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Behind Startup Grind: The Startup Perspective

When we were considering filling out an application to exhibit at Startup Grind Global Conference 2017, we scoured the interweb for nuggets of information on the process and found next to nothing written from the perspective of a startup company. We at @Assist set out to change that. 

As you might already know, @Assist made it into the Top 50 at Startup Grind’s Global Conference 2017 (read the press release here). To kick off our post about our journey, we thought we might touch on “before the journey.” Ready? Let’s go!

The Journey to Startup Grind: Preparation

First of all, if you don’t know anything about Startup Grind’s Global Conference, check it out here. As part of this conference, Startup Grind accepts worldwide applications from startups who are doing awesome and innovative things in tech. Before we could apply, there were a few questions we felt we needed to answer.

Are we a startup?

@Assist is actually a company that started in 2009. Before 2009 we managed our own properties. @Assist was first formed as a “virtual property management helper” to offer offline help to other property managers who had been facing the same problems we had when we managed properties. That evolved to some online tools that became a full-fledged all-in-one property management and accounting solution. We started off servicing Canadians in 2015 and then launched globally in 2016. The global push could certainly be categorized in the startup category. Though we’d be a startup with tons of market research and experience behind us.

 

What type of company are we?

When @Assist began, we classified ourselves as a property management company. If you know anything about the property management industry, it’s a rather old industry. And with any old industry comes an old way of thinking. We met other “systems” that were struggling with this classification and realized we needed to do better. So we re-branded our thinking to become a tech company. As a tech company, we’re on the cutting edge of innovation and we can appeal to the masses, hence why going global was the next logical step.

Are we looking for an investor?

As a 100% bootstrapped company we are extremely used to living within our means and doing more with less. Our plan for growth doesn’t necessarily need an influx of cash, however, with one, we’d be able to hit our targets faster. An investor who is the perfect marriage partner could be an incredible asset for @Assist.

Next, we needed to pick our conference carefully. As a startup company there are many conferences and pitch contests, and if you’re not careful, it’s easy to fall into the trap of being a serial attendee. If money is tight, this is an especially dangerous trap. Obviously, there are some great opportunities out there and not every company is the same, but if you find yourself having to decide between making your product better or attending a conference, it’s worth doing the research to find out if the opportunity is truly worthwhile.

So, why Startup Grind?

Upon researching the conference itself, we were able to find a good amount of information about the people who attended and the people who run it. We loved their “make friends, not contacts” slogan and general openness about what they do and who they help. Startup Grind has tons of chapters all around the world that focus on helping and mentoring startup companies. 

Startup Grind’s Global Conference seemed to have a very selective process as they choose to feature just a small number of startups. Those startups would be in the spotlight and given perks and recognition. It’s the only conference we found that limited their selections to a small number. In 2016, they featured just 50 startups (with just 20 of those getting to give a quickfire pitch) and increased that in 2017 to 100 (with a top 50 getting additional perks including getting to give a quickfire pitch).

The only problem? No startups who had been selected in the past were talking about the process! (We’re hoping to change that!) So we took our research to the next level: we started reaching out to each of the companies who had been featured in 2016. Of the companies who responded, only a couple would actually talk to us about the process.

Based on the feedback of the companies who responded, we learned some valuable insight into what applying for and attending Startup Grind as a startup company was like.

We managed to speak to companies at varying “levels” of startup success from different parts of the world. While the results were mixed, every single company we spoke to said it was a great opportunity.

Once we decided to submit an application for the Startup Grind Global Conference 2017, we were all in. We knew we’d be competing with other (over 6000 in fact!) like-minded companies with spectacularly innovative ideas. And here is the step-by-step process we followed.

The Journey to Startup Grind: Application Process

Step 1: Initial Application

The first step of the application is a relatively small one where you submit some details about you and your company. The response process may be automated as it came rather quickly. But when it does come, get ready to roll up your sleeves and fill out the full application.

Step 2: Full Application

The full application gets much more serious. It asks you to explain your market size and provide an executive summary. Having answers to these questions prepared ahead of time will make this process go a lot faster.

