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Direct from the Six, world renowned, Canada’s largest city, with Canada’s biggest thinkers, visionaries, and hustlers. This is Startup Talk podcast episode 24 Javelin Sports, featuring the founders, funders, innovators, and community leaders who have led Canada’s startup ecosystem right here in Toronto. You’ll hear the challenges, the failures, the successes.

Justin and the startup coach on Startup Talk Toronto's Startup Podcast

Welcome back to Startup Talk Toronto’s startup podcast with The Startup Coach episode 24.  The Startup Coach talks to Justin Ford founder and CEO of Javelin Sports about finding their niche, their growth hacks, and lessons learned building an app for pick up sports games, groups, and leagues


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Full Transcript of Interview

Direct from the six, world-renowned, Canada’s largest city, with Canada’s biggest thinkers, visionaries, and hustlers. This is Startup Talk, featuring the founders, funders, innovators, and community leaders, who’ve led Canada’s startup ecosystem right here in Toronto. You’ll hear the challenges, the failures, the successes. Toronto’s startup podcast gives you the full story direct from the entrepreneurs and influencers who’ve made a difference. Now, the host of Startup Talk, the founder of TorontoStarts, the Startup Coach. Startup Coach:Welcome back to Startup Talk, it’s the Startup Coach here. And I’m here with Justin, the co-founder of Javelin Sports. Welcome, Justin.Justin:Thanks for having me on, Craig.Startup Coach:Thanks for being here. So I like to start, before you were the entrepreneur, what were you like growing up? Were you into sports? Were you into music? What was Justin when he was young?Justin:Yeah, definitely. So growing up, I had a lot of different interests. I played a lot of different sports. I did things like dancing, drama, martial arts, and this variety of interests just stemmed from an underlying curiosity I had for new things. So the sports I played, I did a lot of soccer. I did some skiing. I also did rugby, so those were by big three ones growing up. And I think a big part of what those taught me was not only sort of confidence for… I guess believing in myself a bit, I was a very shy kid, but it also gave me a way to find something that I was good at going forward. And it really ignited this passion in me for, like I said, sports as a child. Justin:Regarding being studious, I don’t want to say no, but I think for a good chunk of my childhood, I didn’t really put a lot of emphasis into sports, or sorry, into studies, and a big part of the reason for that is that I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, so I found it hard to get motivated to really work hard in school. It wasn’t until my last year of high school, so grade 12, that I really realized, “Okay, I need to start focusing. I need to start studying or else things might not turn out so well for me.” Startup Coach:So were you more socializing when you were in school or were you a loner at this point? Justin:I had sort of both sides of that coin. So I’m very introverted, but I can also be pretty outgoing. So in a lot of my spare time, I like to read. As I mentioned, I did a lot of the arts. I did a lot of different sports. So I didn’t have much spare time to be on my own, but when I did, I liked to really take that and run with it. Startup Coach:So you mentioned rugby, was rugby popular where you grew up?Justin:So I played mostly in high school and I also did a bit in middle school, so it wasn’t hugely popular. I grew up in Aurora, Ontario. Startup Coach:I was wondering because it’s not a big popular sport, so I wondered where.Justin:Yeah. I know. I’d say a big part of it is just because I’m not a particularly big guy, in fact, I’m naturally very light. So for me, rugby just seemed like a tough sport to play. I almost played it just to myself that I could, that I could do something that I probably shouldn’t be good at, and I caught the bug for it. I’m actually still playing to this day. I’m now playing with a club. And for me, it’s become one of my favorite sports because the type of adrenalin you get when you’re on the field with scoring a try in rugby or making a play and having your team succeed, it’s unmatched to words, almost anything else I’ve ever experienced in sports. Startup Coach:It sounds pretty exciting. Justin:Yeah, yeah, no. It’s fun. And the Rugby World Cup recently was on, so I was paying close attention to that. Unfortunately, Canada didn’t do that well. Startup Coach:I would be surprised. I remember when I was working in Mexico for a time, the World Cup was going on, and Mexico beat Canada, and the whole plant went crazy. And I was wondering what was going on, they said, “Oh, we just beat Canada,” and then they looked at me, “Oh, sorry.” And I’m like, “Don’t be sorry. I didn’t even know we had a team.” Justin:Yeah, we don’t make it to all the Cups, but we were in this last one. And actually, what was really cool I got to see… Is one of the guys who’ve I played with at my club, right now is actually playing for Team Canada, so I got to watch him perform.

