Digital Journal CEO Chris Hogg to be awarded Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal

January 7th, 2013 by Chris Hogg 5 comments »

I have some personal news to share and I am humbled by all the kind words from friends and colleagues. I’m sharing a press release below that we issued this morning via Digital Journal. Thank you everyone for the feedback and notes — I’m truly honoured

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Digital Journal CEO, Chris Hogg. Photo by Kris Krug

Digital Journal Chief Executive Officer, Chris Hogg, has been named a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. A journalist and entrepreneur, Hogg is being recognized for significant achievement and remarkable service to Canada.

The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal was created to mark the 2012 celebrations of the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the Throne as Queen of Canada. The medal also serves to recognize Canadians from all walks of life who have made significant contributions to Canada or whose achievements abroad have brought credit to Canada.

“Over the past 60 years, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has served our country with distinction and dedication and continues to show Canada her generosity and affection,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a press release during the inaugural presentation of the Diamond Jubilee Medal. “These medals honour those Canadians who follow the fine tradition of service so exemplified by Her Majesty.”

In Ontario, other recipients of the Diamond Jubilee Medal include journalists Peter Mansbridge and Lloyd Robertson, retired major-general Lewis MacKenzie, singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, ballet dancers Karen Kain and Rex Harrington and author Austin Clarke, among others.

Hogg, 30, will receive the Diamond Jubilee Medal at a formal presentation gala at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall in February.

“I am truly thankful and it’s very moving to be honoured in this way,” said Hogg. “But this medal doesn’t belong to me alone. I’ve worked to create an environment where technology, digital media and journalism can thrive. Ecosystems flourish and grow because they are collaborative spaces, and I have been fortunate to have the support and participation from a network of talented people. I share this distinction with my colleagues and other Canadians who have played a role in the growth of Digital Journal.”

Hogg is an entrepreneur who has worked in publishing, digital media, broadcasting, advertising, social media and marketing. Hogg is recognized as both a pioneer and innovator in digital media and has consulted for and played a role in many of Canada’s media organizations.

In addition to his experience in media, Hogg has also worked as consultant and entrepreneurial advisor, providing leadership, mentoring and advice to early-stage entrepreneurs across Canada.

Diamond Jubilee Medal

With a Bachelor of Journalism degree from Ryerson University, Hogg began his career in media with Digital Journal magazine when he joined as a freelance journalist. He quickly climbed the editorial ranks and at 21 he was named Editor-in-Chief, making him one of the youngest editors in Canada to lead a national publication.

Dubbed a media “wunderkind” by Masthead magazine, Hogg grew Digital Journal magazine to international scale and distribution and he spearheaded the company’s full transition to a digital news network.

Today, Digital Journal has grown from its humble beginnings as a Toronto-based magazine into a global network of thousands of content creators in 200 countries reaching an audience of millions. Digital Journal also works with media organizations undergoing the transition to digital, and the company provides content marketing, social media and technology services.

Hogg is the recipient of several awards both in media and as an entrepreneur. In June 2012, he was recognized among the best-of-the-best of Canadian entrepreneurship and Digital Journal was named among the Top 20 most promising startups in Canada by the C100; and in December, the company was called one of Canada’s hottest startups of the year.

The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal is administered by The Chancellery of Honours, which is part of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General.

Digital Journalists landing more opportunities thanks to digital publishing and community experience

August 7th, 2012 by Chris Hogg 6 comments »

This morning we issued the following press release on Digital Journal so I’m sharing it here as well:

Digital Journalist Darren Weir

With the rise of social media and communities such as Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram, news organizations and brands are facing increased pressure to find editorial talent who can work seamlessly in the fast-paced world of digital media.

As content continues to go more digital, writers with experience in online publishing are finding job opportunities in an industry facing enormous change. Publishing communities are seeing a surge in growth because of their focused approach on breeding top talent and high-quality content.

“Over the last few years, publishers and brands have focused intensely on building out their social media presence,” says Chris Hogg, CEO of Digital Journal, an online media network with 40,000 members in 200 countries. “But at the end of the day content is still king and the challenge today has become finding talent who has the technical, creative and literary chops that only exist in a digital publishing environment.”