Step 3: The Email Response

After some time has passed and very likely a lot of decision making on their side, they will send an email to either say yay or nay. If nay, mark it in your calendar to apply again for the next conference – it’s worth it! If yay, you’ll be asked to schedule a time for an interview.

Step 4: The Interview

This was a bit nerve-wracking for us, as a laid-back Canadian company who didn’t quite know what to expect. We researched to the nines on how investments happen, Silicon Valley tech culture and our interviewer. The best research we did was actually the latter. Our interviewer was into UX Design and that’s something I can talk about for days.

Like most interviews, job interviews included, your goal should be to find a way to stand out even if it’s just trying to be conversational with your interviewer.

Our Biggest Worries

1) That we aren’t a Silicon Valley startup. Investor jargon is as foreign to us as a Canadian winter without snow. While we do speak marketing and numbers, the acronyms were enough to make the eyes cross.

2) Our bootstrapped-ness. We are a company who has been supporting ourselves since 2009. Our business plan with and without an investor is more or less the same, an investment would just get us there a lot faster. But in tech company speak, this means we don’t necessarily need an investment but rather, can afford the time to find the right person as an investor and partner.

3) We already have a fully built product and are a full-fledged company. Most of Startup Grind’s 2016 picks were companies who didn’t have a product or website fully finished. We worried about being too far along in the process to be considered as a featured startup.

4) That they wouldn’t get our product. Property management is a niche that not everyone gets. Ask most people what a property manager does and the response might be “Uhhhhh….ummmmmm….” But thanks to millions of new homes and commercial spaces being built each year, property management is an industry that isn’t going anywhere!

Our Interview

During our interview, we were given more information about the conference, the requirements, and the cost and asked a series of questions about our business. We focused on describing our industry and then talked about how our product helps that industry. We described our history, the need for our product and made sure to engage our interviewer. We were told to wait a few days for an email that would again tell us yay or nay.

Step 5: The Email Response

First, let’s put in context what the decision process might entail. With 6000+ applications for 2017, it’s likely they were dealing with over 100 applications per week and only picking perhaps 1 or 2 of them. A few days turnaround time is, quite honestly, 2 cents short of miraculous. And the companies who do make it past this step should feel ridiculously honored. We certainly were.

They’ll give you a couple of days to make a decision on if you’d like to accept and register/pay for your portion. The payment shouldn’t be a surprise as it’s posted on their website, application and mentioned in your interview email. We registered that very day.

Step 6: The Waiting

Depending on when all of this takes place for you, things may go quiet for a bit. But this is the perfect opportunity to get your docs and product updated and on point.

Step 7: Top (50) Consideration Application

When the emails do start coming in, one of them will ask you to fill in another application in order to be considered for the next level of startups. The startups who are chosen will be given additional perks — like the possibility of investor meetings and getting to pitch their startup on stage in front of thousands of people.

This application is similar to the full application from Step 2 but we think this was planned so Startup Grind could see how companies had progressed from the initial application. We took this second application seriously and filled it out as if we were seeing it for the first time.

Step 8: Email Dance

As a company that promotes awesome communication, we check our email often. This allowed us to be very responsive when an email arrived asking for more/supporting details from our application.

Step 9: The Yay Or Nay

Another email and another honor. Taking 100 companies you love and slicing them in half to create a top 50 is no easy feat. We were so glad we made the cut that we made this video:

<iframe width=”750″ height=”422″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/sfVyHmVWFZ8″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

Step 10: Shhhhhhh

Startup Grind as part of its process will ask you to not publicly announce your amazing news until a set date.

Step 11: Extras

There are other extras that Startup Grind offers, such as a partnership with 500 Startups via a startup court. This is where you get to pitch your company, Shark Tank style (Dragon’s Den for other countries) to 500 Startups to be accepted into their accelerator program. We declined this as we believe we were a bit too far along as well as timing issues that would cause friction with other commitments.

Step 12: Emails, Emails, Emails

Leading up to the event, more emails will arrive. Opening every single one is important as it may have instructions or requirements you need to know.

Step 13: Book Your Tickets And Go!

