Posts Tagged ‘ Openera ’

Bruce Firestone Interview’s Openera CEO Peter Lalonde

TechCrunch Disrupt – Insights and Advice

TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2011(http://disrupt.techcrunch.com) punctuated Michael Arrington’s career heading up TechCrunch. The final Disrupt for Arrington was held in San Francisco attracting over 2,500 leading technology innovators and investors and over 150 new startups. Despite the controversy and media maelstrom over shadowing the event, there was something else going on. Start-up entrepreneurs were unveiling new technologies and businesses.

Openera SmartCloud

Richard & Peter

Openera’s Founder & CEO, Peter Lalonde was there, showcasing SmartCloud in Disrupt’s Startup Alley, a startup launch platform, where over 200 companies exhibited their product or service.

Here are just a few of his perspectives and thoughts on Disrupt, the Startup Alley experience, and advice he’d give to other startups thinking of attending the next Disrupt conference:

What was the highlight for you at Disrupt?

For me it was getting real and honest feedback on SmartCloud. The opportunity to have other founders, investors, press and potential partners get excited about the promise of SmartCloud was outstanding. I was really impressed by a few startups that rose above the noise of so many similar themed ones.

What type of feedback did you get from Investors/attendees?

It was mostly good feedback. A lot of people said things like

“I’ve been waiting for something like this!” “oh my God, you’ve solved my biggest frustration.” or some variation of “wow, this is actually really useful! You’ve solved a real problem.”

It wasn’t all good feedback though. Some people just didn’t see the value. They don’t mind keeping all their content in their inbox. There were also concerns around security, which we expected, but our answer didn’t always satisfy people in hyper sensitive businesses. We’ll write a blog post about our view and approach to security.

Of all the other startups you saw in Startup Alley, were there any that you got excited about, and why? 

Yes! Definitely. Bitcasa was the standout, most disruptive company there. The fact that they didn’t win offended me! LOL. Their CEO, Tony Gauda, is dynamic, brilliant and quick witted. Their approach of offering infinite local/cloud storage for $10/month is groundbreaking on a technical level, pricing level and user experience level. They are exactly in-line with the SmartCloud philosophy of not changing user behaviour.

The other stand-out startup that also adopts the SmartCloud philosophy is Everpix. They have an elegant solution for solving the fragmented photo library problem. Like many people, I have photos scattered all over the web; MobileMe, Flickr, Facebook, Picassa and across several local drives and email!  Everpix will consolidate and even auto-curate your photos (hide bad pics) and organize them into ‘moments’ allowing you to easily collect from, and share photo moments with friends.

GoInstant is a fellow Canadian Start-up that has, what seems to me, the easiest shared browsing / screen sharing solution possible. No plug-ins, no logins, no hassle, immediate group browsing. Ideal for groups that want to test web-based products (like SmartCloud) – it even works on mobile browsers.

Special mentions to Sonar (a social networking app that brings your LinkedIn contacts (and others) into a location aware context) and CodeGuard (time machine + version control for your website and a cool logo!) as well as sponsors, UrtheCast (launching HD cameras into space to provide (and make available) essentially a new hi-res image of the planet every month.Tesla because Tesla is awesome and Elon Musk is a visionary and inspiring. SugarSync, because they might make a good partner, and EventBrite, because they disrupted local & social event ticketing and has made life easier for many people.

Tell us a little bit about the experience of being in Startup Alley. 

You give the pitch so often, you sometimes forget that what you are saying may have quite an impact on someone. If I could have done anything differently, I would have spent more time reaching out to people ahead of time. There were very few members of the press interacting with the Startups in Startup ally. They were mostly distracted by Arringtongate! I would have thought that, at a minimum, TechCruch would have sent someone to talk to each startup.

What advice/recommendations would you give to other Startups who are considering attending the next Disrupt?

You might want to read my other post on Disrupt for more insight. If you are a B2B start-up expect a good percentage of the attendees to not care about what you are doing. This may change, but social, mobile and games seem to be the startups that get all the attention. If you decide to be a part of startup ally you may want to push to be exhibiting on day 1. Our experience was that Day 1 was far more busy for startup ally. Don’t wear a costume! Even if it does get you attention, press, leads is it worth it? Most importantly, talk to other startups. Find ones you like and promote the hell out of them. The good ones are often not the ones in the battlefield. Get to know their pitch, value proposition, send people you talk to their way too to check them out. Finally, it’s all about the follow-up. What are you going to do after Disrupt?

Thanks for supporting the Openera pre-launch party and cancer fundraiser!

Thursday August 25th was a day to remember for us at Openera, and we want to thank YOU for making it such an awesome day. The Openera Launch Party and GutCheck for Cancer Fundraiser was a huge success – which is a major reflection of the kick ass startup community we have here in Ottawa.

We have a pretty lengthy list of people to thank for making the launch a night to remember… so here goes (queue the music…):

- Bruce Firestone – Thank you for your inspirational words and being such a major supporter

of Ottawa startups/entrepreneurs.

- Dave Schellenburg from Live 88.5′s Morning Start Up – Thank you for attending the event and sharing a few words with the crowd, much appreciated!

