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Sprouter Weekly  
Week of May 14

Your weekly round-up of the hottest startups, best content & must-attend events.

Founder Profile

Joe Fernandez
How HomeStars’ Brian Sharwood built a business out of building homes

Being a contractor and being an entrepreneur may seem like diverse career choices.

But Brian Sharwood says they have a common thread. “I love building and fixing things, whether it be houses or companies.” It was while renovating his house that he came across Homestars, a startup where he’s now President.

Read On

Hot Startups of the Week


David Barrett is the founder of Expensify, a company that helps people create expense reports that don’t suck. The tool allows users to import expenses and receipts from their credit card and submit PDF expense reports via e-mail. Launched in May 2008, the company recently came out of beta and debuted new tools including international currency support.


Lymbix is a deeper level of sentiment analysis accomplished by a connotative database. The New Brunswick-based company, founded by Matt Eldridge in 2009 and launched in early 2010, specializes in products relating to the emotion of text-based communications. The database powers products like TweetTone and ToneCheck.


Toronto-based Ecobee provides energy conservation solutions, including the Smart Thermostat. This Internet-enabled product allows homeowners to control their thermostat remotely. Ecobee also recently released the Energy Management System commercial solution. The company received $6.73 million in venture capital funding in January 2010.


reQall is a voice-enabled memory aid that integrates your mobile phone, e-mail, text messaging and IM into an organizer, reminder system and productivity assistant. It offers contextually relevant date- and time-based memory assistance in both standard (free) and Pro versions. The company was founded by Rao Machiraju and Sunil Vemuri and launched at DEMO 07.

Upcoming Events

MaRS Centre, 101 College Street, Toronto
May 17th–19th

Mesh, held on May 18th and 19th, is Canada’s web conference. Connect in one of the interactive panels and workshops, during the extra-long networking breaks or at one of the legendary social events. Or attend MeshU on May 17th, a one-day event of focused workshops on design, development and team management. Enter code “Sprouter” at for 33% off the regular ticket price.

Future of Web Apps Dublin
O’Reilly Hall, University College Dublin
May 14th

The Future of Web Apps is Ireland’s big web conference. It’s coming back to Dublin in 2010. Speakers include Freshbooks’ Mike McDerment and Twitter’s Raffi Krikorian. Learn More

Future of Web Design
May 17th—19th

This newly revitalized conference focuses on essential web learning. The three-day event will feature 33 sessions, two tracks and four workshops. It will focus on creativity, content and your business. Learn More

Founder Showcase
Mountain View, California
May 18th

The Founder Showcase is a quarterly open start-up pitch and networking event that highlights seed-stage businesses. At this event 12 companies will present to an audience of 250 investors, founders, and members of the press. Learn More

Bootstrapping workshop
118 East 25th Street, New York City
May 12th

The format is a small, hands-on group discussion, led by entrepreneur David Ronick. You'll meet like-minded entrepreneurs, and learn from each other as much as from the instructor. Size is limited. Learn More

What We’re Reading

staff pick

Being in a band made my business rock

This VentureBeat article is an interview with Andrew Mason, founder of the popular collective buying site Groupon. Mason talks about what being a musician taught him about running a $1 billion-plus company, and how he wants to make Groupon the best source of customers for small businesses. Learn More

staff pick

Why is business writing so awful?

37signals founder Jason Fried writes in his Get Real column in Inc. magazine about how business writing is banal and filled with jargon. He gives three examples of companies with fun, fresh business writing and shows how it sets them apart from the crowd. Learn More

staff pick

From zero to a million users

Xobni founder Adam Smith posts the presentation he gave with Dropbox founder Drew Houston at the Web 2.0 Expo. It includes lessons learned while building their member bases, including making something people want and having a simple landing page. Learn More

community pick

Where do you find good ideas?

This post on Seth Godin’s blog asks where you find good ideas. He says they come out of misdirection and random collisions, not sitting in a meeting room. He urges people to have fun when brainstorming for ideas. Learn More

community pick

Startup CEOs: Delegate responsibility don’t outsource it

Entrepreneur Ben Yoskovitz writes on his Instigator blog about why startup CEOs should hand over non-core work like accounting to others, but draws a clear line between outsourcing work and delegating it. After all, he says, you’re ultimately responsible for the financials. Learn More

community pick

Getting the most out of your advisory board

Audrey Watters writes on ReadWriteWeb’s startup channel about why it’s important to have a carefully selected group of people you can turn to for advice. She offers pointers on how to choose an Advisory Board – who to ask, when to seek advice, and how to follow up. Learn More

Featured Members

Murray Jones
Murray Jones
Sprouter @murray

Murray is a New York-based entrepreneur. He is the founder of, which offers real-time health support.

Christie Webb
Christie Webb
Sprouter @webb

Christie is the co-founder of W-Eleven Strategic Partners, a company that consults with the mining industry. She has over 20 years of experience in the mineral exploration industry.

Founder’s Note

Learning how to effectively pitch your startup can be difficult.

Entrepreneurs have a tendency to be either overly modest or wildly over the top.

Striking the right balance is an important skill that you need to be able to employ all day every day.

Spend the time to learn how to competently and succinctly explain what you do with conviction.

You should be able to pitch your startup several ways: try crafting a pitch for one sentence, a paragraph and for a two minute conversation.

In all conversations about your business ensure you are conveying your passion.

Passion is what is truly intriguing, compelling & contagious.

Until next week,


Founder & CEO

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