'Guelph Tech' Archive

Making Your Leap

August 19th, 2011

I want you to be an entrepreneur.

I agree with Chris Dixon that there are two kinds of people in the world, those who’ve started a company and those who haven’t. Upon first read, that post comes off exclusionary but his first sentence says it all, “You’ve either started a company or you haven’t” and that’s a fact.

areyouSo it’s a fact, no different than saying you’ve either snowboarded or you haven’t, you’ve either skydived or you haven’t. All of which can change tomorrow. Hell, you can snowboard, skydive and start a company tomorrow.

Entrepreneurs are born right? Even if this is true, born talent has to be cultivated. In Canada we may have the beginnings of one but do not currently have a true thriving startup ecosystem.

That means most of our born entrepreneurial talent sits in a cubicle right now, reading this post twitching when someone walks by in case it’s their team lead. Are those jobs cultivating that entrepreneurial talent in any fashion? Clearly not. That talent is wasting away filling out 360 reviews, building a case for their next promotion, job title, salary raise, or simply trying not to be fired.

I’m someone who enjoys working for myself but it is not for everyone. I love defining and chasing real goals. I have a low tolerance for the gamification inside companies. At their worst, companies are thinly veiled skinner boxes. Building your own company is real. You define a customer/market and you either deliver real value or you fail. There are no buffers between the two. You can’t miss that mark but nail your 360 review in order to live another day.

Not everyone can handle those realities, which is why companies make a lot of money building and maintaining that buffer for you. That’s part of the reason we need large corporations and entrepreneurs. Companies protect you from some harsh realities and they get paid well to make decisions for you. They pimp you out and take a healthy cut on doing so. They decide what your health care should be, how much vacation you have, what time you wake up, how much money you will make, what you spend 3/4 of your life doing, etc. If you aren’t ready to be in control of all that, and more, then keep paying your company to handle that for you.

For the few of us who crave the autonomy, freedom and thrill of those realities, how the hell do you make that first step? If you were lucky enough to work at paypal or amazon in the early days then you’re set. You’ve seen it, you know what it looks like, how it walks, what it’s days look like. You’re already spending your days with Dave hammering it out. For the rest of us, the gap between corporate life and startup founder is monstrous.

In my opinion the key to bridging that gap is getting out of those environments and surrounding yourself with experienced, operating entrepreneurs. Yes, you need to pay your bills, build your network, and eventually develop an idea/project but if you have a job today the best thing you can do is immersion.

I want to help you with that. I want to move our coworking space here at ThreeFortyNine in Guelph away from being straight up coworking to being a halfway house for software entrepreneurs. For those ready to take a shot, I want to help you get there.

If any of this rings true, please have a look and see if startupify.me is for you?

This is all early stage, highly speculative so I need feedback on the concept but ultimately I need to know if you’re interested in seeing this become real, so please let me know!

DemoCampGuelph 17 is Next Week

May 31st, 2011

We’re set for DemoCampGuelph 17 next Wednesday June 8th. If you plan on attending, please make sure you’re signed up at next.DemoCampGuelph.com. I’m really looking forward to hearing what Mike McDerment has to share with us.

You may notice that we’re now sold out of ‘live music supporter’ tickets. Thanks to everyone who supported the tunes and a special thanks to Amy and the crew at Wildeboer Dellelce for snapping up the rest of those so we can enjoy Jessy Bell Smith.

Coworking in Guelph

April 14th, 2011

I know I’ve hinted at it but I’m not sure if I’ve officially announced that our new coworking space here in Guelph is for real-live-live. The doors are open, people are here working, it’s a real thing now. While our sign out from still says Brainpark, we’re now called ThreeFortyNine Coworking. We will, at some point soon, host a proper ribbon cutting ceremony, for now this post will have to do.

Stuff We Still Need Your Help With
Yes, you knew I was going to ask for something. The reality is that ThreeFortyNine is still a going concern. Without the support of the Guelph community, we won’t, and shouldn’t, last long. You can help us out with any/all of the following:

  • Come visit us and/or come work for the day with us. Coworking‘s tough to explain but simple to try out.
  • Spread the word!! Write about us anywhere, tell people about what we’re doing, blog, tweet, yelp, tumble, whatever your poison. Help us fill our space with great folks.
  • Sign up to our mailing list to let us know you love us. We’ll occasionally email you about local events. As well, we’ll be giving away day passes, memberships, etc to people on our list.
  • Help us find supporters and partners in our community who can help us make this place great.

Stuff We’ve Done

  • Successfully sponsored and hosted The Guelph Seven.
  • Helped reboot Guelph Coffee and Code.
  • We’re slowing converting the office itself to better support coworking, including building a massive table in our shared space room as well as buying a whack of cozy Herman Miller chairs for our lazy asses.
  • Welcomed Microsoft Canada as a sponsor.

Community Hours at Innovation Guelph

March 24th, 2011

I’m working these days with Innovation Guelph in their venture services group. That means that if you’re interested in talking with myself or any of the other EIR’s, you can fill out this form and we’ll be in touch with you to see how we can help.

I wanted to try something a little lighter though. Inspired by Brad Feld’s random office hours, I’m setting aside an entire day on April 11th which I’d like to fill with 30 minute meetings at the Innovation Guelph offices.