With the weather being spotty and flights being even more temperamental, we made the decision to do a 3-day road trip to California. Having secured a reliable vehicle from the kind folks at Enterprise, our little team of four traveled 2500 km (1554 miles) from sunny Edmonton — all the way to stormy San Francisco. 

With rolling internet and devices galore, this gave us a lot of things to talk about and take pictures of along the way. And, as a plucky Canadian company, we can at least say we came away from this experience with some great promotion.

Why Didn’t You Guys Fly?

We had been monitoring weather conditions and saw that San Francisco had actually canceled several flights due to flooding and flood warnings. If that wasn’t bad enough, Vancouver (from where we would have flown out of Canada), had just suffered from an earthquake which resulted in more flight cancellations and delays.

The Journey to Startup Grind: Road Trip

Day 1: Alberta to British Columbia
(Approximately 8 hours of driving)

Calgary, Alberta

We started traveling south through Alberta making our way in the general direction of California. We passed by the city of Calgary, which is where @Assist presented at the Alberta Condominium and Real Estate Conference (ACR) last September.

Nanton, Alberta

Nanton is a great little town where business names seem to leave nothing to the imagination. The local candy shop was called, “Candy Shop” and the ice cream store was accurately named, “Ice Cream.” 

We questioned what they would do if another candy store opened. Would it be “The Other Candy Shop” or “Candy Shop #2?” I guess we’ll never know…

Crowsnest Pass, Alberta

We continued through Crowsnest Pass where we captured some of the beautiful Rocky Mountains, a part of Canada’s West Coast beauty.

In the photo below, you can see the historic Turtle Mountain, where the Frank Slide occurred.

Not-so-fun-fact: It was named Frank Slide because, on April 29, 1903, a massive rock slide buried parts of the mining town of Frank. You can imagine how frightening and destructive it must have been based on the sheer size of this particular mountain.

Cranbrook, British Columbia

As darkness approaches quickly during Canada’s winter months, we decided to call it a night in Cranbrook, BC.

Interesting fact: Cranbrook, although in British Columbia is not on Pacific Standard Time (PST). Instead, they use Mountain Standard Time (MST), which makes sense as it’s small in town in the mountains. But apparently our cell phones didn’t get the memo and it caused us a small panic on Saturday morning. 

Thankfully the staff at the Best Western in Cranbrook quickly helped us sort out the confusion. We stayed to enjoy a quick breakfast at the True Root but were back on the road by 9 a.m. to start Day 2.

Day 2: British Columbia to Oregon
(Approximately 11 hours of driving)

Yahk, British Columbia

After fueling up for the day, the @Assist team left Cranbrook to head towards the American border. To get there we had to travel through a quaint little town called Yahk (said like the yak animal). 

Strangely, one of our team members had visited there before and even purchased a shirt with a picture of a yak with the message “I’ve been to Yahk and back!”

Idaho

As we crossed the border to Idaho, we were amazed by its beauty and resemblance of the Canadian Rockies.

We pulled over to a tourist look-off point on the side of the road to take a moment to appreciate the artistic view as if we were gazing upon a painting. Although it was freezing, we thought it was important to take the time to appreciate the little things, especially when you’re spending three days in a car.

Redmond, Oregon

We had a long day of driving through Idaho and Washington but eventually made it to Redmond, Oregon where we stayed at Eagle Crest Resort, a gorgeous golf course overlooking the mountains in the background.

It was quite tricky navigating through a golf course at 9 p.m. but we managed to find the check-in counter after a few wrong turns in the dark.

Unfortunately, most of the restaurants in Redmond close at 9 or 10 p.m. Thankfully the front desk recommended a pizza shop called Pappy’s Pizza that wasn’t too far from the resort. We were the only ones in the restaurant and were treated to a VIP Pappy’s experience. The staff was incredibly kind and the pizza was delicious. With our bellies full of Italian goodness, we sauntered back to the resort for a bit of shut-eye.

Day 3: Oregon to California
(Approximately 8.5 hours of driving)

Cock-a-doodle-doo! Bright eyed and bushy tailed at 7 a.m. we sat down for breakfast at Aerie Cafe, just outside the Eagle Crest Resort lobby. This was a fantastic way to start our day. Everything and I mean everything, even down to the oatmeal, was great! It gave us the strength to finish our final stretch to San Francisco.

