February 2015 Posts

How Much Influence Should a Startup Studio Have on the Companies It Creates?

How Much Influence Should a Startup Studio Have on the Companies It Creates?

We care a lot about culture. We think it’s one of the cornerstones of a successful startup. When we were operating Strangeloop, we made culture a top priority. We did all the usual things you see in tech — parties, breakfasts, ping pong — but it was our effort to operate with a relatively flat organizational structure that ensured we had a happy, productive team. We must have been doing something right, because we won BC Business’s “best company to work for” award five years in a row.

Moving forward, we want to make sure that culture is a priority in any company we create. 

Candidates Shine In Our First Entrepreneur Cohort

Candidates Shine In Our First Entrepreneur Cohort

This past weekend, we held our first Cohort at Launch Academy’s co-working space in the heart of Vancouver’s startup district. As this was new territory for us, we weren’t entirely sure what to expect, but we are happy to report that not only was it *not* a gong show, it went incredibly well! 

Is a Cohort The Best Way to Vet Potential Entrepreneurs? We’re About to Find Out.

Is a Cohort The Best Way to Vet Potential Entrepreneurs? We’re About to Find Out.

Since launching Stanley Park Ventures we’ve been taking entrepreneurs into our program on a one by one basis, and then a few months ago Jon suggested we experiment with a cohort – a group that would work together on the same problem over the course of an intensive one-day session.

This would give us the opportunity to get to know the candidates all at the same time, giving both us and them a chance to see if there was a fit. So we invited Blair Simonite who teaches entrepreneurship and innovation at UBC’s Sauder School of Business to join us and began mapping out the day. 

7 Traits We Look for in an Entrepreneur

7 Traits We Look for in an Entrepreneur

Vetting an idea is one thing. Vetting a human being is something else entirely.

The vetting process for ideas is relatively simple. Come up with a series of questions. If the answers are unsatisfactory, you can safely assume an idea probably won’t be profitable.

But how do you vet a person? We think there are certain traits, which, if present in sufficient quantities, are indicators of great entrepreneurial potential. Here’s a rough list of the qualities we think are important:

6 Criteria for Starting a New Business

6 Criteria for Starting a New Business

When we first decided to launch a startup studio, we were excited at the prospect of being able to jump right in and start coming up with ideas. But we quickly realized that we lacked an investment thesis, the guiding vision we should use to vet ideas. Coming up with one overarching and compelling thesis statement proved to be very difficult. In fact, we found that aiming for this type of clarity so early in the process was detrimental and too restrictive for our purposes.

So we took a step back and got to work developing a set of criteria that we could use as a lens to examine an idea’s merit and determine whether it is in alignment with our goals and values. Here’s what we’ve come up with so far: 

Why a Startup Studio?

Why a Startup Studio?

Early in 2013, my brother Josh and I, along with our business partner Mike Benna, exited Strangeloop Networks after its sale to Radware, a Tel Aviv-based application delivery and security company. Stressed and exhausted, we were all ready for a much-needed break. The plan was to take a year off, but sometime around the six-month mark, I started to feel a nagging urge to get back to work.

So, once or twice a week, Josh, Mike, and I would meet up at the Vancouver Convention Centre and take a 90-minute walk around Stanley Park to talk about the things we loved about our last business, what we hated, and what we should do next.