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Showing posts from April, 2008

Showing off our startups at TLC 2008

About 400 people are expected to attend the 2008 Technology Leadership Conference this Thursday at Bingemans in Kitchener. Along with being one of the top events of the year for the local tech community, the conference has become the place where you can see some of the top startup companies from the area as they present their companies at the Tech Expo in the main hall.

Exhibitors this year are AideRSS, LoyaltyMatch, Semacode, Tungle, Well.ca, Smartpatterns, Something On, Client Outlook, Aeryon Labs, Ghoti Studios, T-Ray Science, and FOSS Factory. ProductWiki, SuitedMedia, and Crez had tables at last year's event and are expected to be among the attendees this time, as are Primal Fusion and Metranome.

It's great to be able to show off our startups to the community and guests from out of town. Two years ago, I had trouble coming up with more than a handful of names but since then we've had no trouble filling all the available tables. With companies like Primal Fusion, Metrano…

Well.ca raises angel funding

Congratulations to online drugstore Well.ca, which announced today that it has closed a round of funding -- one that has been several months in the making. The size of the round wasn't disclosed, but the investors were Jim Estill and Toronto's Maple Leaf Angels. It's the first external funding for the company and also seems to be the first deal that Maple Leaf Angels has announced.

It's the latest in a string of angel-backed deals for local startups. As I mentioned before, we had six companies raise seven-figure seed rounds in 2007 and every one of them involved angels (although one -- AideRSS -- was led by VC firm Tech Capital Partners).

I first talked to Well.ca founder Ali Asaria late in 2006, and the entire entrepreneur services team -- and I think just about everyone else at Communitech too -- has enjoyed working with Ali and his team ever since.

(See Ali's comments about the investment.)


Tungle launches

Tungle launched today. You can now download the beta version of the Tungle Outlook plug-in that lets you share calendars and availability across organizations.

The company is headed by Marc Gingras and Fang Yang, who have a long history as a team in Waterloo. I first met Marc eight years ago when he was heading the Kitchener-based development office of Entrade. Marc, Tungle's CEO, is now in Montreal, while Fang, the CTO, is based in Waterloo. Tungle raised $1.5 million last year from JLA Ventures and Desjardins Venture Capital, with additional funding from a U.S. based angel investor.

Marc blogged about the launch earlier today.

Is this the best way to meet potential investors?

The Canadian Innovation Exchange (CIX) is being held in Toronto at the end of this month. If selected, a company looking for early-stage funding pays $600 to give a presentation to an audience that includes several VC firms and other potential investors.

Even though there's a Communitech logo on the site (which I had nothing to do with -- I've had no contact with anyone organizing this event), and my colleague Ron Neumann is a scheduled presenter, I have mixed feelings about these kind of events.

For entrepreneurs, it certainly seems convenient to get your company in front of several investors with just one pitch. I'm sure some would say that the amount of time saved when compared to arranging individual meetings with each investor justifies the fee by itself. And there's no question that there are some good speakers scheduled for CIX.

On the other hand, these events reinforce the myth that companies need to pay intermediaries (in this case, the event organizers) to get …