Not your typical tech startup incubator

This is just too awesome. It looks like the Hyperdrive team staring as a Blue Man like group doing an interpretive dance number. And because when you’re trying to stand out as a startup incubator/accelerator/cyclotron you need to think different in order to change the world.

I guess I know why I’m ordering a red body suit.

UW VeloCity Evolving

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December 31, 2011 marked the end of my reign as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EiR) at UW VeloCity. The VeloCity residence announced a new leadership team before Christmas Holiday. I’m still affiliated, I’m still an alumni and I’m still an avid supporter.

I was lucky enough to spend 6 months with the students and their companies in Waterloo. I made the trek down the 401 to Waterloo almost every Tuesday night for dinner. The dinners were modelled after the YCombinator dinners. We brought in our friends and acquaintances from the world of high tech entrepreneurship to talk to the students. To share their experiences starting companies, raising funding, working with cofounders, etc. The goal was to provide a social, educational experience for the students and hopefully teach them something about the industry and software culture.

I was an undergraduate back in the early 90s. I wrote Objective-C on NeXTSTEP boxes. But no one at Waterloo really promoted starting a software company as a career path, maybe I’m just an idiot, but I never thought that I could start a company and sell the software I was writing. There were a few startups (MKS, RIM, Maplesoft) but this wasn’t a career path that was promoted. You could argue may this was because I was in the Kinesiology department. But spent a significant portion of my time in CS and SYSDE (SYSDE142, 342, 542 and others). The closest was a class about database management in the department of Management Sciences but it definitely wasn’t about entrepreneurship (how much do I still hate Access).

It wasn’t that hadn’t been exposed to entrepreneurship. I grew up in an entrepreneurial household, my Dad had left Clarkson Gordon to start his own small business accounting and consulting firm in the early 1980s. And my first real job was with a small usability consulitng firm, but I thought that I would get a job at CIBC or IBM or maybe Delrina. I was never provided the skills, the experience or even the awareness that entrepreneurship (software entrepreneurship) was a career path. I went to CMU for graduate work, and I was exposed to founders from MIT, CMU, Stanford and other places. My first job after grad school, I did research at UIUC and was exposed to things like early Netscape. But it wasn’t until I started working at Trilogy Software with a bunch of Stanford graduates did it become clear that I could start a software company. I always wished that someone had shown me entrepreneurship (beyond consulting) as a career path.

My view about VeloCity comes back to my own experiences at UWaterloo. And the role that VeloCity needs to play in exposing and educating UW students about high-tech entrepreneurship. It will be great to see the evolution with Mike Kirkup (LinkedIn, @mikekirkup) and Brett Shellhammer (LinkedIn, @bashome). VeloCity represents something that wasn’t available to me when I was a UW student. For me, VeloCity represents the next stage of evolution for the University of Waterloo cooperative education program:

” the solution was not just classroom instruction but “the co-operative program,” which offered students alternating terms of paid work in industry to get practical experience.”

Velocity feels like a starting ground for the next set of education at Waterloo. With the launch of MITx in addition to Open Courseware, MIT is attempting to change the face of higher education. There is inspiration and direction from TED, TEDx, and SingularityU. There is also the rise of self-learning platforms like Codeacademy, Khan Academy and others. It is time that UWaterloo explored evolving the cooperative education program beyond the constraints of the existing program. For me VeloCity represents the start of a new academic experience.

I can’t wait to be a part of what is next.

 

Everything on the Internet is true

I want to believe
Image by megaul

Maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of The X-Files. Or maybe this is my search for the damn Smoking Man. Enough retro television.

The Communitech team published a blog post linking to a speech from Anne Golden, the President and CEO of the Conference Board of Canada. The speech, titled Canada’s Innovation Conundrum, claims that “two-thirds of Canada’s high-tech start-ups” are in Kichener/Waterloo-Cambridge-Guelph.

“But the fact is that the so-called “technology research triangle” of Kitchener/Waterloo-Cambridge-Guelph, home of the Blackberry inventor, Research-in-Motion, accounts for about two-thirds of Canada’s high-tech start-ups. 1 The Blackberry is the exception, not the rule. We need ten more Blackberry’s across the country.”

They’ve kindly added a link to the original source of this “reference” material. It’s an article written by Toronto Star columnist David Olive that provides no reference and link to any of the statistics provided.

