Last Build Date: Sun, 05 Oct 2014 04:45:49 +0000
Mon, 06 Apr 2009 13:13:00 +0000(This is cross-posted from the BBPF Blog. Written by Pierre Donaldson, partner at JLA and my only and favorite Montreal colleague. I helped write the post and I tend to share his views).THE LOCKER ROOM THEORY(Warning: May contain traces of sports analogies applied to business)For this, my first and long overdue post on the BBPF Blog, please allow me to momentarily and respectfully step aside from the excitement surrounding the launch of BlackBerry App World and the ever expanding smart phone eco-system, to briefly focus on one controversial aspect of our role as VCs.Perhaps the most important aspect of our jobs is selecting the teams of individuals we want to back with our investments, and then working with them to build the best management team; a team that can take a fledgling tech start-up to the Promised Land of 10X returns and $100M+ exits. In my career, I have built, backed, led, and been part of some of these teams, and of many more that never quite reached the Promised Land, despite showing great potential. After a while, grey hair starts to appear and you also start to notice patterns in what works and what doesn't.So I would like to quickly share with you my Locker Room Theory. As mentioned, this can be seen as controversial. So many management teams today are dispersed. R&D team and the CFO in Montreal. CEO in Sillicon Valley. VP Sales in NYC ("oh yeah, all the big decision makers are there!") with three sales people located in different cities in the US and working from their home office.Of course, we live in a world where we are always connected and available. That's expected from us. Always on. We all love our BlackBerry, iPhone and the silly Bluetooth earpiece that makes sure we don't even have to take them out of our pocket to take your call. We're always only one quick Skype high definition surround sound video-call away from one another, right? We can e-mail, IM, SMS, blog, tweet... you name it. It is exactly as if we are constantly sitting right next to each other, right? Plus, how many times have we heard the following statement: "we don't care where you live because you will travel 50%, no, 80% of the time". Or: "Oh, I'm based in San Diego but I travel to our Toronto HQ at least 2 times a month. That's more than enough".I'm sorry, but I don't buy that at all. As far as I am concerned, business is all about people. Building a winning tech company is mostly about people and having a strong team dedicated to a strategy and executing it together. Being a hockey fan, I will use a hockey team as the analogy for a portfolio company. Being on the road is like being on the ice. That's where you score goals. That's where you win that big contract. That's where you build momentum; grow a sales pipeline, forge partnerships, hurt your opponent, drop the gloves if needed, etc. But, when players are not on the ice, they are in the locker room. The locker room is where it's hot and where it stinks of hard work and empty cups of coffee. It's where you regroup in between periods, look your teammates in the eyes, listen to your coach and team captain, get ice for that bloody bruise, adjust your strategy and tactics. It's also where you celebrate after a game. Open that case of cold beers every Friday at 4PM. Get back to the whiteboard to figure out what went wrong on that goal against or sale lost to a competitor.When not grinding away on the road, your executives need to be at Headquarters. You want them to live within driving distance of HQ. Until the company has reached a critical mass and absolutely needs to branch out new locker rooms (new teams), the executives and the sales team should all be under one roof. You don't build team spirit and a company culture through e-mails, video-calls and IM. It is all about people working together and making things happen. It's about staying late when needed, or coming in on a week-end when the servers give up. It's about the water cooler conversations and finding out that your sysadmin's favourite uncle has a golf buddy who is CIO at that large corporation[...]
Mon, 02 Feb 2009 22:19:00 +0000OK, so after, what, 7 months, I feel some blog posts slowly forming in my big hairy head, and thus, the urge to freshen up and possibly even resuscitate (once more) this one corner of my ever-more fragmented web presence.
