He was four days away from running out of cash and letting his team go.
He was building a product that hit a specific target I had been searching for - where biohacking meets artificial intelligence.
His company integrated devices you wear (think Apple Watch, Fitbit or Glucose Monitor) with physical activity and diet.
It then helped identify risk factors, monitor disease progression and predict physiological changes in the future - like blood glucose levels.
For the recreational biohacker or health enthusiast, this was fascinating.
For someone living with Type 2 Diabetes, this was life saving.
Last year, this start-up entrepreneur - Amir - raised $1 Million at my conference.
I found him several months earlier at a start-up event in Vancouver...
I invited Amir to compete in our Rockstar Showcase. It’s a feature at our Extraordinary Future Conference where young start-ups pitch an audience of real money.
And they’re grilled live on stage by a panel of judges, Dragons' Den style.
This isn’t a good idea for every entrepreneur. I’ve seen super competent CEO’s break down when asked tough questions in front of a live audience.
It’s trial by fire, but the good ideas make it through the gauntlet.
Amir was smart. He’d won a few start-up pitch competitions and had the extroverted confidence of a college jock.
He hadn’t raised any money yet, or even generated revenue. But he’d tested his tech on 5000 participants. The results were outstanding.
The participants in this Rockstar Showcase were competing for two things:
1. A $50,000 Cambridge House Media Package, and
2. A seat on the main stage at our Cantech Investment Conference in Toronto - the biggest tech investment conference in the Country.
All of the entrepreneurs were nervous.
These weren’t capital markets vets with years of pitch decks and presentations behind them. They were start-up success stories that were self-funded - bootstrapped companies that made it over “the hump”. They had a proven product and were ready to scale.
You could feel the pressure in the Green Room as the contestants waited for their turn to hit the stage.
It is a unique sensation, walking out onto a theatre stage.
Stepping out from behind the curtain… the audience is dark. And the stage is bright.
Lights shock your eyes and distort the size of the room.
You begin your talk. And for the first time you hear voice through the theatre speakers.
Nerves take over, reducing your articulation and thought patterns.
For this moment, preparation is everything.
The judges were tough. Their job was to poke holes in the business plan and help the audience determine where to put their cash.
Amir was my frontrunner. Not surprisingly, he won first place and took home the $50,000 Media Package.
However, once he got offstage, his future changed…
A wealthy investor from the crowd approached him and started peppering him with additional questions.
Soon, she learned what the rest of the audience didn’t know - Amir was 4 days away from running out of cash. His couldn’t pay his team.
This is how quick your luck can change. This investor cut him a cheque, on the floor, for $24,000 so he could make payroll.
She then became the lead order of a $1 Million raise.
The craziest part is that I had never met this investor before.
I pride myself on knowing the who's who on our floor, but this lady had flown under the radar and was a serious player.
We've since met a few times. She actually showed up in my boardroom seven months later to grill me over a CEO that she felt I had mistreated.
I stood my ground. It turned out she had invested heavily with this CEO and was playing the role of activist shareholder, looking out for her portfolio.
I love this industry.
This year, we are bringing the Rockstar Showcase back to the Extraordinary Future Conference in Vancouver on September 22 & 23.