This was a fun week. I’m involved in the Telus New Ventures program which is a business plan competition sponsored by Telus each year. Up to 60 teams of entrepreneurs submit business plans and go through rounds of mentoring and judging, mentoring and judging, until one plan is chosen as the winner of $60,000 of cash and in-kind donations.

So I attended as a panel mentor on Wednesday July 26th which meant sitting in a room and watching five different companies present their “pitch” and then offering suggestions for improvement. The quality as always was variable. Some of the contestants were still missing the basics such as:

  • who is in pain?
  • how big is this market?
  • how fast is it growing?
  • who is your team and what makes you think you can pull it off?
  • what is your competitive analysis?
  • what is your go to market plan?
  • what is your financial plan?
  • what will you do with the capital raised?
  • what does your investor get in return


Obviously there is work to be done on just getting people to get through the competition with the basic checklist questions answered. But there was a lot of passion in those rooms!

And on Thursday July 27th, I had the pleasure of attending the Ernst & Young Bootcamp which was a session with Joe Timlin from Growthworks, Sean Wise from Wise Mentor Capital, and Lonny McLean of Layer7 Technologies.

I have seen a LOT of financing presentations. I started attending them back around 1999-2000. I would have to say that this was probably one of the simplest, clearest, and most frank venture finance presentations I have ever seen. It was dense, it was informative, it was funny, it was sad, it was personal, and despite the failed air-conditioning, everybody stuck it out because the material was just so damned good.

Sean and Lonny, thank you for sharing your horror stories alongside your successes. Unfortunately I didn’t catch Joe’s talk since I arrived at the session late.

I wish I had seen this presentation YEARS ago. It would have been a great shortcut in my learning.