Shortcode could not be renderedStartup Talk podcast Javelin Sports Featured Startups at Collision

Startup Coach:Fantastic. So I haven’t told anyone this in a long time, my parents bugged me, but when I was five years old, I wanted to be a firetruck when I grew up. What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?Justin:So this is a little bit funny and it kind of speaks to something I mentioned earlier, where I didn’t really know what I wanted to be. The first thing I can remember really, definitely saying I wanted to be was when I was in second grade, I told my parents I wanted to sell cars. And my reason was because cars are expensive, so if I sell cars, I’ll be rich. I quickly learned that that wasn’t necessarily the case, so I started looking into more things. And I actually got this passion for science, so the general curiosity that caused me to do a lot of different hobbies and sports growing up, also influenced what I was interested in from an academic side.Justin:So I mentioned before I did martial arts and the first time I really started being interested in science was, once again, in second grade when I was waiting for my parents to pick me up from karate class, some guy who was probably in middle school or high school, he was explaining to me what a molecule was. And I’m like, being a curious kid, I go, “Okay, but what’s smaller than a molecule?” And he goes, “Well, an atom.” And I’m like, “What’s smaller than that?” And he goes, “Protons and neutrons and electrons.” And I’m just fascinated that there’s all theses things that I can’t see around us in the air. So it really ignited a passion in me for science. I started to do a lot of things in terms of reading a lot of different science books. I started to try to learn as much as I could. And that kind of curiosity is something that’s been influencing most of my decisions in life.Justin:Now, with that said, when I was actually in high school, I didn’t know if it was something I wanted to do full-time. I didn’t really want to be a scientist as I know it can be a bit of a tedious profession at times. There’s a lot of math, which I wasn’t too big a fan of. So that’s actually why I decided to go to Western University. So Western has this program-Startup Coach:Western.Justin:A fellow Stang.Startup Coach:Well, my brother went to Western. I went to Brock, but I went to a lot of Western parties.Justin:Nice.Startup Coach:How about that?Justin:Yeah, yeah. They have a few of those down there.Startup Coach:I wore a Western sweatshirt a lot of my time. Justin:Yeah, I still wear mine. I’m always in purple. So I went to Western because their business program, it allows you, in your first two years, to be in essentially any program in the university. And then in your final two years, you transfer into the business program. So I looked at this as a way to actually take an experimental, almost, course. So I ended up in math, right? Surprisingly, as I mentioned, I’m not a big fan of it. So I went for math and I thought, “Okay, I’ll do two years, see if this is something that I can find a passion for, and if it’s not, I’ll try to jump into business.” And I realized that it wasn’t. I think in my second year I was taking seven of my eight courses. I ended up switching to financial modeling, which is still in the stats maths side of department, so still very math heavy. So I think seven of my eight courses were math related. I took about five different calculus courses in my first two years. And I got really burnt out. Justin:During this time, I also realized that this business program that I wanted to get into was also pretty hard to get into. So I guess it was really in my 12th grade that I realized, “Okay, if I wanted to go this route where I can take some kind of experimental course my first two years and then have business as a backdrop just in case, I got to study hard.” So in grade 12, I really started studying. I upped my average. I started doing a lot of extra-curriculars. I carried that energy into first year university. Into second year university, I tried to do it, but once again, math isn’t for me. I started to see my marks drop and, like I said I would, I jumped into the business program for my third year and didn’t look back. Startup Coach:We talked a little bit before we started the podcast and you told me a few odd jobs you had. Sounds like you were pretty entrepreneurial growing up. What was your earlier career path looking like? Justin:Yes. The first job I really had, I actually started as a volunteer… I think in my last year, so I would have been in grade eight. I was a volunteer ski instructor. I did that for a few years before getting an actual real job as