I’m pretty quiet and reserved mostly due to my perceived language concerns). There is a definite understanding by the Montreal VC community that there is a lot of talent and potential dealflow that happens at these events. There were 32 submissions for the last event, with 5 presenting companies. The benefit for Montreal is the facilities provided by SAT, we’re just missing a common gathering venue in Toronto. Yeah, same old rant. Maybe a challenge to my colleagues at MaRS and BOT to move beyond breadth/reach events and to let us focus on a couple of depth events. Or maybe a challenge to the local VCs to help sponsor a series of events in FY08 and FY09 in Toronto.

As entrepreneurs we give Canadian VCs a bum wrap. Suzie makes a great point about innovation, wealth and the responsibility of entrepreneurs to be aware of impact on local innovation.

Every dollar of investment that comes from outside Canada ultimately leaks profit and wealth creation outside of Canada. There cannot be sustainable growth if the benefit of local innovation is reaped beyond our boundaries by private equity tourists. Every entrepreneur should feel a moral (if not economic) imperative to include Canadian VCs as part of its growth plans, and to serve as ambassadors for you abroad, directing deal flow from beyond your way (leak unto others as they leak unto you).

Canadian VCs are good people. They’ve build some great companies. The last 10 years haven’t been kind to them. An average 10 year return of 1.8%  when compared to the US average 10 year return of 18% (thanks Heri) coupled with the strong community connections being built to the US, is shifting the mindset of entrepreneurs south. However, Suzie has done a great analysis about the mindset of the Canadian VC community.

Many VCs will tell you that their job is to deploy capital, not to support the entire startup community. They cannot monetize spending significant portions of time with entrepreneurs and companies that may never need their money. Fair enough, in one sense. In another, it represents a huge lost opportunity.

Canadian entrepreneurs are in serious need of help in understanding how to build a $1B business (well even a $100M business would be great). As Canadian entrepreneurs we should by reaching out to our local VCs.

Wild Apricot – Biz Analyst/Web Application UI Designer

Full time position in downtown Toronto (near Union)

Requirements

  • Analytical skills: Top-notch experience and skills in user-centered need analysis and design.
  • Usability skills: Hand-ons in-depth understanding of user experience and usability principles and heuristics.
  • Interface design/prototyping for web applications:
    • On paper and using software tools like MS Visio
    • Note: graphic design skills are not required/important
    • Good understanding of design constraints for web apps
    • Great communication skills.
  • Knowledge of Russian language would be an extra bonus – making it easier to communicate with our colleagues in Moscow office.

Responsibilities

Working with product manager, you will interact with marketing, support and development team to translate user feedback into detailed requirements – and then will be involved in actual implementation and quality assurance. More specifically, you will be:

  • Developing in-depth understanding of our market segments and users
  • Analyzing, structuring and prioritizing user needs/feedback. Documenting it from user’s point of view (what users want to do).
  • Coming up with proposed solution (new/changed product functionality) to meet users needs (how to do it).
  • Prototyping User Interface.
  • Coordinating and collaborating with representative clients and other team members (marketing, support, development, QA) to see designs implemented and rolled out.
  • Working on User Documentation, demos and tutorials. What’s in it for you:
  • Pride and excitement working on a world-class product used by hundreds of thousands
  • Fun and friendly environment, where your contributions are valued and respected
  • Quick growth environment to advance your career faster and learn a lot quickly
  • Competitive salary plus bonus linked to company results and meeting your professional goals
  • Full-time on-site job, minimal or no travel
  • Flex hours possible
  • Work from very nice downtown office (by Union station)
  • A cool title like “Interactive Apricot”

About us

  • Wild Apricot: young and quickly growing software company – see http://www.wildapricot.com. Our membership website platform is already used by thousands of associations, clubs, groups and communities, – and we are on our way to become a leader in this sector.
  • Ease of use/usability is key cornerstone of our product philosophy – it has to work out of the box for non-technical people.
  • We take results seriously – while making work fun and enjoyable.

Are you passionate about great user experience?

There is a lot of software out there. And most of it is very cumbersome and painful to use. For us, delivering exceptional user experience is our key marketing and business strategy. Furthermore, our agile software development means that we release updates every few weeks so that you can see your ideas taken from concept to implementation in a month instead of in a year. We already have thousands of users and only with truly great product we can meet our expansion goals and make Wild Apricot the world’s leading software for millions of groups, clubs, associations and non-profits.

Apply

Send your resume to jobs@wildapricot.com.

Radiant Core acquired

Cross posted on StartupNorth

Radiant CoreRadiant Core has been acquired by Zerofootprint Software. Radiant Core was a Toronto-based web design and development shop led by Jay Goldman and Mike Glenn.  Zerofootprint is a Toronto-based company that “provides information, products and services for the global network of consumers and businesses who wish to reduce their environmental impact”. Radiant Core is best known for the visual design of Firefox 2, and has been recognized by Taschen as a leading web design agency. Jay and I have presented together at Web2Expo, FSOSS and Ignite. We’re also co-conspirators in this whole DemoCamp thing.

zerofootprintsoftwareZerofootprint has been a client of Radiant Core. Radiant Core designed, built and launched the Zerofootprint Calculator Facebook application (add the application). Zerofootprint has a laudable goal to empower people and change their collective footprint.

Our goal is to mobilize and empower large groups of individuals and organizations worldwide, to reduce their collective carbon and ecological footprint. We do this by harnessing the power of social networking, the Internet and software.

Why acquire a consulting firm? It’s a great acquisition method, Ron and the Zerofootprint team really managed their risk by engaging Radiant Core to evaluate capabilities, working styles, and the quality of team deliverables. In Radiant Core they get a world-class design firm with strong experience designing and building accessible web and social media applications. Radiant Core also has deep roots in participating and building vibrant, open creative communities. Jay and Mike have been involved with TorCamp, DemoCamp, TransitCamp, FacebookCamp/Facebook Developer Garage and other activities here in Toronto. The Zerofootprint team had the opportunity to evaluate the Radiant Core team and their ability to deliver on the design and development of the Zerofootprint Calculator Facebook application.  Zerofootprint and Radiant Core have worked together and can begin to have informed conversations about cultural compatibility and employee integration based on real experiences.

No financial details have been released.

What does this mean for Toronto?

  • One less world-class web design shop.
  • One more awesome software startup, now with world-class web development team!

It means that Zerofootprint just acquired one of the best web development shops in Canada to be their product team. Running a consulting business is a tough slog. It’s a linear growth business, i.e., you grow revenues by increasing the number of billable hours, increasing the billable rate, or increasing the number of people. It hopefully gives Jay and Mike an exit. It gives Zerofootprint a huge accelerator to continue to build products and services that will help to change the world.

Interested in what it really means, try calculating your footprint at http://toronto.zerofootprint.net/ and see how Zerofootprint is working with the City of Toronto to create a greener city.