Digital Journal is a freelance publishing network where professional and first-time writers are given the opportunity to learn how to publish content online, as well as create a name for themselves by building a portfolio of news and general interest content. It’s that mixture that leads to extremely talented contributors who are now finding more job opportunities online because of their experience working with Digital Journal.

Digital Journal was recently proclaimed one of the Top 20 most promising startups in Canadaand its reach extends to virtually every major city in the world.

Stephanie Medeiros, a 22-year-old Michigan resident, landed a job as a Content Manager for a local startup because of her experience creating compelling and engaging content on Digital Journal. Medeiros says she also found freelance gigs with Gannett. She’s helped other companies apply a journalism touch to content production and she was also headhunted by AOL to work in a managing editorial position within the company’s network because of her experience with Digital Journal.

“I suggest other writers join Digital Journal because they provide viable connections and a strong portfolio for new writers, and my experience working with Digital Journal has only been pleasant and immensely helpful,” she says. “Being a 22-year-old, still in school, and being offered all of these great opportunities — it’s still hard to believe this all happened by simply covering news. Digital Journal accounts for a big chunk of that success.”

Medeiros says Digital Journal editors and the company’s in-depth database of help and support articles are a big reason she was able to learn the ins and outs of digital publishing so quickly. “There’s advice covered in there that not many other blogs or articles cover as well,” she says.

Another Digital Journal contributor, Jay David Murphy, was recently hired as the full-time sports director for the Eastern Arizona Courier because of his experience with Digital Journal. “I wanted to thank you for the opportunity you provided me to write for you,” Murphy wrote in a recent Letter to the Editor. “It was your site that gave me the validity I needed to take a step forward in journalism. My new employers were able to view what I can do and that went a long way to getting the job. Who says you can’t start fresh at the age of 50.”

And Digital Journal success stories extend beyond the United States, too.

Anne Sewell, a Digital Journalist based in Southern Spain, says she enjoys contributing because of the variety of content and viewpoints. “Digital Journal is an invaluable tool to get the real news out,” she says. “This makes the news more balanced, and far more interesting to read.” While she does not have journalism experience, Sewell learned the trade and is among Digital Journal’s top-ranked contributors.

Another international contributor is Darren Weir. Weir worked as a broadcast journalist for 30 years in radio and TV newsrooms across Canada. He took a break from journalism in 2010 and moved to Israel, leaving the media industry entirely. That is, until he found Digital Journal.

“I wanted to get back into researching and writing and believed that by building an online presence would help me land my next job when it was time,” said Weir. “I love the freedom to choose my own subjects to write about, my journalism background has prepared me for the research and my blogging experience has helped me to transfer the stories to an online format. I also like the immediate feedback that I get online, that I didn’t receive in my previous jobs.”

Weir published 85 articles and 3 blogs in his first month alone and was ranked highly among Digital Journal’s contributors.“Digital Journal has renewed my interest in a career that I thought I had had exhausted,” says Weir. “I no longer say ‘been there, done that’ and I thank the Digital Journal team every day for the opportunity the website has given me.”

Digital Journal attracts thousands of individuals into its network because the company excels in both training and supporting people building out their digital portfolios. People who wish to contribute to the network must apply and submit samples of writing — a benchmark that keeps the quality of content high — and once approved, Digital Journalists get the chance to work as part of a team in a network read by millions of people globally.

“Because Digital Journal takes a unique and high-quality approach to producing content at scale, we’ve seen solid year-over-year growth. The individuals who contribute regularly to Digital Journal are finding themselves with more opportunities because they have skills you can’t find elsewhere,” says Hogg. “Our contributors are digital natives who understand how to balance quality writing with the need to use data, SEO and social media to grow audience.”

In the competitive world of online publishing, one of Digital Journal’s biggest advantages comes from how the company blends technology, social and content tools to produce both professional and user-generated content at scale.The company also attracted worldwide attention in media circles in 2011 when it launched its gamification platform that creates in-depth social profiles of contributors as well as highlights the most talented contributors across its global network.

