Wanted: Startups for a research study


Our friends at Microsoft are looking to Toronto as a hot bed of startup activity. Don’t take my work for it, the Startup Compass folks ranked Toronto number 8 on their Startup Genome report for startup activity. The study is being conducted by our friend Sam Ladner (LinkedIn), a Senior User Researcher in Microsoft’s Office Envisioning team. Sam is ex-Toronto, she joined Microsoft six months ago in Redmond. She researches trends in the future of work, and helps builds prototype productivity technology based on that research.

She is looking for participants for this study to help Microsoft learn more about how startups organize themselves, choose technology tools, and their organizational culture. The data will be used to build technology for the next generation of Microsoft products.

About the Study

Participants would need to sit down with a researcher and possibly a note-taker for a 1-hour interview, but for observation they would go about their work day as normal. The researcher and note-taker would stay out of the way and simply observe and take notes.

The researcher would take handwritten notes and some audio recording. With participants’ permission, the researcher would also record video and take still photographs.

All data collected during the research would be used internally at Microsoft. The data would be held on a secure server that sits behind Microsoft’s firewall. This server is only accessible with valid Microsoft employee credentials.  Raw data such as photographs, fieldnotes, audio recordings and unedited video will only be accessible to the immediate research team. Edited video and/or photo slideshows will be shared with other Microsoft employees. The research report will not be published publicly, though the researchers may refer to the aggregated and anonymous findings in professional conferences or symposia. Participants may opt to have video of their offices and themselves to be included in these conferences or symposia, but by default their identities will only be known to internal Microsoft employees.

We will build prototype technologies, based on these findings. We hope to build the next generation of tools that startups themselves need.

Participate in the Study

Microsoft is currently recruiting for an ethnographic study of startups and freelancers. The belief is the number of these workers will continue to grow, and Microsoft wants to know more about how self-employed information workers use technology. If you are a startup founder, Microsoft wants to meet you. The study involves face-to-face interviewing and some job shadowing. Microsoft offer a cash or software incentive in appreciation of your participation.

Fieldwork will take place in early July.

If you want to participate or would like additional information, please complete the form below:



Coffee, Co-working and Crash Pads in Toronto

Editors Note: This is the first post by Andrew Peek at Jet Cooper. I love the concept of shared spaces for the collisions of ideas. Albert and I talked about this back at Bubbleshare. I know that it is part of the ethos at the Kontagent offices in SF. And I know it’s part of the culture at Extreme Ventures, where I’m camping while starting up. It reminds me of the “Responsible use of Shared Resources” philosophy from SCS at CMU, basically you’re responsible for not ruining it for everyone else don’t abuse the privilege. The open door policy is a great way to allow for new collisions whether that’s new ideas, new employees, or just new connections. @davidcrow


If you are an entrepreneur in Toronto, you are probably familiar with the various coffee shops, co-working spaces and wi-fi zones available to you as pseudo-offices. You might even have a pattern of Foursquare check-ins that run like clockwork throughout the week.Steven Johnson refers to spaces like these (noting England’s transition from pubs to coffee houses) as environments where ideas can have sex. At Jet Cooper, we like that.

While it takes a serious commitment to invent and scale something the size of a CSI (Centre for Social Innovation), it isn’t all that hard to contribute something – even if it’s just a few desks – to the people who might be one good conversation away from a big idea. It’s for that reason that we’ve kept a handful of desks available in our office since day one. Even now, as we plan for our next office furniture re-arrangement, we try to keep in mind the people we haven’t met yet.

Thinking back on it, it has been a wonderful way of attracting a lot of bright people, which on it’s own is a great way to expose any team to a city’s creative pulse. And realistically, all it cost was a few extra desks and chairs.

There are no restrictions on who can drop in. You don’t need to be a client, or a partner, or even have a twitter handle. Just stop by and maybe let us know your coming so we can put a beer on your desk.

Consider this a ringing endorsement for this kind of simple contribution. If you have an office, open the door. The correlation between environments and innovation isn’t a secret and as per usual, more good is gooder.