a ski instructor for my grade 11 and 12 years. So I would do this on the weekends of a ski season and it was a great way to not only make some money as a kid, but also get real work experience. After that, I started doing a lot of temporary jobs throughout the summer, so every summer I was doing something new. My first one was summer after I graduated grade 12. I worked in the dish pit at a summer camp. So I would live, work there, I’d do the dishes. It wasn’t terrible work, about six hours a day, I’d say, max. And I got paid 90 bucks a week, so it was really more of an experiential type of thing. Justin:The summer after my first year at university, I actually was a cashier at Canadian Tire, which was an interesting position. The year after that, I managed to get an actual pretty solid position for a second year university student. I was a risk management analyst at CIBC and that was my first real office job, I say, and it showed me a lot about what I like and what I don’t like about business. And it really introduced me to the concept of how you need to be constantly improving and working on yourself, and how a business environment allows you to do that. Justin:And then the year after, I worked as a buy-side analyst at an asset management firm. This might come as a bit of a shock, but I full thought I was going to end up in finance, right, coming out of university. While I did say math wasn’t for me, I was still pretty solid in math, and definitely better than most students in the business program. And it gave me this interesting position, I think, where I could have… I think, gone into finance and made a good career for myself. But I’m not, I’m an entrepreneur right now. Startup Coach:So you mentioned risk management. Being an entrepreneur, you have to manage a lot of risk. Is there something you learned at your time about risk management that you can apply to entrepreneurship or that you have applied? Justin:So risk management is super important. I will say the risk management analyst that I was, was actually market risk management, so it’s not too applicable to here. Most of what our work involved was actually applying interest rate changes to CIBC’s existing portfolio of investments to see what would happen if all hell breaks loose, I guess. But with that said, you’re totally right. Risk and entrepreneurship go hand in hand, so you have to do a lot of things to make sure that that risk won’t be the end of the world. Startup Coach:So you’ve had these odd jobs, now you’re a buy-side analyst. When did you decide to run your own company?Justin:So, yeah. It was actually shortly after that. As I mentioned, my grades in my second year started to drop. A big part of that was, once again, because math isn’t really for me, and especially mathematical proofs. All of my courses in that sort of area, I did pretty poorly in. So as a result of that, I wasn’t getting very good job offers. I was having trouble finding the really sexy finance jobs that I would have really… Driven me and really wanted to do that.Justin:Around this time, I also started working on a group project. This was in my final year at university. And as part of that group project, it was called the New Venture Project. So I had to build a business model and present it to a panel of judges. So throughout this process we were essentially encouraged to go down as far the path of creating the business as we could, so we got some intent to use contracts, we got a potential investor who was interested in the idea, and we came to the end of the project. This was late 2016. And we realized, “Hey, this is actually something we can do, something we can take live.” So that’s actually how I became an entrepreneur. Startup Coach:And why did you decide this company? This idea?Justin:So to fill everyone in, so I have a mobile app that helps people join sport leagues and pick-up games in their area. Once again, it is playing to my passion of playing sports that I had growing up. And a big part of the reason as to why I went with sports, and we kind of just started this as a team project, but the big part of the reason why we went with this problem is I was pretty athletic as a kid, and in my final year at university, I hadn’t been playing sports that much, so I wasn’t athletic anymore. And it kind of bugged me that there was this thing that I had that I was good at, that I was no longer really that solid at. It made me want to do something where I could actually get out and start playing sports again. And I thought, “Hey, if I want to do this, there’s probably other people in the world who are also thinking like, ‘Wow, I really wish I could play sports like I did when I was a kid.'”

