Blogging from Startup Canada

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.

  1. It’s good to hear that people are actively trying to change the investment situation in Canada. I recently had a tech project fall through specifically because of the lack of funding. Granted, we through the usual channels, from government loans to the BDC and it seems that everybody steers clear from Internet startups.

    I can understand that they’re weary ’cause of the 90’s implosion, but another reason was that because most of the funds would have been put into salaries (development costs), it would have been hard to liquidate in case of bankruptcy.

    So lesson learned the hard way :P.

    As for meeting Guy and Patrick, nicely done! At least you didn’t show up picking at their food while they were eating eating or something.

  2. Many Alumnits developers do read things like Joel on Software, actually. But maybe we’re just an especially enlightened group.

  3. Fred said:

    Francis, you will have to tell me all about it when we meet for lunch. And Pierre, yes, I first learned about you guys from the JOS dinner in Montreal. Do you remember meeting me? :-P Actually, I started reading Planit because I knew you guys were clued in developers!

  4. Nick Guenther said:

    I read Joel, and so do at /least/ two of my hacker friends!

  5. Fred said:


    Great! I want to meet you. :)


    “Whenever I speak to a bunch of developers, one of my favorite things to do is ask the crowd if they have ever heard of Joel Spolsky. Most of the time, far less than half the crowd raises their hand.”

    And this is in the US. In Montreal, I’d venture less than 10% of the developers here would raise their hand.

  6. Fred, definitely I’ll tell you all about it :P.

    But regarding the lack of “clued-in” developers, I suspect that it has much to do with the type company they work for.

    In my experience, I’ve only encountered developers who are are confined to the bottom of an org chart where the decision makers get their Internet news from traditional media. Ignorance begets ignorance and all that.

    In such instances, enlightenment doesn’t come easy for the developer. And when it does come, it’s a double-edged sword — all that passion has nowhere to go in a corporate structure

    Yeesh, I said a mouthful. Granted, it’s based on my own experiences and of course mileage may vary. All that to say that I suspect it may require enlightened business people and decision makers to bring enlightenment to a critical mass of developers.

  7. Even as ignorant as I am, I know Guy Kawasaki, but that was from surfing a lot out of my own time. I think the problem in Montreal is that there’s no central hub to get these knowledge from. A sales guy and I have discussed with a few idea on starting companies. But they usually involves moving to the state.

  8. Madame Woo said:

    Man, I’m not even a nerd and I’ve read Joel Spolsky. Feel ashamed of yourselves, random software developers!

  9. Mathieu said:

    Fred, the guy you’ve met with me was Carl-Frédéric De Celles. ; )

    I was supposed to blog it on my own site ( but I’ve finally decided not to. Sorry! haha

  10. Fred, Keep hanging out with the asian guys, I hear they’re smart!! ;-)

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