Chasing a dream and seeing it through to execution takes hard work, focus, and a LOT of caffeine for the many long nights slogging through the details. Can there be anything harder?
Yes… raising funds to advance and evolve your already amazing product.
Considering only about three percent of start-ups actually get venture capital funding, there’s a call to action for entrepreneurial types to get organized and represent. This has been the case in Canada where investment has continued to decline to its lowest levels in over 12 years.
So what’s a Canadian start-up to do?
Enter Maple Leaf Digital Lounge (MLDL). Presented by DynamiteNetwork.com and CityEvents and supported by Canadian partners such as C100 and the Government of Canada, “the digital lounge is a collaborative catalyst supported by organizations who believe in the fostering and encouragement of Canadian technology on a global scale.” This year MLDL is hosting Tokii along with our friends at Pushlife and Mobisandbox at the SXSW conference, an internationally recognized interactive media, film, and music event in Austin, Texas from March 11th to March 15th. At SXSW, the MLDL is the place to promote Canada as a dynamic place for business opportunity by highlighting digital media technology companies and their exciting products.
The hardworking folks at MLDL aren’t the only ones trying to showcase Canadian start-ups, companies like Sprouter, a great Canadian start-up success story in their own right, has been tirelessly promoting and assisting start-ups since 2009. The team at Sprouter, led by founder and CEO Sarah Prevette, has provided a platform for innovators to connect and discover like-minded people who are passionate about start-ups and sharing networks. Together groups like MLDL and Sprouter are giving Canadian start-ups a much-needed push to the top of the investment radar.
The limited available capital in Canadian means funding is largely limited to smaller seed investments, so getting the attention of the big fish comes down to not only having a great product but also having great connections. By utilizing a premiere event such as Interactive Week at SXSW to showcase Canadian companies like Tokii, investors from around the world have an intimate and exclusive opportunity to experience our products away from boardroom offices and PowerPoint deck pitches – it’s experiencing it as the consumer experiences it.
I need only give one example of why this type of interaction is so powerful: Twitter @ SXSW 2007.
Back at Tokii, forged through endless days of work for over three years, our dreams are being realized. Tokii.com BETA launched February 14th to select users and will be showcased at the Maple Leaf Digital Lounge at SXSW. We are thrilled to be going to SXSW in the company of like-minded Canadians who believe in the idea of cross-promoting and helping one another to succeed.
If the concept of cross-promoting to drive communal success seems familiar, that’s because it is: Silicon Valley has been doing it from its beginning. It’s time for Canada to do a little promoting of its own – Scratch that – A LOT of promoting. And we can’t wait to share Tokii with the world.
Stay tuned for the continuation of Start Me Up next week: “What’s Wrong With Still Living At Home: Homegrown Start-ups That Prove You Don’t Have To ‘Move Out’ To Be Successful”. I look at some successful Canadian start-ups and hear from Canadian CEO’s and VC’s on the positive changing face of start-up venture capital funding here in Canada.