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Accelerator metrics in Canada (or anywhere)

By Jesse Rodgers

I spent a little time at StartupWeekendHamilton3 in April as a mentor and was talking to a young founder who proclaimed that there was one great accelerator in Canada. Who he said it was surprised me a little and got me thinking, what makes an accelerator “the best” and why should an eager founder care? The baseline in my mind is Y-Combinator. No one can argue it is the best seed-stage accelerator based on its results. What is difficult for everyone to agree upon is what does it do to achieve those results or even harder, what defines success?

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The ‘Accelerator Bubble’ will pop, but not for the reason you think it will

By Jesse Rodgers

The incubator/accelerator market has a growing number of people watching and waiting for its bubble to pop. The reasons cited for this looming pop should be obvious: most accelerators aren’t going to perform as well as some TechStars programs and not even close to Y Combinator. Poor performance (measured in the number of short-term wins) along with the short-term nature of the funding behind most of the accelerator programs will cause them to run out of money and simply fade into startup history.

But that won’t pop the bubble.

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The allure of building enterprise products

By Jesse Rodgers

There is no doubt that enterprise software is currently in fashion.

That’s because in enterprise software there are big problems, bigger data, and bigger budgets where you don’t need to find millions or even thousands of customers to build a business.

Take Workday, for example, that is estimated to have $500 million in ‘bookings this year’ on just 310 customers.

I see three key things that are currently driving opportunity in this space:

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Why I like customer advisory boards

By Jesse Rodgers

Seeking out customer feedback and using it to build a great product is not a new concept. Great designers have been doing it for a long time as have great companies. The Lean Startup manual (or startup bible to many) talks about involving the customer while developing that minimum viable product (MVP): “The minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.

Where that generally leads people is straight to building a simple application that might not be sexy in its design but it is functional or a landing page about a new product that might not exist yet. Using Google Analytics and collecting email addresses along with some “conversion” points becomes what you focus on. However, if you forget to actually talk to customers as well you could be wasting a lot of time. Especially when you are moving past your MVP or have a product that people are paying for.

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Managing perceptions and product at RIM like Apple did

By Jesse Rodgers

A tweet by Peter Mansbridge brought a lot of people’s attention to an article entitled Steve Jobs’ Lesson for RIM: Power of Perceptions, Turnaround 101, which focuses on how Steve Jobs changed the perception of Apple. That perception shift was driven a lot by product, and it wasn’t the iPod that did it. It was the other product — the Mac computer — and Apple’s ability to extend the life of a dead OS. Apple focused on revenue building and its “cult of mac” first.

The problem Steve Jobs faced with Apple’s OS going from the OS 8/9 to X and where RIM is now feels very similar. Apple extended the life of a dead OS while it built the OS for its future (OS X), the one that gave it the flexibility to build the iPod, the iPhone, and beyond. Did Jobs manage perceptions through how he spoke about Apple? Sure, but he also needed his product to deliver on the promise that Apple is innovative and cool.

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