Although clearly I’m most interested in discussing Guelph technology related stuff, there need not be any agenda. I’m happy to talk about the Leafs or how much love I have for planet bean espresso, it’s entirely up to you. I’d suggest it’s a good opportunity if you’re curious about Innovation Guelph services and whether you, your project, your company should engage with us.

So if you’d like to take me up on this offer, please schedule a 30 minute meeting with me using tungle for April 11th or contact me directly to set something up?

DemoCampGuelph16 + Live Music

February 1st, 2011

We’re a week away from our 16th DemoCampGuelph and we’re going to making one reasonably large change. We’re going to have live music after we’re done. Kenny Phelps from The Speakeasies will be playing a set for us. So hire a babysitter and plan to stick around a little longer for some heavy mingling and music.

Now we need your help on three fronts:

  1. Attendees: Remind folks that it’s next Wednesday and get them registered.
  2. Demos: The list of demo submissions could be larger so please drum us up some demo submissions as we need to announce the demo spots later this week.
  3. Music: In order to fund the live music, which includes venue, sound setup, musician etc, I’ve opened up a bank of $10 ‘tickets‘. No you don’t need a ticket to get in, this is simply a way of showing your support for the live music. You’re welcome to purchase as many as you like.

Come See Our Guelph Coworking?

January 27th, 2011

If you want to see our vision for Guelph Coworking here at 349, then join us tomorrow for a pint at 3:49pm (I know, pretty clever no?). If you’re interested, register on the event page please and we’ll see you Friday!

You can see our space, meet some of our folks and here what we have planned.

Coworking is a expense?

January 17th, 2011

I was speaking with a friend this morning who is a freelancer and considering moving into a dedicated desk with us at 349. He mentioned having to take some time to think about the associated costs to make sure he could take on the expense.

My immediate response was that a dedicated desk costs $250/month, if after a year working with us here you haven’t found a few thousand dollars in work because of working in our space then we’re not really coworking and we should close the doors.

This article speaks to this in a little more detail. While I wouldn’t suggest you bank on it, it’s worth considering that you may find new business opportunities, new leads, new partners etc because of coworking. Approached from the right angle, it quite possibly could be the exact opposite of an expense.

Work With Us

January 14th, 2011

I’m excited to start talking about something new a group of us are working on, that being a coworking space here in Guelph. It’s barely in it’s infancy so we’ll be announcing more as we get rolling with events, new members etc.

Help us spread the word and find new members who want to be part of this. We have no idea what we’re doing but we’re going to have fun and figure it out. Hell, we have a beer tap so what could go wrong?


January 10th, 2011

The date is set for DemoCampGuelph16 so spread the word and join us Feb 9. As always, http://next.DemoCampGuelph.com is where you can sign up to attend.

While you’re here, I wanted to clarify what DemoCampGuelph is about, while making a pitch for demos. I often find myself in conversations where someone explains to me why DemoCamp doesn’t apply to them. Typically it’s because they’re in services based work, not startups or products.

I’m biased but, in my opinion, if you work anywhere near technology in the Guelph area then DemoCampGuelph has something for you. Ultimately it’s a chance to mingle with like minded folks and strengthen our connections, ie do more bidness together!

Now to the startup stuff. DemoCampGuelph is not startup focused or a pitch event. StartupCamp is startup focused. While we certainly have events where the demo’s are predominately startups, that isn’t our focus. When we select who gets to demo, the main qualification is benefit to our crowd. We want tools, frameworks, interesting applications, hacks etc. So we want to see a demo showing me why I should root this crappy android phone. We want to see why we should be writing code with emacs. We want to see that new plugin that writes our code for us in firefox.

While it’s certainly interesting to see that fancy new app you’ve built that allows me to track my golf score without even needing to golf, we love learning that we can apply tomorrow and use to work better, faster, smarter. So, as always, spread the word, let’s get lot’s of great applications for our limited demo spots at 16!

Distributed Coworking

January 6th, 2011

I realized last night as I pitched this idea once again that I’ve been pitching it privately for years but never in public. This is completely made this up so I have no idea if it’s practical and could be pulled off. So part of posting this is to seek out examples of anything similar we can learn from.

The inspiration for this idea came from various places:

  • Thinking about what we truly need here in Guelph. That got me thinking about how our local music scene works. It’s highly incestuous, distributed and clearly bootstrapped. They share spaces, instruments, bands, project, musicians, etc.
  • Thinking about why a business would get involved and participate in coworking. What does a business need and how could coworking deliver real value to it.

One issue most businesses, especially small, struggle with is what size of space to have. Most don’t have the capital to have larger spaces they can grow into. On the other side, taking just the right sized space can put you into an endless cycle of relocating, which is itself expensive and distracting.

What if you built a distributed coworking network? Or has anyone already built it? The benefit to a business being they can subsidize their office space by making some of it available for coworking. In doing so, they’re paid $x per square foot or $x per desk. Now as a business you can move into a larger space, knowing you can keep the costs down while having space to grow into when you need it.

On the coworking side, you now have individuals handling the non-trivial community work of cross pollination. You could have an individual literally working out of the offices of many different companies each week. As well, some spaces are more suited to particular tasks than others, so you may want to use Brainpark‘s boardroom today but well.ca‘s next week. Or maybe one boardroom isn’t available at the time you need but another is.

As well, in my opinion coworking works best when a space has a core tenant. It brings stability as you know people will be there working everyday. In this scenario, each space clearly has a core tenant.

Ideas? Thoughts? Feedback? Has this been attempted anywhere before?