About Digital Journal
Digital Journal is a global digital media network with 40,000+ professional and citizen journalists, bloggers, photographers and freelancers in 200 countries around the world. Regarded as a pioneer and leader in crowd-sourcing and user-generated content, Digital Journal is headquartered in Toronto, Canada. For more information, visit www.digitaljournal.com

This article originally appeared on Digital Journal [Link]

The Top 8 things every entrepreneur can learn from ’48 Hours in the Valley’

July 4th, 2012 by Chris Hogg 2 comments »

Digital Journal CTO Alex Chumak (left) and CEO Chris Hogg. - Photo by Kris Krüg (@kk)

This blog post is the one of three chronicling my experiences at The C100′s investor/entrepreneur event called 48 Hours in the Valley. My introduction to this post can be found here: Every entrepreneur should do 48 Hours in Silicon Valley. The second post can be found here: 4 standout experiences from ’48 Hours in the Valley’

These days there is no shortage of places entrepreneurs can find tips and advice to improve their business. In fact, Business Insider just published a list of 24 blogs you can follow for startup resources. Depending on where you are on the experience scale, some of the advice you get at 48 Hours in the Valley (subsequently referred to as “48 Hours”) is common knowledge and some of it may be new information or a different angle on something you already knew. What makes 48 Hours stand out is the background info on why advice makes sense and how real-world examples can affect your entrepreneurial career.

In this post, I am going to list several things I learned from 48 Hours and things you should know if you want to be an entrepreneur or run a startup. While I knew a lot of the more general advice, there were tidbits and context that I hadn’t heard before and this experience has made me better than I was a week ago.

So here are eight takeaways from 48 Hours that you should consider when building a startup:

Matt Roberts. - Photo by Kris Krüg (@kk)

1) Network and get out

I know, this comes right out of the Department of Obvious Tips: Get out of your office and network. Network with investors. Network with other CEOs. Network with competitors. While this may seem like common knowledge, I was continually reminded that startups and entrepreneurs are not all good at this approach.

Sure, networking is great for opening doors and getting new opportunities, but the biggest value I’ve found in networking was that I get a chance to know what I don’t know. The more I have surrounded myself with smart people getting stuff done, the more I’ve learned about where I am strong and where I fall short. Asking lots of questions gives you perspective you wouldn’t otherwise have, and it can come from people who have no interest in telling you what you want to hear.

Networking is a staple in the startup world, but doing it effectively and constantly is not something all entrepreneurs do. So many of us (including myself on occasion) put our heads down and focus too much on shipping product, inking deals, putting out fires, hiring, scaling and more. Doing a startup is hard work, so coming up for air can sometimes be challenging and you always ask yourself whether going to an event will help you, or simply waste your precious time.

While the day-to-day is important, coming up for air to network is just as vital. It helps you realign yourself with internal challenges and goals and enables you to see the world around you and take in outside learning to make your decisions more informed.

Who else in the industry is in your space? What are they doing? What have they failed at and why? What can you learn from an investor? How can figure out what your customers are looking for in an industry that changes constantly? All of these answers are right in front of you, but you have to network and get out. You won’t learn them sitting at your desk.

A C100 Charter Member and investor meeting at 48 Hours. - Photo by Kris Krüg (@kk)

2) Think Big

If you’re building a company, sit back and ask yourself how big you are truly thinking. Do you want to build a million-dollar business? How about a $100-million company? What do you need to do to scale that to $1 billion? Are you building a lifestyle business where you make a good living, or do you want to change the world and you will need big backers to make it happen? Only you will know the answer to how big you want to be, but the answer will dictate who you should be talking to for help and whether taking outside investment is right for you.

Depending on the entrepreneur and business, you need to take a 10,000-foot view of your opportunities and try to figure out a way to be in a massive market. If you’re raising money to grow, don’t waste your time pitching a VC on a business that addresses a $50-million market. That may be a nice lifestyle business for you, but a VC is looking for the irrational exit. They need to multiply their investment many times over to generate a return for their LPs.  Think about how you can build a company worth $500 million, or $5 billion.

The bigger you can go, the more likely you are to have powerhouse investors at the table with you.

