In the 170-year-old Storys building last week, founders and startup employees gathered for the Salesforce for Startups networking event targeted to those in the Toronto and Waterloo region.
However, the networking event wasn’t just that – during the event, hosts Iain Klugman of Communitech, Dipti Pratt of Pledge 1% and Salesforce.com head of startup relations Ludo Ulrich took the opportunity to announce partnerships they hope will foster the “give back” attitude so essential to encouraging innovation in the tech community.
Formally announcing their entry into Canada, Salesforce for Startups helps tech startups understand how the Salesforce.com cloud computing platform – best known for its customer relationship management product – can grow a startup. At the same time, they formally announced a new partnership with Waterloo-based Communitech, and will help them with their new Communitech Rev program, which is currently in its first cohort. Targeted to companies that have gone to accelerators like Y Combinator and Techstars, the program helps startups that have already built their product and raised their capital.
“So after you go to YC and Techstars and return from the program, this will help you build the other half of the business, which will focus on marketing and sales,” says Klugman. “I think in Canada and especially Waterloo, we build brilliant products, but we need to focus on the other side, which is the sales side.”
While Salesforce.com does have an interest in promoting their products to startups, their standing as a powerful marketing force and the top CRM company in the world provides the kind of expertise that startups who struggle in these areas actually need.
“The goal is to infuse what we’re good at and create that curriculum,” says Ulrich. “All customers expect rock star service nowadays and you need to know how to do marketing, so all of these things that Salesforce is known for, we want to offer above and beyond what these programs offer and give it a human touch.”
At the same time, Ulrich took the opportunity to promote the fact that they were working with Pledge 1% – a movement started in December that hopes to encourage “early stage corporate philanthropy” by asking startups to pledge one per cent of equity, product and employee time to their communities. So far, companies from as far as Austin, Texas and Sydney, Australia have signed on, and Canadian companies like Hubba and Candid are involved.
“We set a goal to engage 500 companies, and so far we’ve engaged 250 companies,” says Pratt. “We understand that you have limited time and limited resources, and we want to make this as easy for you as possible.”
While the partnerships between Communitech and Salesforce.com will greatly increase their capacity to help the startups they work with, Ulrich insists that fostering these philanthropic attitudes will only help the larger community.
“I like the idea of unlocking the potential of these talents, these young grads from Waterloo who are inspired to work at a startup but don’t know what they can bring to the table,” he says. “The startup community can really create jobs, innovation and opportunities for students and we want to be a part of that.”