Fri, 13 Jun 2008 03:13:00 +0000I made another one http://davduf2.muxtape.com/
Fri, 04 Apr 2008 14:04:00 +0000Muxtapes are the new Scrabulous. So I made one. davduf.muxtape.com
Thu, 24 Jan 2008 14:23:00 +0000Thanks to Embrase for organizing this. Great crowd. Lots of young entrepreneurs. Awesome. Not enough angels (unless they all kept very quiet and/or are wealthy at a surprisingly young age). Probably just the right number of VCs, although there's a bunch of early-stage investors I would've expected to see there and didn't. (Forget Réseau Capital for a while, guys... your next 10X deal was in the room last night).Format was a bit too strict and people couldn't keep from loudly networking during some of the presentations, which I think is natural and expected. Cool by me. Startups are chaotic, so I can't see why startup events shouldn't be.Sylvain Carle live-blogged Graham Hill's (TreeHugger dude) talk. Check it out, good simple, advice.I've seen two other good posts about last night:Mike LQuebec ValleyQuick thoughts on the presenters (check out their websites):Cozimo: Looks very promising, very user-friendly. Not sure how much value they add to what's out there already (not a space I know very well). If I were them I'd go after very specific market niches, tailor a solution for each of them and focus. If you're a startup and your addressable market is over 1 B $ at Day 1 there's usually a problem.Tungle: I'm totally biased, of course, but I believe these guys are going to be huge. (But 1st they have to LAUNCH, goddammit). One thing's for sure, Google and Mac support has to be early in the roadmap, since they seem to be the calendars of choice for a lot of the evangelists and early adopters out there.Streametrics: Makes a lot of sense. Not sure anyone really understood how it works (only through their own player ??! website doesn't really clarify this for me). But timing could be perfect if they get any kind of traction and beat the dozens that are probably developing something similar.I Gotcha Media: Lots of progress since their "wi-fi pad" days. Definitely cool integration of technologies. They look like they're onto something but I've always had huge concerns about "signage" technologies, whether it'd be for retail stores, malls, airports, elevators. At the end of the day, however cool and useful your displays are, you never "own" the real estate; shop windows, airport pillars, bathroom stalls, etc. So you're always easy to replace by the next hot new holographic displays, or, see your margins constantly re-negotiated enough to give your investors major headaches. So these guys have to find a way to "lock-in" their customers (long term deals, if they can pull it off...) or, maybe, find a strategic investor, some major real estate group maybe.YourTeleDoctor.com (no website yet): If there is one industry that is "broken" right now and in dire needs for possibly incredibly lucrative solutions, it's the health care industry. So, guys, great job on finding a true problem to solve and try to make a difference. That said, good luck.Albert Lai closed the evening by taking the self-deprecating-presentation art form to a whole new level and honestly did a great job at conveying insightful lessons from his hyperactive entrepreneurial experience. Hadn't heard of him before. I'm adding his blog to my Google Reader. I'm curious as to what else he has to say.I'm late for my soccer game so I'm cutting this short. Can't wait for the next Startup Camp. And I really wanted to win the XBox 360. Next time.[...]
Mon, 21 Jan 2008 20:03:00 +0000Wow, this little "blog" of mine has been pretty quiet lately, eh ?
Mon, 01 Oct 2007 13:25:00 +0000Awesome show at Sala Rossa last night. Extra points to Zach for holding most of the on-stage banter in very acceptable French. The boy's got raw talent oozing from his trumpet. Their new album is also slowly making its way into my list of favorites and might end up sitting up there with the first one.
Thu, 27 Sep 2007 13:28:00 +0000It would be easy to explain the fact that Tungle yesterday were named DEMOgods at the DEMOfall conference by Marc's natural good looks and contagious charisma, or by Jacou's infectious smile and lightning-quick demo clicking...
Wed, 29 Aug 2007 15:23:00 +0000This time from my A2M buddies...
Fri, 22 Jun 2007 15:36:00 +0000Yeah... seems like forever that I've been excited about a game coming up... Things have been pretty quiet on the video gaming side for the last 2 years at Dav's, except for a short-lived DanceDanceRevolution craze and some Katamari Damacy action, plus the occasional NHL2K5 game (still...) ...and I don't even own any of the new generation consoles. But now it looks like it's all about to change :
Mon, 11 Jun 2007 14:31:00 +0000Hey all, just a quick word to tell anyone intersted (ie. my dad !) that I've started to upload pictures from my trip to France-Albania-Montenegro-Bosnia-Serbia on my Flickr page, with some comments and a bit of bilingual storytelling thrown in. Latest pics are from Tirana, the colourful, smelly and beautifully chaotic capital of Albania.