 

C100 Charter Members.  - Photo by Kris Krüg (@kk)

3) Unrelenting willingness to help

The  C100 and 48 Hours stands out in my mind for one simple reason: Everyone wants to help, constantly; it’s relentless and comes with no strings attached. Whether it’s an introduction or advice, 48 Hours showed me The C100 is absolutely unrivaled in its generosity and Pay-It-Forward attitude.

 

Photo by Kris Krüg (@kk) 4) Fail fast

Anyone who knows Eric Ries and the Lean Startup movement knows about this advice. I had lunch with Eric at an event in Toronto recently, and then I went to see him speak to hundreds of people in an auditorioum on how to incorporate the lean startup approach into any business. Watching Eric present is inspiring, and his teaching should be mandatory reading if you are an entrepreneur.

My experience at 48 Hours reminded me a lot of what Eric has taught me. One big nugget is that it’s important to fail fast. What that means is you should be building a minimum viable product (MVP) and testing whether it works. Don’t go on a hunch, and don’t build something in stealth mode, paranoid someone is going to steal your idea. You need to know if your idea has legs as quickly as possible.

Instead, build a product, get it to a customer and then see what happens. If it’s going to fail, you’ll learn that quickly and you can put a process and a methodology around the development of your future iterations to make sure your success is repeatable and scalable.

Too many companies waste way too much money and time on coming up with plans and ideas without actually testing their hypotheses. Failing fast lets you avoid all of that and shorten the cycle of learning. After all, if you work in a startup your business is embedded in extreme uncertainty about its future. You can’t afford to do anything but fail fast.

Rahim Fazal during a speaker session at 48 Hours. - Photo by Kris Krüg (@kk)

5) Execution is everything, ideas are commodities

Startup entrepreneurs (especially first-timers) often think they have an idea that is going to save the world, or change an industry. But with very few exceptions, your idea is not original. At any given time, the chances are high that several other startups are working on the exact same thing, and if they have funding behind them you may already be starting out with a handicap.

But ideas are only as good as how they come to market, how they scale and who is behind them. Don’t obsess over your idea, and don’t keep it so close to your chest that nobody knows what you are doing. Developing in a bubble is dangerous. Get it to market and test it (see number 4 above about failing fast), and push to sell it hard.

Often, young entrepreneurs will build something fantastic and just expect people to flock to it. But in reality we don’t all live in the Field of Dreams, and so you can’t just expect people to show up on your doorstep tomorrow. If you build it, they probably won’t come. It takes relentless pushing, networking, sales, exposure, PR, marketing and a lot of moving parts to scale big quickly.

Focus on execution.

Photo by Kris Krüg (@kk)

6) Always be recruiting

The talent drain is seriously affecting the startup ecosystem. If you live in a place like the Valley, developers come and go at will and are commanding enormous salaries because really good talent is hard to find.

How do you plan to grow your business if another company down the street can throw an extra $25,000 at your developer to get them to cross the aisle? Poaching happens often in business because everyone is expected to deliver results, but really good talent is scarce. Outside of the Valley the same reality applies and finding strong product and developer talent is challenging.

But even if you don’t have cash on-hand to hire right now, you should always be recruiting. Make sure developers know about you. Make sure you’re always selling the vision. Take them out for coffee or lunch to understand what motivates them and what makes them tick.

The key is to make sure you have a network to call from so once you are ready to hire, it’s fishing in a bucket.

Duncan Logan. - Photo by Kris Krüg (@kk)

7) Venture capital is hard to get

With the rise of startup blogs and the constant flow of success stories about young twenty-somethings making millions, it’s easy to sit on the outside and become convinced that anyone can succeed with a startup. The reality is startups are hard. Really hard. And in case I wasn’t clear: They’re really hard. But if you do venture into the world of being an entrepreneur and you have major plans to grow fast, make sure you have a Plan A, B and C. You can’t build a prototype and then knock on a VC’s door and expect them to fund you. It’s not as easy as it appears in TechCrunch.

