“Do something that you want to have exist in the world and focus on it entirely. Something good will come of it.” — Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter
With support from the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), ten MaRS startups (four from the information technology, communications and entertainment practice, and the entire JOLT winter 2013 cohort) travelled to California last week to participate in the sold-out LAUNCH Festival, touted as “the best place to launch your startup, raise money and learn about starting a company.”
LAUNCH has quite the track record of success stories—past festival winners include Mint, Yammer and Space Monkey. Sticking with tradition, Yammer co-founder David Sacks committed to creating the so-called LAUNCH Fund, consisting of $250,000 to help fund five of the startups presenting at the festival with $50,000 each.
The stakes were definitely high and we knew MaRS had to be a part of the Silicon Valley action.
In securing MaRS’ first-ever LAUNCH partnership, we had three main goals:
I’m very proud to report that we fully accomplished these goals. Here’s how we did it.
The startups gained first-hand exposure to the Silicon Valley ecosystem of phenomenal talent. We were fortunate enough to attend fireside chats and several panels (including a passionate session on diversity in technology with Freada Kapor Klein), as well as to receive updates from past festival alums.
Here is just a sample of the many industry experts at LAUNCH:
University of Waterloo grad Chamath Palihapitiya was the resounding favourite at the conference with his truly inspirational fireside chat—it’s definitely worth the watch.
“I believe that companies are bought, not sold. Do something interesting in the market and get yourself noticed.” — David Sacks, co-founder of Yammer
Furthermore, the startups were also able to watch dozens of pitches (the good and the not so good) and see the judges’ feedback immediately, giving them great insights into what makes a great pitch. This also showed them the calibre of other tech companies from around the world and gave them a glimpse into the competition.
Check out the full list of LAUNCH 2013 winners:
I am exceptionally proud of our MaRS startups for an outstanding effort at LAUNCH. They came, they hustled and they conquered one of the top tech conferences of the year.