What makes Montreal so sexy for startups?

Eva Blue - Cupcake CampMontreal

What I love about conferences is the unofficial encounters and spontaneous discussions that are often more interesting than the official presentations – not to name names! At the LeWeb conference this is exactly what happened with John Stokes, partner of the Real Ventures investment fund. I’d often seen him around Montreal but it wasn’t until Paris that we had a real conversation.

I asked John about the differences between startups developed in Europe versus those in Canada. At first glance, projects are similar on both sides of the Atlantic. A pessimistic outlook would explain this phenomenon as a lack of creativity and risk taking, because it’s easier to adapt or copy an idea that works well.

We also talked about the advantages Montreal offers to startups. The multiculturalism of the city is a real asset, since it already fosters internationalization projects. Montrealers are also great connectors, which facilitates the development of partnerships or the search for clients.

From my experience with Seevibes I can confirm that these two points are completely true. This reminds me of a discussion I had with Fred Guarino about how in one direction Montreal is the first step towards Europe, and in the other direction the first step towards North America. I think that the program of the International Startup Festival which is held in Montreal demonstrates this reality.

Is Second Life the future of musical marketing?

Second Life is becoming popular once again thanks to the Avatar effect from James Cameron. Anyway, Christopher Ross, aka Legrand, wants to believe in this resurrection. With the help of students from the Temple University of Philadelphia, Legrand projected himself in a connected world where Second Life is the new centre of gravity.

Where was Second Life?

A long time ago, my friend Michelle Blanc tempted me to play with this tool even though I knew I would not be able to spend more than a few hours in Second Life. The same for numerous innovations, I think that Second Life came too soon on the market.

My hopes were definitely higher when it came to the Home virtual space from Sony. Like in Second Life, except for the communication aspect between avatars, these spaces are exclusive worlds that do not interact with communities we live in. To that extend, Facebook is a very successful because it abolished the 3D anonymous avatar in order to offer a trusting space where continents of interactions are built.

Imagine music from the future

I like the initiative from Jean-Julien Couturier, who started the “Legrand in SL” project, because he explores through academic projects the future of music with actual technologies. Things he carries in his luggage are like “Live Music Recommendation in Real-Time” and “The science of Nine Inch Nails”. The latter recaptures the 450 Gb of data from the Nine Inch Nails 2009 “Lights in The Sky” tour.

Sometimes I feel I am seeing what music from the future will be like when I create my own iPhone radio with Deezer, when I share with friends on Blip.fm, when I download the last podcast from Laurent Lasalle and when I watch my favourite musical channel which I personalized with Youtube and its Autoplay function. In conclusion, I think this is exactly where you will find the future of musical marketing.



Video Sitemap 101: How to find your videos on search engines?

Video Sitemap 101: How to find your videos on search engines

The video SEO evolved a lot since my 2008 column on the ‘’10 secret hints for optimization of Internet video referencing’’[FR]. Nowadays, the impressive Moutain View is granting access to a maximum of videos in order to launch Google TV. To do so, Google makes it easier for the web masters by generating a Video Sitemap, which is the indexing format of video content being developed along with Yahoo’s Media RSS (mRSS).

Google shares its best practices to index video properly through a complete guide dedicated to Video Sitemap. Here are 3 examples:

  • 1. Make sure that your video Internet address is ‘‘browsable’’
    Make sure that the robots.txt file promptly relays your website to search engines so they can index all of the video elements from your sitemap: text page, miniature, video player and content.
  • 2. Specify which countries will be able to access your video
    The “restriction” complement has been added recently. Only a few countries will be able to download these videos.
  • 3. Clearly point out all the deleted videos from your website
    if any In order to maximise each user’s experience, Google recommends two things every time a video is removed: create a page 404 or insert a tag with an expiry date for a selected video (Video Sitemap: element) or mRSS: ).

Since Youtube is now coming into our home, it has to offer all the possible Internet video quality. Is it exactly what Google did by processing Video Sitemap elements directly into the conventional Sitemap. From now on, Google will process video content the same way it does for text or pictures in a website.

Beyond Sitemap, video referencing should get a step ahead with HTML5. It now includes more semantic elements that facilitate the presentation and better understanding of multimedia contents in general, video referencing included.



Five tech predictions Deloitte won’t make for 2011

Five tech predictions Deloitte won't make for 2011

IBM just made its tech predictions for 2015. Big Blue’s teasing us with talk about its holographic mobile phone. Its battery will recharge on fairy dust. Back in 2006, IBM predicted instant vocal translation, but we’re still a long way off having this feature in our daily life.

