Introducing Your Start-Up to an Angel Investor by E-mail

Angel investor, start-up You can only make a first impression once. Introducing your start-up to an angel investor is nerve-wracking to begin with. However, introducing your start-up to an angel investor by e-mail is a lot more challenging. You cannot charm or socialize with an individual by e-mail the same way you would in person. Standing out is much harder. Of course, you are better off reaching out to an angel investor by e-mail after having met them in person. But this isn’t always the case. For this reason it is important that you hatch out a plan that will captivate the interest of an angel investor. As said Alex Iskold, Managing Director of Techstars, there are 3 key notions to stick to when contacting an angel investor: be simple, clear, and awesome.

Your Structure should be simple-

Being concise is key. Your initial e-mail should only about 5 sentences long, with a one-pager attachment maximum. An angel investor should be able to decipher, based on just these few lines, if this is an opportunity of interest. Keep in mind that your e-mail does not need to answer every question that an investor would have. It simply needs to strike enough interest to schedule a meeting. The following steps can provide for a good blueprint for your email.

Introduction: Your name and the name of your business
Business: 2-3 sentences about your business & why it’s interesting
Traction: 1-2 sentence about your traction, customers, and progress over time
Why: Looking for feedback, or connecting because you have background.
Ask: Schedule a quick phone call, meeting, or ask for feedback via e-mail
Be as clear as possible-

Do not use complicated jargon or terms in order to explain your business. Most investors do not have time to untangle your e-mail in search of clarity. Your first e-mail must be able to stand alone as a comprehensible pitching tool. Note that you should have two goals with this introductory e-mail. First, you have to persuade an angel investor to engage with you in conversation.  Second, give this person the tools to communicate the information clearly to others if need be. This is not to say that angel investors should not have questions about your business after reading your e-mail. It is simply to make clear that the questions they have should not be with regards to your description of the company but with regards to the company itself and its potential.

Focus on Market-Product Fit-

Often times entrepreneurs mistakenly put an excessive amount of focus on the solution instead of the business problem. Reaching out to an angel investor should include focusing on the ‘why’. A strong opportunity statement, which will communicate exactly why an angel investor should care about your business is crucial. When a profitable opportunity presents itself, investors will almost always be willing to listen, at the very least.

Adopt the right attitude, don’t oversell yourself and be truthful. Standing out by e-mail will be difficult. Especially since many angel investors are busy and receive numerous e-mails daily. Just remember that more times than not, less is more. Keep it simple, and make your case as to why they should at least hear what you have to say.

Apprendre à connaître ses partenaires avant de signer

partenaires Trouver le bon cofondateur pour votre entreprise sera une des décisions les plus importantes que vous aurez à prendre en tant qu’entrepreneur. Faites-nous confiance, cette décision déterminera le sort de votre entreprise. Nous avons été témoins des meilleurs et des pires scénarios. Voici quelques conseils à considérer avant de prendre cette décision importante.

  1. Apprendre à se connaître avant le mariage

En affaires, comme dans toute relation, vous devez apprendre à connaître votre partenaire et sa façon de travailler avant de vous passer la corde au cou. Rencontrer quelqu’un à un événement de réseautage n’est pas suffisant pour décider de signer une convention entre actionnaires quelques semaines plus tard. Une fois qu’un tel contrat est signé, il n’est pas facile de le révoquer. C’est un processus qui peut devenir fort désagréable et qui peut ruiner une entreprise; tout comme épouser quelqu’un sans bien connaître la personne ou ses intentions. Le divorce sera un processus long, déplaisant et pénible que vous auriez pu éviter. Les désaccords les plus communs entre les cofondateurs concernent la vision et l’orientation future de l’entreprise. De toute évidence, l’objectif est de développer l’entreprise, mais les façons de faire croître une entreprise sont limitées, et il y a tellement de directions dans lesquelles on peut orienter une entreprise, et qui peuvent toutes conduire à des résultats très différents. Avant de vous engager dans un partenariat, assurez-vous que vous et votre partenaire potentiel êtes sur la même longueur d’onde, surtout en ce qui concerne la vision et les valeurs en lesquelles vous croyez.