Tue, 29 May 2007 16:55:00 +0000Dobar Dan everyone !So here I am blogging from some basement in Mostar, in Hercegovina, a few yards away from the legendary old bridge that was destroyed during the war 14 years ago... only to be beautifully rebuilt. The Sarajevsko pivo i'm holding is cold and refreshing. So far the trip has been a blast. Upon returning I will post a whole lot of pictures on my Flickr page and try to give more details on the whole trip, but I promised my mom I would give a quick update... so here goes...After a quick week-end in Paris where I met up with Loli (who I now lovingly call Ljolja) and had a nice dinner on the Seine with our hosts Fannie and François, we caught a flight for Bari, Italy, where we had some tasty red wine and then immediately embarked on a ferry for Durres, Albania. Albania is still very much off the beaten path as far as tourism is concerned and during our time there we had the very pleasant feeling of being the only non-locals roaming the streets.The country struggled out of a very closed-off 45 year dictatorship in the early 90s and still today is the second poorest country in Europe (Moldavia... oh dear...) and apparently the least visited. It was still relatively easy for us to travel between cities and find nice, cheap accomodation and meals. And friendly people, except for very mean barber. By the way, the LEK is one currency that trades favorably for our Canadian $, but their bankomats are confusing. After Durres we took a slow train to the capital Tirana, a dusty, smelly, noisy but very colorful and overall fascinating city.We then took a bus to Shkoder in the North of the country, a nice, mid-size town with a great antique citadel. I will definitely give more details on our days in Albania and urge everyone to read up on the country and visit some day. Tell Afrim, at the bleak, grey, Hotel Rozafa in Shkoder that David and Loli sent you. We had to promise. He'll make sure you have electricity in your room and shower you with raki, cigarettes and, honestly, some damn excellent espresso.From Shkoder we had our own personal furgon to Montenegro, possibly the newest country on Earth. Montenegro is small and beautiful. We spent 2 lazy days in Budva in some post-communist all-included resort called the Slovenska Plaža. Worst. Food. Ever. But the beaches were superb and the walled old town is very pretty and made a nice backdrop for us to watch the Champions League Final. The Italians got lucky. Again. After Budva we rented a trusty Fiat Punto and took the amazing, twisty moutain roads to Zabljak and the Nacionalni Park of Durmitor for one of the most amazing hikes I've ever done. After Durmitor we spent a day and night in Kotor, another ancient fortified town, this one settled on the banks of a spectacular fjord, surrounded by mountains.More later on Dubrovnik, Croatia and Bosnia. After Mostar, we're moving on to Sarajevo and then Belgrade in Serbia, from which I leave next Tuesday. Now, some pictures... also check out Loli's flickr page, she has nice pics, including a bunch of yours truly:Loli, Fannie and François, on the banks of the Seine, where we had cheese, saucisson, red wine and chocolate.Loli on the Durres waterfront, moments after we set foot in Albania.One of the many colourful buildings of Tirana, where the artistically inclined mayor subsidized paint for everyone to brighten the post-communist concrete block landscape of the city, with wonderful results. In Skhoder, where streets have no name (or they have 3...), and, so, no use for street signs, we asked directions to a restaurant to the man on the right. He instead invited us back to his appartment to meet his kid, mother and wife, who served us very potent shots of raki and deliciously thick albanian coffee. We felt like receiving Quebecois travel[...]
Thu, 17 May 2007 20:04:00 +0000I leave tomorrow for 2½ weeks of backpacking through Albania, Montenegro and Serbia, perhaps with tiny slices of Croatia and Bosnia thrown in, accompanying a delightfully charming ¼Serbian princess in her Balkanic adventures. So I figured now could be as good a time as any to resurrect this page that I have so badly neglected lately that I'm not even convinced it deserves to be called a blog anymore...
Sun, 08 Apr 2007 18:55:00 +0000I've put a jaxtr thingy in my blog's template (right side-bar). If you can find a reason to text (one-liner jokes, anyone ?) or call me, please do try it, I'm curious to see how well this works.
Mon, 19 Mar 2007 14:25:00 +0000I will once again be travelling later this week to (hopefully) sunny California, this time to attend the Under the Radar conference. The theme for this one is Office 2.0, or the gradual adoption by us working folks of the web services we so enjoy in the comfort of our homes. I think this particular topic is fascinating, both as an investor and as a user, and now is a good time to place your bets on which 2.0 type services will be able to penetrate Microsoft and IBM's fortress, and perhaps achieve a monetization that is hard to accomplish with the MySpace and Facebook crowds.