Startup Talk Podcast Showcasing Javelin at Goodlife Fitness

Startup Coach:You mentioned the Javelin app. What does the Javelin app do, exactly?Justin:So Javelin Sports is a company, is a sports management company. We do a lot of different things to help make it easier for groups or individuals to play sports. Javelin, our app, is one of the big products we have right now, which is a mobile app that helps a player join sport leagues and pick-up games in their area. And it also helps a league with league management, so there’s team communication, there’s messaging, RSVPs. And then on top of all that, we’re also the only league management app on the market that can actively grow the leagues that we work with. So we also almost act as a marketing tool for these sports leagues. Startup Coach:So what is the problem you’re solving here?Justin:Since we’re kind of a marketplace, there’s two problems we have to solve. One is for the sports organization and the other is for the sport player. For the player, if you ask people if they want to play more sports, 75% of people will actually say, “Yes, they do,” whereas only 25% of people are actively playing sports. So the reason that there’s that 50% difference tends to come because people don’t know where to play, they don’t have people to play with, and they don’t have time to play. So we wanted to build something that fixed all of those problems. It was a tool that anyone can just open up and see like, “Hey, where are the games around me? Is there a quick way I can play? I can message these people in case I’m worried or nervous about playing with people I don’t know.” And this serves as a good tool to make it as easy as possible to organize sports.Startup Coach:So I know you’re here in Toronto. Are there any other cities your app covers?Justin:So, that’s actually kind of interesting. To give you a bit of backstory on how we ended up everywhere, so we’ve found that our app is actually very… I guess it’s very commonly used by newcomers to Canada. So sports are a great way to meet people and find things to do in a new city, so as result of that, we thought, “Hey, maybe we could find other big expat countries around the world and maybe our app would be great there as well.” So we ran some ads, just spent like five dollars on Facebook, through places-Startup Coach:Always a good place to test.Justin:Yeah, yeah. If you’re ever wanting to test something, a five dollar Facebook ad is a great way to do it. So we did this in Doha, Qatar, so that’s in the Middle East… Because Qatar is actually, I think close to 80%, expats. So most of Qatar’s population are people who are just there to work. And the attention we got just off of five dollars for this simple ad that said, “Play football in Doha,” it blew up. People were sharing, their friends, we were having people message us through the website. Justin:So we actually made the call to action, like, “Comment your WhatsApp number below,” and people were just spamming the page with different phone numbers to add to just a simple WhatsApp group that we were starting off with. Throughout that process, we also met someone who’s like, “Yeah, I want to play. I’ll organize games.” So now he’s organizing games for us in Doha. And on top of that, we’re now transferring all them into our app to use our pick-up system. And then we’re right now working on replicating that in other places, so a lot of places in the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries tend to have very high expat communities.Justin:Outside of them, we’ve also ran some leagues in… So we have a kite league in San Francisco, so they actually fly kites. We have a golf league in New York. We had an university in Israel and a basketball league in Hong Kong. Startup Coach:Wow. Wow, off a few Facebook ads. Justin:Yeah, sorry. Just to clarify, the Facebook ads were primarily how we got most of our pick-up players. The leagues, we usually get through a sales process. So we’ll just try calling ten different leagues, let’s say, in a city, and see just how easy it is to sell to them. Startup Coach:So everyone talks about hustle in the entrepreneur community. What are you doing to get traction and build your audience?Justin:There’s a bunch of things we’ve done through the past and there’s a lot of things that we’re doing right now just based on what we’ve learned. Currently, what we’re really working on is growing the leagues that we’ve partnered with. In order to that, we need a good player base, so our hustle right now is kind of gorilla marketing from a B to C aspect. Because we’ve already identified newcomers as a good target group for us, what we’re actually doing right now in terms of hustle, is trying to organize as many cricket games in Toronto as we can.Justin:So cricket’s actually Javelin’s most played pick-up sport. I think a big part of the reason for that is not only due… A lot of countries overseas is it popular in, but also, there’s not very many good ways to play cricket in Canada right now. So Javelin, I think in Toronto, it’s probably one of the best tools you can go to if you want to play cricket in Toronto. So we’re organizing a bunch of these different games. We’re getting a lot of newcomers on, and what that’s allowing us to do is really grow the leagues we’re partnering with to show them value.Startup Coach:That’s amazing. So I like to share both success failures, so there’s a chance that others won’t make the same mistake. Can you tell us a time where you screwed up and made the wrong pivot or startup decision? And what happened? And what, in hindsight, you should have done?Justin:Yeah, and so I think this a great question, and I think this is a good example of how… Early in our startup’s life, we didn’t know exactly what we were doing. So in our