Silicon valley for Canadian startups


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This is a presentation I gave to the FounderFuel class covering how Canadian startups can best navigate Silicon Valley.

Silicon valley for Canadian startups

  1. Silicon Valleyfor Canadian startupsGeorge FavvasMay 8, 2013
  2. Who am I?1995-2011 2011-2013no white hair shit ton of white hair
  3. Understanding SiliconValley• Take risks• Embrace failure• Iterate quickly• Scalable growth• DOers vs TALKers• Density• People• Capital• IdeasPhysical place State of mindHard to replicateCan be replicated anywhereBUT need to kill bad habits(laziness, zombie startups, SR&ED trap)
  4. Come visit
  5. Where to goCanadian Technology Accelerator3 months free at RocketSpace, but a waiting listMountain View$10/day (suggested donation)San Francisco$8/hour or $20/daySan Francisco Palo AltoAC760 groupMTL/SF tech mafia Weekly email digestFree/cheap eventsCanadian investors and founders in the valley48 hours in the valley9,000+ hackers/foundersTons of meetupsNetworkingCoworking CoffeeFF/RV network
  6. Fundraising - Angel orVC?Rule of thumb: Need to exit for at least 10x the capital you raised• $25k-$100k• Faster, more of a gut decision• Invest because they know or like the team or havemarket expertise• New crowdfunding platforms• Valuation sensitive ($5M-$6M cap max)• Often ok with 3x return• $250k- millions• Analysis, partner meetings, etc• Investing for financial return• Less valuation sensitive because they want tofollow on• BEWARE: Larger VC’s ($200M+ undermanagement) rarely do seed deals, but willask for meetings and have you spin yourwheels for them.• Rarely say “no”Angel VC
  7. Fundraising - top mistakes• Flying in for a week to “fundraise”• Getting your hopes up• Not focusing on traction• Not talking to everyone in parallel• Over optimizing terms at the expense oftime and investor qualityTIPS: Ask for less money at a lower valuation, talk to everyone at once,get Canadian money to commit before raising in the valley
  8. Milestones - $1M seed roundAsh Fontana
  9. Milestones - $3-$5M Series A• $1M ARR (Annual Run Rate)(Net of COGS)• Growth (10-20%/month)• Large addressable market• Sense of CAC and LTV
  10. When do you need a visa?• Representing a Canadian company• Attend a conference or participate in meetings withinvestors, partners, etc• Strong ties to Canada (business, family, etc)• Not earning revenue from a US source• Sufficient funds to cover your stay (from a non-USsource)• Intend to return to Canada• “Working” in US, or for an American company• Intend to immigrate in the USDon’t need a visa Need a visaTIPS: Always book a return ticket. You can always change yourreturn date later if your plans change. Have business cards withyour Canadian address on you in case you need them.
  11. Secondary screening(aka “Consider your flight missed”)• Stay calm, courteous and polite (even if they’re not)• Never lie - only makes things worse• Answer questions but don’t give more info than necessary• Have backup documents ready in case you need them• You have the right to ask to speak to a supervisor• If denied, talk to an immigration lawyer before reattempting
  12. Making the move
  13. SF or South Bay?45 min to 2hr commute, depending on trafficMore actionPublic transitMore desirable for young workersCloser to VC’s, acquirersDead/less distractionsNeed to drive everywhereMore parks, green spaces
  14. Optimal corporate setupDisclaimer: Every case is different. Get legal/accounting/tax advice. Mercier• Owns intellectual property• Investors invest in this• Outsources engineering toCanadian corp• Easier to raise from US investors orbe acquired by US company• Canadian employees• Eligible for SR&ED credits
  15. VISA options for foundersPros Cons Process Approx cost.L-1Intracompany transfer- Fast- No $ requirements- No nationalityrequirements- Path to green card- Canadian corp musthave been operating > 1year- Must continue tooperate with CAN empls- 1 month prep- Get visa on the spot atUS border- $3k-$4k first founder- $2k per additionalE-2Treaty investor- Gets the job done- Requires “substantialinvestment”- Ownershiprequirements- No path the green card- 1 month prep- 3-4 month wait (USconsulate in Toronto)- $3k-$4k first founder- $2k per additionalO-1Alien of “extraordinary”ability- Not linked to yourcompany- Hard to qualify- Expensive- Subjective- US consulate Toronto(?)- $10k per founderGet this one if youGet this one if youcancanCommon myths: Startup visa Easier for Canadians TNH1BMore details here
  16. Costs• Immigration lawyer/fees:$3k-$10k per founder• Desk:$400-$600/month(tip: go month to month at first)• Health insurance (paid by employer):$250-$450/month/employee
  17. Questions?