  1. Choisissez quelqu’un qui vous complète

Établir un partenariat avec quelqu’un qui a exactement le même profil que vous n’est pas une bonne idée. Vous devez trouver une personne dont les compétences complètent les vôtres, afin de permettre à votre entreprise de croître et de prospérer. Lorsque vous considérez à quoi peuvent ressembler des compétences complémentaires, pensez surtout à l’avenir de l’entreprise. Les fonctions seront établies en fonction de ces compétences complémentaires. De cette façon, vous pouvez vous créer une émulation et bâtir une entreprise plus solide et de qualité. Alors que l’idée de vous discuter des mêmes choses peut être séduisante, vous voulez être avec quelqu’un qui possède des compétences différentes.

  • Si vous êtes programmeur, il devrait être agent de commercialisation.
  • Si vous êtes concepteur, il devrait être développeur.
  • Si vous êtes introverti, il devrait être extraverti.
  1. Comprendre la convention d’actionnaire

Nous ne pourrons jamais assez souligner l’importance de ce point. Les conventions d’actionnaires garantissent qu’on a bien réfléchi aux responsabilités des actionnaires en fonction de ce qui est permis et de ce qui ne l’est pas, et sur la façon dont les décisions seront prises. Son objectif est de réduire les risques de conflit entre les actionnaires dès le départ. Cependant, des problèmes peuvent survenir lorsque vous ne comprenez pas entièrement le contrat avant de le signer. Il faut donc réfléchir très sérieusement à la propriété des actions. Qui possède combien d’actions (et quelle contribution en espèces? Propriété intellectuelle, etc.)? Et, comment ces actions sont-elles détenues?

Questions à vous poser avant de signer :

  1. Suis-je satisfait de ma participation au capital? (Si je suis le principal fondateur, est-ce que je traite les autres équitablement?)
  2. Puis-je quitter cette entreprise si je le veux? (Puis-je vendre des actions?)
  3. Puis-je acheter plus d’actions si je le veux?
  4. Est-ce que je m’engage à faire quelque chose que je ne pourrai pas respecter?
  5. Est-ce que je pourrai exercer suffisamment d’influence pour protéger mon investissement?
  6. Quels sont mon risque financier total et ma responsabilité juridique (présente et future) dans cet engagement?
  1. Répartition des capitaux

Certains ont l’idée fausse que les capitaux doivent toujours être divisés en parts égales (50/50). Alors qu’une répartition égale du capital peut très bien fonctionner pour certaines entreprises, ce n’est pas la seule solution à considérer. Vous évitez peut-être une conversation gênante et difficile en répartissant les parts de façon égale maintenant, mais pensez aux répercussions que cela peut avoir sur l’avenir de votre entreprise. Vous devriez également considérer l’acquisition des droits. Cela pourra empêcher d’émettre des actions à des partenaires ou à des employés indignes.

Rappelez-vous que vous passerez probablement plus de temps avec votre cofondateur qu’avec votre propre famille. Le choix de cette personne déterminera l’avenir de votre entreprise. Une bonne alchimie et une bonne entente entre vous et votre partenaire sont essentielles. Vous voulez quelqu’un qui assume ses responsabilités et qui démontre la même passion et le même dynamisme que vous. Vous êtes sur le point de vous embarquer dans un voyage ambitieux et mémorable, assurez-vous d’avoir le bon compagnon de voyage!

Dating Before Committing

co-founder, startup, founderFinding the right co-founder for your business will be one of the biggest decisions you will have to make as an entrepreneur. Trust us when we say that this decision will determine the fate of your business. We’ve seen some best and worst-case scenarios. Here are a few tips you will have to consider before making this big decision.

  1. Date Them Before You Marry Them

As with any relationship, in business you must get to know your co-founder and the way they work before you tie the knot. It’s not enough to meet someone at a networking event and a couple of weeks later sign a shareholders agreement.  Once that’s done, it’s not easily undone. The process can get nasty and can ruin a business, just like marrying someone without having known them or their intentions, the divorce will be a long, ugly, and tedious process you could have avoided. The most common disagreements that co-founders have is with regards to the future vision and direction for the business. Obviously, the goal is to grow the business but there are only so many ways a business can grow, and so many directions a business can take that can all lead to very different outcomes. Before you commit to a partnership, make sure you and your potential partner are on the same page as far as the vision of the company and the values you hold.

