Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Morgan Sturdy

Morgan Sturdy - a person that I knew absolutely NOTHING about going into the VEF Fireside Chat event today. I'm so so so so glad I went; because Morgan is absolutely a general business genius.

What do I mean by 'general business genius'? Well, there are people who specialize in Finance, Marketing, Operations, etc. From the one hour session I could tell that Morgan knew all the principles of running a business extremely well from every aspect. He's the second person who has given me the chills from a speaker session; the other one being my long-time mentor from the Marketing department of the Sauder School of Business.

He's definitely a person that every aspiring entrepreneur should meet since he has been through the ups and downs of building his own business. Launching 2 failed products before a 3rd one hit their customers' 'sweet spot' and venturing into an industry where he had no experience are just two of the many reasons why I admire this guy. Being an entrepreneur, persistence is key; and the most important thing is getting up each time after you fail and giving it another try.

Valuation Divergence

Attended the "Company Valuation and Term Sheet Workshop" organized by Bob Chaworth-Musters of Angel Forum yesterday.

I found that this workshop was probably the most useful of all the ones that I have attended before. Not kidding. I was impressed by other entrepreneurs in the room and how much everyone has gone through with their businesses. All of the entrepreneurs in the room were actively building their businesses and not just sitting on an idea.

I think the most obvious and interesting concept I picked up was valuation divergence between angel investors and entrepreneurs. How often have you told an investor that "You'll make 20X what you invest!" and they have told you "No I won't!"?

Often times it's because we entrepreneurs forget to factor in shares that are issued for non-capital purposes or neglect to include the $$$ we need to keep in working capital etc. to run the company. This may mean that we are valuating our businesses at a pre-money valuation that's too high (ok. please don't kill me fellow entrepreneurs.)

The workshop also went through a series of calculations that support this idea and it was interesting hearing about the first-hand experiences of angel investors that participated in the discussion panel.

I would recommend this workshop to other entrepreneurs who are looking at raising financing and hopefully Bob will organize another one soon!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What's a Start Up?

Apparently Start Ups are automatically clustered into the general category of "Small Businesses" (SB). In the past couple days I attended a couple events tailored for small businesses, and tax reduction, small business education and encouraging cohesion between small business organizations were hot topics.

All this is great...except that Start Ups are in a totally different space from SBs. For one thing, SBs have revenue! (If they're lucky they may have profits!) Start Ups are in a phase where we're developing a product and revenue is somewhere in the future; which means that tax cuts are also a thing that we will benefit from in the future...but not until we get out of the red!

End of the day, my opinion is that there are organizations out there that are looking to help Start Ups but they need to come together! When I first started my business I knew that the Board of Trade was for networking and if you wanted resources on writing a business plan or how to incorporate your business you would go to Small Business BC. I was fortunate enough that my friend told me about IRAP, which provides funds to support Start Up companies with their development and management team growth.

Key point is that these resources are scattered - it's GREAT that everyone is looking to help, but please combine forces and let me find you at ONE location instead of 500 - Gas is expensive nowadays.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What's the Rate? Come Again?!

So I use a patent lawyer that's based in the US. They're good. Really good. Except for the fact that of course I have to pay them in USD and our CAD dollar isn't doing especially well right now.

I received an invoice and was going to head over to the a local currency exchange house to do the conversion and get a USD check; I decided it would be a good idea to check the rates online for that currency exchange house before heading over. So the median rate live update showed that 1.21889 for the ask price for USD and I then I looked up the currency exchange's own rates...they sell USD at 1.231!!! So if you converted $10,000 CAD to USD today at 1.231, you would get $8,123. If you got the median rate instead, you would get $8204. Would you like to save $80?

It's at times like this when I wish I could use my own service faster. I'm totally working on turbo to speed up our launch now.

vroom vroom*

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Our First Transaction

The testing of our system with the first live transaction was an exciting event for us - it shows that something we worked so hard for during the past 10 months is finally becoming a reality. We had to make special arrangements for the funding and disbursement of the first transaction but nonetheless it was completed and PeerFX registered its first $3.50 in revenue! (We are now SO much closer to $3.5 BILLION)

We are planning on releasing a demo account on our website so that our Beta sign ups can get a taste of what the service is like and how easy it is to use. It would also be a great way to get feedback from all of YOU! We need YOUR INPUT! It doesn't matter if I love my product if YOU - potential PeerFX users - are not loving it YET.

We hope to incorporate your feedback to improve our service! Let's build this together! Keep the ball rolling team!

Our First Trade Shows!

This involved 2 days of standing in 4 inch heels. Painful YES; but rewarding. It's very encouraging to see that there is definitely demand in the market for the service that we're offering. Of course there's tons of room for improvement and there were many great ideas that came out of the conversations throughout the 2 days.

We were at the Vancouver Board of Trade Business After Business trade show and today we were at SOHO SME Conference & Expo. SOHO was more tailored for our SME target segment and many people saw the value of our service right away. However, we know that we still need to work on the educational process of letting people know how much it hurts to exchange currency at a retail level using existing methods.

The shows were a great way to get a taste of what it's like to market alongside the bigger players. I love how one person from TD bank came over to our booth to learn more about the business, went back to his booth and shortly afterward the entire team came over to ask about it. Hey, even the banks like it - awesome!

We also got a chance to meet other businesses that would be synergistic in terms of making our system more cost efficient; I also learned another way to "participate" at trade shows without becoming an exhibitor yourself. WORK THE FLOOR. If you register to attend the trade show, you could work your way around each booth and pitch your own business; I know I was approached by several business consultants, job-placement coordinators for practicum students and service reps for other small businesses.

Must say that both trade shows did a great job of putting together their events and it's a great venue to get our start up name out to our audience. We're really looking forward to our launch to the public in the upcoming months! Stay tuned!