“The so-called “technology research triangle” of Kitchener/Waterloo-Cambridge-Guelph, home of BlackBerry inventor Research in Motion Ltd., accounts for about two-thirds of Canada’s high-tech start-ups. Sarnia is Ontario’s leading centre for chemical production and petroleum refining. Hamilton and Sault Ste. Marie have benefited from high world prices for steel; and Sudbury is riding a global boom in nickel prices. “

Not a shred of actual data. Just opinion and made up, unsubstantiated numbers. But I guess since it’s published in newspaper it must be true.

If it is on the Internet it must be true
If it is on the Internet it must be true from Uncyclopedia

In grade 7 & 8 at Orchard Park Public School, Howard Isaacs taught media awareness and critical thinking to his students. Just because it’s in the media doesn’t make it true. I’m sure that it was part of a campaign to teach media awareness in the 1980s as described in Specific Approaches to Media Education however since this is based on a report, “Specific Approaches to Media Literacy,” Barry Duncan et al. Media Literacy Resource Guide, Ontario Ministry of Education, published in 1989 after I was in Howard Isaacs classroom, it’s not the original source.

For me it calls in to question the validity of the research that an organization like the Conference Board of Canada conducts and the policy that it influences. The Conference Board of Canada:

“builds leadership capacity for a better Canada by creating and sharing insights on economic trends, public policy and organizational performance.”

But how can you conduct contract research or influence policy using made up numbers. There should be great concern for any politician or agency or company hiring the Conference Board of Canada to conduct research. This is shameful use of unsubstantiated statistics and data. It calls into question the legitimacy of any of their research or economic analyses.

HackTO & DevHouse

HackTO registration has opened with support from Idee, FreshBooks, CanPages and PostRank. Who it turns out all have APIs to use their services:

It’s a great opportunity to bring your laptop, bring your dev environment, connect with other developers, and learn how to build connected applications.

SuperHappyDevHouse
Image by Derek Yu on SuperHappyDevHouse

The PostRank team is hosting DevHouse Waterloo on April 26 (this is the 18th DevHouse).

Dev House Waterloo is an event giving programmers and designers the opportunity to meet other creative people and learn from each other – whatever the topic may be. You can bring an idea, or a project you’ve been working on, and present it to the group for feedback or help. Bits will be flowing (wifi is provided), projector will be available, food will be served, and space is provided by PostRank.

Another great opportunity for developers to get together and show off what they’ve been working on.

Entrepreneur Week – Founders & Funders Social

Founders and Funders

I’m heading to Waterloo tomorrow afternoon to attend Founders & Funders Waterloo as. Iain Klugman and the Communitech mafia have done a great job on Entrepreneur Week. And I think Entrepreneur Week and the Waterloo scene is a great thing. I’m really excited to be participating in the social aspects. It’s also making me feel really guilty about my efforts in the Toronto community. It has been almost 18 months since the last Founders & Funders in Toronto (stay tuned or watch Founders & Funders or StartupNorth for updates).

velocity

I’ll be heading back to Waterloo in early December to view the Velocity Startup Day. Velocity seriously kicks ass. What a great opportunity for students to spend a term or two deeply immersed in entrepreneurship and technology. Velocity Startup is a great opportunity to:

  • Connect with VeloCity students displaying current business projects
  • Interact with other UW entrepreneurial students representing their projects at our exhibition
  • Inform students about your company/services
  • Talk to students who may be interested in working for your organization

Any startup should be heading for the day to find talent. Funders should be heading to see if there are any opportunities.

Details

What: VeloCity Start-up Day
When:Tuesday, December 1, 2009 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Where:Student Life Centre
200 University Ave West
Waterloo, ON   Canada

Waterloo’s Entrepreneur Week

I’m jealous of Waterloo Region. There I said it. And I love what’s going on in Toronto.

communitech

Iain Klugman and the team at Communitech are doing a fantastic job building mindshare making Waterloo the regional hub for technical entrepreneurship in Canada. I’m also a little biased. I’m a UWaterloo graduate. I participate in events like Entrepreneur Week, Founders and Funders and Strategic Partnering Day. I think that TechCapital and their staff have a great portfolio and are doing a great job engaging entrepreneurs and the community. Groups like Velocity are leading the charge for innovative entrepreneurship education. Waterloo is a great example of academic, corporate, community and startup engagement. It’s a functioning ecosystem.