  1. Choose someone that compliments you

Partnering with someone who has the same exact profile as you, is not a good idea. You must find someone with complementary skills that will allow your business to grow and flourish. Look to the future of the business when you consider complementary skills. Based on those complimentary skills, job positions are drafted.  That way you can challenge each other and build a stronger and quality company. While it might be appealing to geek out together about the same things, you want someone who has a different skillset.

  • You’re a programmer, she should be a marketer.
  • If you’re a designer, he should be a developer.
  • If you’re an introvert, she should be an extrovert.
  1. Understand your Shareholder’s Agreement

We cannot emphasize the importance of this enough. Shareholders agreements ensure that the responsibilities of the shareholders are well thought-out, what is to be permitted and what is not to be permitted, and how decisions are to be made. It should also include what do to when you cannot reach a commune decision, who gets the last word? It is meant to decrease potential for conflict between shareholders from the get-go. Problems arise, however, when you do not understand it fully before signing. Some very careful thought must be given to the share ownership. Who owns how many shares (and for what contribution cash? time? intellectual property, etc.)? And, how are these shares held?

 Question to ask yourself before signing on the dotted line are:

  1. Am I happy with my ownership stake? (If I’m the key founder, am I treating others fairly?)

    2. Can I get out of this deal if I need to? (Can I sell the shares?)
    3. Can I buy more shares if I’d like to?
    4. Am I committing to something I cannot live up to?
    5. Will I be able to exert sufficient influence to protect my investment?
    6. What is my total financial exposure and legal liability (present and future) on this deal?

 

  1. Splitting Equity

Some have the misconception that equity must always be split 50/50. While an equal equity split can work great for some businesses, it is not the only alternative on the table. You may be avoiding an awkward and tough conversation by opting to split equally now, but think about the repercussions this may have to your business’s future. You should also consider vesting. This can prevent you from issuing stocks to unworthy partners or employees.

Remember that you will likely be spending more time with your co-founder than with your own family. Choosing this person will determine the future of your business. Having good chemistry and getting along with your co-founder is a must. You want someone that will carry their weight and that has the same passion and drive as you. You are about to embark on a challenging and memorable journey, make sure it’s with the right person!

A PME Success Story: Catching up with Hayes Nulman

startup, montreal hayes nulmanHayes was part of PME’s 2014 funding round. Still heading operations of his business, Hayes Nulman Design, he embodies true entrepreneurial spirit. With his furniture design and fabrication studio, and his outside-the-box thinking, he has paved quite a way for himself. We were able to sit down with him for a few minutes to talk about his journey and what he looks forward to in the future.

Q: How did you come up with the idea to start your own furniture design and fabrication studio?

A: It was a dream as a child. I also didn’t really fit into other workplaces so I sort of just wanted to create my own space.

Q: Where did your passion for furniture design come from?

A: When I was a kid I always liked to build things. I kind of always wanted to make stuff with my hands. From there it evolved. For me it was more about seeing something be created at the end of the day as opposed to the type of building that would be created over long-term projects. The immediate gratification part is what I like about it.

Q: How did you learn to master your craft? Did you teach yourself or were you professionally trained?

A: I went to a school called École National de Meuble et de l’Ebénisterie. It was an interesting experience seeing that it was all in French. The school is specialized in furniture making and design.

Q: WHAT IS YOUR design PROCESS? What’s the thought DEVELOPMENT that goes behind it?

A: Our business shifted. It started off as us doing residential.custom pieces.  However, we’ve pivoted more into a commercial aspect. That means that more of what I’m doing is interpreting a designer or architect’s design into a final product, suggesting changes that will make it more stable, and producing technical drawings based on their original rough wire frames.

Q: Do you find it difficult to compete in an industry where people tend to buy standardized products from big name corporations?