app, there’s a few different sections to it. So there’s a league side where, if you’re part of any leagues, you can access your teams there, you can actually search for other leagues in your area. And we also have a pick-up side where you can search for and join local pick-up groups. So you’ll notice there I said pick-up groups and not pick-up games. And there’s a very good reason for that. When we first started working on this app, I read this book called The Lean Startup. Startup Coach:Great book.Justin:It is. And I wanted to, to the best of my abilities, I thought I was trying to be a league startup. So at the time, we talked to a bunch of people about how they’d want to play pick-up sports and everyone was like, “Yeah, so make this pick-ups side with a bunch of different pick-up games and I want to know how many people are going. When the game is, what the difficulty level is,” all this fun stuff, right? So we did that. We made it exactly as people asked and then we didn’t get much traction out of the gate. So we were signing up leagues, and whenever we sign up a league on our platform, we tend to get their player base too, which allows us to grow our user base, but our pick-up side was completely dead. No one was making games. No one was searching or joining games that were made. Justin:So we made this mock-up for a pick-up group system, which you can think of it as like a group chat for, say, Toronto soccer. Okay? So we made that mock-up, we showed it to a bunch of potential players, and the feedback that we got from everyone was, “No, I like games more because I don’t want to join this group if I don’t know who’s inside it. I might not like when they play, where they play.” And we were just like, “All right. This is the lean startup way, right? Because we got the feedback, we shouldn’t end up making this, right?” So we went and stuck with pick-up games for another year before, based on just our experience with how people interact in the app and how they play, we’re like, “You know what? We got to just do this pick-up groups thing.” Right? “We’ve got to actually test it. We’ve got to put it on the app and see if people use it.” Justin:So we did that. We put it on the app, and instantly, our traction on the pick-up side shot up. So this was actually a great way for people to communicate and chat with other players, and we were finding it as just a very easy way, and now all of a sudden, much easier to organize games. Because if someone wanted to make a game on a certain date, other people could say, “Hey, I can’t play that day. What about this day?” And then a game would be created.Justin:And I think another thing that this pick-up group thing is actually helping people with that our pick-up game side can’t, is because it encourages chatting, so there’s group messages, there’s direct messages through that area as well, and then you can also create a game and post it in the group message, so what this allows people to do is actually chat with people that they’re playing with before they come out to the game. So for most people, it would be pretty scary or pretty intimidating to just go out to a pick-up game where you don’t know anyone. You don’t know the skill level. So that was why a lot of people were saying, “I like pick-up games so I can see the skill level.” Well, now, if skill level is something you’re concerned about, you just ask in the group, like, “Hey, are beginners allowed? Hey, haven’t played in a while, is that okay?” And people will just tell you. And then you’ve had that communication, you’ve chatted with someone who’s actually going, so when you go there, you have a name that you can look for. Startup Coach:Yeah, that’s great. And I found that on Meetup and on Facebook, and other ways people are communicating, Toronto Starts, it’s good they like to see that there might be someone they know or other people are going, and then they’re not going to be alone.Justin:Yeah. Yeah, no, it’s really important. We just added a new feature that’s helped us, actually. And that’s an interested button in our games, so before you hit attending if you wanted to go to a game that was posted in a group. Now we have interested and that gets people, right out of the gate, you can see very clearly who’s interested in the game versus who’s not quite sure if they can go yet. Startup Coach:In hindsight, would it have been a good idea to run some Facebook ads on pick-up games versus pick-up groups to get some click-throughs to see what happened?Justin:In hindsight, I wish we had a way to A-B test this. I do think if we could A-B test this, then running an actual Facebook ad would be a great way to actually make sure the users that were using it are fresh users who don’t have past biases with the app. But in order to do that, we’d obviously need some way to show both versions and actually have a way to interact with both versions of the app. So that’s something that I kind of wish we worked on earlier, was making ways to actually A-B test different parts of the app.Startup Coach:Yeah, that’s always good. We, in lean startup, and part of the things we always teach is always validate your ideas before you implement them. And don’t do six months worth of work, do a week worth of validation to decide whether that six months worth of work is worth it. Justin:Yes. I heard someone giving an analogy on it recently where they said any new feature they release has to pass the cringe test, which means if they release a new feature and it doesn’t make them cringe when they look at it, then they spent too much time working on it.Startup Coach:Yeah, that’s a very similar methodology that I say. We met up at Startup Drinks recently, just a couple of days ago and you pitched. Can you tell me how important pitching is for entrepreneurs? 