Fri, 02 Mar 2007 19:23:00 +0000Link to the press release
Mon, 26 Feb 2007 00:34:00 +0000... behind California, Massachusetts and the UK. That's according to the Worldwide VC Rankings recently published by consulting firm Library House. Link to the complete table.
Sun, 25 Feb 2007 23:33:00 +0000I spent Tuesday and Wednesday of last week at the "IPC Printed Circuits Expo, APEX and the Designers Summit" with the fine young gentlemen of Cogiscan, one of our portfolio companies. I spent most of the 2 days on the APEX / electronics manufacturing side of the Expo, where Cogiscan's booth was neatly located between Siemens' and Panasonic's, two of our major OEM partners. Cogiscan's smart feeder RFID technology was also displayed in Juki's booth, giving them great visibility.
Fri, 16 Feb 2007 16:35:00 +0000I'm leaving on Monday to spend a couple of days in L.A. at the APEX Expo with DVC portfolio company Cogiscan. Should be a good opportunity to get a feel of the industry, see the trends and observe the buzz around Cogiscan's booth. It'll be nice to take a brake from software and Web 2.0 business plans and spend a few hours gazing at actual machinery and learn about manufacturing innovations.
Fri, 09 Feb 2007 13:18:00 +0000Artificial Mind & Movement, one of our portfolio companies, and one of the first deals I got involved with when I came on board, was just named one the country's 50 best managed companies. Like founder and CEO Rémi Racine says in the press release, the A2M team have succeeded in creating and implementing a very structured approach within a usually chaotic industry. In other words, they're really good at what they do and they make a profit doing it. And they have been managing their fast-paced growth very well, consolidating Montreal's position as major hub in the video game development scene.
Fri, 09 Feb 2007 11:15:00 +0000Yes indeed. I'll let you guys read this one by yourselves. Montreal creativity (and government spending, apparently) at its best.In other (somehow related) news, I loved this post on the "Creating Passionate Users" blog, about passion for employer vs. passion for work. I can certainly relate. It's something I've observed in the organizations I've worked for and the companies I work with, and I feel that professionals from my generation definitely more often fall in the latter category."The company should behave just like a good user interface -- support people in doing what they're trying to do, and stay the hell out of their way. Applying the employer-as-UI model, the best company is one in which the employees are so engaged in their work that the company fades into the background."Amen.Going further down my list of starred items in my Google Reader, Andrew Parker, after attending the Brave New Web conference in Boston, concludes with"Overall, the conference was entertaining, but no more informative than a day of posts on the blogosphere. The information exchange going on everyday on the blogosphere is the cutting-edge of thought leadership today. That being said, I dig conferences for the value of getting out from behind a computer and meeting people. There’s no substitute for face-to-face conversation."I have to agree and I feel that becoming a heavy RSS user and reading a long list of tech, finance and VC blogs every day is making me better at what I do. But what Andrew says about conferences is also how I've been feeling about books lately. Every time I finish reading a business or non-fiction book I have this overwhelming sensation that the few new and good ideas it contained, the actual value added of the book, could have been written in a few blog posts and taken me 20 min. to read instead of a week. Shortening attention span, I guess.Finally, a song for your Friday morning, taken from the amazing upcoming album Dividing Opinions by Giardini Di Miro, an indie/post-rock band from Italy. They have 4 or 5 older albums under their belt, all wonderful.Giardini Di Miro - Spectral Woman[...]
Tue, 06 Feb 2007 03:47:00 +0000Here are 2 quick youtube videos, taken last week-end on Mont-Royal (on my birthday ! 31...). The star of these videos is young Miro, 4 years old, nephew of my childhood buddy Olivier. Younger brother Elliot was cheering on, trying to keep his feet warm.
Mon, 05 Feb 2007 16:18:00 +0000Ben, at the aptly named Instigator Blog, has announced the launch of a monthly breakfast for tech entrepreneurs, next Tuesday (the 13th) at Cafétéria (3581 St-Laurent). Discussions started here.
Sun, 21 Jan 2007 23:23:00 +0000While we're cuddled up in a corner of a local brew pub, reading books, exchanging neck kisses:
Fri, 19 Jan 2007 01:34:00 +0000Seen on Engadget...