Name: Jeremy Toeman
Canadian Hometown: Montreal (Go Habs!)
Current City: San Francisco, California
Past Endeavors: Palmtastik, Mediabolic, Stage Two
Current Pursuit: CEO of Digit Media
Being from Montreal, Jeremy is not only a big time Habs fan but is also very interested in the growth of the startup community there. Although he doesn’t believe in trying to recreate Silicon Valley in other locations, he sees the Montreal startup ecosystem as a work in progress that is rapidly innovating: “A few years ago there were startups all over the map but nothing really tying it together. But now there’s Real Ventures, VC community in general, more angels….it’s really growing.” Jeremy’s time as a mentor has definitely contributed to this growth, as he is the entertainment tech go–to man who mentors startups at FounderFuel in Montreal, as well as through the C100 and 500 Startups. He was recently named one of the top 20 thinkers in Social TV and Second Screen and is currently CEO of Dijit Media in San Francisco. Plus, this awesome C100 Charter Member has been involved in tech startups since 1997.
After graduating from Carnegie Mellon in the ‘90’s, Jeremy jumped into the startup world in Pittsburgh with his company Palmtastik, but at the time the startup community there lacked mentorship and direction. Although the company was doing very well by being the number two Palm pilot site, Jeremy and his business partner, both newbies to the startup world, lacked the knowledge of venture capital and how to generate money with a startup. Without the guidance they needed, they shut Palmtastik down. With this experience under his belt, Jeremy took the leap out to Silicon Valley.
Jeremy became immersed in the TV tech space, as he and his cousin started Mediabolic, a middlewear for connected devices. While with the Mediabolic team, Jeremy went on to build the first ever digital media receiver with HP and the first networks DVR with Denon, which won the best of show at CES in 2004. Later that year, Jeremy was approached by the founders of Sling Media and he joined them as employee number one. At Sling Media, he helped build the Slingbox, which won “Next Big Thing” at CES in 2005, “Best Home Media Networking” award at CES in 2005, and was awarded a Technology Emmy in 2007. After both startups (Mediabolic and Sling Media) were acquired in 2007, Jeremy went to consult for several years. He and his business partner from Pittsburgh built a consultancy firm called Stage Two, which helped consumer technology companies (such as Boxee, Clicker.com, BestBuy, Netgear, Electronic Arts, and more) with product marketing and design.
Since being a consultant is all about giving advice, this experience primed Jeremy to be a kick ass mentor. He now not only helps out with C100 mentoring programs, but also works with Montreal’s FounderFuel and 500 Startups. One key tip he has for entrepreneurs who are just starting out: “go pitch to a bunch of VCs with the specific intent that you will not get funded.” The purpose of this strategy is to get experience and understand the whole process. So when you’re actually ready to get funded, you’ll be fully prepared. For Canadians, this is especially key when coming to the Valley: make sure you have a strategy and go after your goal. Jeremy advises to “stop being so humble.” Entrepreneurship is all about risk taking, so put yourself out there.
Startups and entrepreneurs are now incredibly fortunate to have the resources they do now; serial entrepreneurs, VCs and tech execs all give back their time to those entrepreneurs and startups who are struggling with some tough aspect of their business. Jeremy is not only extremely knowledgeable when it comes to digital media, mobile entertainment, social entertainment, smart TV and consumer technology, but his thorough understanding of the ins and outs of startups makes him an awesome mentor.
When Jeremy isn’t visiting Montreal, he’s working with his team at Dijit Media on Next Guide, a hyper-personalized TV listings guide. He also participates in mentoring during 48hrs in the Valley, speaks at tech conferences such as GROW in Vancouver (check out the video of his talk at GROW 2012 here), and writes on LIVEDigitally. To learn more about Jeremy and his thoughts on startups and entertainment tech, check out his blog and twitter.