On January 19, 2011 in Montreal, Deloitte will be back with its technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) predictions. What I like about this company ‚Äî besides that it’s an excellent customer ‚Äî is that they manage to guess every year which technologies will dominate in the following 12 months. They have a success rate over 70%. I can tell you, it’s much more difficult than to make predictions for periods from 5 to 20 years.

The same kind of paradox arises with startups. On the one side, those who predict a radical change in consumer habits in the short term can catch the imagination of venture capitalists who perk up and invest millions all at once in marketing so that the service reaches a critical mass to generate potential profitability.

To develop my social TV startup, Seevibes, I admit being part of the other, more conservative camp that begins by seducing the market this year to have the means to revolutionize it within three years. This pragmatic approach is less sexy, but as with Deloitte’s TMT predictions, I prefer basing my work on more credible results.

My prediction for 2011: startups must be more Cash-Cash than Bling-Bling. Let’s get back together in a year and see who was right.



Work4Labs: is Facebook the right place to recruit?

Work4Labs: is Facebook the right place to recruit?

While doing our startup interviews at the LeWeb’10 conference, Benoit and I welcomed Stephane Le Viet, co-founder of Work4Labs, creator of WorkForUs, a recruitment application that integrates into corporate Facebook pages.

Work4Labs is not the only company working on Facebook recruitment solutions. I’m connected to BranchOut myself; BraveNewTalent has similar functionality.

Considering that with 80 million users, LinkedIn has emerged as the standard network for professionals and recruiters, how can a Facebook application compete?



Your friends on Facebook or Twitter deliver your paper.li newspaper – Iskander Pols #LeWeb10

Your friends on Facebook or Twitter deliver your paper.li newspaper – Iskander Pols #LeWeb10
Paper.li is the winner of the startup contest presented at LeWeb’10. During the Inside LeWeb’10 series of startup interviews we spoke to Iskander Pols, co-founder of paper.li, the newspaper that delivers the best stories of your Facebook and Twitter friends.

Paper.li by SmallRivers is not the first service to aggregate and deliver news from the social network. Personally I prefer Twittertim.es and Feedly.

But the paper.li stroke of genius is the addition of a viral angle in a daily post to Twitter that automatically includes the names of everyone mentioned in the story.



Live question-and-answer session with the startups making the buzz @LeWeb

Benoit Descary and I invite you to ask questions of the entrepreneurs behind the most promising startups of the moment, live from the LeWeb’10 conference in Paris.

To find out more about these startups, follow the Ustream channel Inside LeWeb throughout the day, or read our Twitter streams @zelaurent and @bdescary. Look for the hashtags #inside #leweb.

Here is the list of the interviews we’ve done at LeWeb’10:

LeWeb: Why you should love startups!

LeWeb: Why you should love startups!
A few days before the opening of the LeWeb ’10 conference, Benoit Descary and I prepared an exclusive program to introduce the startups we think will stand out on the Web in the next few months.

Sixteen startups were invited to a contest organized by the LeWeb conference. Eight of them will be participating in an online Q-and-A live on the Ustream channel in 15-minute sessions presented by Benoit and myself:

Our goal is to give you special access to these exceptionally promising startups. It’s a rare opportunity to find out more about their processes, business models and technologies, and discover the motivations that inspired them to reinvent the Web.

It was this article by Cédric Giorgi – originally posted on Mry’s blog – criticizing France for having no pride in its startup entrepreneurs that made us decide to show you why you should love Web startups 🙂

Before and during LeWeb, Benoit and I will also be sharing the inside scoop about Europe’s biggest web conference of the year – the organization, the speakers, the events, the bloggers. You can follow us here:

It’s your time to ask questions to the startups!

NB: Alexandra Francon, Community Manager of Hellotipi, has graciously agreed to help us keep all these information channels updated throughout this two-day conference.

Who would like to buy my influence on the social networks?

Who would like to buy my influence on the social networks?

Because of the blogs I write and post online almost every week, I keep on receiving all kinds of press releases – most of them are inappropriate – that refer to a ‘‘super’’ product, service or event that shall totally change my blog world! For the last few months, I feel like they are trying to impair my “influence”. For example, they promote contests, such as Nissan HyperCube or the opportunity to get the greatest job in the world. Nowadays, customers are even willing to pay for some advice of mine! Furthermore, my interaction within the social networks is gaining in value: I even woke up one day to find that I was quoted in the Stock Exchange!

