Today is a big day. After 6 or so months, I’ve launched my new startup: Year One Labs. Year One Labs is an early stage seed accelerator that will help fund and build startups, primarily in the web and mobile spaces. Although we’ll be in the business of helping others launch their startups, Year One Labs is most definitely a startup itself.
Year One Labs was really Raymond’s brainchild, an evolution of his experience in angel investing. He wanted to formalize things further and bring others on board. He and I were brainstorming various startup ideas and talking about how to structure a seed accelerator program that would work in Montreal. Alistair and Ian had similar ideas in the past, and collectively we put together the Year One Labs plan.
Year One Labs isn’t a short-term acceleration program. It’s a 12-month initiative, where we will co-create startups with other entrepreneurs. “Co-creation” is really the key. We’re not launching Year One Labs so we can throw money around, provide arms-length advice and occasionally email people in our network on others’ behalf. We want to work alongside other entrepreneurs and build great companies.
Each project will receive around $50,000 and a lot of active help; from the partners but also from our incredible group of investors and mentors. Guys like Randy Smerik, Jeremy Edberg, Christian Lavoie, Jeff Stewart, Tobias Lutke, Rob Collins, Andre Forest, Dan Martell and Luc Levesque. If you don’t know who all these guys are, you just need to Google them and understand the quality and level of success we’re bringing to the table.
So what does co-creation really mean?
For starters, we’ll be putting entrepreneurs through a curriculum of sorts (don’t worry, there’s no actual school involved!) focused on Customer Development and Lean Startups. I have yet to see another accelerator, angel group, funding group, or startup program that structures things this way. And I think it’s critical.
When it’s time to do customer interviews, we’ll be there doing them with you. Sales calls? Yep, we’ll do those too. We want to jump into the trenches with you and battle things out. And when it’s time to raise follow-on financing (if it’s needed) then we’ll be actively getting that done with you, and opening up networks across Canada and the United States.
Why Year One Labs?
After working on Standout Jobs for 3 years (and it felt more like 10), essentially wearing blinders to everything else that was going on, I thought it would be fun, interesting and worthwhile to keep more diverse interests. Year One Labs provides that opportunity, since we’ll be working on multiple projects.
I can’t pass up the opportunity to work with Raymond, Alistair and Ian. Or the mentors and investors.
And I think the model – of co-creation focused on customer development – can result in very successful companies.
As of this moment we’re recruiting entrepreneurs that want to join Year One Labs. So if you’re interested, visit http://yearonelabs.com and get in touch. We’re not just recruiting in Montreal. I encourage you to visit the site, learn more and ask me any questions you might have.