Paramagnus in AlbertaVenture

Post ImageIf you pick up a copy of the July/August issue of AlbertaVenture magazine, you’ll find an article titled Entrepreneurial Idol, which is all about VenturePrize. While I think that title is better suited to the upcoming Dragon’s Den on CBC, the article is still really good. Indeed one of my favorite memories from the entire VenturePrize experience was talking with Marina. She has a knack for asking the right questions.

Here are a few notable quotes related to Paramagnus from the article:

“Sitting in the front row of Steier’s class are Mack Male and Dickson Wong, 22-year-olds who look like they’ve walked into the wrong classroom. But looks are deceiving; these whiz-kid computer undergrads at the U of A have already raised a hundred grand to fund their baby, Paramagnus Developments.”

“Last to go is Paramagnus which, because of Male and Wong’s youth, is the judges’ sentimental favourite.”

Marina ends the article with a quote from yours truly:

“I can’t believe how far we, and our business model, have evolved since day one of this competition. We’re going to go all the way.”

That sentiment is still true, even today. The story isn’t over yet though, not by a long shot. We’re inching closer and closer with each passing day to releasing Podcast Spot. And when that happens, we’ll really have something to be proud of!

VenturePrize Mentor Breakfast

Post ImageI just got back from the VenturePrize Mentor Breakfast presented by MacEwan, which I mentioned we were attending in my previous post. Fortunately, we called one of our mentors this morning to find out where it was, so we made it on time, and everything worked out okay. Dickson and I were invited to speak at this event by the MacEwan organizers, to share our experience with and thoughts on the mentorship program that comes as part of VenturePrize. To sum up our presentation:

A mentor’s only obligation is to provide honest, altruistic advice regarding the business plan to the business team they work with during the competition. In our experience, the business team ends up receiving much more than just advice in the mentorship program – they essentially gain another team member – making it a truly invaluable resource. As far as we’re concerned, VenturePrize simply wouldn’t be the same without the mentorship process that comes from the business plan screening, judging, and presenting, the seminar series, and of course, the mentors themselves. We’re truly grateful we were able to take part!

The breakfast this morning was quite good, both the food and the people! We sat with and spoke after Grant MacEwan College CEO and President Dr. Paul Byrne, as well as TEC Edmonton CEO Dr. David Cox. Talk about some tough acts to follow! Both of them are excellent speakers, extremely well-versed in what they do. It probably sounds kind of corny, but events like the breakfast today are all part of that mentorship process we talked about, and we keep learning more and more with each event.

VenturePrize Finals Complete

Post ImageWe just got back from the final event, and unfortunately, we didn’t win. We’re really proud that we made it to the finals of VenturePrize however, and we have our sights set on the Wes Nicol competition tomorrow in Ottawa. Congratulations to Chris and Don at Leading Edge Technologies for winning this year’s competition.

We’ve got lots of pictures and stuff to post, and we’ll do that slowly over the next few days. Our flight to Ottawa leaves in about five hours, so we’re getting ready for that. We’re a little disappointed about VenturePrize obviously, but we’re going to take what we’ve learned and do our best tomorrow evening.

You can read my post on today’s event at our VenturePrize blog.

Read: VenturePrize Experience

Shaw Conference Centre Hall D

Dickson and I went to the new Hall D at the Shaw Conference Centre this afternoon to meet with the VenturePrize people and do a sound check, so we got our first glimpse at the new addition. We were escorted in by the construction foreman who eyed my camera nervously. He didn’t ask me to leave it or anything though, so once inside, I snapped a few photos.

The place is gigantic! My first impression upon walking in was, wow, this is big. The windows are floor to ceiling, and they have massive drapes that can be mechanically raised or lowered. The ceiling itself is entirely black, with beams running the full length of the hall. There appears to be a “control room” at the back of the hall, and just outside the main room are a bunch of smaller rooms. We didn’t get to see these though as most of the construction was happening back there. Actually, that was the second thing I noticed – there is much to be done.

I have no idea what the entrance is going to look like, because we were led through a small hallway that appeared to exist only for construction purposes. There were small teams of construction workers all over the place, doing various things. Apparently the giant media screens are not part of the Hall D, but were instead “flown in” especially for VenturePrize (this is what they told me). In addition to the construction workers there were lots of people just milling about, so I’m not sure what they were doing. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people are putting in a lot of hours to get things ready for Wednesday though.