You are an intelligent public relation agency

If you are a professional of public relations or a manager who tracks influencers, please follow these different steps before contacting me:

  1. Read several articles on my blog and in the ‘‘À propos’’ section
  2. Ask me if the information you want to deliver is any of my interest, topic-wise and location-wise
  3. Ask yourself if I really have time to promote your product/service/event
  4. Ask yourself why I should promote your product/service/event
  5. Refer to steps 1 to 4 once more
  6. Done and done?
  7. OK. I recommend you to join me during one of the ‘‘happy hour’’ encounters so we could discuss and get to know each other (Yulblog, Yulbiz, Camp, etc.). Only then I shall be more willing to promote your product/service/event.

I won’t be pointing fingers at anyone in order not to disillusion any of the new professional workers. Instead, I recommend you to read (yet again) Sylvain Carle’s article that came out last year on all the contact persons he was able to get from the Nissan HyperCube contest designers.

Could I be traded for an airplane ticket?

To tell the truth, I once traded myself for a train ticket. It happened last year when ViaRail sponsored the Montreal PodCamp team so they could get to the Toronto Pod Camp with Via1. We did not have any obligations; we only had to share our experience of the WiFi access during the trip. Each participant shared its most honest point of view. I am taking the opportunity to thank Nadia who was then working in the communication dept. at ViaRail and who put this fun event together.

This week, Virgin America is trying to seduce web influencers with the launch of a new airline company in Toronto. The Toronto-based residents carrying a high Klout score shall receive a free airplane ticket. Klout is a service of Twitter user influence scoring. At the moment, my score is worth 42/100.

Please buy me!

Karl Marx would turn in his grave if he found out that even human beings are now quoted in the Stock Exchange. With Empire Avenue, each person may increase its presence value on the social networks. The Canadian start-up is playing certain games with ego and lure of profit, two sin concepts that are usually quite popular. However, after only a few weeks as a participant, I am simply not into it. Empire Avenue does not seem to take off either.

I start to wonder where this ‘‘human being marketing’’ will take us. I still believe that social networks are definitely not the best place to do so. Reality TV might be more appropriate.

In conclusion, I will give you the same answer I gave to a public relation specialist who asked me to promote a ‘‘revolutionary pocket charger”: I like the ‘‘social’’ in social networks. The smallest dose of ‘‘social’’ during conversations sometimes gives the best results.

NB: I wrote this article with a Canadian movie in mind. It is called: “Un capitalisme sentimental”. The story took place during the 1920’s and talks about the main character being quoted in the Stock Exchange. Simply a must!

Media User Generated Content

Media User Generated Content

More and more companies ask for their customers/consumers to play a part in their communication. Furthermore, they could even ask them to find their brand name and to produce their promotional video.

Where stands the limit in terms of User Generated Content (UGC)? Should the media take a step aside to let the members of the audience take the lead in terms of news editing? I did try to answer that particular question during my last chronicle on Canal Argent [FR].

UGC: no new marketing concept

My first observation is that people are already turning the brands away. For example, you may refer to vodka Absolut, Adidas or the very popular video with Tigers Woods who chats with his father from beyond the grave.

The web surfers learned to become their own media, thanks to the fast and easy access to publishing tools, such as WordPress and social networks like Facebook, Twitter or MySpace. They can easily influence certain market niches.

The brainwave from marketing geniuses – Yes I am one too – is to take the credit for consumers’ creativity to the benefit of their brands. That is how the user generated content was made and began to work in the name of advertising. Ask Loic Lemeur what he thinks about it.

Doritos is an expert in the promotion of UGC contests. The American company did so during the Super Bowl and in Canada during the Doritos Guru. The company asked consumers to pick the flavour for their new product.

News information is worth a lot. Why shouldn’t we ask members of the audience to direct it?

The media took advantage of the fact that it is easy to have consumers over to do all the work. For example, Radio Canada invited 32 people to blog about the 2010 World Cup, with an invitee to represent every country. For now, only Japan and Korea are missing a ‘‘representative’’. CRTC recently moved forward with the Génération V channel which content will be entirely generated by users.

I seriously think that we reached the limit of ‘‘free of charge’’ user generated content. Just like the Sorel-Tracy video contest, it became a must to consider and recognize the work done for the benefit of a brand or a company. Otherwise, I consider that as an act of volunteering and I rather keep on doing it with Île sans fil.