'General' Archive

CTO School?

November 29th, 2011

While I’m not sure about the name “CTO School”, I like the concept but I’m curious what you think? It would be a semi-regular, evening seminar series intended to help techies who are in, or aspiring to be in, a technical leadership role at a startup. It’s meant for someone with development experience who likely has some team lead experience. Basically you’re the tech person on the hook for the product, or you’re hoping to be that person soon.

The format would likely involve an invited speaker who handles the bulk of the material for that evening followed by an intimate Q&A. We’d host it at ThreeFortyNine, which means we may be able to fit a pint in after we wrap up.

Do we need something like this locally?

Would you consider attending?

What topics need to be covered?

Can you offer up a better name?

Shit Hawt Mentors, How To Get You Some

November 23rd, 2011

Are you starting, or running, a business? Are you an entrepreneur in the making? I’m going to give you a secret that will get you a ton of incredible advisors and mentors to help you move forward. I’m assuming you’re far enough along to know that building your own cadre of advisors/mentors is massively valuable. People you can take for coffee when your shit hits someone’s fan.

I spoke at Guelph web maker meetup recently about how to quit your crappy job. The talk was a tongue in cheek way to talk about what a real business is. I used Josh Kaufman’s definition, which is this:

“Every successful business (1) creates or provides something of value that (2) other people want or need (3) at a price they’re willing to pay, in a way that (4) satisfies the purchaser’s needs and expectations and (5) provides the business sufficient revenue to make it worthwhile for the owners to continue operation”

Most startup folks think they need Fred Wilson, Guy Kawasaki and Clay Shirkey as advisors. While I’m sure those guys would be great to chat with, you don’t need them. I’m not suggesting you turn them down but what you need are folks who have experience building real businesses, ie those 5 points above. Chasing rock star advisors is a massive waste of time with questionable returns. To continue that metaphor, most rock stars are so far removed from the required grunt work of an early stage touring band that they can hardly relate. Can they write a cheque, make some intros? Sure but that’s likely not what you need today.

For someone who has yet to start and run a successful business, your available pool of mentors includes everyone who has done just that. For me, my mentors include the woman who owns my local coffee shop, the guy who cuts my hair, my bookkeeper, the hot dog cart guy downtown, etc.

At their roots, even sexy tech startups are still just plain old businesses. Yes those folks can’t help you decide whether to build native mobile apps or html5 but those are the easy parts. Stop chasing or waiting for the rock stars. Trust me, they will be lined up at your door once you have your thriving business alive and growing. Go out now and buy a coffee for a new mentor, share with them and most importantly, listen!

Every great sitcom eventually needs a Robert Downey Jr but he’ll gladly sign up for season two. No one wants him for their pilot.

The Accidental Project

November 18th, 2011

During university I spent a few years living in an eight bedroom house in downtown Guelph. Every year we’d host a Disco Inferno party complete with what you’d expect, costumes, kegs, music and all associated mayhem. We’d sell tickets and typically sell out months in advance. I’m assuming we hosted a decent party.

Every year when we’d start selling tickets, people would offer to contribute to the party. We were offered bands, sponsors, larger venues etc. We were offered some tasty party favours.

What’s this have to do with anything? Given some measure of success with your project or startup, you will attract a crowd. That crowd will want to be involved. You’ll meet some great folks who are interested in seeing your project flourish. You’ll meet some folks who are only interested in riding your coattails. Success and commitment are huge magnets.

In all cases, you cannot let external forces drive your project. You have to stay focused. Decisions and actions have to be explicit and justifiable. Don’t hire people because they offer to work for you. Don’t accept investment because people offer you cheques. Don’t take on mentors and advisors because they offer you help. Building successful businesses isn’t an additive, the more the merrier process. It’s about focus and making difficult decisions. It’s often more about what you choose not to do rather than what you choose to do. Stick to your path, don’t let the noise of success distract you from what got you there.

(PS. These are problems I dream of having someday!)

What you aren’t doing….

November 1st, 2011

I love apps like pleaseRobMe. A while back I pitched the idea to our team of a distraction blackout plan. The plan was….

  • We all agree to uninstall all distraction applications from our individual machines, ie email clients, twitter, facebook, linked in etc.
  • We setup a single computer in a public location in our office where we all have an account. That account has all our previously mentioned accounts.
  • We all commit to only interacting with the selected distractions when we’re on that single computer. So you need to go to that computer and use it to check your email, twitter etc.

