Canada's greatest startup city?

We are looking for writers who are in love with their hometown, or adopted hometown.

You are running a startup or heavily involved in your local tech and startup community and you are convinced that your town is the best place in Canada to be starting a company.

We want profiles of the best cities, towns and communities based on criteria such as

  • Cost of Living
  • Existing community of startups
  • Previously successful individuals
  • Availability of talent
  • Angel investment activity
  • Government assistance availability

But hey, you know why your hometown is the best place in Canada to get off your butt and start a tech company, so get in touch and we’ll send you a quick email with some criteria for your post.

Just think of the fame of being a guest writer on StartupNorth!

Weblo Raises $3M – Brooklyn Bridge for Sale, founded by Rocky Mirza, has raised $3,300,000 in a second round of funding from Vantage Point Ventures.

Based in Montreal, Weblo is some kind of horrible cross between MySpace, Second Life, and Monopoly. You can spend real money to purchase profile pages of property (e.g. California), non-trademark domain names (e.g., and celebrities (e.g. William Shatner). Then as the owner of these virtual assets you get a revenue share of advertising on the profile page (usually less than a dollar). You can also sell these profile page assets to the next fool (don’t count on it).

Interested? Me neither… Weblo has all the appeal of a ponzi scheme. Listening to Sean Morrow, Weblo’s Director of Marketing, describe Weblo as a business opportunity for users makes my stomach churn. This is not to say someone isn’t making money. The first time an asset is sold all the proceeds go in Weblo’s pocket (e.g. someone purchased California according to Weblo for $53,000). Weblo hopes each of the profile pages move up in the search engine rankings to collect some SEO advertising dough. And of course members are encouraged to upgrade to a monthly paid membership to earn a larger cut of the advertising revenue. Yeah…

I am not the first one to call the site a modern version of the Brooklyn Bridge ruse, where a con man sells the Brooklyn Bridge to a sap. Yes, someone purchased the Brooklyn Bridge from Weblo.

It is not just that proclaiming oneself the virtual owner of Toronto, Madonna, or is delusional. Weblo, essentially a collection of empty profiles pages, lacks the adventure of a 3D MMOG like Second Life. Will Weblo profile pages move up the search engine rankings and prove as indispensible as Wikipedia articles? Doubtful. Wikipedia works because everyone can contribute to a page. On Weblo each profile page is controlled by one unmotivated individual looking for easy money.

“There’s a sucker born every minute…and two to take ’em.” Prior investors in Weblo include: Richard Rosenblatt, former chairman of; Fred Harman, managing partner of Oak Investment; Matt Hill, founder of eForce Media; and William Woodward, managing director of Anthem Venture Partners.

Way to sell ’em Rocky. – What's next in RSS

If you are like me, your blog aggregator is getting a little out of hand. Once you start climbing over 150 feeds, and well in to the 200s, you are starting to get overloaded. I have, on a few occasions, deleted all the feeds from my feedreader and have started from scratch.

So far in it’s life, RSS has been kept pretty simple, and that has been a big reason for it’s success. Things are changing however. Every major browser now incorporates RSS in some way, and it is becoming more and more of a mainstream tool.

Why did you start AideRSS?
“On one level, to scratch a personal itch, and on the other, to help everyone else with the same problem of overloaded feed-readers ? we knew we were not the only ones, and someone had to step up to the plate! The daily number of posts most people receive makes it impossible to stay on top of the news, frequently resulting in the ?mark-all-as-read? syndrome. In this process, important stories, and at times, true information gems are lost. AideRSS tries to address this by allowing the user to filter incoming feeds based on social engagement metrics: comments, bookmarks, trackbacks, etc. We collect this meta-data for every feed, find the posts that have created a buzz, and deliver them into your inbox ? much like a newspaper editor picks relevant stories out of the newswire. Our goal is to make RSS manageable and relevant for every reader. “

It is time for RSS to come of age, and to do that we have to get smarter about how we manage feeds. Right now, early adopters are up to having 200, 300, 400 or more feeds and the design of the aggregator hasn’t changed much in 3-4 years. when I ran almost 6 years ago, we were trying to create the aggregator. AideRSS is now reinventing how we use RSS feeds.

picture-1.pngTo help cut down on the noise coming in through your aggregator, the AideRSS guys have come up with what they are calling PostRank.

Postrank is a combination of how many links, mentions and conversations there are about a particular post. If you look at the screengrab you can see that AideRSS gets information about each post from places like Bloglines, Technorati, the blog itself (number of comments), and amongst others.

“PostRank? is a scoring system that we have developed to rank each article on relevance and reaction. It is a core part of the AideRSS engine that works to ensure that this digital assistant is helping you to tame the RSS beast and keep your news stream manageable.” – FAQ

The issue of currency vs. relevancy
The biggest tradeoff in moving from a normal all-you-can-eat feedreader to something like AideRSS that filters posts based on their popularity is that you are now relying on other people to participate to help you filter your posts. That is ok, and it works, but it also means that you aren’t going to be on to the latest meme right away. My solution is to put many of the less frequently updated and less interesting blogs in AideRSS while keeping a lot of my daily favorites in my regular RSS reader. Because you can import your AideRSS feeds into your aggregator, this is really easy. Cut down on the noisy junk and still get all your Valleywag and Scobleizer up to the second.

Will it Grow?(tm)
It’s easy to misunderstand RSS plays. Very few people really understand the RSS market, or the vision for how RSS will grow in the future. Even those who “get” and use RSS day to day have very little understanding of the business opportunity. I was not alone in wondering about Union Square’s investment in Feedburner until I started using Feedburner. Feedburner saw a real pain for publishers (understanding the use and reach of their RSS feed) and they delivered solutions for it incredibly well. AideRSS is doing the same, but they are bringing the same sort of value to both the publisher and the reader. We have added the AideRSS sidebar to Startupnorth, you can see it in the right-hand column.

Overnight hits such as mybloglog have shows that if you provide a few tools that are just interesting enough to both publishers and readers, then you can really hit a home-run.

One of my favorite things about using AideRSS so far is how snappy it is. My only complaint is that it creates some uncertainty about how often the feeds are being updated. I’d like to know the last time each feed was updated somehow, and have the ability to manually request that it be updated.

The core AideRSS services will always be free, with optional premium services available later on at a cost. I could see a service such as a customized newsletter for busy individuals (ie: “send me the top PostRank posts about the Real Estate industry once a day”). AideRSS will be the authority on what the most relevant content in the blogosphere is, and there will be many ways to capitalize on that.

AideRSS is a Waterloo, Ontario company, and they have taken a small amount of funding so far, but they are on the lookout for investors who understand their space, and what they want to accomplish.

For me, it’s an obvious one. Without trying to sound like too much of a cheerleader, I love AideRSS and I want them to succeed only so that I can keep using their service.

If you want an invitation to their beta, I suggest you ask in the comments below, I am sure they will let as many in as possible, and perhaps Rob can relax a bit now, help is on the way it seems.

Update: AideRSS has launched for public consumption, and Read/Write Web has a great rundown as well.

Contact Ilya Grigorik