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StartupNanaimo unConference

I attended the first StartupNanaimo unConference today. Like all the other StartupNanaimo or Ignite Nanaimo events I’ve attended, I’ve got so much buzzing around in my head. This post hopefully will be a bit of a recap and an attempt to organize some of the ideas I heard today. I’d love to pull together all the other recaps from the conference so comment at the bottom if you have one as well.**I’m fairly new to the startup world. I’m read a lot about it but I’m just starting to actually dip my toes into it and starting my own business. I can’t say that it’s a full startup. It’s more of a lifestyle business at this point to test out where I want to go. Attending events like today’s and talking to people like Jay helps so much in clarifying what I actually want to do.

Jayesh Parmar from Picatic

I wondered right off the bat why StartupNanaimo organizers used a new service I had never heard of called Picatic. Turns out our keynote speaker was CEO and co-founder of Picatic. It’s all coming together.Jay was a great speaker and got right to the root of what it was like running a startup, what you can expect if you want to follow the same path and some tips for along the way.You can find Jay on Twitter.


Once Jay wrapped up his great talk we had a great lunch catered by Afresh Catering then brainstormed the topics for the workgroups that we would break out into. Being an unconference there was no set agenda to start the day, we would come up with that ourselves. We split off into our groups and would self select what groups we would want to attend.The groups ended up being

  • Sustainability and business
  • Funding and Money
  • Teams and finding the right people
  • Growth from idea to product and finding users
  • … and another I can’t remember (distribution? export?).

Big Ideas

As always there were a number of ideas that kept coming up and others that I was reminded of during the talk and workgroup sessions.

Give before you take

Giving before you take. Pay it forward. How can you help. This was the biggest theme I saw at the conference. It kept coming up in many different ways. Jay touched on it a few times during his talk of how it has impacted his life and he pushed us to use it in our lives. We wrapped up the end of the conference with a quick round of the entire room with a few sentence from every person on how they could help others in the group. It didn’t matter what, just how they could help.If we are going to create something amazing here, it’s not going to be alone. It’s going to be with the help of everyone involved. Everyone can help in different ways but everyone can help everyone else. Things will move faster and grow bigger the more we can help each other.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

One of the main threads to the Growth and Starting Your Idea workshop session. Minimum Viable Product was one of the hardest things to wrap may head around when I started digging into how to create my first product. I always assumed, like a lot of other people, that the first product had to be amazing and perfect right off the bat. Some things you only get one chance. Tech is not that. You get as many chances as you need to make your product into the amazing thing you know it can be. Like Chris Guillebeau’s manifesto says, it’s not overnight success, it’s 279 days to overnight success (or a lot longer).Related to the Minimum Viable Product is the Minimum Viable Audience. Which comes first? That seems to be a debate with a lot of people online these days.

Iterate or Pivot

Continuing along the lines of Minimum Viable Product is the question, if you start with an MVP that is so minimum you are embarrassed to show it, how do you then make that into something awesome? Iteration.Most products don’t come out perfect the first time. They start in a minimum form and then builders iterate on it and make them better and better and better as they learn what works and what doesn’t. Everything is just an experiment until it makes money.

Masterminds and Tester groups

I’m not sure if this was on topic or not in the Growth session but it came up anyways and it was interesting conversation. Masterminds, beta testers, test groups. How do you find people to help you grow and test your idea? How do you get feedback? How do you get people to test your product? Do you do that with a mastermind group that you meet with regularly? Are they all on the same level as you? Or do you approach a larger group and ask them to test your product? I think there’s a few different goals here and maybe different groups need to be found for each purpose? What if there was a list of these groups around to help people looking find existing ones faster?

Product idea

When we were getting going, there was inevitably some technical difficulties getting the projectors hooked up to the macs. We tried multiple cords, multiple adapters, multiple macs. No use. Eventually we just exported the presentations to the windows computer that was there and working and used that. So here’s the product or solution idea? Can someone fix the projector/laptop battle so they just always work together?

Apps mentioned

Being an app guy that loves trying new apps out all the time, my ears always perk at the sound of new apps being mentioned. Jay mentioned a few today.Trello – a Kanban based app for task management. Kanban is the column and card layout they use in the app. I use it for work and personal use myself and love it.Slack – I actually found this last week and wanted to give it a try. A slick team communication app. Metalab, a digital agency in Victoria, had a great story about creating the interface for Slack.Clarity – Jay quickly mentioned Clarity. I’m pretty sure he was referring to this one. On demand business advice. Cool idea.


My minds still buzzing from all the talk and ideas today. Jay wrapped up at the end of some fears of his. One of them was that egos can get in the way of making something great in a startup community. Ego can kill things when people try to control things and don’t just let it to go and let it grow.The biggest thing that he feared was that the conversation would die. All these ideas and chatter would get generated but nothing would happen because of it. No startups would start. No products would be out there. Nothing would be pitched. It would be such a shame for nothing to happen because of this, especially because of all the work all the organizers have put into it. But I don’t think they are going to sit idle and let nothing happen.Let’s help them get this going.Let’s help them start up Nanaimo.