A few slides for every Canadian startup

With a little help from my friends

I think that every Canadian startup could throw a couple of slides in their presentations and pitch decks that could help themselves and help build a stronger ecosystem in Canada. I was struck by the story of Jon Medved in Startup Nation including other startups in his pitch deck. It’s a simple thing. It demonstrates entrepreneurial density, provides social proof, and potentially helps create some FOMO in foreign investors. All from including 2 or 3 slides at the end of your presentation or pitch deck, particularly when you are travelling.

At StartupNorth, we’ve always believed that we as entrepreneurs should help each other out. The goal here is to raise the noise around Canadian startups and your friends and colleagues when you are travelling. There is a lot of amazing stuff going on in Canada. We don’t need public sector programs and not-for-profits to support us, we already do the things to grow our companies. And a little bit of extra effort to raise the attention of those around us. It won’t hurt, it will help.

Here are basic un-styled PowerPoint slides that include a set of recent fundings in Canada by US VCs and a second slide that lists a set of other local companies that the audience might find interesting. (I have added 24 companies I think are interesting).

Help us. Add the following slides to your presentations.

Microsoft, WPC and Entrepreneurs in Toronto

Microsoft <3 Entrepreneurs - WPC Party

Did you know that 15,000 global players in the Microsoft ecosystem are descending on Toronto in July? Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) is happening July 8-12, 2012 at the ACC and the MTCC. That’s a lot of people building on the stack. The BizSpark One program was one that I championed during my time at the Microsoft, and there are a lot of Canadian companies that are building on the Microsoft stack:

Mark Relph (LinkedIn, @mrelph) and the Redmond and Silicon Valley crews will be in Toronto. Mark used to be my boss at Microsoft Canada, and has subsequently caught the startup bug. He’s helping startups through BizSpark and BizSpark One programs. Along with the folks from a far, Christian Beauclair (LinkedIn, @cbeauclair) and Shane Davies (LinkedIn) will also be around to support Canadian startups.

And whether you love or hate the Microsoft stack, they are trying to move to greater independence to enable developers. Microsoft is looking for ways to help startups, BizSpark, Azure and other programs like Kinect Accelerator make it easier to understand why.

Why not join WPC attendees and other startups on July 10 at MaRS?


Why I’m a Founder

Dave says we can’t all be founders.

He’s probably right. At some point though, I decided that I wanted to be a founder. Lately I’ve been thinking about why it has been so important to me over the last 10+ years to keep at it, even when it didn’t make a lot of sense.

A lot of different things have driven me to be a founder, I’ll try to be as honest about them as I can.

A need for control: Don’t get me wrong on this one. I don’t need to control others. I think you could ask any of my current co-founders and they would tell you that I don’t need to control, I just need results. What I do need control over however is my own life. Every morning I wake up that I am ploughing my own path I am happy and ready to take on the day. The moment I sense I have lost that control I am anxious and ineffective.

A desire to make a lasting difference: There are few things I can do to make a difference, but I feel strongly that providing awesome opportunities for other people to fulfill their own dreams can make a huge difference. I want nothing more than for those who come to work in my startups to see it as a place they can achieve their dreams. Watching people buy homes, raise families and pursue their own passions is probably the most rewarding result of all the work you pour in to your startup.

Watching people grow: The first feeling of failure when a startup is going sideways is always the sense that you are letting these people down. Startups are demanding and gruelling for everyone. It’s inspiring when these early employees suffer through long hours and low wages with you, but it is the never ending belief that you can make their lives truly better in the end that drives you to keep pushing and often asking for more when you know they have little to give.

When a startup is going well you get to give people new opportunities and the great thing about people is that they seem to thrive in new situations. Hard problem? Tough decision? If you’ve hired the right people then you never think twice about letting them dive in to the thick of it.

Working with the best: Simply put: I never have to work with anyone other than those who I think are the smartest, most honest, diligent and incredible people I could meet. Every single one of them amazes me in some way every day and I am a better person because of the example they set.

Constant learning: There are brilliant people everywhere in the startup world. I think they are more varied, interesting and available than any other community I have been a part of. I love it. I leave every coffee meeting, late night drinks and impromptu meetup feeling like I have learned something new. I love that feeling and I love being a part of a community that provides it.

Never knowing what’s next: I have no idea what my future holds. I really don’t. I know I am married to a woman I love dearly and who loves me back. I know I have a family I love and can rely on. Those are just about my only constants. Some people call it “instability”, but the founders I know thrive on it. You aren’t going in to the darkness, you are hurtling towards some future you have dreamt up on your own and which you will achieve for yourself, no matter what. Whatever that might be.


We can’t all be founders, but what drives YOU to break out and become one?