Startups

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How To Stimulate a Growth Economy

By | Community, Leadership, Startups, Strategy | 19 Comments

Over the last 25 years, almost all of the private sector jobs have been created by businesses less than 5 years old.

It’s because of this fact, that I believe most economic development strategies are broken. They focus on convincing bigger, established companies from outside of the region to open up new, remote offices, and focus less on fostering new growth opportunities by startups, building disruptive technologies.

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5 Big Lessons Skateboarding Taught Me About Business

By | Personal, Startups | 32 Comments

As a teenager I was a “skater.” One of those kids who hung out downtown and annoyed the pedestrians. Skateboarding is how I spent my teenage years. Was I any good? I like to think so. Towards the end of my skating days, I almost got my 360 flips dialed in, used to launch myself straight off huge sets of stairs, and even landed some pretty big backside heel flips off a dip in the industrial park. This was in a time when there were very few skate parks so we had to make due with our surroundings.

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boulder up a hill

A Salute To The Entrepreneur

By | Leadership, Startups | 27 Comments

Today I want to honour the entrepreneurs in our world. I know I’m super biased, but let’s put that aside for a second.

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, gets better without someone standing up and deciding to make it better. I believe most people go through their day and take for granted that someone, at some point in time, decided that there needed to be a better way.

And that’s why today, I want to salute the entrepreneurs… and here’s why:

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Keith Rabois - Investors, Entrepreneur

Why The Best Startups Are Created In An Economic Downturn

By | Startups, Strategy | 6 Comments

In 2009, I was at a party in San Francisco and had a chance to talk with Keith Rabois about startups and why certain ones succeeded, while others failed. As someone who’s invested and been involved with some of the best companies (Square, Slide, PayPal, etc.), his insights were extremely profound. One of my favourite anecdotes was that most great companies are started in an economic downturn.

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5 Traits Of Great Mentors

By | Leadership, Startups | 2 Comments

Question
Over the years I’ve had different mentors.

There was Brian who I met when I found myself in jail at 16 years old, and others like Gerry who I reached out to 10 years later when I was weeks away from going bankrupt running a $1.2M dollar company.

They showed up when I needed them most. Some refer to them as their “Yoda’s,” others call them their teachers. I like the word mentor, even though I’ve never asked them to be, or called them that in person.

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Long Term Greedy vs. Short Term Greedy

By | Leadership, Startups | 2 Comments

As the world evolves to one of “instant gratification,” it seems that doing business has as well.

Even though I believe in moving fast and creating value for customers as quickly as possible, I do believe that we should take a long term view on building a business.

Long term means that you invest the time to find the right employees who share your values. It also means finding partners that make you look good and are going to be around in 10-20 years.

Short term is all about optimizing for near term gains. It can also mean either pushing your team to exhaustion or always sucking the value from any deal to be all one-sided.

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7 Step Framework For Starting a Company

By | Motivation, Startups | 15 Comments
The Flat Part of The Hockey Stick

The long flat part of the “hockey stick”… our growth at Flowtown.

Starting a full blown company is a scary endeavour… that’s why I’ve always started very small. My approach is very iterative. At each step I’m trying to prove if there’s a “there, there.” Or better yet, “Will the dog hunt?”, “Does anyone want this?” I also start off with a few contradictory assumptions:

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Will Google Helpouts Provide Clarity?

By | Startups | 8 Comments

I first heard of Google Helpouts on July 24th. It made perfect sense seeing that their video product – Hangouts – has been their “silver bullet” of social, it’s only logical. However, it’s not new. What they’re offering (consumer focused / expert video chat) has been tried in the past. In 2006 Skype launched something similar, only to shut it down. Since then there’s been a half dozen startups to enter the market offering something similar to Helpouts. Even eBay has a new service they’re testing in the UK.

All that being said, as someone who has a dog in the fight (i.e. expert network / advice as collaborative consumption), I think there’s some interesting aspects worth discussing.  So here goes.

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