As we left our somewhat sunny resort we instantly found ourselves surrounded by winter. Heavy wet snow came out of nowhere, making it difficult to see and slippery to drive. Luckily we Canadians are used to winter driving.

Now, you might have noticed we didn’t mention any pit stops because really who cares about which gas station had a bathroom and snacks? However, right before we crossed into California we saw the smallest, cutest puppy. 

This is him standing next to a sidewalk curb. Sorry, but he was too adorable not to post.

San Francisco, California

On the final leg of our road trip to California, we made our way to San Francisco Bay Area. There were only a few short hours left until we arrived at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel, but the rain was pouring down, flooding roads and bridges. We carefully drove through rain and city traffic until we made it…but WAIT!

Startup Grind was being held at the Fox Theatre in Redwood City, California. When we had booked our hotel we took into consideration the distance from the hotel to Fox Theatre…but there are two Fox Theatres! And obviously, we had selected the wrong one making our morning commutes a lovely 1-2 hour drive in the morning. OOOPS!

We closed our eyes and kept repeating the mantra, “It’s just three days…it’s just three days.”

At Startup Grind: Pitch Bootcamp

As a Top 50 company at Startup Grind’s Global Conference 2017, we had the opportunity to pitch @Assist on the main stage to an audience compiled of attendees, investors, entrepreneurs, media, and tech enthusiasts. Oh, and it was streamed live globally so anyone could watch — no pressure!

But before we could go and tell the world about @Assist, we were invited to Pitch Bootcamp which was a 4-hour session on crafting the perfect pitch. Obviously, we thought our pitch was hot stuff already and were ready to take the spotlight.

We arrived at the Fox Theatre around noon and quickly hustled inside to get out of the rain. San Francisco has been in a drought for years, yet the one time we Canadians think we’re going to catch some sunshine, it decides to pour.

The room was filled with excitement and people, so we found a couple of chairs and took a seat. We hadn’t been sitting for more than a minute when friendly faces came to greet us. 

TD Lowe, Managing Director and overall Startup Grind rock star, started with the opening comments and introductions, however, time was short so things had to move quickly. We were put into groups of about six or seven startups and paired with two amazing coaches. Our pitch coaches, Michelle Messina and Chris Neumann helped us tailor and transform our pitches so that they would be received well by any investor.

We thought we knew what investors might like to hear — but being a bootstrapped company we had never pitched to them personally. Only through extensive research and feedback did we create our “Killer Pitch” which ironically we ended up killing…but not in a good way.

As the @Assist team sat there ferociously taking notes as each company stood up to pitch, we were writing and re-writing our pitch so we could sound awesome based on the feedback they were receiving. However, memorizing a pitch while writing it and having no time to practice, didn’t go over so well. When it was our turn to go, we fell silent, only able to stutter out a few sentences.

Frozen in the spotlight there was nothing left to do or say other than take each piece of criticism with open arms. Michelle and Chris listened to our history, our customer’s pain points and how we’re solving these points. This helped take our speech from fuddy-duddy to fabulous. We came out feeling confident and once again set out to conquer the conference.

Now, came the time to test out our new pitch. We went back to the stage area which was even more crowded with startups, media and investors preparing for Opening Night. This added an extra layer of nerves to our rehearsal.

It went 1000% better, which isn’t hard when round 1 was abysmal. Our pitch was unrecognizable from what we had started with and we were incredibly grateful to have had such amazing mentors who took a moment or 10 to truly help us. Every statement they made clicked and gave us the eye-opening realization we needed before going to the big show.

We stayed and listened to the other startups give it their best go and were motivated by all of the fascinating ideas and people. We had never had the opportunity to be in a room full of so many optimistic entrepreneurs from around the world. The amount of courage it takes to present something you have put all your heart and life into is ridiculous.

We’ll end this post with a quote from Ms. TD Lowe herself:

“It’s not about perfection, it’s about the passion.”

At Startup Grind: Opening Night

To shake off some of the stress from Pitch Bootcamp, we were thrown a lovely mixer with drinks and snacks at Fox Theatre before Opening Night officially began. 

