Mr. Wertz said it was his experience trying to invest in a group of entrepreneurs from Romania that convinced him the system was broken. He describes them as brilliant. They had worked for Google and Facebook and were keen on Vancouver for its proximity to Silicon Valley and its environment and quality of life.
“We had tons of trouble getting them a visa to stay here,” he said. “It has been an ongoing saga. People were spending probably 20 per cent of their time on immigration visa issues while they could have been building a company.”
Posts from the ‘Summify News’ Category
A lot of people have been asking us what have we been up to here in Vancouver in the past couple of months. Well, we’ve been really busy building our new product – a Social News Reader – and we’re finally ready to share it with the world!
As of today we’re starting to send out invites to people who have subscribed on our invite list (it’s on the home page). We’re going to roll them out in small batches so that we can test our system, so it’s probably going to take a couple of weeks for us to go through all of them. If you signed up for an invite you will receive one soon, just have patience.
So, what’s a Social News Reader?
People are increasingly getting their news from the social networks they’re part of (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), but this is rapidly getting overwhelming. If you’re connected with a few hundred people and companies, it’s hard to stay on top of the news they share. There’s currently no way to get the important stuff without going through all your news.
Summify gives you a river of news in a way that you can consume it in minutes, rather than hours. The important stuff bubbles up at the top so, however much time you have at your disposal, you always know you’re reading the important stuff first.
It’s a HTML5 web app (only modern browsers supported, sorry!). It aggregates all your incoming news from your Twitter and Google Reader account (Facebook and Google Buzz support on the way!). It then curates your news feed by using the social reactions gathered from your networks. The important news makes it to the Top News section. There’s also a Recent News section that allows you to see everything in chronological order.
I tell you, it’s awesome! (for a product in private beta)
Isn’t RSS dead? Isn’t the news industry dying?
While RSS has been declared dead and the news industry is slowly dying, that doesn’t mean that people have stopped reading their news. On the contrary, people are getting more and more news and they can’t really keep up with it. We know the road to solving personalized news is paved with dead startups, but we believe that by capitalizing on some new trends in the industry (people are using their social network to curate their news, mobile smartphones and touchpads enable you to read stuff anywhere) we have a really good chance of solving this problem!
Private beta again?
Some of you might remember that we started out at Bootup Labs in January with a very different product. One of the benefits of being in an incubator is that you can quickly get feedback, learn from it and iterate – and that’s just what we did. We realized our product wasn’t differentiated enough and it wasn’t what the publisher market wanted – we had a really good solution for the wrong problem. :)
Thanks to good mentorship and advice we looked at what we’re passionate (hint: we’re huge news junkies!) and we took all the lessons we learned from the previous product and applied them here. Only time will tell if this was the right move, but we’re much more confident about this new product!
I guess you can call this change a “pivot”, apparently it’s all the rage right now in the startup world!
We love feedback! Give Summify a try once you receive your invite and let us know what you think!
My 3 weeks of being CEO will expire on Monday and I will pass the CEO hat to Mircea. It’s been a crazy and fun period for us! I had the chance to manage one “intimate” beta launch and one private beta launch. It all ended up with an awesome private beta party this Friday — 55 beers and 1…
During the past few weeks we’ve been working very hard (13+ hours / day) to get our private beta out and we’re getting really close!
Right now we’re in “intimate beta” mode. A few of our friends from Bootup Labs were crazy enough to test Summify on their blogs. Check it out (it should work from an iPhone too):
Oh, wait! What’s Summify? Well, Summify is the new ReadFu! Ever since we started pitching ReadFu to people we’ve soon noticed a few issues with that name:
- People find it hard to understand. We were asked quite a few times how exactly do you spell it and it was always funny to say “It’s Read + Fu, like in Kung Fu”.
- It’s deceiving. Our name is composed from a common word and something ambiguous. People get the impression that it’s descriptive (because of “read”) when it’s actually not.
- Kung Fu theming was too edgy. There was no connection between us and Kung Fu.
So we decided to look for a better name. Luckily people around us were very supportive. We received a lot of great suggestions from Patrick, Jamie, Noah, Daniel and others. We eventually picked Summify, which we believe fits perfectly in our pitch.
There is some hassle doing a renaming though:
- Facebook doesn’t allow you to rename your fan page so we have to start over. Please make sure to become of fan of Summify on Facebook so that we can get a proper vanity URL (you have to get 100 Fans to do that).
- We have to move our email and docs to the new domain. Our @summify.com emails don’t work yet but we’ll have them up until next week.
- We have to print a new set of business cards.
