Entrepreneur Week

I’ll be speaking in Waterloo on Saturday October 4th, at the IMPACT Expo(se) Event as part of Entrepreneur Week, organized by the fine folks at Communitech. I’ll be speaking at about 12:30pm.

I don’t know if any of my readers are out that way, but if you are, come by and say hi, the event is free!

I’ll be talking about various startup-y topics and my experiences in the startup world.

The super famous Ben Casnocha will also be speaking at the same event, so it’s worth coming just to see him, if not me! ;-) (Looking forward to meeting you, Ben!)

I’ve been ridiculously remiss in blogging and tech-activity organization these days. I have no defense other than to say that at this moment, the best contribution I can make to the Montreal tech community is to ensure that Standout Jobs becomes a success; so all of my energies (and more) are going there.

However, compared to just one year ago, the community has come very far indeed. Just take a look at all the tech events that are happening this week in Montreal:

This reminds me of all the activity that goes on in Silicon Valley, where there are events like this every day of the week. This tells me that Montreal is really approaching Silicon Island every day.

Now, the only thing left is for a few of the most promising startups in Montreal to make big splashes, and we’ll be there!

And so, gentlemen, as they say in my native tongue, 加油!

(To keep up with upcoming Tech Events, be sure to check the events list posted on Montreal Tech Watch)

Long time no blog… I’ve been just swamped with matters… That’s the startup life I guess!

I’m currently in Toronto, where I attended BarCampToronto4 last Saturday and met some amazing people. In no particular order, they are:

Starting tomorrow I’ll be at the Mesh Conference for a couple of days. If you’re there, be sure to say hi!

RoCoCoCamp Logo

RoCoCoCamp, the Montreal version of the RecentChangesCamp, is in town this weekend at the SAT.

According to the website:

To all wikiers, bloggers, users, developers, artists, academics, activists, inventors, video editors, and other creators which are interested in Collaboration, Creativity and Self-Management….the Rococo Barcamp is for you!

It looks like a great event! Unfortunately I will be out of town this weekend, but any readers of my blog should definitely go.

Have fun guys!


RoCoCoCamp 2007
Friday, 18 May 2007 at 9:30 until Sunday, 20 May 2007 at 18:00
Societé des arts technologiques
1195 boul. St-Laurent
Free admission

Ha ha, guys… Don’t take anything posted on April Fool’s Day too seriously. ;-)

Time now for a real post: a report from BarCampOttawa3.

One Laptop Per Child
One Laptop Per Child
Originally uploaded by fredngo.

I am writing this blog post at BarCampOttawa3. The Ottawa crew have done a great job organizing; and I heard that up to 200 people attended this edition! Great job guys.

Compared to Montreal, I noticed that there is a much bigger cross-section of the technology world represented here. In addition to the usual Web 2.0 enthusiasts, there are also traditional application developers (C++, etc.) as well as microchip designers, RF design engineers, embedded systems designers, and even one guy who has a startup working on internet-connected door locks. All of this makes for a much bigger cross section of possible discussion topics and a much more concrete reason to run multi-tracks. (They are running 4 concurrent tracks at this BarCamp.) Until we start getting this kind of crazy cross-sectional representation, I think our current tack with a “1.5” track BarCampMontreal2 will work very well (1 big presentation room, 1 smaller discussion room).

Another thing that was immediately obvious was a real mix of people and cultures: Indian accents, German accents, Japanese accents… Ah, wonderful multiculturalism… In this current climate of backlash against minorities in la belle province, and as a member of a minority myself, I want to emphasize how much fun it was and very refreshing to be around this kind of atmosphere. We have much to gain from accepting other cultures into our reality.

OK, enough political commentary; let’s get on to my thoughts on the presentations. I had time to write up two of them.

10 (or so) Legal Considerations when Starting a Tech Company

One great presentation I attended was by Mr. Mike Dunleavy (, 613.599.9600 x268) from the law firm of Labarge Weinstein, called 10 (or so) Legal Considerations when Starting a Tech Company.