A: I feel that I’m more in a niche. There is certain clientele that doesn’t care much about the quality, they just need a piece. Then there are others that actually care about the quality in the final product. Typically we cater to the higher-end final quality products. We also cater to a clientele that knows what they want to have versus someone who doesn’t have a clear idea of what they want and is more open to suggestion. We build someone’s dream piece, not a piece to fill a void.

Q: Your father, Andy Nulman, has a big presence in the Montreal business scene. How were you able to pave your way for yourself?

A:  I think that what we do is unrelated. I think the underlying values that were instilled to me as a child was big into entrepreneurship. Growing up surrounded by an entrepreneur vouching for entrepreneurs really pushed me and my brother to go our own separate ways and to pursue what we like doing. Also, pursuing it in a way that we can build a business from it. It’s funny, my brother is a computer programmer, I build stuff with my hands, and my dad’s just completely in another space. We’re all different, but also the same, because it`s all in entrepreneurship. That`s how I see it.

Q: Why start to a business in Montreal?

A: It’s cheap rent. My business unfortunately requires a lot of space. Space in a lot of other cities comes out premium. I can see Montreal as a place to raise a family, raise kids, have a life, as well as have cheap rent. Those are the factors that make me want to stay here. I wanted to originally go to New York and then struggled paycheck to paycheck and realized that Montreal is a better option.

Q: How has PME helped you on your journey?

A: They believed in me when I first started. It took a little bit of convincing but they liked the approach. We’ve strayed so far from what we originally set out to do, but the funding they gave us has helped us secure our first commercial contract and helped us grow into more of a commercial oriented company than a residential oriented company. When we first started with PME we were in a 1000 sqft space, now we are at 12000 sqft. We’ve also increased our employee count. We were 2 last year and now we are 9.

Q: Where do you see yourself and your business 10 years from now?

A: I see us continuing to do more commercial projects. Continuing our same stroke. Hopefully doubling in staff and seeing where we can take everything.

Doing what you love is one of the biggest perks of being an entrepreneur. Doing it successfully is an even greater one. Hayes had some much needed insight to share. Best of luck to him moving forward!

Pro-Montreal Entrepreneurs (PME) is a social business model created to help young entrepreneurs build and strengthen their business roots in Montreal. PME offers business plan feedback, a network of mentors, and access to sources of funding. Entrepreneurs between the ages of 18-40 can also get access to capital of up to $50,000. Don’t hesitate to contact us for any questions that you may have.

Histoire d’une réussite de PME : Praktice Health

montreal, startup, Praktice HealthMichael Moszberg faisait partie de la série de financement de PME en 2014. En tant que cofondateur et chef de la direction de Praktice Health, il a constaté des lacunes sur le marché en matière d’activités de bien-être, en particulier pour les entreprises. Lors du démarrage de son entreprise, M. Moszberg a eu recours à un grand nombre de programmes d’accélération et de ressources accessibles aux entrepreneurs au Québec. Il nous donne quelques renseignements et conseils importants tirés de son expérience au sein de programmes d’accélération à Montréal. Ce qu’il changerait et des endroits où les entrepreneurs peuvent trouver de l’aide à Montréal.

Q: D’où vous est venue l’idée de démarrer Praktice Health?

R: Lorsque nous avons commencé à parler avec des gestionnaires RH des activités de bien-être pour entreprises, nous avons découvert qu’ils cherchaient des solutions modernes et variées, mais qu’il n’y en avait pas à leur disposition. Après avoir cherché l’activité la plus intéressante qui soit, nous avons constaté que le véritable problème était le manque de participation aux activités de bien-être. Les gestionnaires RH n’avaient pas d’options pour intégrer des activités de bien-être.

Q: Comment avez-vous réussi à vous différencier des autres programmes et applications de conditionnement physique offerts?

R: Il y a beaucoup de choix pour les consommateurs, mais rien pour les entreprises. Ces dernières ont surtout besoin de fonctions comme la planification, les communications, l’administration, l’analytique, les sondages, les photos. Le programme doit aussi être confidentiel et sécurisé. Les grandes entreprises veulent être en mesure d’obtenir des analyses selon les différents départements, et il n’y a rien de la sorte pour les grandes entreprises. Les programmes disponibles nécessitent des ententes annuelles coûteuses, qui absorbent la totalité des budgets de bien-être. Vous avez ensuite les applications qui ne sont ni confidentielles, ni sécurisées, et qui ne comportent pas d’options applicables aux RH. 