startup Talk Podcast Javelin at Collision Conference

Justin:Yeah, definitely. So pitching is super important. A big part of your job as a founder or as a CEO of a company is building relationships and trying to make partnerships happen with big groups. And the best way to do that is actually just go out there and pitch. It not only will help you meet people who can help you, help your startup, and help you grow, but it can also help you in terms of traction. So I know many startups who, how they got their initial traction, is they just got really good at pitching and then they went to these competitions. They won them, and then they took those to different media or news outlets and said, “Hey, look, we just won this. Would you do a story on us?” And like I said, I know a lot of startups who actually had a lot of growth through that method.Startup Coach:It’s not a bad method at all to go through. So do you have any pitching tips?Justin:Yes. So the most valuable thing I’ve done for myself in terms of pitching is I looked at my pitch and, for me, I just wrote it down and then read through it. What you could do, also, is just pitch to a mike or phone, or sorry, to a camera, and then record yourself. So however you do it, just look at your pitch objectively and pretend you are an investor. And if you were an investor, if you had money, would you feel comfortable investing in your own startup based solely on what you heard in your pitch? If the answer’s yes, it’s probably a good pitch. And if it’s no, then there might be something you have to work on. Maybe something’s not clear in terms of traction, maybe something is just not solid enough. Let’s say you’re spending too much time explaining the product and you don’t explain how good your team is. So whatever it is, really try to break this down objectively and say, “If I had money to invest and I just heard this pitch, would I do it?” Startup Coach:That’s great advice. So as we move farther, speaking of advice, do you have some tips for founders?Justin:Yes. Having a mobile app, I surprisingly get a lot of people reaching out to me through LinkedIn, and I think a large part of the reason for that is everyone has an app idea and they’re just trying to figure out, “Okay, how do I get this live?” So I kind of tend to give the same advice to everyone, and that’s getting the business side working is actually more important than your app idea. So the best way to do that, and this is once again going back to the lean startup system, so I didn’t do this very well, I tried but if I were to go back and really do everything again, the first version of my product that I would have made was a Google form that allows people to put in their email address if they wanted to play, let’s say, pick-up basketball. Justin:This would have showed me right out of the gate, before I spent any money, before I did anything, exactly how people like to play pick-up sports and how they interact with those in their community. So that’s my tip number one, is build the easiest version of your product first. This will not only show you how your market sort of interacts with your product, but it will also teach you a lot about business just through doing something really simple. YOu’ll see, “Okay, now that I have,” let’s say, “This Google form, how do I actually get it in front of people? Maybe I’ll spend that five dollars on Facebook ads.” I know some people who have gone to the press with just that and have gotten some media coverage, right? So that’s a very good step one. Justin:So my next step is in the same vein, is once you have that very easy product, place it in front of people and try to place it with the object of finding people who don’t like it. Now the reason for this is, as a founder, it can be very scary to almost have your products rejected. It almost feels like a personal rejection, but that should be your goal because finding people who will actually tell you, “No, I don’t like this,” it shows you a demographic that you don’t have to waste your time marketing to. Startup Coach:And it can only make your product stronger.Justin:Yes, and that’s another key thing, is getting that direct feedback once people are actually using it, is a great way to build the next version of your product. What are they most frustrated with? Because that’s what’s going to be holding you back when you actually try to commercialize your product. And then the final thing is look through the demographics of people that you place it in front of. So demographic is very important, that’s how we actually found our newcomer market base, is try to see if there’s any trends. For us, like I said, it was newcomers, right? Maybe for you, it will be maybe parents. Right? Maybe they see something that helps their kids. So try to identify demographics, because once you can find a demographic that actively likes your product, it will make your marketing