The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

How many innovative Canadian startups are there?

Earlier tonight the good folks at CIX announced a group of 20 who will be presenting at the eponymous conference on November 27. Congratulations: Frank and Oak, Scribble Live, Shopcaster, SiteScout, UrtheCast, Yactraq, Celtx, PenyoPal, Wajam, Sweet IQ, Livelenz, Payfirma, VidYard, Influitive, PrintChomp, 360pi, Viafoura, Nulogy, EmployTouch, and Jibestream.

This list is a nice start, no doubt, but what the announcement immediately got me thinking is the following… there are easily another 200 startups (probably many more than that) worth recognizing, joining, financing, and cheering on.

So this post goes out to all the hustlers and hackers across Canada who are burning the midnight oil. The founders who take it upon themselves to get out of the basement and face the hecklers at DemoCamp and other events. The funders who take their nth coffee meeting of the day with a bright eyed but green CEO to iterate on the deck together. And the early employees that take a chance on someone’s dream over the cushy corporate gig.

We’ve lined up a discount to the conference just for you: CIXSTARTUP

Marketing, Robots and Startup Hacking

Chuck Norris Approved

These events are Chuck Norris Approved.

The best part about a health entrepreneurial ecosystem is the diversity of events. Toronto is rocking a variety of events, ranging from conversations to socials. But there are a lot of grassroots events where designers, developers, marketers, and technologists can get involved. There are lots of things going on beyond the usual social activities. My request, is that you refer a student or a colleague that you think might be interested. This is a great way for someone to start participating and get to the next level.

Mesh Marketing

This one is aimed at marketers. It is happening November 7, 2012. It is not purely a startup marketing event, i.e., there is not an abundance of focusing on core core value proposition and user engagement. It is an event where there is distinct benefit to companies in the learning about Acquisition and Activation and Referral. There are a crazy number of marketers that have built and sold startups (see Jennifer Lum think Quattro Mobile) and those that are defining new techniques (see Kristina Halvorson think content strategy) and others that I think are doing a great job (see Hicham Ratnani think Frank And Oak).

“Canada has good engineering and technical talent but a shortage of sales and marketing talent.” Kunal Gupta, TechVibes

So, here’s a chance to gain access to world class marketing content. It’s relatively inexpensive, there are a few tickets left. And the after party is a fundraiser for our friend Michael O’Connor Clarke’s family.


The meshmarketing after-party on Nov. 7 is a fundraiser for the family of Michael O’Connor Clarke. http://t.co/NtlQ9vZN. All welcome!
@meshcon
mesh conference

 StartupWeekend Toronto is happening November 9-11, 2012. It is an event where designers, developers, marketers can come together and explore. The idea is that the artificial time constraints create the right environment to experience and understand what working in a startup is like. It might or might not produce a fundable startup, but it will produce potential founders that have experience working with each other. It’s a great event. At last check, there were a few wait list spots for non-technical individuals to participate.

Get Your Bot On!

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Hardware is cool again. I love seeing a rise of hardware, manufacturing and physical bit based startups in Toronto. Did you know there are companies like Upverter? Panda Robotics? Pebble (alright Allerta was a Waterloo company but headed to greener pastures before their Kickstarter campaign)? Get Your Bot On! is a three day event where you can learn along side newbies, hobbyists, and pros to build a robot. Let me repeat, you can build a robot. That’s amazing. Read Leila’s blog post about it. They will provide everything you need to build a robot.

Friday Nov 23 – Sunday Nov 25, 2012. Register to attend.

AngelHack Toronto, Dec 1-2, 2012

Still looking for an opportunity to hang with Leila Boujnane, Dan Martell, Amber MacArthur, Jesse Rodgers and me. Then AngelHack is a great way to build something in a 24 hour window and have the chance to get feedback and be entered in the larger AngelHack contest. Winners will get 6 weeks of mentorship in Silicon Valley (and the prizes include travel). It’s a great way for young developers to either kickstart a company and start to build a network beyond their local community.

“All participants are expected to work on the honor code and respect the rules below. Overall, if you come with a great idea, build something on the spot, and present us a meaningful new hack that can improve peoples lives (even if only in a humorous way) then we are pretty impressed.”

Respect the Game, Love the Grind!

You have David saying we can’t all be founders, you have Jevon being honest about why he’s a founder, and then you have me ranting about vomiting on your footwear and then there’s Debbie Landa‘s “club of crazy“. Start reading the comment sections on those posts and things get even muddier…..You have to love problems or not, know your role, find your motivation? If you’re considering being an entrepreneur and starting your own business, how do you decide whether to make the leap?

There is a game to this entrepreneur deal. It’s a thing, you can point at, and you have to respect that game. In my opinion, it is the greatest game out there, period.

Creating something from nothing is the most difficult thing you can do. In business, I have the utmost respect for anyone who is able to create a viable business out of nothing. A few stories to add some colour….

In a previous life I rock climbed. It’s likely the coolest sport I’ve ever participated in. Few other sports require the mix of physical requirements, mental fortitude, training, preparation, and ability to deal with plain old fear. I know lot’s of folks who consider themselves climbers. They bought nice gear at MEC and hit the indoor gym every week.

Those people don’t love climbing, they love the idea of climbing. They love the way it looks in a magazine and on tv but that’s not climbing. There’s a filthy grind to climbing. It’s constant cardio work, training in the indoor gym, stretching. It’s packing up all your camping gear every Thursday night in order to leave town as early as you can Friday to get to the crag and setup camp before it gets dark. It’s getting up with the sun, climbing all day. It’s getting home late Sunday night, dropping your gear on the kitchen floor and crashing. Then Monday night you spend the evening cleaning ropes, gear and tents. And on and on.

Pick another sport, ice hockey. Yes we all dream about raising the cup, skating in front of massive crowds, making millions but that’s not hockey. Hockey’s being in the gym five days a week, 6 am practices, lost teeth, chipped elbows. Very few people have the raw skill but even less have the determination required to survive the grind.

What do NHL players say when they retire? Almost universally they say something along the lines of “I still love the game, I love coming to the rink, I love my team, my fans. But I realized I couldn’t put my body through another off season of preparing”.

Creating something from nothing isn’t about TechCrunch, billion dollar exits, multi-million dollar acquisitions and launch parties. Those may come and when they do, the best will enjoy the moment and then sneak away from the party, head back to the office to return to the grind. If you’re going to do this, remember to respect the game we play and love the grind!