Q: Vous avez participé à de nombreux programmes d’accélération au fil des ans. Selon vous, quels sont les avantages et désavantages de ces programmes?

R: Je crois que le plus gros avantage des accélérateurs est également le plus gros désavantage. L’aspect le plus important est l’aspect communautaire. Qu’il s’agisse de District 3, de McGill ou de FounderFuel, tous offrent un certain degré de collaboration communautaire, qui peut consister en des conseillers, des collègues ou des pairs. Je crois que c’est une bonne chose, au début, d’avoir recours à un accélérateur, mais après un certain temps, vous devez vous concentrer sur votre entreprise. Le fait d’avoir trop d’événements et trop de personnes autour de vous peut devenir une distraction. 

Q: Selon votre expérience, quels aspects du processus des incubateurs/accélérateurs changeriez-vous?

R: Les incubateurs/accélérateurs veulent aider tellement d’entreprises qu’il devient difficile pour eux d’accorder une attention particulière à chacune d’elle. La majorité des incubateurs suivent le même modèle, c’est-à-dire qu’ils présentent l’information générale et veulent que l’entreprise se démarque. Mais seulement une sur dix y arrive. S’ils avaient les ressources leur permettant d’accorder plus d’attention à chacune des entreprises, leur taux de succès serait probablement plus élevé. Mais ils sont limités par les ressources. Ce dont ils ont besoin, c’est davantage de ressources.

Q: Qu’avez-vous acquis de plus précieux dans votre expérience des divers incubateurs?

R: La diversité des conseillers est ce que j’ai acquis de plus précieux au fil des ans. Le problème en ce qui a trait aux mentors, c’est qu’il est difficile d’en trouver un qui est bon pour vous sur tous les plans. Je crois qu’il faudrait en avoir un qui en bon en vente, un qui est bon en TI, un autre en collecte de fonds, etc. Aucun mentor n’est parfait pour toutes les entreprises. Il est important d’avoir un groupe diversifié de mentors.

Q: Quels sont les meilleurs endroits pour trouver des ressources à Montréal, qu’il s’agisse de ressources financières ou de simples conseils?

R: Chaque incubateur est unique. District 3 fournit des espaces de travail gratuits et accompagne les entrepreneurs du point zéro au démarrage de leur entreprise. McGill possède un bon réseau d’anciens ainsi qu’une bonne équipe. The McGill Dobson Cup est un moyen fantastique pour les entrepreneurs qui veulent obtenir des fonds tout au début du processus. Il y a ensuite FounderFuel, qui est un très bon accélérateur d’entreprise. Cependant, si vous vous joignez trop tôt à FounderFuel, vous n’arriverez pas à obtenir cette accélération. Vous devez être arrivé à un certain niveau pour que le programme d’accélération de FounderFuel vous soit utile. Beaucoup de gens ne se rendent pas compte du temps qu’il faut pour démarrer une entreprise. Bien entendu, PME (Pro-Montréal Entrepreneurs) est aussi une ressource formidable. Somme toute, District 3 et McGill sont bons pour le démarrage d’entreprise. Pour obtenir un soutien complémentaire, il y a ensuite des organismes comme PME, PME Montréal, SAJE et Angels. Si votre entreprise est mieux établie, FounderFuel et d’autres entreprises semblables peuvent vous aider. Voici donc ma réponse alambiquée. Il faut toute une communauté, et toutes ces ressources enrichissent l’écosystème.

Q: Que pensez-vous de Montréal en tant qu’entrepreneur? L’écosystème favorise-t-il l’entrepreneuriat?

R: Selon moi, Montréal est un endroit fantastique pour démarrer une entreprise, en raison des salaires bas, du talent qu’on y trouve et des crédits d’impôt. Cependant, il est difficile de vendre sur le marché montréalais. Regardez en Israël, par exemple: il y a beaucoup de ressources pour les jeunes entreprises, mais vous ne verrez pas beaucoup d’entreprises qui y feront des ventes. Montréal est un endroit fantastique pour bâtir une entreprise, mais en prévoyant vendre sur le marché mondial.

