Posts Tagged: w media ventures


The products of start-ups sometimes evolve so quickly that the communication of those changes falls behind – websites suddenly appear outdated and stale compared to the real story. This is how I felt when I looked at the w media ventures site a few weeks ago and decided that it was about time for a relaunch. w media had changed in quite a few ways over the past couple of years and the website was still telling a different story:

  • While I was exclusively focused on consumer internet companies when I started in 2007, this focus has expanded to SaaS (GoInstant) and mobile (Flurry, Kima Labs, Rewardloop) start-ups since.
  • A similar expansion happend in the geographical focus. While I originally only invested in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada, 5 of my last 6 investments were either based in Eastern Canada, New York or the Silicon Valley.
  • What has stayed the same is the focus on investing in passionate entrepreneurs with deep domain knowledge, great product and design instincts and a desire to change the world.
I hope that the relaunched website not only looks cleaner and more modern but also does a better job of explaining the focus, showcasing the w media ventures portfolio companies and communicating my thoughts. We are only at the beginning of the “Internet cycle” and it is extremely exciting to be a part of this next wave of innovation by investing in the best consumer internet, SaaS and mobile entrepreneurs throughout North-America.
P.S.: Big thanks to Christine Rondeau and her team at Bluelime Media for a job well done!
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Techvibes TV interview at GROW

Techvibes did a range of interviews at the GROW conference, among others with Andrew Mason (Groupon), Zynga‘s Robert Mason and Suite101‘s Peter Berger. I got the chance to get interviewed as well and chatted with Michelle Sklar a bit about W Media Ventures but more importantly about the Vancouver tech community and the C100. Enjoy!

Techvibes TV: Boris Wertz, W Media Ventures from on Vimeo.

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My investment thesis

Fred Wilson’s blog post on Dave McClure’s investment thesis a few weeks ago reminded me that I needed to do a better job on spelling out my own. I had done some preliminary work when I started W Media Ventures almost 3 years ago but it was very high-level only addressing the sector (consumer Internet), the investment size ($50K-$250K) and the geography (Pacific Northwest / Western Canada). As I have learned a thing or two since then, I now have a much better understanding what kind of entrepreneurs and ideas I want to invest into. So here is what I am looking for:

  • Early-stage consumer internet / SaaS companies located in the Pacific Northwest / Western Canada. Geography is a must for leading a deal but I do co-investments outside of that area.
  • Large addressable and capital efficient market: company addresses a large market (hundreds of $ millions +) and does not require more than $1-$3 million in funding to become a $25-$50 million (exit value) company
  • Strong founder team with a visionary and passionate (yet coachable) CEO at the helm. Team must include at least one technical person who can actually build stuff.
  • Differentiated product: no “me too’s” and strong technical focus
  • Easy-to-understand business model that does not depend on scale and can generate revenues within 9-12 months from launch
  • Initial traction with – at the minimum – an existing prototype/alpha version that is currently being challenged by users

In reality, no investor will ever only make deals that fit 100% with their investment thesis but it is important to have a consistent set of criteria against which investment opportunities can be benchmarked against. So here is mine, looking forward to feed-back!

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Pitching day

The GROW conference has brought dozens of high-profile VC’s and super-angels to Vancouver which presents a wonderful opportunity for many local start-ups to get exposure to out-of-town investors. So today is “pitching day” jointly organized by W Media Ventures and Bootup Labs. 7 companies will take the stage: CompassEngine (location-based gaming platform), EmpireAvenue (influence stock market), Fitbrains (casual brain fitness games), Indochino (tailor-made suits over the Internet), Rival Apps (fantasy sports games), Summify (social news reader) and Weddingful (lead-gen for wedding vertical).

We are extremely excited to have over 20 investors from more than 15 funds attending the event:

  • Shawn Abbott, iNovia
  • Chris Albinson, Panaroma Capital
  • Chris Arsenault, iNovia
  • Jonas Brandon, Rogers Ventures
  • Roger Chabra, Rho Canada
  • Rob Chaplinsky, Bridgescale
  • Jeff Clavier, Softtech
  • JS Cournoyer, Founders Fuel
  • Rob Hayes, First Round Capital
  • Scott Jacobson, Madrona Venture Group
  • Paul Kedrosky
  • Anthony Lee, Altos Ventures
  • Mike Lee, Rogers Ventures
  • Jevon MacDonald, Innovacorp
  • Dave McClure, 500Startups
  • Maria Pacella, Growthworks
  • Tim Porter, Madrona Venture Group
  • Kalle Radage, BDC
  • Mike Satterfield, Yaletown Ventures
  • Aydin Senkut, Felicis
  • Jason Stoffer, Maveron
  • John Stokes, Montreal Startup / Founders Fuel

Thanks to all of you for coming – I sure hope that you will recognize that Vancouver and Western Canada are home to many exciting start-ups.

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New investment: Empire Avenue, the world’s first influence stock market

Image representing Empire Avenue as depicted i...
Image via CrunchBase

With the explosion of social media in the past few years, we now have millions of people broadcasting and curating information on a daily basis, making personal recommendations and endorsements to their friends and followers and creating personal brands on the Internet. But with that explosion of small “media outlets” it is getting harder and harder to identify what the really important people are that one should listen to. At the same time, those influential people want to know what their personal brand is worth.

In comes Empire Avenue, the first world’s first influence stock market. Empire Avenue is partly a stock market, partly a game. It is fun, addictive and has attracted over 15,000 members during their closed beta. Over 750,000 virtual share trades have occurred on the site in the past three months with a total value of over a 500 million Eaves, Empire Avenue’s virtual currency. As the site scales up, stock prices will provide valuable signals to information seekers (who are the influential people in my community that I should follow?), advertisers (who can credibly endorse my brand?) and the influencers themselves (what is my personal brand worth?).

The company not only has some early traction but they also have a superb team that knows how to build great products with minimal resources. So I am very happy to announce today that W Media Ventures just lead a seed round for the company that will provide the necessary means to accelerate the growth of the site.

And by the way, I think you should now go the Empire Avenue site and buy my stock – at 14.88 eaves it still looks like a steal to me…

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