Monthly Archives: January 2007

So here I am in the Loews Le Concorde hotel lobby, because I can’t get the wireless network to work in my room. I was only able to connect to the hotel next door. (Oh well, there’s another pain point to solve for some enterprising entrepreneur!)

So far, it’s been a great conference. Speakers so far include Ken Morse from MIT, Guy Kawasaki and Bill Reichert from Garage, and a great panel of successful entrepreneurs led by Guy. Sitting on the panel was my friend and mentor Austin Hill. The panel discussion was particularly interesting because it reflected real-life experiences of those entrepreneurs trying to start companies in Quebec (except for Patrick Lor from, who is based in Calgary).

I met a couple of guys here, Mathieu Ouellet and Carl-Frédéric De Celles, who are covering the event live on their blog Les Bonnes Frequentations, so I won’t recap the talks here. (Their blog is in French, but like Ken Morse said to me today… “Suck it up”.)

Speaking of Patrick, he just joined me on the couch here and we had an interesting conversation about BarCamp, the fact that developers don’t read stuff like Joel on Software, the fact that business guys don’t read stuff like GigaOM, and the lack of “Clued In” Angel Investors in Canada. I mentioned that Austin is trying to change that by convincing other former tech execs to start angel investing, and perhaps they should team up in some way. As more entrepreneurs become successful in Canada, I hope we will see such a network develop up here like it has in Silicon Valley.

I will leave you with a true story of the silliest thing I did at the conference so far. The event started last night with a “meet-and-greet” of fellow attendees. At some point I spotted two Asian guys talking to each other, so I approached them and said “Hey, I decided to come talk with the only other Asians here.” Since I approached from behind I did not realize that I was rudely interrupting Guy and Patrick! Being the great guys they are they welcomed me into their conversation about Hockey… And that’s the story of how I met Guy Kawasaki and Patrick Lor.

See you guys back in Montreal.

Startup Canada
I’m scrambling right now to get ready for Startup Canada, which is being held Thursday (tomorrow) to Saturday in Quebec City.

I really should have posted about this earlier in order to get a bigger Montreal delegation going, but that’s my life right now. Always “should have done this last week.” Still, there are at least a few of us from the Montreal tech scene going, including Ben Yoskovitz and Austin Hill. I hope to meet other familiar Montreal faces there.

What I cannot believe is they had the audacity to assign me homeworkTHIS MORNING! Actually it’s not so bad, only about 40 pages of assigned readings. I’ve gotten through about half of it so far and it’s actually quite interesting. The readings that are available publicly are linked below. Sorry, no time for commentary…

Well, I’m quite looking forward to the event. I mean, when is the next time I will get to meet Guy Kawasaki? Ah, yes… entrepreneurs are also susceptible to celebrities… Except I’m much more inclined to go to an event featuring Guy Kawasaki, than, say, Britney Spears.

As an aside, I just finished Art of the Start a couple of days ago. Recommended reading for any startup entrepreneur.

Props go to Garage Canada, who is one of the primary organizers of the conference and a sponsor of BarCampMontreal1. Thanks for bringing Silicon Valley to us, Garage.


I totally need one of these. Basically it’s a box that holds the transformers from all of your little electronic toys and hides them away, exposing only the dongles. You just hang the box up near your front door, snap your devices in with the elastic bands, hook up the power, and they’ll be all charged up and ready for you when you leave in the morning.

From a geeky point of view, it’s sort of like how we hide information when practicing good software engineering. “I don’t care about how it’s implemented, just show me the interfaces.”

I have often thought about building a wooden box to do exactly what the Contactboxen does, but for some reason it did not occur to me to turn it into a product. Sometimes, I think the secret to entrepreneurship is just being able to act on common sense! It also reminds me that there is pain around us every day, very obvious pain, just waiting to be solved. So, open your eyes, budding entrepreneur, and go solve a problem!

Thanks to Francis of fsbrainstorm for posting about this neat contraption.

So, it’s official. After spending over 6 years at Matrox (hey guys!), my last day was two Fridays ago. I have now committed to being in the startup world, and nothing really gets your butt in gear like resigning your job.

I have to say, though, I could really get used to being an unemployed bum.

Take today’s schedule, for example. This morning, I headed to the CUSEC conference that is in town this weekend. (Thanks John!) I took in the morning presentations, talked to a few of the local companies about possibly sponsoring BarCampMontreal and DemoCampMontreal, and just generally basked in the great feeling of being around passionate people.

Then I headed home for lunch and did some hacking. I was so deep the zone that I almost did not notice 6:30pm sneaking up on me. But I did, and so I ran out the door to attend DemoCampCUSEC1.

DemoCampCUSEC1 was absolutely amazing. The presentations just blew me away and simply reinforced my belief that Montreal has great technical talent and all we have to do is come together (Right now…). Did you know that the lead developer of ReactOS, Alex Ionescu, is a Concordia student? I sure didn’t, but I should have known. Alex’s presentation got a huge applause, by the way.

Now, I am home again, and after enjoying a nice dinner, am going to do some more hacking before going to bed. It is absolutely wonderful.

I am possibly the busiest unemployed bum ever.

So my stated goal when I started this blog was to chronicle my experiences as a startup founder. Without further ado, let’s begin.

In a related development, John Kopanas (founder of CUSEC – The Canadian Undergraduate Software Engineering Conference) has launched DemoCampCUSEC1, to be held in conjunction with CUSEC 2007 in Montreal this week.

DemoCampCUSEC1 will be held on Thursday, January 18th, 2007 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. The full details are on the BarCamp wiki.

I will be attending, along with some of the other BarCamp organizers including Simon Law, Laura Vizbara, and Austin Hill.

I even heard that Simon will be presenting a very cool demo that you do not want to miss. You want to know what it will be on? Then you better come. :)

See you there!

I’d like to unofficially announce that BarCampMontreal2 will be held on April 28th, 2007, at the SAT.

I’d also like to unofficially announce that DemoCampMontreal1 and DemoCampMontreal2 will also be held at the SAT, on Tuesday Feb. 27th and Thursday Mar. 29th, respectively.

(Why “unofficially”? I’d like to wait till all the materials are properly translated into both official languages before the official announcement, that’s all.)

All details are coming soon.

I’d like to thank Roberto Rocha of The Gazette, who made this collaboration with the SAT possible by writing a recent article about the tech scene in Montreal. As Rene Barsalo (a director of the SAT) and myself were both mentioned in the article, it was natural for us to get in touch and find ways to collaborate. Thanks again Roberto.

Remember, you heard the news here first. :)

In his latest blog post, Austin Hill talks about staffing your startup by only hiring swingers.

Personally I don’t understand what’s new here. I’ve only ever hired swingers at Cat’s Corner. <Channeling Seinfeld>What’s the deal?</Channeling Seinfeld>

Seriously though, when hiring someone you better make sure that your new guy’s swing is the same as the rest of your team’s swing. And what happens then? If you remember your differential equations, when the frequency of the forcing function is the same as the natural frequency of the system, you get a phenomenon known as resonance.


And resonance is a great thing to have when you’re talking about a team’s efficiency and productivity.

Stay tuned: I have a sneaking suspicion we are going to have a lot more to talk about hiring and job seeking in the next little while. :)