Sure it’s not listed on the Mercer Quality of Living Survey. Nor is it in Monocle’s Most livable cities. There’s a suburban feel and the need for a car. And depending on who you listen to the hospital quality has fallen over recent years. But the strong community groups, a world-class technical university that encourages industry participation, a wicked entrepreneurship community and advocacy group. But there is are great events like the Quantum2Cosmos and the Public Lectures from the Perimeter Institute. There is Janet Lynn’s Bistro and Langdon Hall (ok it’s Cambridge). It’s a great place to be an entrepreneur.

Make sure you try to attend Entrepreneur Week 2009 they have a great list of events including:

  • November 16, 2009 10:00am
    Chris Hughes
    , Founder of Facebook & Co-ordinator of My.BarackObama.com and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at General Catalyst
  • November 17, 2009 8:30am-10:30am
    Tim Bray, Founder of Open Text and Antartica Systems
    Ali Asaria, Founder of Well.ca

Should be a great week.

Impact National Conference & Impact Ventures

Cross posted on StartupNorth.

Impact Entrepreneurship GroupImpact_blog_redlogo started life as a student group designed to help promote entrepreneurship as a career path. It was started by Kunal Gupta, now the founder & CEO of Polar Mobile. It started as a conference for students, “a one-day event in Kitchener, Ontario attracting 150 delegates”. It is still primarily a conference/event machine for student entrepreneurs. However, with the creation of Impact Consulting and now Impact Ventures (see below) this is changing very quickly.

The next INC_logoImpact National Conference is happening November 20-21, 2009 at the Westin Harbour Castle on Queens Quay in Toronto. The conference features some interesting speakers including some familiar faces: Andy Nulman, Sunjay Nath, Ali Asaria, Jordan Banks, Saul Colt, Austin Hill, Mike McDerment and others. It looks to be a great conference with a great list of speakers in Toronto.

 

What is most interesting to me is the announcement of the Impact 2010 Programs, including Impact Ventures.

Many talented youth with innovative ideas steer away from an entrepreneurial path due to the numerous challenges, including funding and guidance, which they inevitably face; Impact Ventures was created to remove these obstacles. Impact Ventures strives to provide youth entrepreneurs with the seed funding, advisory services, workspace tools, and strategic resources they need at the crucial idea stage to create a successful business. Based on the successful Y Combinator model used in Silicon Valley to bring the next generation of ideas to life, Impact Ventures will help propel new startups to achieve their business objectives.

The selection process consists of an application form and an interview; there is no business plan required. During the pilot, three to four ventures showing the most opportunity for growth and long term sustainability will be chosen for the first batch. This three-month program will bring these budding entrepreneurs to Waterloo, the technology hub of Canada, to present them with all the components each entrepreneur needs to help build their venture.

Components for each selected Venture:

  • $15,000 in seed funding for an average of 6% stake in the company
  • Mentors available for hands-on help as well as advise
  • Advisory services including Legal, Accounting, Banking and more
  • Office Space in Waterloo to create an environment of collaboration
  • Themed weeks where experts related to starting a business will provide their insights and advice
  • Consultants to help a new company fill gaps in its initial organization

Impact Ventures is dedicated to the implementation of the entrepreneurial spirit amongst Canadian youth and values the independence of each entrepreneur. We are not interested in controlling the direction of the company as we trust in the entrepreneurs to make the best decision for their company. We believe in a non-regimented and friendly atmosphere where you are allowed to develop your startup with little interference, numerous resources and advice when you need it. Impact Ventures is set to revolutionize the startup industry by giving entrepreneurs an excellent spring board that will launch them to their success.

I’ve been talking with members of team creating Impact Ventures including Taimur Mohammad and Ray Cao since my post "Incubators, accelerators and ignition” back in April 2009. It looks like the Impact team has taken up the challenge and will be using their network of advisors, past members to help guide and mentor new companies. It also looks like they’ll be providing funding and consulting services to help kick start these early ventures.  There is a Waterloo residency requirement, which potential a detractor for many students actually enables students in the VeloCity program a formalized incubation phase beyond their residence. For many non-University of Waterloo students this provides students access to the ridiculous support network available in Waterloo (I’m looking at you TechCapital and Communitech and BarCampWaterloo). This is something that is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Covarity – Technical Team Lead

Kitchener, ON

About Covarity


Covarity is a software company based in Kitchener, Ontario that creates ground-breaking technology. We’re literally changing the way financial institutions do business by automating the loan review and monitoring process. Covarity offers a challenging, dynamic, and fun work environment and the opportunity for employees to grow with a company on the rise.

Position Summary

We are looking for a Technical Team Lead for our Network Operations department who will be responsible for design, configuration, system security, monitoring, capacity planning, maintenance, performance tuning, disaster recovery and change management.