efforts 10 times easier, because now you’re not just spraying and praying across everything. You have an actual group that you can really hyper-target. Startup Coach:Yeah, and take a look at your demographics. I mean your analytics. It’s a good idea to look at demographics in your analytics. I remember working with a tech startup who focused on products targeted at 20 to 30 year-olds, and that’s where they targeted. And we looked at a lot of their analytics and found that it looked like 50-plus people from November to January were buying most of the products. And it turns out older people are buying for their sons, daughters, nephews, and that kind of stuff. And they start advertising to them over the holiday season, their sales went through the roof. Justin:Yeah, yeah. It’s really important to actually find out, “Who is my target?” Because then you can start asking, “Okay, now how am I going to sell it to them?” Startup Coach:Exactly. So tell us about the lessons you learned as a non-programmer founder who built an app. For example, I worked with lots of startups who spent 20,000 to build an app, spent 400,000 to build an app, or go out and talk to different companies and say, “it’s anywhere from 80,000 to 750,000 to build one up.” How did you go about building it and what did you learn? Justin:Yeah, so going back to those three tips that I just mentioned, that would be the first thing I’d say I learned, is do that because it doesn’t really cost you any money to do that, right? And these days, no one wants to download a new app. That’s really the reality of it. So if you can’t make something just simply, whether it’s a Google form or whether… Maybe it’s a landing page and people aren’t using it, they won’t use it if it’s an app. Making something an app doesn’t make more people willing to do it. It’s just the flexibility of having an app can make the product better so it increases stickiness. So that’d be the first thing. Justin:And then once you’ve done all that and you’ve actually identified a target. You’ve identified the people like this, this is one thing I kind of wish I knew about, is there’s a lot of hiring grants that will actually help people if they’re looking to build something. So we were kind of looking initially… Because when I heard of grants, I’m like, “Oh, I guess you tell people your startup idea and the government will give you money if they like the idea.” Right? It’s not how it works. You need to tell, say the government, whether it’s municipal or federal, you need to tell them, “Hey, this is what I want to do,” and then, “This is what I need to spend money on to do that.” So maybe it’s hiring a developer. Maybe it’s building a system or maybe it’s getting some product on the shelf, so you need capital. Actually giving a project to the government makes it so much easier to get hiring grants and it will save you a lot of money in the long term.Startup Coach:And when you’re applying for things like grants, it’s not about your startup. Think about the customer, as we talked about earlier, and the government being the customer in this particular situation. What do they want? They want GDP. They want people hiring. So if you are paying people and generating revenue, they are interested in giving you a grant.Justin:Yes. The best grants tend to come for hiring. Startup Coach:Want more employment. So what tools would you recommend for entrepreneurs that has helped you or increase your productivity? Justin:So, I’m sorry, my answer to this might be a little bit boring, but the two things for me that are really necessary is a notebook so I can write things down and my Google calendar. It can be any calendar, but for me, just with so much stuff constantly going on, and as an entrepreneur there’s a million things you have to keep of, I would not remember any of my meetings if I didn’t have a Google calendar. As soon as I have something that I have to do, it’s got to go right in there or else I’ll forget it. And then the second thing, as I mentioned, my notebook. Being able to write things down, whether it’s people you’re meeting, whether it’s reminders to do something on a different day, not only does it give you a place read something if you forget what it was you were supposed to do, but it also helps trigger your memory. And when you’re trying to do a million different things, any help you can get is good. Startup Coach:Indeed. What resources and communities do you recommend here in Toronto and why? Justin:So, first is any kind of community like TorontoStarts. So this was, as Craig mentioned, we met at one of the TorontoStarts events. And now I’m here and speaking on his podcast. So stuff like that is a great way to get out and actually meet people in the community and then get introduced to people who they know. And in a similar tool, this is actually a great method to meet more individuals and that would be LinkedIn. Maybe your