During this time, we had the opportunity to approach companies we had seen pitch or had found interesting. It was a laid-back environment with enthusiastic attendees eager to connect and learn more about each other.

Check out this @Assist glamor shot:

With some great conversation had and some sustenance in our bellies, we took our seats in front of the main stage for our first night of speakers.

Up first, was Derek Andersen, Founder of Startup Grind, to welcome us to the event. He spoke of visits to China and of what was to come as part of the Global Conference.

Next, we watched a lively chat between Derek and Dave McClure, Founder of 500 Startups, where they talked about controversial topics galore.

Next was Michael Seibel, CEO of Y Combinator, who talked about how accessible Y Combinator is to all startups.

And finally, Mark Pincus, Founder and Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors at Zynga, talked about his amazing journey of starting in the world of Facebook gaming.

At Startup Grind: Global Conference 2017

Exhausted from the sights and sounds from Pitch Bootcamp and Opening Night, but determined not to miss anything, we rolled out of bed and propelled ourselves into the car. At least that meant crossing the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge.

Day 1 marked the first official day of the conference with thousands of people from all over the world making their way to Redwood City, CA. It was overwhelming and incredibly humbling to be among them.

Since we had nothing officially scheduled for the daytime, we decided to act like regular attendees and see a few speakers.

We watched Patrick Collison, Co-Founder, and CEO of Stripe, talk about what it’s like to work with family.

We watched Shernaz Daver, CMO of Udacity and Executive Advisor of GV, talk about what’s important to focus on when starting a business.

We even watched Sean Rad, Founder of Tinder, talk about the path to his company’s success.

In between speakers, we checked out the startups that were exhibiting. Can you spot anything a little strange in the below photo?

After this amazing and tiring day, as a member of the Top 50 companies, we were invited to the Fox Club for a VIP mixer with free drinks galore.

This mixer was the start of a pub crawl that would take those who attended all over San Francisco to rub elbows with other founders, entrepreneurs, speakers and investors. 

With an incredibly early start the next day, we bid our goodbyes before the pub crawl began so we could take care of some final preparations and get a couple hours of sleep.

At Startup Grind: Exhibition Day

At 5 a.m. on a Wednesday, while most folks were still fast asleep, we were already on our way to Exhibition Day at Startup Grind. Because we’d booked our hotel near the wrong Fox Theatre, it was an hour and a half journey to Redwood City. And we’d stayed up until 1 or 2 a.m. to ensure our display would be on point.

When speaking to the exhibitors the day before, they mentioned having a teensy bit of trouble with the internet connection. So, we took our entire display offline so we didn’t have to worry about connectivity issues.

…and matching standing banner and voila! The beautiful end result:

As a Top 50 company, our company had the privilege of being displayed closer to the front. In fact, because of the @ symbol in our name, we were right at the front! That meant Tom’s smiling face was the first thing most people saw when entering the Startup tent. Lucky!

During the day, we met about 100 people interested in @Assist as entrepreneurs, partners, investors and even potential users! Everyone was friendly and supportive and we got to meet lots of other great companies who were exhibiting.

It was a tiring but fulfilling day for our booth tenders. Another glamor shot is below!


At Startup Grind: Investor Meetings

One of the perks of being selected in the Top 50 at Startup Grind is the introduction to their network of Investors. Prior to arriving at the conference, we were asked to provide a response to a few additional questions for this benefit. Our answers were compiled into an introductory profile that Startup Grind provided to their network. Investors would then pick and choose which company or companies they would like to have a meeting with. While this system doesn’t necessarily guarantee every company will have a meeting, it does ensure that the meetings match companies with truly interested Investors.

In our case, we were told at the end of Opening Night that we had four such Investor meetings scheduled. Here’s how we prepared:

Investor Research

Part 1: Venture Capital Procedure Research

If you’re not a company in Silicon Valley, going to Silicon Valley and speaking to a VC firm is quite an overwhelming experience. Knowing how VC companies work, make investments and stay invested is integral. Learning just the basics will at least give you some knowledge so you’re not going into a meeting blind. 