The obvious idea is the public phonebooth, ie introduce some basic peer pressure into your usage of these apps. “Hey Brydon, you’ve been on the email a lot today, busy day or not?” Work when you’re working, play when you’re playing.

The context was driven by us as individuals as we are all struggling with these distractions. The conversation wasn’t driven by how ‘the man’ can get everyone off facebook. Now, we didn’t ever actually try this but I intend to in the context of Startupify.Me.

It will be volunteer only. We may write a basic app that allows you to sign in. Once signed in, the app will troll your various distraction apps and humiliate you in some fashion if you break the rules, ie use them while NOT using the public machine.

Thoughts? Would you and your team try this?

I’m Hiring… Startupify.Me

October 12th, 2011

If you haven’t had a chance to peek at I’m working on at startupify.me, please do. Yes, the copy sucks, site design is terrible and the name is embarrassing to say out loud. If you can battle through that, what you’ll hopefully find is a program intended to serve two core customers. One is existing businesses with a mandate to develop disruptive software product innovation without destroying their core business. The other is employed software developers who are startup curious and ready to take their first step towards that.

We’re a halfway house for software entrepreneurs. We’re a gateway drug for the startup scene. I want to hire you for a fixed period of time(6 months) and during that time focus on getting you on the next step. I hope that next step is you being a technical cofounder in a new venture we’ve jumpstarted together.

I need your help today. We have client’s ready to start working with us now. Our greatest need right now is finding and hiring those software developers ready to take that first step towards being technical cofounders or startup founders.

These folks are currently working in software development roles. They’re highly successful in their dayjob but slightly disillusioned with the work world around them. Outside of work, they’re highly autonomous. They’re creators, they likely run community events, organize people in their community and are generally magnetic personalities who still manage to get stuff done.

If you are someone like this, or know someone, I want to meet them! They don’t have to be ready to commit. They just have to be ready to have a coffee with me and discuss my plans. Please share this, spread the word

More Less Distractions

July 19th, 2011

Check out this whiteboard with some quality vs quantity guidelines on it from Caterina Fake. I came across it while reading a post about how I can send emails without having to check them. Having now ditched my ‘smart’ phone with no intent of going back, I’ve become hooked on being distracted even less.

To that end, I’m back playing with the practice of only checking email at a few set times each day. Included in that is a new twist I hadn’t tried before in that I don’t check email at night. I certainly slip some days and check more than I need to but most days I’m checking my email three times a day, at 10am, 1pm, and 4pm. That means between 4pm and 10am I am a free man which means more time with my family in the evenings and way more productivity at the office in the mornings. It’s insane how difficult this practice can be to adopt after years of checking email all day long.

I’m always curious to hear how others are managing to cope with email overload? Comment below or contact me directly.

Best Tips to Find Money For Your Startup

May 19th, 2011

Finding a cow to milk when needing to come up with the necessary money for your next business venue is not the simplest task in the world. While coming up with your plan for your upcoming startup might have not been that difficult, finding people willing to invest in your ideas seems to be harder than anything. Here are a few ideas that should make things easier for you when going investment money hunting.


Look At Your Taxes

If you have exhausted all of the piggy bank, credit card, home equity loans, or your insurance policy money options and you still need more money to cover your start-up needs, it is time to pull out the heavy artillery. Namely, start by checking out your taxes. In case you are also holding on to your regular job, look into the idea of decreasing your withholding taxes by having your allowance number changed. Once you will increase tour allowances and get them in line with your deductions, you will lay your hands on a nice amount of money. If you need extra guidance, get in touch with an expert tax professional who can help you get started.


Sell Your Collectibles And Get Instant Cash

Your collectibles also make for an excellent fast cash idea; anything ranging from inheritances to self-acquired collectibles goes here; and remember, the older or rarer, the more valuable. Use specialized auction sites and try to get the best price possible.


Try To Win Some Money By Yourself

Many people try their luck playing online lottery game or opting for casino games like poker or slots as they are fast, easy, and fun ways of getting rich instantly or at least gaining enough for their goals. If you are passionate about lottery games like MegaMillions or you have never played PowerBall before, the LotteryMaster site is a good place to start with; buy your first tickets online and mark them with your favorite numbers, crossing your fingers for the next big Saturday draw that could solve all your start-up money problems. You need money to make money applies here as well, but the price of a ticket is very low and the gain is definitely worth the risk.    


Find Your Own Angel Investor

There are specialized sites that are more than willing to hear all about your extraordinary business idea or innovation that is going to be a sure hit – as long as they are willing to sponsor it.