Raising capital is a very long process. If you’re raising venture capital, expect it to take 6 months if you’re good. If you don’t have a killer management team of people who know how to scale a business, you’re probably too early to be looking at VC. Know your battle before doing the raising process because you will save yourself (and your potential investors) a ton of time. Just because you have a good idea doesn’t mean it should be funded. And even if you have a rapidly growing business, VC still might not be right for you.

At 48 Hours, I got a great reality check from Arif Janmohamed of Lightspeed Venture Partners. It was a simple numbers exercise: If the average venture capitalist funds one or two deals a year but receives hundreds or thousands of pitches and intros, what do you need to do in order to stand out as the 1%? How likely are you to be the one person who stands out above everything else? The reality is: You aren’t pitching your killer product. Instead, you are competing against hundreds of other killer products that may or may not have more revenue than you, a better management team, or they’re further along. The reality is you will have more obstacles than checkpoints to get you to funded so you need to find a way to become the 1%.

The easiest way to do that is to think big (you have to be a billion-dollar idea), build a rockstar team around you, get a product in market that you can measure, and then ramp growth. And as you are building traction, keep an ongoing dialogue with VCs. Ask them if you can keep them updated with quarterly growth reports. Tell them what you expect to achieve in what time frame, and then show them how you delivered. Investor-entrepreneur relationships are marriages, so you need to go through the dating stages before anyone is going to jump in bed with you.

And from the entrepreneur’s side: Don’t believe everything a VC tells you. VCs will rarely tell you “no” on an idea because a flat-out rejection could mean they miss out on a future deal. Instead, you’ll hear a VC tell you to hit one number, and once you do, they’ll want you to reach something else. Then something else. Then something else. The bar is always moving up and VCs will often promise you a carrot and praise you for your killer metrics. But the reality is: You won’t get funded unless you’re the 1%.

From right to left: Digital Journal CTO Alex Chumak, CEO Chris Hogg, Viafoura CEO, Jesse Moeinifar - Photo by Kris Krüg (@kk)

8) Don’t be married to your original vision

Things change. Often. Get used to that as an entrepreneur and find ways to roll with the punches and keep your focus on how you can open up new opportunities for your business.

While you may be starting out and generating revenue from your original vision for your company, startups often find the real market is much bigger if they pivot.

Pivots are not for everyone, and they don’t always mean you failed at what you set out to do. In fact, if you look across the startup landscape you’ll find many examples of businesses that started out as one thing, and then matured into something completely different.

For example: Instagram, Twitter, Fab.com, Flickr and many more started out as something totally different than what you know them for today. PayPal pivoted at least five times before hitting it big.

You should know when and how to pivot.

Conclusions:

You may already know a lot of this, and if that’s the case then you’re starting out on the right foot. If you have learned from this blog, then I achieved my goal of paying it forward and giving back to the startup ecosystem.

The C100′s 48 Hours event took years’ worth experience and packed it into two days for me, and if you haven’t yet considered applying to 48 Hours, I strongly encourage you to do so.

Thanks everyone from The C100 and thanks to my 48 Hours alumni and colleagues for contributing to a really amazing week. If you are an investor or entrepreneur and you want to ask any more questions please don’t hesitate to reach out on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Photography by Kris Krüg (@kk)

4 standout experiences from ’48 Hours in the Valley’

July 4th, 2012 by Chris Hogg 1 comment »

Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs. - Photo by Kris Krüg (@kk)

This blog post is the one of three chronicling my experiences at The C100′s investor/entrepreneur event called 48 Hours in the Valley. My introduction to this post can be found here: Every entrepreneur should do 48 Hours in Silicon Valley. My next post can be found here: The Top 8 things every entrepreneur can learn from ’48 Hours in the Valley’

Distilling all that 48 Hours in the Valley (subsequently referred to as “48 Hours”) has to offer entrepreneurs into a single blog post is challenging. For an event that offers 20 of Canada’s most promising startup companies two days of mentorship, workshops, investor meetings, strategic partner visits and networking, there are countless reasons any entrepreneur should attend.

Out of everything I experienced, however, four experiences stood out:


A 48 Hours mentoring session. - Photo by Kris Krüg (@kk)

1) Mentor sessions

This is startup gold. Anyone who has worked at a startup and had traction will likely thank a group of smart people behind them who continue to help them get to the next level. At 48 Hours, it’s mentoring on steroids.