Our research began when we did our first interview for Startup Grind and continued up until our first meeting at the event. We recommend the book: Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson.

Part 2: Individual Investor Research

As in any job interview, you should do the research on your interviewer and his/her company. Your research should try to answer these fundamental questions:

1) Who is the Investor and what do they do at their company?

2) What does their company do/stand for?

3) Has the company had success recently? In what way?

4) Has the company had failures recently? In what way?

And lastly,

5) Find one personal thing about your interviewer that isn’t work related.

It could be that they like running, have 5 dogs, enjoy cooking or sing in a band. Social media is a great resource, so use it! You might find you have something in common with your interviewer.

The Perfect Pitch

Thanks to Pitch Bootcamp, we’d already aced our 60-second speech. We expanded this into a 3-5 minute intro that addressed:

1) The Problem (customer pain points)

2) The Solution (how those pain points are solved)

3) What we do (how we provide the solution)

4) Why we do it better (compared to our competitors)

And finally,

5) What we need (what are the steps to growth?)

In our case, we assumed that the folks we were speaking to could grasp the basics of what property management is. But this isn’t always the case. And when someone simply can’t understand what property management is and why it’s so important in today’s world of mass development, we’ve learned it’s best to make a friend rather than try to push it. It just simply isn’t possible for everyone to understand the concept of everything. While property management is our bread and butter, it certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Check out the book: Pitch Perfect: How to Say It Right the First Time, Every Time by Bill McGowan.

The Pitch Deck

Taking that 5-minute pitch and turning it into a beautiful pitch deck is the next natural step in the preparation process. Why? Once you’ve met an Investor and peaked their interest, this will be the next thing they ask for. Having it on point and ready to send is going to make you a whole lot more memorable.

We crafted ours by looking at a lot of examples and following the storytelling process. As our goal is not 100% to get an investment, we generalized our pitch deck so that it could be used in various situations. We also made it a download instead of an attachment so that it could be updated in real-time. 

We also suggest checking out the book Get Backed: Craft Your Story, Build the Perfect Pitch Deck, and Launch the Venture of Your Dreams by Evan Baehr and Evan Loomis.

Investor Meetings

With all of the prep out of the way, we made our way to our meetings. Even armed with all of our research and prep, we approached our meetings like we were just meeting people – as funny as that sounds. 

People are individuals with quirks, interests, and stories. We asked these people to introduce themselves and invited them to treat us as people in return. As a result, we came out with some great relationships, opportunities, and feedback on what we’re doing, how they could be involved and where we should be heading. 

One of our meetings was with an Investor who couldn’t quite grasp the concept of property management. So we simply turned it into a session where we asked for some advice and it still ended up being a great meeting.

In the end, our goal of making some great relationships was fulfilled and we now have some great minds to turn to when we have a question or 7.

Follow-up

If you’ve managed to snag the business card of an Investor who you jelled with, the next step is an awesome follow-up. Send an email with a thank you and attach your pitch deck, even if it may not lead to an investment immediately. 

As you gather more and more interest you may want to create a special mailing list where you send out some great tidbits about your company’s progress. We’ve done this with the introduction of our newest character Dave (#IAMDAVE).

At Startup Grind: Quickfire Pitch

After a busy morning of exhibiting and investor meetings, it was finally time for @Assist to take the main stage for our Quickfire Pitch. We had received the training and felt confident the audience would fall in love with @Assist.

Our pitch was scheduled to be at 11:55 a.m. on Wednesday (Feb 22) but our pitch was delayed slightly for another speaker to take the stage. The quickfire pitches took place in small groups of about 6 or 7 companies and were scheduled between speakers. We would be allowed 1 minute to effectively introduce our company and why we’re such hot stuff.

As our fearless team member Adrienne (see her blog musings here) waited behind the curtains, the nerves were starting to set in. Luckily she’d had a tête-à-tête with our pitch coach Michelle who she’d happened upon in the bathroom shortly before going on stage.

After a week of excitement and little to no sleep, Thursday morning after the conference seemed extra quiet. As we sat sipping tea at our usual table at Sheraton Hotel’s Hillside Tavern Lounge, it felt odd not have a million and one things to do with the day. We had scheduled our return road trip to start late on Friday, and this is what we did with ourselves to relax, unwind and explore.