Q: De quelle manière le programme PME vous a-t-il aidé, vous et votre entreprise?

R: Le programme PME soutient réellement les entrepreneurs. Les conseillers investissent du temps et des efforts pour contribuer au succès de chacune des entreprises.

Voici de très bons conseils de la part d’un entrepreneur qui a démarré son entreprise à Montréal. Montréal a des ressources formidables à offrir. Vous devez savoir lesquelles sont appropriées pour vous à l’étape où vous êtes rendu. Michael a parcouru beaucoup de chemin depuis notre rencontre en 2014. Nous sommes convaincus que le meilleur reste à venir pour Michael et Praktice Health.

ProMontréal Entrepreneurs (PME) est un modèle d’entreprise sociale créé pour aider les jeunes entrepreneurs à bâtir et à renforcer leurs bases d’affaires à Montréal. PME offre la consultation dans l’élaboration d’un plan d’affaires, un réseau de mentors et l’accès à des sources de financement. Les entrepreneurs âgés de 18 à 40 ans peuvent également avoir accès à un capital de départ pouvant atteindre jusqu’à 50 000 $. N’hésitez pas à communiquer avec nous si vous avez des questions.

A PME Success Story: Catching Up with Praktice Health

startup, montreal, tech, Praktice HealthMichael Moszberg was part of the 2014 PME funding round. As the Co-Founder and CEO of Praktice Health, he identified a gap in the market for wellness activities specifically for businesses. In the process of starting a business Michael joined many accelerators and utilized many of the resources available to entrepreneurs in Quebec. He shares some very valuable insight and advice based on his experience in Montreal accelerators, what he would change, and where entrepreneurs can find the help that suits them in the city.

Q: What sparked the idea to start Praktice Health?

A: Through Praktice Health we started to talk to HR managers about corporate wellness activities. What we discovered was that HR managers were looking for variety and modern solutions, nothing was available to them. We went around to see what the most engaging activity possible was. The real problem was that there was low engagement in wellness activities. There were no alternatives for HR managers to put in a wellness activity.

Q: How were you able to differentiate yourself from other fitness programs and apps offered?

A: There is a lot available for consumers but there is nothing available for businesses. A lot of the features that businesses need is the planning, the communications, the administration, the analytics, the surveys, the photos. It also needs to be private and secure. When you get bigger businesses they want more analytics based on department. Nothing like that is available to the corporate environment. What is available are expensive, 12 month corporate agreements. These are programs that take up the entire wellness budget. Then you have consumer apps that are not private secure, or have HR features.

Q: You’ve been a part of many accelerators over the years. What do you think are some of the advantages and disadvantages of accelerators?

A: I think that the biggest advantage with accelerators is also the biggest disadvantage. The number one thing you get is community. Whether you’re at District 3, McGill or FounderFuel, they all offer a certain level of community whether it be advisors, colleagues or peers. I think that when you’re first starting out it’s good to join an accelerator but after a while you have to start to focus on your business. Having too many events and people around can be a distraction.

Q: Based on your experience, what would you change from the whole incubator/accelerator process?

A: They want to help so many companies that it becomes hard to give dedicated attention to any one. The model with almost every incubator is that they put up the general information and want to make the company shine. But 1 in 10 succeed. If they had the resources to dedicate more to each company perhaps they would have more than 1 out of 10 success rate. But, they are limited by their resources so I understand. More resources is what they need.

Q: What is your most valuable takeaway from your experience with the different incubators?

A: The depth of advisors that I’ve collected over the years is most valuable. The challenges with mentors is that it’s hard to find one that is good for you in all aspects. I think that you should have one that is good in sales, one that is good in IT, another in fundraising, etc. There is no one mentor that is perfect for any company. It’s important to have a diverse group of mentors.

Q: What are the best places for an entrepreneur to find resources in Montreal, whether it be financial or just advice?