Your Startup Shit Itself…Again

May 17th, 2011

I had a great chat last week with a close friend who is literally burnt out. He lamented the fact that he did it to himself and it was for a venture he didn’t own himself. He does have an equity role but it’s minor.

If there’s one thing I do have experience with, it’s being involved in way too many projects, companies, events, and ventures. I’ve learned the hard lessons over time of knowing where to draw lines. If you’re good at what you do, people will often drag you into making decisions about their business. If you allow it, they will gladly abdicate core business decisions to you.

When I was greener, you could pull me across these lines all day. I was eager to experience those business decisions and learn from them. I wanted to treat your business like it was my own so that I could one day have my own.

Today, I answer a lot of questions like this…

“You hired me to write software for you and be your technical team. What you’re asking is a core business decision, not a technical one. I can offer my opinion but I’m not sure it’s worth much as this isn’t my business.”

It doesn’t matter how strong my opinion is or how correct I feel I may be, the reality is I may do more harm than good by answering certain questions. Yes, we all want to be diligent and great at what we do. We all want to help. We all want the communities around us to succeed.

Ultimately I described it to my friend like this. On every project you need to decide, and remember, whether you’re the parent or the grandparent. If you’re the grandparent then yes you need to treat that project like it’s your own baby when you’re working on it. Yes, you want to see it grow up strong and independent but when it shits it’s pants and starts balling it’s eyes out, you get to drop it off at the parents house and head out for dinner, a pint and ultimately a nice restful sleep. Yes, parents don’t stress about their kids safety when they drop them off at the grandparents but they also know there are lines.

If you’re the parent then you need to be prepared for the drop off when the shit hits the cloth. Assuming you’re working with experienced folks who recognize they’re grandparents then you will get the call…

“Hey, sorry but your startup shit itself again. I’m the grandparent and until that changes, this mess is yours my friend.”

PS…On the funding side, be careful how much equity you ask for. You may find yourself parenting where you intended to be a golfing, fun loving gran-pappy.

Applications and Mobile Technology

December 11th, 2010


These days, the use of mobile phones has greatly created a huge hype in the modern civilization. Most of us, businessmen, and personal individuals have, at least, one mobile gadget in their pockets, bringing them wherever they go. But really, what made these mobile gadgets extremely popular? These days, most high end phones are complete with different applications that can be enjoyed on a regular computer.

With the increased popularity and admiration towards mobile devices, several organizations now start creating different Smartphone applications which can be done also by manufacturers. As a result, it has also created a huge turning point which attracts millions of different people all over the globe.


The Different Use of Mobile Phones

In our modern society, mobile phones do not only act as a device which is used to receive or make calls. This kind of technology has brought a lot of improvements. This can be seen as more and more high end apps and features come in with new and various designs. This, as a result, has encouraged people to search for the most personalized and advanced mobile gadgets of their choice. These gadgets may come in different prices.

When searching online, it is possible to see different models of gadgets that will perfectly match your preferences. Features such as Bluetooth options, Internet, Wi-Fi connectivity, camera, as well as other as other applications and games can make our lives easier.


Competition All Over

You may wonder why mobile gadgets are widely used all around. The answer to this lies in the hand of competition. Different organizations existing these days do their best in order to promote their products and services in a global scale. With the use of highly advanced mobile applications, it is possible to easily reach out to potential clients with no worries of being hassled by unidentifiable factors.

For instance, in the world of online gambling, several sites compete for the attention of potential service users. However, some sites simply put an edge over the others, simply because they placed importance on convenience. Because of this, they make sure that new lottery games are available online, as well as with mobile devices. As a result, more people would choose using the services from their mobile gadgets since they know that aside from convenience, they can also enjoy a special kind of experience with their mobile devices.

DemoCampGuelph at Storm game

November 19th, 2010

On behalf of DemoCampGuelph, I applied for, and managed to win, the use of the City of Guelph‘s suite for a Guelph Storm hockey game. The game is November 27th and unfortunately I’m out of town so I miss out on the fun. After offering tickets to people who help organize the event, I still have 12 tickets left.

Here’s my plan. I’d like to share these tickets with the people who make our events happen by demo’ing at them. If you’ve ever demo’d at a DemoCampGuelph and want to attend this game, then contact me immediately. I’ll give the tickets out on a first come, first served basis until they’re gone.

It should be a fun night and a chance to catch a hockey game in style with some fellow DCG groupies. I wish I could be there myself.