- Other small changes that add up
Luckily we hadn’t yet built a brand around ReadFu, our design was still fairly early on and we didn’t have a lot of incoming links. Later on it would have been much harder to do this change.
All in all we’re excited about our new name and we hope you like it too! Summify brings insightful summaries for any link on the web. Doesn’t it sound great?
Make sure to stay tuned, we are sending invites next week and if you’re on the private beta list (big “Sign up” button on the homepage) you’ll get one!
It’s been an awesome two weeks, jam-packed with events, new people, and excitement, just like when you start school! :) To give you an idea of how intense it was, let’s go through the most important things that have happened so far:
- On January 22nd, a few days before the official start of the program, Mircea went to a “How To Pitch” session organised by the Canadian Financing Forum. Writing an effective pitch for investors is a critical part of a startup, so it was great to be exposed to this early-on.
- January 25th was kick-off day! We got to meet all the Bootup crew and all the teams from the January cohort. We’re in damn good company here! :) These guys are really talented and experienced, some with very unusual life stories: an ex-marine turned programmer and entrepreneur, a professional chef, a professional soccer player, a physicist, etc. We are honored to be working alongside these guys, and we have a lot of things to learn from each other!
- On January 26th we did something a bit more on the fun side. Boris had the idea of bringing Dave Shea to design beer labels for the January teams. Consequently, we ended up with our own ReadFu Export Lager beer label. Now, we only need the beer! And yes, we WILL brew it!
- January 27th was the day we’ve all been waiting for: Guy Kawasaki comes to visit Bootup Labs! Cristian warmed him up with our elevator pitch, we exchanged some questions, he schooled us a bit, and we got a chance to demo our product at the end. He likes what we’re up to, which is a rather encouraging appreciation for us.
- On January 28th Silviu went to Bootup Demo Days and saw all the companies from the previous cohorts “graduate” by pitching to VCs. This was a great networking opportunity for us as well.
- On February 2nd we had lunch with Lucian Savluc, a Romanian guy working as a web marketing specialist in Vancouver. He is well known as the founder of eLiberatica, one of the top technology conferences in Romania. He was very supportive of us, both as entrepreneurs and as fellow Romanians, just off the boat in Vancouver. Thanks, man!
- Startups are fun but every now and then you have to sit down and do some serious business. On February 3rd we met with our awesome lawyer Shahrooz Nabavi from Fasken Martineau to setup all the details of incorporating in Canada. And by the way, Canada is a great place to start a company! (Hint: You get tons of government benefits!)
- Our second week was deemed “the homework week.” To get us in the right mindset and have us think really hard about our business, Boris gave us a bunch of stuff to do: an executive summary (you use it when you pitch to investors or customers), a set of milestones, a budget, events plan (what events/conferences do we want to go to), and a hiring plan. Lots of hard work, but we pulled it off and we now have a much clearer picture of our business and product.
- The Vancouver startup scene is very active. To get a sense of the events that are happening you can check Meetup. On February 4th we went to such an event, the Vancouver iPhone Developers Meetup. Funny enough, the speaker was Andrei Iancu, a Romanian. We learned a bunch iPhone development stuff and we met new people. For instance, we met the guys at XOMO, the company behind the official 2010 Olympics iPhone App.
- On Friday, February 5th we finished our very intensive two weeks by having a few beers with our newfound friend Igor, from Russia. He’s the CEO of Mobify, a great startup from Vancouver. We had a good time!
This is pretty much it. We think the experience here is amazing! If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur we recommend you to apply to Bootup Labs. It’s awesome!
So, what do you think of our first two weeks of school? Want us to get into more details on a specific event? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Since the announcement in December that we’ve been accepted into Bootup Labs ReadFu has been getting quite a bit of press coverage in Romania, our home country.
We hope our story will inspire entrepreneurs from Romania and that more companies will apply to Bootup Labs (next cohort is in May) or similar incubators!
We did some interviews, both online and on TV, and we’ve tried to be as informative as possible regarding the application process. If you feel inspired, you can start “preparing” by reading what’s been said about us:
P.S.: Wouldn’t it be great to be able to preview all these links without having to open a new tab? :)
Hello and welcome to ReadFu!
ReadFu helps you rapidly surf through web pages that contain lots of links.
With ReadFu, every time you click an link you get a contextual summary and stats of the target page. This helps you decide which links are relevant to you without opening dozens of tabs.
ReadFu took root in Romania and is built by Cristian, Mircea and Silviu, a team of young professionals passionate about software and online. We like to solve difficult and important problems. You can learn more about us on our team page.