We tried three times to get into 48 Hours and we finally got the accepted. As we started our road-trip down to the Valley, we were unsure of what to expect but we wanted to go into as prepared as possible and ready to absorb the experience. Now that we have been there, we wanted to share some of our learnings and take-aways from 48 Hours.
What was the best part of your trip?
Brennan McEachran: Certainly one of the more memorable experience was being shuttled around to various V.C. firms. 6 firms in 1 afternoon made it feel like an episode of the amazing race.
Graham McCarthy: There were two parts. I really enjoyed just having the three of us hang out together on the road trip up California. It was the first time in a really long while that we had hung out with each other in over two years. The other part was finally getting to 48 Hours. It took us three tries and we finally made it. It feels great to be a part of this year’s participants against because they were all very high quality. They were the right companies to be there and they were at the right stage together. We didn’t feel that we were farther ahead but just right, in that sweet spot along with the rest.
Warren Tanner: The closing party at Don Listwin’s house – bar none. It felt like living in a startup fairy tale. Drinking wine in the gardens of this huge estate, nestled in the hills above Palo Alto, surrounded by 300 of the most connected folks in silicon valley – it is something I will remember for a long time. Especially Don’s speech, which his take-home message was “Be Bold”. It was hugely inspiring.
Who left the biggest impression on you? Most interesting speaker?
Brennan McEachran: Sanjay Beri
Graham McCarthy: Gokul! He’s worked at every single giant tech company. Facebook, Google, and now he works at Square. He’s worked directly with some of the biggest, most visionary people in the industry. I have met other tech people before but he was great because he had a very clear vision about how to manage a team to scale and how to go from 0 to10 to 250 developers because he’s done that himself.
Who did you get to meet – most interesting conversation 1:1?
Brennan McEachran: Lew Cirne or Vern Brownell – Lew is CEO of New Relic and a second time founder of a large company. Lew is also from my home town. It was great to meet someone with a similar background to look up to. Vern is CEO of the Vancouver based D-Wave Systems the makers of the world’s first commercially available quantum computers.
Graham McCarthy: Gokul. If I had to pick another it would have to be Lew Cirne. It was great meeting him because he’s a huge product nerd. Most CEO’s are very operationally focused, like on Marketing and Sales so it was really awesome because he’s a CEO who’s focused on product and creating product-centered culture.
Warren Tanner: Don Mattrick
Who was your favourite 48hrs company (other than SoapBox) from the group?
Brennan McEachran: Honestly it’s so hard to say. I got to know the folks at ScienceScape, Clearpath, Jibestream well and found them great people.
Graham McCarthy: ScienceScape because of the founders. They are a brother and sister founders and their company is all about managing scientific research data. That really spoke to me because I used to be a librarian and managed these types of databases. When we talked we had similar pain points and it is going to be amazing to see them grow at the same time as we were growing.
Warren Tanner: Clearpath Robotics – they make driverless vehicles for all kinds of industries – from warehouses to factories, and mining. Matt from Clearpath had me at “we are like the Google self-driving cars – but without all the regulation.” And their mission is “automating the dullest, dirtiest, and most dangerous jobs” using super-cool robots. They are also from Waterloo, and I went to UW – so I am biased.
How will this experience have an impact on the company, and on your role, specifically?
Brennan McEachran: The Bay Area certainly has it’s own mindset and experiencing that mindset allows you to come back with a new sense of inspiration and urgency.
Graham McCarthy: Definitely two-fold. There is a sense of urgency and the need for immediate growth. Jonathan talked about how Canadians are conservative when building companies. As startups in Canada, we take pride in the tangible like having clients, a strong product and a solid team as opposed to an American company that will put everything into a hail mary to get that huge client. Coming back, I’m amped to get out of Canadian mindset. For our product, it means building it at scale. It’s not about building it for one more client more how can explode SoapBox. For example, if we got 1000 new clients tomorrow, how SoapBox would look like. Another piece I’m bringing back is creating an onboarding system within SoapBox for more automation.
Warren Tanner: It’s 2 things: the first is the immediate network we built during the event. We each came home with about 50 business cards and made some incredible connections during out trip. But I think the bigger thing is the change in perspective. In Canada, the startup scene is (comparatively) cash-poor but time-rich. You can take your time to build a business, so long as you are capital efficient. I think the opposite is true in the valley – money is not the scarcest resource – it is time (and the time of team members). We came back from our trip with a great sense of urgency.
Thank you to the C100 for inviting us to 48hrs. It is the best event we have ever been a part of.
And if you have applied to 48hrs and not gotten in – our advice is to get back to work, move the needle, and then apply again, and again, until you get it. It is worth the wait.