A: Every incubator is unique. District 3 in providing free office space and getting people from point 0 to getting started. McGill has a great alumni network and good people that work there as well. The McGill Dobson Cup is a fantastic way for people to get money at the very beginning. Then you have FounderFuel, which is very good at accelerating your company. The thing about FounderFuel is that if you get in too early you’re going to miss your chance to get that acceleration. You have to be at a certain level for their accelerator to make sense to you. A lot of people don’t realize how long it takes to start a company. Of course PME (ProMontreal Entrepreneurs) is a great resource too. So all in all, District 3 is good to get started, McGill too. Then you have organizations like PME, PME Mtl, SAJE, and Angels for additional support. If you’re more established in your business you have FounderFuel and other companies. So there’s my convoluted answer. It takes a whole community and all these things add to the eco- system no one accelerator makes the city.

Q: What’s your opinion about being an entrepreneur in Montreal? Do you think the eco-system works in favor of the entrepreneur?

A: I believe that MTL is a fantastic place to start and build a company. Because of the low wages, talent, and tax credit. To start a company in Montreal is fantastic. It’s hard to sell into to the Montreal market though. For example, In Israel you have lots of resources for start-ups, but you don’t see many companies that are going to sell in Israel. Montreal is a fantastic place to build, but plan to sell globally.

Q: How has PME helped you and your business?

A: PME truly does support the entrepreneur. They really do invest time and effort in every single one of the companies to succeed.

This is some great practical advice from someone who started their business in Montreal. Montreal has some great resources available to you. You have to know which ones are right for you at your current stage of business development. Michael has come a long way since we met him in 2014. We’re sure that better things are yet to come for him and Praktice Health.

ProMontreal Entrepreneurs (PME) is a social business model created to help young entrepreneurs build and strengthen their business roots in Montreal. PME offers business plan feedback, a network of mentors, and access to sources of funding. Entrepreneurs between the ages of 18-40 can also get access to capital of up to $50,000. Don’t hesitate to contact us for any questions that you may have.

A PME Success Story: Catching up with Revols

a-pme-success-story-catching-up-with-revolsDaniel Blumer and Navi Cohen, founders of Revols, have reached and surpassed great milestones since we first met them in 2014. What started off as an idea to develop premium quick custom-fit wireless earphones is now approaching reality with shipping scheduled for early 2017. Earlier this year, in just two months their Kickstarter campaign raised $2.5 million (U.S.), breaking records and becoming Canada’s most funded project in Kickstarter history. We had the chance to catch up with the Revols CEO, Daniel Blumer, to talk about it his journey and what lies ahead for the company.  He offers some interesting insight and some lessons learnt in retrospect.

Q: What helped you identify a gap in the market for your product when you founded your company with Navi?

A: Navi approached me with the idea of custom fit earphones and the whole concept was that custom fit provides this comfort level that is just so much better than a regular pair of earphones. That immediately struck a chord with me because myself, my wife, so many people, struggle with their earphones and are not comfortable. To me, that was the immediate compelling reason as to why we should go into this. Further justification came through doing the due diligence, doing the market research, seeing why people replace their earphones and why they buy premium earphones.

Q: You’ve had tremendous success with your Kickstarter campaign. It was the most funded Canadian project in Kickstarter history! Given that so many crowdfunding campaigns fail, what was your secret?

A: We spent around 3 months doing diligence, and learning about Kickstarter. We understood it. Some people think that you can just create a video and put it on Kickstarter. There is so much more to it. One of the biggest challenges which we saw right away was credibility. It’s not easy to be credible and show that what you are offering isn’t BS or a lie. You want to show that what you have is real, that it works, and that it can be trusted. For us one of the biggest things we did to succeed is that we hired a local PR firm and before the campaign started we went out to every single media outlet that would talk to us in Toronto, Montreal, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and did the process on them. They then wrote reviews on us. If they liked us they would write good reviews which would then translate to trust and credibility and more people would back it. There was a direct correlation between when the media would release their review and how much we would receive on the Kickstarter.

Q: This success, while great, must come with tones of pressure. How do you feel about this?

