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photo_2254702_resize_articleLeo Valiquette

This may seem like an odd topic to raise in the early days of August. After all, it was a story that first broke in January and doesn’t seem to have garnered much media attention in the months since. But after my recent trip to Kitchener-Waterloo and immersing myself in the environment of the Communitech Hub, it seems that some discourse should be attempted on a subject that has perhaps provoked too little attention so far from mainstream media.

I am referring to plans by the City of Ottawa and Invest Ottawa to construct at Bayview Yards west of the Canadian War Museum an “innovation complex” that would repurpose an old 150,000-square-foot city workshop (pictured). According to a city staff report from January, the complex “would help to meet the growing demands of new entrepreneurs in Ottawa” and be modelled after Communitech and the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto.

The site is nestled in a rather forlorn light industrial area characterized by weeds growing from cracks in the concrete. However, this area is the focus of the city’s Bayview Community Design Plan.

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Investor pitching 101, with Communitech’s Frank Erschen

By Leo Valiquette

“It’s all about the content, it’s not about the sizzle. You have to give investors the content they need to make an investing decision.”

So says Frank Erschen, pitch coach, angel investor and executive in residence at Communitech. While in Kitchener-Waterloo last week, I had the opportunity to sit in on his session with Erisvaldo Gadelha Saraiva Junior, executive director of Brazil’s Yupi Studios.

Yupi Studios is a startup focused on developing apps, games and other creative content for smartphones, tablets, smart TVs and social networks. While it is paying the bills as an app factory for hire, its goal is to raise the $500,000 to $1.5 million it needs to devote itself entirely to developing its educational gaming platform, Yupi Play. Here is a recap of Erschen’s counsel on how Yupi Studios and any other startup in search of capital should structure their pitch to make the most of that eight to 12-minute opportunity to woo an investor.

For Erschen, an effective presentation should include the following slides, to tell a single compelling story with a natural progression: Read More

Soaking up that K-W vibe

 CommunitechBy Leo Valiquette

Even casual readers of this blog will likely know we are great fans of the good work done from the Kitchener-Waterloo region by Communitech. I am writing this post from the Communitech Hub and have to admit this week marks my first visit.

Our Francis Moran is of course a frequent visitor. While I have in the past had the opportunity to interview Communitech CEO Iain Klugman and Tim Jackson from the region’s Accelerator Centre, and work with the team at Communitech’s national arm, the Canadian Digital Media Network, I had not yet made the trek myself.

It also marks my first visit to a regional economic development agency outside Ottawa. Kitchener-Waterloo is not characterized by the shadow of big government as Ottawa is, but the linkages between industry, academia and government are obvious from the outset.

Walking down the street, I was struck by the profound significance of seeing on the side of the same building, alongside Communitech’s, the logos for Google, a multinational tech titan that needs no introduction, and local company Desire2Learn, which last year bagged the single largest first round of venture capital ever by a Canadian software play (largely from a U.S. investor). These two companies alone house upwards of 1,000 people in the complex.

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Cultivating your content garden

Tree-Growing-from-book-216x300By Leo Valiquette

Given the time of year, it only seems appropriate to compare content marketing to a vegetable garden. Once you’ve planted the seed, you must keep tending it with suitable amounts of care and attention until it yields a fair crop. Neglect it for too long and all you’ll end up with is compost.

I often work with clients who are trying to figure out which seeds to plant and how to be certain they’ll have enough to yield results that will make their efforts worthwhile. Be it a blog, a bi-weekly newsletter or a regular gig as contributor to an industry publication, the challenge is the same: how do we create, and where do we find, original, compelling content, and on a consistent basis?

So here is my basic inbound marketing gardening guide:

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Keeping constructively busy through these dog days

pitching_gripsBy Leo Valiquette

Summer, as I wrote in my last post, is no time to slack off from a marketing and PR perspective, but this raises the obvious question, what to do through July and August?

Most community business networking events are on hiatus. So too are conferences and trade shows. On any given week key spokespeople and thought leaders in your organization may be on vacation.

It may be a quiet time, a down time, but there are still things you can do.

The most obvious is focus on your social media channels and your blog. Throughout most of the year, busy marketing and communications teams struggle to keep these machines fed and use them as they are intended to engage in valuable dialogue with target audiences on a consistent basis. So use these summer workdays constructively to create and ingrain good social media habits into your organization. And if developing a sound and comprehensive social media strategy is one of those things that just keeps sliding off of the plate, now is the time to tackle the project in earnest so you are ready to pull the trigger when everything shifts into top gear again following Labour Day.

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