IDEABOOST Cohort 6 Wrap-Up: Tips for Startup Survival, Advice from Mentors and Reflections on the Program
By Amy Davies ● June 14, 2017 14:00
"Give every ounce of energy that you can to the business. Make sure it’s something you are incredibly passionate about and you’ll be able to devote every day to it. You will hit roadblock after roadblock and everyone is going to tell you “no,” so find a way to get around the “no” or smash through it!"
-Jonathan Gagne, Founder of Brinx
After four months of intensive mentoring, IDEABOOST Cohort 6 came to an end this past weekend. Their boot-camp journey concluded with newly polished pitches and solid advice for future entrepreneurs, both from our founders and their mentors.
"Find the balance. You need to find the life/work balance or you’ll go nuts. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself, hit the milestones, but make sure you don’t burn out."
- Ann Poochareon, Co-Founder of Little Robot Friend
Here, we share their tips for startup survival and their reflections on the IDEABOOST program, a valuable destination for future media and entertainment entrepreneurs.
IDEABOOST works with seasoned entrepreneurs, investors, product specialists, innovation strategists and a large number of mentors. They all want what we want – for our talented founders to achieve success with their fledging businesses. Just ask Jonathan Gagne, founder of Brinx. At a mentor’s suggestion, he added a slide in his pitch that compared Brinx’ software to more traditional options. It demonstrated that Brinx is seven times faster than his competitors, which made investors take note.
Synervoz’s Jim Rand said a mentor gave him one of his best ideas – a clever hack of the problem that a communications app is only valuable once you’ve got a bunch of friends on it. This led his team to develop a real personal assistant for the platform that seeds initial behaviours for a single user, even before friends join.
"If you’re thinking about starting something, don’t leave your day job until you have some form of traction. Otherwise, you’ll run out of money too soon. And if you can’t hack working 90 hours a week at two jobs, then you’re not going to hack it when you focus on running your fledgling venture full time."
-Jim Rand, Founder of Synervoz
Adam Adelman of Mighty Cast said he was forced to think more scientifically about proving product market fit because of a mentor; “to rapidly test in an inexpensive way to find the perfect cocktail of marketing to generate strong ROI.”
All mentors urge startups to create a competitive analysis and measure how you stack up. Think scientifically about proving your product market before you invest your hard-earned dollars; and hone your pitch and business model before coming face to face with an investor. Pete Forde, Co-Founder of itsme added: "The mentorship helped me understand that even though I see many possible futures for our technology, it's fundamental that I pitch investors on a singular first business model. Otherwise, I risk sending mixed messages about our ability to prioritize, or worse, like we don't really know what we should do."
"Strike a balance between having complete belief in your own idea and listening to feedback. Then filter that feedback to decide which parts are valuable. A lot of entrepreneurs get the advice that they should stay with their idea at all cost, but there’s value to listening to peers and being open to it."
-Adam Adelman, Founder of Mighty Cast
Our founders shared certain overall impressions about the impact of IDEABOOST executive team’s mentorship, key takeaways and strategic, helpful intervention during the past four months.
Focus IDEABOOST helped clarify the go-to-market strategy, define a formula to evaluate product-market fit, and ensure companies understand industry realities outside of their own insular bubble.
Clarity The program provided hands-on mentorship to develop brand clarity and a coherent marketing strategy, as well as how best to communicate with their market segment.
Partnerships The IDEABOOST team took assertive actions like quality introductions, which provided connections to potential customers and alliances with the likes of AMD, Shaftesbury, JFL and Globacore.
"If you find yourself building a platform to allow other developers to create a new kind of application, stop yourself and create a product that is best suited to the platform you want to build. If you don't have competitors, you will spend most of your time explaining what your product is for and you will have failed. Your first product should either be really fun or really useful to a large demographic of people willing to pay."
-Pete Forde, Founder of itsme
Investment Alongside an initial $35K investment, the IDEABOOST team also supported companies on routes to financing and procuring investment.
Seeing the Big Picture IDEABOOST drove each startup to define its own “big picture” and create three-to-five-year vision of the company, not just the product.
Staying Positive The mentorship team helped founders stay positive and optimistic through a radical transformation!
We wish the graduating Cohort 6 companies the best of luck! The next accelerator will be opening in 2018 and eligible Network Connect companies will be able to apply.
IDEABOOST Accelerator is a four-month boot camp for tech companies that want to achieve success and scale in the media and entertainment ecosystem. An initiative of the Canadian Film Centre’s Media Lab, in partnership with Corus Entertainment, IDEABOOST provides high–potential Canadian startups with seed investment, mentorship and access to its network.