A: More pressure than I’ve ever had in my life because to me the part that I hate the most is being in debt to someone else. I don’t have debt I don’t want to have debt. When you think about it you’re happy and so excited about the success of your Kickstarter and having all this money to make your product. But I’m so anxious to just deliver to all our backers. We have 12,000 people that supported us. A lot of them are Montrealers, friends, family, and people that have an interest in helping another Montreal company. Until we deliver there’s this pit in my stomach.

Q: What stage of development are you at presently?

A: We’re planning on delivering in November and December. We’re getting there.

Q: You are a Montreal-based company, what is it like having a hardware company here?

A: Hardware is not easy to build here. The first year and a half we were only in Montreal. It was difficult in terms of cost, and in terms of the time it took to make all product versions. Something that has helped us tremendously is our relationship with the hardware accelerator, Hax. We moved to China last summer for 4 months and now we have people on the ground in China overseeing production. Now we can iterate faster at a lower cost in China which is a great advantage.

Q: What are some pros of being a Montreal-based company?

A: Montreal’s start-up community is growing a lot. You see it. You see it by the events and by the different companies coming out of Montreal. It’s impressive. There are many advantages of being in Montreal. Tax credit-wise, when you’re creating a company with a lot of R&D requirements, the Canadian and Quebec government are phenomenal at helping fund projects. You don’t get that in the States.

Q: Now that Revols is doing well and growing, in retrospect, can you think of lessons learnt or things you wish you would have done differently?

A: To me, one of the biggest learnings is with something we’ve experienced over the past few months when trying to do everything in house. We wanted to have control over all our projects. Looking back, it’s okay to outsource to a third party who’s more competent in a particular project. It would have costed more but it would have saved us months. It would have been worth it, so that’s what we’re starting to do now. If it’s not your core competency it is okay to outsource to a certain extent as long as you have a certain level of control.

Q: How has PME helped you in your journey?

A: PME has genuinely helped us because they came in relatively at the beginning when we didn’t have a lot of money. There are 2 components to PME. There’s the money itself. The money allows us to develop and grow without having to look elsewhere. Our valuation at the beginning was smaller and we would have had to give up a lot more of the company then. So, that money was sufficient in allowing us to go to the point where we now have a nicer valuation, we’re going to get more money and give up less equity. That is because of what PME helped us with. On the other side which is equally, if not more important, is the mentorship side. The ability to have access to mentors who are tremendously experienced in different fields and the comfort in knowing you can go to them is phenomenal. A lot of people don’t have that opportunity.

Q: 10 years from now where do you see Revols?

A: 10 years from now Revols will be a recognized brand name in the premium retail space, but not just selling earphones. Selling many different ear-related products with a custom fit solution.

Revols has come a long way in the past 2 years. We can’t wait to see what is in store for Daniel and Navi moving forward!

Pro-Montreal Entrepreneurs (PME) is a social business model created to help young entrepreneurs build and strengthen their business roots in Montreal. PME offers business plan feedback, a network of mentors, and access to sources of funding. Entrepreneurs between the ages of 18-40 can also get access to capital of up to $50,000. Don’t hesitate to contact us for any questions that you may have.

Finding a Co-Founder

I am asked a lot of questions. Aside from “where do I get money to fund my start-up?”, the second most-asked question is: “where do I find a co-founder?” It is a difficult question to answer, because it’s not just about someone who will share in the work, which at the beginning can seem insurmountable. It is also someone who will have to share your passion and your commitment to seeing the idea through. I’ve been a victim of partnering with a friend. In the end, it didn’t work because he just wasn’t committed enough to the project. It changed our friendship.

Now for the million dollar question, where can you find a co-founder? My answer is always the same: you find a co-founder when you least expect it. When talking about your business idea in an informal setting: over drinks, over dinner. It works best when it’s not forced. Then, it just happens; that magical moment when it just clicks. It’s really as simple as that. Sure, there are websites that promise that they can help you find a co-founder but personality and work ethic is so important, I think that meeting someone in an informal setting and seeing how this person interacts with others and with you, is the best way. You find other commonalities that transcend a business relationship, which in my opinion is very important. Remember you will spend so many hours together and make complicated decisions together so if the personalities don’t fit, it won’t work.