A couple of things I learned from the presentation:

The lifetime capital gains exemption has recently been raised to $750,000.

You can establish a family trust to save potentially millions in taxes; the idea is to split the shares of your company with family and friends, in order to use their exemption limits. So when your company is sold for $7.5M and you’ve used a family trust to split the shares among 10 friends and family, the entire amount is tax-free. Seems like a huge tax loophole to me, but at the moment it’s a perfectly legal maneuver.

He talked about many other important things including IP Agreements, Shareholder Agreements, and Tax considerations. It was a fascinating presentation and doubly more so because it is a Canadian-based view (previously I had only attended such presentations in the U.S.).

I’d personally love to see this type of legal presentation at BarCampMontreal2, so if you’re a Montreal lawyer specializing in helping Tech Startups, please contact me. It would be wonderful to have you with us.

Ruby on Rails and What It Entails

Tobias Lütke
Tobias Lütke
Originally uploaded by fredngo.

Another presentation I attended, Ruby on Rails and What It Entails, was given by Tobias Lütke, a CoFounder of They are the guys behind the amazing Shopify.

I found it interesting that the first and foremost point he made was that Ruby on Rails developers believe in “Beautiful Code”. The reasoning is that Beautiful Code leads to Happiness. Happiness leads to productivity. Productivity leads to met deadlines. Finally, met deadlines leads to successful products.

I really agree with this; throughout my various incarnations as an engineer and developer I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time hacking on really, really, really, ugly code. As soon as a system becomes a steaming pile of junk, it’s just no longer “fun” to work on, and having fun is really key to productivity.

Tobias claims that happy teams of 4 using RoR outperform normal teams of 40 using outdated technology.

Another interesting thing he said is that it is extremely easy to replace pieces of Ruby on Rails with natively compiled C, so as you observe the loads that are placed on your application you can optimize the most time-critical parts if necessary.

I do really have to investigate Ruby on Rails a lot more.

DemoCampMontreal2 this past Thursday was amazing. Over 100 people came out, and the presentations were just astounding. Great job to everybody who presented, volunteered, or spread the word! Let’s keep it up guys, and make BarCampMontreal2 the best yet.

Several people have written blog posts about DemoCampMontreal2, but again I really have to highlight Josh Nursing’s Report as the most comprehensive! Complete with videos of the presentations, you’ll feel like you were there.

Other wrap ups and thoughts about DemoCampMontreal2:

If you’ve written a wrap-up about DemoCampMontreal2, do let me know and I’ll send you some link love.

Evan Prodromou
Evan Prodromou
Originally uploaded by sfllaw.

I’d like to remind everybody that DemoCampMontreal2 will take place this Thursday, March 29th.

This DemoCamp promises to be quite exciting. Austin Hill has volunteered to be the MC, and other celebrities might be sighted on Thursday, including Patrick Lor, founder of

Another exciting development for DemoCampMontreal2 — The bar at the SAT will be open, for all of you thirsty for a drink after a hard day’s work!

I was supposed to present my Top Secret Project but unfortunately have to put off the demo… However, Anand Agarawala from Toronto will be taking my place and demoing BumpTop in what is sure to be an exciting presentation.

The scheduled demos for DemoCampMontreal2:

See everybody on Thursday! (As usual, all details are on the BarCamp Wiki.)

(For those of you who are volunteer-minded: I could use a couple of helpers so please email me at fredngo at gmail if you can come early to help out.)

Ian Graham from Ottawa writes with this speaking opportunity:

The Ottawa EBC (eBusiness cluster) is Ottawa’s primary eBusiness and eCommerce hub. If you are a senior executive working in the gaming industry in Montreal and interested in presenting at our April 18th event we would like to hear from you. Ideally you would have knowledge of the gaming industry business models and future prospects. This is a good networking opportunity and the chance to build some connections in the Ottawa area.

Please see the EBC Speaker Package and contact Ian Graham for more information:

  • Phone: 613.843.8730

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.