Success Factors

  • In-depth knowledge of Windows Operating System
  • Working knowledge on network, systems and application monitoring
  • Installs, configures, and maintains client server infrastructure in support of business requirements
  • Must have strong attention to detail and a commitment to quality service
  • Expertise with network addressing, protocol troubleshooting tools
  • Managed a data centre, server environment or lab
  • Enjoys working on projects such as scalability, performance, security and business continuity for Bank clients in a Windows Server environment (OS, BizTalk, SQL)
  • This role will contribute to the vision and direction for tactical and strategic server architecture, performance analysis, technical work in planning, installation, documentation and administration of all Windows based server applications and hardware
  • Position serves as a senior level technical resource on complex-problems for both local and remote servers, maintain server security, access control, documentation, and take a proactive approach in server maintenance and monitoring

Qualifications

  • Minimum 5 years of professional information technology experience gained from within an enterprise level computing environment
  • BA in Computer Science or Computer Engineering
  • Team based role and have the ability to work effectively within the team and with external vendors is critical
  • Excellent communication, planning, organizational, and project management skills, with the ability to succeed in a fast-paced team environment and is skilled at multi-tasking and prioritizing
  • Able to coach and supervise other systems administrators

To Apply

E-mail your cover letter and resume in confidence to hr@covarity.com specifying the title of the position you are applying for in the subject line of your message. Please be sure to provide some insight into your initiative, skills and achievement. We wish to thank all applicants but only those with qualifications consistent with the job requirements will be contacted.

SmartPatterns – SaaS Developer

Toronto or Waterloo, ON

We are in need of a full-time individual that can co-lead our development efforts to move our CD based application to the web. If you are up to the challenge of creating a true cloud based SaaS application, and are either a really smart recent grad or a rolls up the sleeve architect/geek, we would like to hear from you. You will work closely with our technical domain expert and lead the web and SaaS development efforts.  You will spend the majority of his time on industry specific domain algorithms and R&D while you will be charged with bringing them to life.

The business

Think Computer-Aided-Design meets Amazon.  We are building a design application for the hobby industry followed by a materials/services fulfillment link.  With top line revenues from our CD application, the concept has been proven commercial making us a later stage venture opportunity.

What we offer

Base plus Equity and/or Cash Bonus tied to defined revenues and user metrics. Drop us a line with a few bullet points that highlight your key technical skills along with links (if available) to your work. We are looking for a full-time dedicated equity caliber partner(s). Ideally you are close to either Waterloo or Toronto.

Apply by email at talktous@smartpatterns.com

PostRank – UI/UX Designer

Waterloo, ON

Details from http://jobs.postrank.com/jobs/384-ux-ui-designer

AideRSS/PostRank is looking for a creative UX/UI designer to continue to build the company’s brand online and offline in the area of social media measurement. We offer a casual work environment, great location, competitive salary and a chance to hone your craft on state-of-the-art technology.

You will need to maintain the existing UI applications, as well as help define the information architecture and design of our upcoming tools and features. Apart from the implementation of the UI, you will also be responsible for helping drive graphical and interaction design. This is an innovation-rich technical leadership role, with the opportunity to influence the rest of the development team.

Requirements

  • Working knowledge of Photoshop / Corel / Illustrator, or parallel tools
  • Expert (X)HTML/CSS skills, with hands on knowledge of silly browser quirks
  • Proficiency in web-oriented JavaScript / AJAX / JQuery
  • Solid understanding of the graphical and interaction design aspects of UI development
  • Experience with usability testing, research and web analytics
  • Excellent understanding of programming fundamentals
  • Strong communication skills are essential
  • Portfolio of work and past projects

The following skills will be considered a plus:

  • Hands on experience with Rails
  • Hands on experience with JQuery
  • Ability to work well in a high tech start-up environment
  • You’re smart, quick out of the gate, thrive with strong colleagues and know how to get stuff done
  • An up to date blog

About AideRSS

AideRSS is a well-funded startup based in Waterloo, ON that develops innovative social media measurement tools for content publishers and to help readers find and Read What Matters.

We practice a Scrum/eXtreme Programming based agile development methodology. As such our environment is more collaborative than most, focusing on teamwork, constant feedback and informal communication. We primarily use open-source software, and believe in contributing back to the community.

Interested? We only hire the best. If this sounds like you then please send your resume and an email explaining why you are the right person for the job directly to jobs@aiderss.com.

Apply for this Job