After Startup Grind: Cooldown

Half Moon Bay

The first thing we did was drive along the beautiful coast, gazing upon the vast bodies of water.

We stopped by Jersey Joe’s Coastside for a late lunch where we enjoyed the best burgers on planet Earth. Seriously, here’s a picture:

Not our picture, this one is from Rezku. We didn’t have time to take one what with all the piggery.

The burgers are enormous so a single patty is plenty and the meat will melt in your mouth. Definitely a must go if you’re in the area and can relax (and maybe even unbutton) for a minute afterward.

As we drove alongside the lush green hills, the ocean sparkled in the sunlight as the waves came crashing against the shore. The smell of salt water and the warmth of the sun rays made us feel like we were on a mini-vacation. 

We pulled over to take a stroll on the sandy beach and admire the beauty of the area.

There’s something very alluring and hypnotizing about the ocean, especially when you don’t see it often since Alberta doesn’t border the coast. It was a real treat to spend a small amount of time appreciating where we were, and how far we had come as a team and as a business. We are excited to find all the adventures that lie ahead for @Assist.

In those tranquil moments, we felt united and more connected than we had before. And then we saw the little birds of Half Moon Bay.

These hilarious birds spend their time chasing the waves. They scavenge for food but every time the tide came in, they would run back to avoid getting wet. Wouldn’t it be easier to fly?

As the sun began to set we headed back to the hotel to catch up on a few other items on the agenda. Once we finished our work, we nodded off into dreamland before prepping ourselves for one final meal in San Francisco.

San Francisco

With this being our last day in San Francisco, we could have taken this opportunity to sleep-in. But, here at @Assist, we’re a big fan of great food and company. We headed to the gorgeous Samovar Tea Lounge that overlooks the Yerba Buena Gardens for brunch.

From cheese platters and sweet coconut toast dusted in cinnamon to savory smoked duck sandwiches, we devoured all the tasty goodness that was placed in front of us.

With full tummies and a fond farewell, we said our goodbyes to San Francisco as we packed up the car and began our adventure back home. After 3 days in the car, we were ecstatic to be back in Edmonton, Alberta. Even if we went from +16°C and sunshine to -16°C and snow, it was time to get back to work.

After Startup Grind: Final Thoughts

After exhibiting, multiple meetings, pitching on the main stage, and countless hours of preparation paired with the overall excitement of attending Startup Grind, we’re exhausted! 

Although the conference is over, we made lifelong connections and friends that we will treasure. The entire experience was incredible. We are grateful to have heard from top industry leaders, keynote speakers, founders, entrepreneurs, investors and media and happy that we got to see firsthand what’s happening in the world of tech.

While at the Startup Grind Global Conference 2017, we worked hard, tried to absorb information and feedback faster than the speed of light and had some great laughs along the way. We also learned a few industry secrets that we can’t wait to apply and share with all of you.

Our Top 10 Conference Highlights

1. @Assist making the Top 50 out of 6000+ worldwide applications.

2. Our Quickfire Pitch that was live-streamed globally so even friends and family could cheer us on.

3. Meeting other awesome startups from around the world.

4. Our sweet exhibition table.

5. Listening and learning from speakers/entrepreneurs.

6. Investor Meetings

7. The food (OH THE FOOD)!

8. Half Moon Bay

9. That our name was spelled properly throughout the conference.

10. Awesome and friendly startup atmosphere.

We’ve written about our experience in this series of posts to help the next batch of entrepreneurs that are given this honor. If you’re thinking of applying, you should! 

This is the second year Startup Grind has had offered the Startup Program at their Global Conference, and as with any event, there are still a few kinks to work out. But even with the kinks, if we were invited back to do it all over again, we absolutely would.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our journey. Feel free to share it with others on social media and check out our website to see what we do besides writing awesome blog posts.

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Jeremy Webb

Chief technologi.st & Adventurer about.me/jeremy.webb

Jeremy WebbBehind Startup Grind: The Startup Perspective

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