Wednesday, February 18, 2009

7am Workouts


I'm finally out of the cast now but my ankle is still fat and sore. That doesn't stop me! I've been hobbling around downtown on crutches for the past two months already. Quite a scene I must say...since I haven't given up on dressing up for meetings even though I have a 50-pound cast on my leg.

So. We're two weeks away from our launch and things are getting really interesting around here. We're thinking of crazy marketing ideas since our budget is super tight. Maybe I will be running around downtown in a costume made of $5 bills and a PeerFX sign (Nono. Our budget isn't THAT tight.)

We're squeezing in several more development requirements into our small budget with our contracted development team and they've been awesome to accommodate us. Go find them to do your development too - Evident Point Software Corp. in Richmond, BC. Experience, work ethics and quality are three words that always come up when I chat with other locals about this company.

Operations-wise I've been chasing down my contacts at our bank for transaction cutoff times and of course obtaining better deals on transaction fees. I wonder where this conversation will go...(if ANYWHERE?)

We've secured more runway for our business which is great but it also means that in the short-term we're going to have to make every dollar work for us like it was TWO! YAY.

Back to working on outlining our milestones for the next couple months.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Building Credibility

"Why should I invest in your company?"

Too often start ups are too busy in the day to day activities and business development efforts. When it comes time to bringing your business to the next level and seek more capital for the business, too often the human capital component is ignored.

This statement holds even more truth especially in these current economic conditions. Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors are more and more prudent with the funds they raise and into which companies they place their funds. In addition to having an innovative business that satisfies a need in the market place, a strong business plan complete to carry out your business and the bring to market strategies from your marketing also must remember investors place their money with the strength displayed by the team and people involved. And for investors remember that team experience is important but don't forget the value of hard work and Bright Young Talent!

Here's our top 5 Tips in Building Credibility:

1- Be Consistent
Make sure your team is on the same page. Nothing is more confusing or indicative to investors than providing opposing info and also be prepared for the hard questions you would prefer not to answer.

2- Focus on the Facts
Stick to the facts in your answers. If you're unsure it's better to get back to the right answer at a later time than to waver and make up something up. Remember financials are where investors will pick your business apart.

3- Set Concrete Goals
This is one of the activities that will help clearly set your business apart from others. Many successful companies will use performance metrics to chart the success of their initiatives.

4- Know Your Audience
Always know who you're talking to and a bit about them. Do your research and apply the rules of professional courtesy. Even if they aren't always respectful of you!

5- Use Online Tools
Online social media and digital marketing is quickly becoming a standard, many companies can improve their online efforts, especially to build their credibility. Use of blogs, twitter and other community sites are key to building your company and brands momentum and awareness. Don't forget the value of a good website and knowing how to use it as a helpful customer tool versus it being your companies crutch. The later of course meaning, make navigation and information easily obtainable and place tools that will assist your customers.

Time Constraints

I wish there were 36 hours in a day - then I can work for at least 24 of them and still get some sleep.

I think that's what a lot of entrepreneurs wish they had as well.

Investor meetings are coming up in the next 2 weeks and we're busy preparing the investor packages to send out. The investor meeting prep and the development of our system are two main things that take up most of our time right now.

There's always the question of how much time should I spend on fundraising and development. Right now it seems like a priority to push the product to market in the next month and gain some traction. This pushes up our valuation - so the real test is, how far do I think we can take the service before we get funding.

From what we have right now we are able to commercialize our first currency pair, USD and CAD, but we need more $$$$ for our marketing efforts.

The key is to share with our users how much it costs to exchange money - how much does it hurt?

I look forward to a very busy month preparing for our launch with a time crunch for development and fundraising - but I probably wouldn't like it otherwise - free time = lack of productivity.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

How to Blow an Interview


Raymond (our HR advisor), Julien (THE Marketing Guy ;) ) and I were conducting Finance interviews yesterday and it was quite an experience.

We were all fired up from it - or should I say - angry/pissed/offended - whichever word you choose from that pile.

We are looking for someone to handle the financial operations for us nearing the commercial launch of the business. Hiring seems to be the most difficult thing to do. We need to make sure that they fit with the team. (It's funny. Even with only two people on the full-time team right now we've already developed a "culture".)

SO. The point of this post now. How to Blow an Interview. Here are some key takeaways.

1. Snatch the questions out of the interviewer's hand.
2. Laugh at the management team and call them junior and say that they have no sense presenting you with such simple questions.
3. State the obvious - "I can tell you guys are a Start-Up" followed by "I've been around the block and I know what I'm doing." (Said in such a way that the undelying meaning is "you [the management team] have no idea what you're doing")
4. Make yourself sound even better than God. Say you did very well in your past corporate experiences and you were handling a $Googlion dollars$ (I made that up) in your past position and that $720 million dollars is not a big enough opportunity for you.
5. Focus on the What's in it for YOU. Not what you can bring to the company. Or make yourself sound so BIG that your feet are too big for the shoes we are presenting you with (WOW. "We definitely have some big feet to fill" vs. "You definitely have some big shoes to fill").
6. Don't acknowledge the advisor's existence. Seriously, I think that Raymond felt he was a passerby listening in on our interview.