school has an alumni network, maybe your high school or university has something similar. And if they do, I really recommend you look through it, see if there’s any entrepreneurs, try reaching out through LinkedIn. Schedule just a 10, 15 minute call. Have a chat with them. Tell them what you’re working on and there’s a good chance that they will actually be able to introduce you to someone that helps, maybe tell you about a cool event that’s going on that could be of interest to you.Justin:I actually did this with, I think, 100 people through my university network pretty recently, and through that process, I actually found some really interesting, some really great, people to talk with… There were some people who I got on the phone with, and they’re like, “Wait, why do you want to call?” I’m like, “Just for some feedback,” and they’re like, “No.” But with that said, there were some amazing people that I chatted with through that method and it’s something that I recommend every entrepreneur does. Startup Coach:And you’d be surprised what a fellow alumni will do to help you out. Justin:Oh, yeah. Yeah, no. When they hear you went to their school or wherever, they tend to be really willing to actually work with you. And sometimes you’ll run into potential clients, which is helpful. Startup Coach:Do you have any book recommendations for our audience?Justin:Yes. So, when I hear of book recommendations, I like to conceptualize business books as there’s two types. There’s generalist books that really provide good general business knowledge and then there’s specialist books, which maybe won’t be as evergreen, but will provide you with very specific knowledge on something you need to work on. So I’d recommend for any entrepreneur to great generalist books to start off with, the first is Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. This book actually came out in the 30s, so it’s a little dated, but it’s still crazy just how many people attribute their success to just doing what was in this book. And then the second book I would recommend, I actually mentioned earlier, and that’s The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Is it Ries? Startup Coach:It’s Ries. Justin:It’s Ries? Okay. So I think reading both these books will give you a really great foundation to learn how to start off a business. And then from there, if you are applying the lean startup method properly, you’ll start figuring out that there’s some stuff you’re missing as a founder that you need to work on and that’s when I recommend you start getting into the specialist books. So I’m currently reading Getting Things Done by David Allen because- Startup Coach:Great book.Justin:Yeah, it’s looking really solid so far. I’ve just recently started it, but the reason I selected that book is because I’ve read some stuff on marketing, on sales, and I’ve kind of realized, “Okay, I know what I need to do. Now it’s just getting all of it, the mountains of work, done.” Startup Coach:And there’s always stuff to do as an entrepreneur. So what are the next steps for Javelin?Justin:We’re in an interesting season right now where we’re really starting to get a lot of players on our product. We’ve managed to, I think, start to find a pretty good market fit. However, with the summer coming done, this is being recorded November 15th. Startup Coach:And here in Toronto, Canada. Justin:Yes, yes. So the summer being done-Startup Coach:And there’s snow and ice on the ground.Justin:Oh, yeah. Winter’s coming early this season. So it’s getting harder for us to make free pick-up games, so a big part of what I’m doing right now is I’m actually reaching out to a lot of different sport leagues and facilities to see if, or even offices too, to see if anyone would be interested in sponsoring some of our games. So what will look like is they’ll get us a facility space that we can then host a free pick-up game in, and then list them as a sponsor. So this is just a new way that we’re trying to not only help people play, but also grow different communities. Startup Coach:That’s fantastic. And if people want to find out more about you and Javelin Sports, and get a hold of you or interested in sponsoring, where would they find out more?Justin:Yeah, for sure. So you can check out our website, that’s Javelin is spelled J-A-V-E-L-I-N. You can also grab a contact email from there. I encourage anyone to shoot me an email if you have any questions or comments. And we also post regular updates on Twitter, Instagram, and that’s @appjavelin. Startup Coach:So thank you very much for being on Startup Talk, Justin.Justin:Thanks so much, Craig. This has been Startup Talk, Toronto’s startup podcast. For more exclusive content, the episode vault, and to be part of Toronto’s Starts community, visit Get your name on the newsletter mailing list and check out our upcoming events. 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