I got one-on-one time with Michael Buhr and Jeremy Toeman who delivered wildly different (but equally as helpful) perspectives on some of the challenges we face with growth. Both mentors dropped all the fluff and within minutes we were getting right down to business. I’ve sat down and asked lots of questions of lots of people, but the mentoring sessions at 48 Hours were different in almost every way. They came from people who have lived in the trenches and know how hard the entrepreneurial game can be.

Jeremy rubbed his eyes and yawned constantly throughout our session because in his spare time he is also a full-time father. I had to laugh at incredible words of wisdom coming from someone who looked like he might need a nap at any moment, and as a new father myself (I have a 10-month old), it was inspiring to see a successful work-life balance. Jeremy also didn’t sugar-coat anything, which is precisely the kind of interaction and input I really need as a CEO.

Michael was equally as impressive, and I peppered him with hundreds of questions over an hour. Everything from strategy to execution to partnerships to funding. Michael has sat on both the entrepreneurial and VC side so he was able to digest complex issues very quickly and spit out recommendations from both sides of the table.

I would sign up for 48 Hours again just to talk to these two guys. They’ve seen success and can identify early pitfalls that I likely wouldn’t have seen coming. And because they’ve lived in the Valley they have experience that only someone who has been in the tech mecca of the world would know.

In addition to private mentoring sessions,  The C100 also paired us up in small groups to have lunch with successful entrepreneurs. I spent time with Rahim Fazal who has been named one of America’s “Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30.” During our lunch session, Rahim went around a table to hear elevator pitches of five companies and what their current challenges were, distilled it all into commonalities, and then offered advice to the group that was applicable, relevant and helpful to everyone. In minutes.

The recurring thing I noticed with mentors in San Francisco and Silicon Valley is that they know their stuff and can help at a deep level, much faster than most people.

A 48 Hours party. - Photo by Kris Krüg (@kk)

2) Parties

Who doesn’t like a good party? And if you’re an entrepreneur (or want to be), who doesn’t love a good party where you have investors actively seeking your talent and an opportunity to help your business grow?

Parties and networking events are the lifeblood of entrepreneur-investor relationships but like everything else in the Valley, it was months’ worth of calls and intros condensed into a few nights.

The parties were especially noteworthy at 48 Hours because you are constantly inspired and challenged with every new person you meet. Everyone in the room has been successful, and more importantly many have failed at some point and wear failure as badges of honour. They’re willing to tell you what failure looks like and what they learned from it.

And in any case where someone didn’t know our space well, they almost always flipped open their Rolodex to offer an introduction to someone who can help. The 48 Hour parties are in a league of their own.

Arif Janmohamed, Lightspeed Venture Partners. - Photo by Kris Krüg (@kk)

3) Pitching constantly

“Nice to meet you Chris, tell me about Digital Journal.”

I must have heard that 50+ times over the course of two days, and nothing makes you more investor- or customer-ready than having to repeat yourself constantly.

Even though I’ve pitched a lot in my career, there is something different about pitching to a very diverse audience of investor and entrepreneurial talent. I learned more about my presentation skills in two days than I would have learned in two months of “normal” pitching.

You will walk out of 48 hours tired of talking, but when you do get your voice back you’ll be better at what you do.

A 48 Hours speaker session. - Photo by Kris Krüg (@kk)

 

4) Speaker sessions

Like the mentoring sessions, 48 Hours also puts you in front of several really smart people who will leave you inspired and more educated to make your next decision. Just look at the rundown of who I got a chance to hear from and speak with: Duncan Logan (Rocket Space), Jonathan Ehrlich (Copious), Arif Janmohamed (Lightspeed Venture Partners), Catherine Courage (Citrix), Alex Mehr (Zoosk.com), Rahim Fazal (Involver), Dan Martell (Clarity), Ranjith Kumaran (YouSendIt), Anil Patel (Google), Ryan Aytay (Salesforce), Colm Callan (Ebay) and Jeff Mallet (SNOCAP & Yahoo).