Those are just a couple of things - but definitely leaving that interview I felt like I had wasted an hour of my life getting disrespected.

There are a couple things I would admit to. We ARE a Start Up. I AM YOUNG. I DON'T KNOW EVERYTHING. It doesn't mean that you can disrespect me though. It is precisely because I know I don't know everything and that I need help in certain areas that I am hiring people who bring the experience to the team. If you don't want to help just say so and get up and leave. I think I would've been less offended than being forced to sit there (me and my broken leg as a package) and listen to what the person said.

I spent an hour preparing the interview questions, only to have them laughed at and called junior and that I have NO SENSE. Really?

I have met a lot of people who are very knowledgeable and experienced, but they came INTACT with their ethics, morals and courtesy for another human being. More importantly, they were humble about their accomplishments.

You get what you give. You give respect. You get respect. Honestly, I should have worn my "welcome to my nightmare" T-shirt yesterday instead of showing up in a business professional outfit. I can only say that this experience has taught me that there are many different types of people in the world and I shouldn't be surprised if I get the "outliers" once in a while.

Share some of your interview nightmares in the comments section! It would be amusing for me to read and make us feel better :)

Say this out loud - I DON'T KNOW EVERYTHING


I think it's because entrepreneurs don't say this ENOUGH that they delay their business development progress.

When you can admit that you don't know everything and that you NEED HELP, you will find that there are tons of people out there willing to offer their time and advice.

The pre-req is they have to believe that you are the one to make it happen. So, DO YOUR HOMEWORK. I never knew how big of an impact my work ethics would have when it comes to convincing people to help.

People will know if you worked hard to prepare your first meeting with them. Take for example, my first meeting with my tech dev advisor. I was told that he took his work very seriously and was extremely knowledgeable about the Forex space. My info source didn't lie.

I made sure that I read up on the potential advisor's bio, polished up my knowledge of the online financial service competitive space, and researched my advisor's past company. To make the info relevant, I compared it against PeerFX so I can tell him what's different about us and what his expertise can contribute to furthering PeerFX's progress. I need to tell him why HIM, out of all people, is perfect to help us get where we want to go.

2 hours. The length of our first meeting. He had budgeted for 1 hour I believe. Needless to say he grilled me with questions about PeerFX and why I think it will succeed. I answered everything the best I could and promised I would follow up with answers to the questions I couldn't answer. I kept my word.

I got a second meeting.

This is how it should work. Nothing replaces hard work. You can have a SUPER SMART team, but the key factor that differentiates successful teams is hard work. You may be able to finish 10 hours of work in 5, but do you sit around for the remaining 5 hours or do you get a head start on next day's agenda? It's so simple. I would start on next day's work.

Do you know of a lot of smart people who sit around doing nothing thinking that the world should beat a path to their door with work/fame/fortune because they are so damn smart? I know quite a few of those, and it's a pity.

Don't let yourself do that. Get up and start working. Time is something you can't buy!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

PeerFX Investment Forum

...was a huge success!

Thank you to all that attended the event. We generated interest both within the room and internationally with some immediate phone calls made overseas right after the presentation. The following week will be super busy since we have to prepare the investors' package to send out and schedule follow-up meetings.

I had a lot of fun presenting (as I always have - what can I say - I love attention...haha) and it was fun to present with a partner again :)

Our presentation will be webcasted on our website once the video edits are done (expected to be completed by Monday). We will then send the webcast details to international investors that we've spoken to previously.

Are YOU interested? We are raising $1M in equity financing to commercialize our first currency pair and develop our multi-currency system. Get in touch with us at

Another thing to note is that our Beta Testing will be closed from this point on until our commercial launch for the first currency pair (USD/CAD) in late March 2009.

I can't believe that PeerFX is finally ready for public use. It's super super super SUPER exciting for Julien and I.

More to come on the actual launch date in March and thank you all for your patience over the past year!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

IRAP VC Panel Presentation

Presenting on crutches - that sure was a conversation starter.

It actually moved one of the common questions to #2 - "were you on Dragons' Den?"

We were first up Friday morning to present to a VC panel, consisting of investors from Yaletown Venture Partners, Discovery Capital, BDC Venture Capital, WUTIF, Telus Ventures, Growthworks Capital, BC Renaissance Fund and ProActiveStrat.

Presenting in front of a real investor panel is always rewarding in that you get the tough questions from people who are considering putting money into your team and business.

it's a reality check. Have you considered your business from the perspective of an investor? What have you done to mitigate the risk factors and to show them that the business is commercializable and profitable?

A lot of times the business concept can appear game-changing for an industry, but what investors actually look for is whether your team is able to execute on the concept to exploit the opportunity in the market.

When you are pitching, you should definitely have the answer to this question:


The answer to this question better be convincing - ie. YOU have to believe that it will work. Common questions that we face in a meeting is "How are you going to exchange $100M in your exchange on a monthly basis?"

I think the more important question would be how are we going to lock-in our customers to provide consistent revenues for our system.

I am sure that a lot of other entrepreneurs, much like us, project that we will have millions upon millions of dollars in revenue - but the plan to get there is constantly revised - it has to be believable, executable and able to provide the results we project.

That is no easy task. So get to work on it because that is always a question on any investor's list.