Speaking of, we’re less than two days away now. Don’t forget to follow along at our VenturePrize Experience blog!

Read: Flickr Photoset

VenturePrize Experience by Paramagnus

Post ImageDickson and I have been working on a blog specifically for VenturePrize (and Wes Nicol too) and it’s finally ready for public consumption! Basically you can read all about our experiences in the two competitions, starting way back in October 2005 when we first decided to take part in VenturePrize. The address is:

With the exception of the March posts, all entries have been posted after the fact. So a post from November was actually written in the last two weeks, even though the post itself seems like it was written in November. We did our best to go back in time and remember what we were thinking and feeling so that the blog is authentic. I don’t think we’ll be adding any more “back posts”, unless we remember something worth sharing, so the blog is “live” moving forward.

There are two main reasons for this blog. First and foremost, it is for us, so that we can look back and remember the experience. It should also come in handy when asked about timelines in the future, as it is often difficult to remember when things happened. The second reason is that we hope our experience will be useful to future participants of the VenturePrize and Wes Nicol competitions. Learn from our mistakes, and improve upon the things we did!

The blog is entirely comprised of text posts right now, but we’re planning to add some media content at some point too, podcasts, pictures, etc. Enjoy!

Read: VenturePrize Experience

Paramagnus and Business Plan Success

Post ImageEverything is public now, so it’s time for an update on our business plan competitions! As you may recall, Dickson and I entered Paramagnus into two business plan competitions – VenturePrize and Wes Nicol. We had back to back presentations in February, and have been waiting patiently to find out how we did. We’ve known for a couple days now, but it was announced today that we’re a finalist in the VenturePrize competition, and we won first place in the local portion of the Wes Nicol! Congratulations especially to our fellow finalists in VenturePrize, and indeed to all of the competitors we’ve met thus far. We’ve learned so much already!

We’re now preparing for the final VenturePrize showdown which takes place at the annual EEDC luncheon on March 22nd. We’ll be among the first people to see the brand new extension to the Shaw Conference Centre. The following day we need to be in Ottawa for the national component of the Wes Nicol competition, so it’ll be a very busy two days! We’re looking forward to it.

Actually the next few weeks will be busy. We did a brief interview tonight that will air on CBC Radio tomorrow morning. Tomorrow afternoon we’re filming our three minute video that will be shown at the luncheon on the 22nd. We’re presenting to a class at the University next Friday. Over the next two weeks we’ll be putting together an “insider’s blog” for our experience in VenturePrize. And of course we’ve got to update our business plan, prepare our second presentations, and keep our business running (not to mention school, volunteering, etc). And it won’t stop there – we’ve already got interviews and the like lined up into April. Definitely good for the business!

We’ve met a lot of people lately, and while it was nice to meet all of you, sometimes it’s hard to get down contact information or remember everyone. If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me via email or at 780.619.3864. Or of course you can simply subscribe 🙂

Paramagnus selected as VenturePrize semi-finalist!

I am really pleased to announce that Paramagnus Developments Inc. has been selected as one of six semi-finalists in this year’s VenturePrize Fast-Growth Enterprise Award category. As some of you may know, Dickson and I have been working on a business plan for Paramagnus for the last four or five months, and we submitted it to the VenturePrize business plan competition at the end of January. From the press release:

These six semifinalists will present their concepts to a judging panel who will announce the final three contenders at a March 6 special reception. These three finalists will then make a final pitch to judges and a sold-out audience at the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) Annual Luncheon on March 22, 2006, where the grand prize winner will be crowned.

“This is an exciting group of contestants representing a range of innovative business opportunities,” said Jay Krysler, VenturePrize Program Manager for TEC Edmonton. “The business plan screening panel, who are business and finance industry professionals, certainly had a difficult time selecting only six from so many great business concepts. Alberta will be well-served when all these plans move forward.”

It feels very good to have your business receive validation and recognition from some very smart people. We’ve learned a lot throughout the process so far, and I know there’s far more learning ahead.

We’re really excited about making it this far in the competition, and we’re going to do our best to blow the judges away with our presentation. If all goes well, I’ll be posting again on March 6th that we made it to the final three! No matter what happens, I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished already, and I am eager to see the feedback on our business plan.

I also can’t wait to get our products and services launched!

Read: TEC Edmonton