- Devin and the Mill Street Brewery Team – Thank you for your sponsorship and for fueling our launch party.

- RedBull – Thanks for sponsoring and giving our launch party “wings”.

- Scott Annan (Mercury Grove) – Thank you for letting us use the Mercury Grove HQ as the launch party venue and for being an awesome supporter of Ottawa startups.

- The NetGen Team – Thank you for your speedy delivery of our simple story video and working with us on our landing page and mobile site, you guys rock!

- Everyone who donated to our fundraising efforts for the Canadian Cancer Society. Cancer sucks and every little bit we can donate will make a BIG difference.

A special thank you to each and every one of you that has been an Openera cheerleader along the way and has worked with us to get us where we are today. We can’t thank you enough for all of your support throughout this journey. We have a phenominal group of supporters, friends and family.

We have a really exciting month ahead as we embark on our launch in San Francisco. We will keep you posted on our adventures and remember, if there’s anything we can do for you while we are in SF, please, please, please let us know!

Hacking a Cure for the Salesforce Email Headache

Today’s post comes to you from our very own, Adam Daw. Adam recently took the “hack-a-thon” crown at the International Startup Festival in Montreal. Here’s what Adam has to say about the hack-a-thon, the current state of email integration and Salesforce, and how many of the existing Salesforce email headaches can be solved with SmartCloud:

A couple of weeks ago, for the International Startup Festival in Montreal, a few companies related to Email threw an off-site event – a “hack-a-thon” – to announce their new APIs. I attended the event, and had a pretty good idea of a “neat” tool that I’d like to see for dealing with the kind of data you find in your email inbox. I was pretty jazzed up to start writing the tool until I found out two things:

  1. What we were being judged on
  2. Someone else had already built it at a similar event the month before

We were being judged on the number of APIs from that day we used, the creativity of our app, but also the financial viability of it. The business sense. So instead of doing something “cool”, I decided to do something that as a Salesforce User and Admin/Developer, I knew was a particular sore point with the application – Email Integration.

The current state of affairs for integration between email and Salesforce is a bit of a hodgepodge of solutions, so to speak. You can integrate Salesforce with your Outlook installation, or set up an email service (or use the existing Google service for this) that you then make privy to all of your email traffic, bcc’ing it every time you want something to show up in salesforce. You also have to be aware that one solution doesn’t act the same as the other – they all have their quirks and idiosyncrasies, so if you have users on multiple platforms or some that prefer Outlook and others that don’t, there’s no unified truth for email in Salesforce. Of course, you can force users to adopt one method or another, but then you’re making your users conform to the tool instead of making the tool fit the user – not exactly the goal when implementing a system as robust as Salesforce.com!

Once the email data is in Salesforce, it works “sort of” like any other object, but not really. It’s hard to get the data you want when you need it, and even harder to make sense of the data once you find it – assuming your users are still uploading data the way they’re supposed to. With the burden of data delivery on your salespeople, you’re taking them away from the key tasks they’re meant to perform and asking them to follow a new process every time they do something as naturally reflexive as send out an email. That’s like asking someone to change the way they breathe, all day and every day: it can be done, and it’s not an incredibly difficult task, but you’ll be hard pressed to get as much done in your day as you potentially could! Also, you’re more than likely to forget as soon as something important comes up and shakes you out of it. In other words, it’s not natural, it’s not needed, and it’s not the best use of your time!

I guess that’s the ultimate goal when I started working on this – the autonomic nervous system of the sales cycle. Just like youshouldn’t constantly have to think about when to breathe and how, your salespeople shouldn’t have to think about how their email data is getting into Salesforce. By connecting to the email server directly, we can make sure the key data needed to let you make the right decisions ends up in the right location, and by making the details configurable from directly inside Salesforce, we can do it without requiring any additional components or systems to be set up. No plugins in your email client, no bcc’ing some random email address with every communication, and it can all be done directly from inside your Salesforce window. So that’s what I presented, or at least the beginning of it, at the hack-a-thon.

Apparently I wasn’t alone with my frustrations, as I ended up winning the event.

5 ways the cloud can be better for SMB companies

Gartner, Forrester and just about every other reputable analyst, technologist or CIO tend to agree. The Cloud is good for SMB companies.

The openera philosophy is simple. Believe in the open exchange of ideas and work with good people who are willing to work hard. Focus on your strengths and shore up your weaknesses with good partners. Succeed together.

Here are 5 ways The Cloud can help SMB Companies immediately:

  1. Manage Content (Documents, records, forms, media…)
  2. customer, partners contact management (CRM)
  3. Office essentials (Email, Calendar, Tasks…)
  4. Project Management (development, marketing, human resources…)
  5. Communication (VoiP, web presentations, im, chat & social.) 

We run our company on a combination of Google Apps (email, calendar, tasks & collaborative documents) Salesforce.com (CRM & Marketing Automation) Dropbox & Box.net for content management & back-up and Skype + DimDim for VoiP, Screen Sharing, and web presentations. For a few thousand dollars a year, we can run our entire organization better than well funded multi-national companies could 10 years ago. As a small business owner, that makes me smile.

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