This all took place in less than 24 hours. It also reaffirmed for me just how important networking and getting out to hear from others can be for my business. In almost every case, I heard real-world examples of success (and more importantly, failure) and was given advice on what I could learn from both experiences.

These four recurring themes at 48 Hours were in a league of their own compared to the usual startup events. I can’t emphasize that enough.

Outside of these 4 standout experiences, there were 8 things I learned by taking part in 48 Hours. Check them out here: The Top 8 things every entrepreneur can learn from ’48 Hours in the Valley’

Photography by Kris Krüg (@kk)

Every entrepreneur should do 48 Hours in Silicon Valley

July 4th, 2012 by Chris Hogg 11 comments »

Jonathan Ehrlich. - Photo by Kris Krüg (@kk)

If you’ve ever worked in a startup, you know what it’s like to attack one of the most exciting and uncertain beasts you’ll ever encounter. At any given moment you’re juggling 100 things; you never have enough staff; you need more cash, always; you have more ideas than you could ever execute; and most experienced investors will constantly remind you how difficult it is to achieve success at scale.

But if, despite all that, you still wake up every morning determined to change the world and you’re stubborn and resilient enough to actually get it done, you’re the standout entrepreneur the startup industry thrives on. And if that describes you, then The C100′s 48 Hours in the Valley event should be on your Top 5 list of things to do.

Twice a year, the C100 holds an event called 48 Hours in the Valley (subsequently referred to as 48 Hours) that offers 20 of Canada’s most promising startup companies two days of mentorship, workshops, investor meetings, strategic partner visits and networking.

The C100 is a non-profit, member-driven organization whose focus is to support Canadian technology entrepreneurship and investment. The organization is made up of a select group of people based primarily in Silicon Valley, including startups CEOs, top executives of companies such as Apple, Cisco, EA, eBay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Oracle, and venture investors representing more than $8 billion in capital.

Chris Hogg, CEO, Digital Journal. - Photo by Kris Krüg (@kk)

This year my company Digital Journal was recognized along with 19 other Canadian startups as “best-of-the-best of Canadian entrepreneurship” and so we headed from Toronto to San Francisco to take part in 48 Hours. Opening night began June 25 and it kicked off with a private welcome reception at Mozilla headquarters where CEO Gary Kovacs and CIO Todd Simpson welcomed entrepreneurs, C100 Board members and C100 partners. After that, it was two packed days of networking, mentoring, investor pitches and workshops.

I’ve done pitches. Hundreds of them. I’ve been to networking events where you run around staring at strangers’ chests trying to read a name tag that is always flipped over and impossible to read. I’ve followed the Lean Startup movement and have incorporated a lot of its teachings into our growing business. And I’m fortunate to have a pretty amazing Advisory Board so I know what it’s like to sit down for one-on-one mentoring sessions. I’ve been an entrepreneur for more than 10 years now and, despite all that, I’m walking away from 48 Hours feeling like I have learned a lot.

It was only two days in San Francisco and Silicon Valley but it was two of the busiest days in recent memory. The biggest takeaway? 48 Hours is a world-class networking event where every person will ask: How can I help you? I’ve never met so many people lining up to offer their network, experience, etc. with no strings attached.

But it was more than that, and so I’ve chronicled my learning and experience as 48 Hours Alumni into a couple blog posts. I am doing this because I want to continue the good nature and spirit of The C100 and 48 Hours and pay it forward to anyone else who is (or wants to be) an entrepreneur and is looking for help. I’ve broken my experience into two posts:

  1. 4 standout experiences from ’48 Hours in the Valley’
  2. The Top 8 things every entrepreneur can learn from ’48 Hours in the Valley’

I would like to extend a very sincere thank you to everyone who makes The C100 and 48 Hours possible, and for taking us along for the ride. A big thanks to Chris Chapman who introduced us to The C100 program; several VCs and mentors who voted for Digital Journal to be one of the 20 companies at 48 Hours; The Canadian Consulate; Atlee and Camille; our mentors Michael and Jeremy; our fellow 48 Hours alumni; and dozens of other wizards who work the magic behind the curtains at The C100. You guys really do change lives.

Photography by Kris Krüg (@kk)