Red Herring Canada finished yesterday in Montreal, after two and a half days. The conference itself was a blend of the classic VC "pitch fest" with insightful and informative sessions from industry executives and other figures and the opportunity to network. Between meetings in Montreal, I managed to catch about half the conference overall.
Some of my favorite sessions:
Cleantech, Clean Energy, Clean Profits — a round table on the Clean Energy industry which illuminated, for me, just how far behind Canada is in funding clean energy businesses. We talk the talk, but we don't walk the walk.
Motorola's Juergen Stark speaking on how to do business with a large company. It was refreshing and frank advice, from the point of view of a person who likes to help smaller companies do business with his company. A lot of basic stuff about being clear, concise, and not abusing relationships.
The Challenges of Managing a Billion Dollar Business — Red Herring's Alex Vieux interviewed Plantronics CEO Ken Kannappan. Without being rude or disrespectful, Alex asked hard hitting questions and drew out of Ken the entire story of their mismanaged acquisition of Altec-Lansing, and his plans to turn that situation around. It was a stunning interview.
Meet the Money: A Jury of VC's evaluates Canadian startups. This was a pitch session, with three VC's weighing in on the business and the pitch at the end. It was remarkable in the frankness of the feedback. Entrepreneurs often get a polite no with little explanation when pitching in real life. What we saw in this session was a robust Q&A and constructive feedback. Incredibly valuable. Every entrepreneur in the room owed a vote of thanks to the four companies that presented.
Some of my favorite pitches:
- Paraxip, for their software based solution to connectivity problems. Instead of buying a rack full of appliances like SBC's and gateways, incorporate their software layer into your application.
- Transgaming Technologies, for their technology that allows games to be easily ported from one platform to another. Watch for a flood of new, formerly PC-only, titles on the Mac, says CEO Vikas Gupta.
- Objectworld Communications. David Levy is a gifted speaker and spokesperson for his company. More to the point, he's got a killer unified communications platform for Microsoft platforms.
- Kleer Semiconductor. CEO Levant Gun showed their wireless ear buds for MP3 players. They weigh nothing, consume a fraction of the power of bluetooth devices, and multiple devices can be associated with a single player so you and all your buddies can listen along together. Killer technology.
- MOBIVOX Corporation. CEO Stephane Marceau showed his product, and then let slip that their B round is closed.
- Octopz Inc. I've written about this incredible collaboration platform before. Targeted at creative groups — like advertising agencies — it brings document sharing to a whole new level.
Attendance was light, perhaps because it was the first Red Herring event in Canada. I give it a two thumbs up, though. It's a quality event that would be worth attending again.