Mesh Marketing

The Mesh Conference team continually amazes me. You can read my bromance piece on the big brother Mesh Conference. But Mark, Rob, Mathew, Stuart, Mike and Sheri continue to do a fantastic job bringing together leading thinkers with the Toronto community. I have hosted my share of local events and I recognize balance of cost and accessibility, but the quality of the mesh speakers and the ticket price is fantastic. I’m always impressed with the spread of speakers from startup to agency to larger company. This event is no different. It has a great group of founders, executives and thought leaders.

The current event is happening in the middle of the fall startup event storm, but it is significantly differentiated from the regular startup event. This is an event for marketers. It is focused on content strategies, mobile tactics, social media tools and features some great folks like:

Jennifer LumHicham RatnaniKristina Halvorson

It’s a great group. I’ve personally seen the amazing work of Jennifer and Hicham (I sit on the advisory board of TribeHR where Jennifer is an investor, and I’m a semi-loyal customer of the Frank and Oak – only semi-loyal because they keep selling out of stuff to fast). It’s a great event and it would be a shame for Toronto marketers to miss the event in their own backyard.

Halifax Pop Explosion

I had a great time at NxNE. It wasn’t representative of the time I’ve spent at SxSW. But this is probably a good thing. I was on a panel hosted by Dave Senior of Playground Inc. with Michael Litt (@michaellitt) of Vidyard and Raja Bhatia (@raja) of Confluence Labs. Great fun talking about startups, traction, funding, teams, marketing, etc. It’s funny, it was a great panel, I spent a lot of time heckling Mike. But I guess the reviews were positive. Because my friend Meghan Warby (@withoutayard) invited to Halifax to attend Halifax Pop Explosion.

I have a few confessions:

  1. I have never been to Halifax.
  2. I am going because I get to see my friends Jevon (@jevon) and Ben (@byosko)
  3. I am putting together new material

I’m in Halifax from Tuesday, Oct 16 until Friday, Oct 19. It’s a short stay, but I am choosing to be home for dinner on Friday with the kidlets. I’m looking for food recommendations, a place to have a pint, and some sights. Any suggestions on where to eat?

I’m also putting together a new presentation. The program description for my talk, titled How to Start a Startup, is:

Everyday more and more web startups are getting founded by entrepreneurs tenured and new. However, most abandon basic business pillars when building a venture in the digital economy. Not every start-up requires the same advice, but there a similar threads that apply to almost every company attempting to build a new digital product. We will be discussing the 5 things every startup must have to succeed.

I need to build a new talk and slide deck. I was thinking I could do something fun, like try to only build a presentation using quotes from The Social Network. Which in looking through the IMDB quotes could be surprisingly difficult.  I need to make this presentation a little more fun. Otherwise it’s going to feel like a “how to” guide for the basics of a startup. Which isn’t a bad plan, but I’m not sure I would sit through an hour long talk. Maybe I can use Paul Graham’s Want to Start a Startup:

  • The Idea
  • People
  • What Customers Want
  • Raising Money
  • Not Spending It

And just intersperse stories I have from Influitive, Maintenance Assistant and the startups I’ve worked with. I think coupled with Thomas Tunguz’s Your startups top 3 priorities

  • Distribution
  • Monetization
  • Engagement
I guess I can talk about my experiences along The Startup Curve. And since I’ve never seen the Acquisition fo Liquidity or Upside  of Buyer, my experience will be limited.
Paul Graham's Startup Curve

Strangely I haven’t given a presentation in what feels like a long time. It’s a good time to build a new deck that is engaging and fun. Maybe I need to start with a simple hypothesis and build out the supporting materials.

Featured Image: AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by Steve Dinn

Hacking Health

Hacking Health, Oct 19-21, 2012 at MaRS in Toronto

A Hacking Health  event is happening October 19-21, 2012 in Toronto. The event focuses on bringing innovation to health care. It brings together clinicians with developers, designers, and entrepreneurs to look for real world solutions based on real clinical experience. It should be a very interesting event. The Montreal event has a 138 developers, 28 designers, 66 healthcare experts and 32 mentors. This signals a huge opportunity in the healthcare clinicians and practitioners for new tools and change. I wonder if the health care funding mechanisms/decision making will limit both the development and the adoption of any potential tools. It would be an interesting to discussion to have with others at the event.

Hacking Health Montreal Breakdown of Participants

 

The event in Montreal generated 19 projects, including:

  • HemoTrack – a mobile app that collects real time usage of Factor VIII, bleeding events and uploads that information to a web application accessed by physicians to monitor their patient’s health. This project included Dan McGrady
  • Kinect Burn Area App – Using the off-the-shelf Microsoft Kinect, the 3D depth sensor feature accurately and rapidly provides doctors measurements of total body surface area. The camera feature allows clinicians to visualize and accurately mark the area of the burn on screen and automatically calculate the % of body surface area burnt as well as fluid requirements of the patient.

I’m hoping to get out and participate (weekends are incredibly valuable, taking time away from kid activities and time means this really has to deliver value for my participation).

Mesh is TO’s most important DIY conference

Mesh Conference is Toronto’s most important DIY conference.


Copyright All rights reserved by geoperdis

That’s right Mesh Conference is a DIY event. It’s the Do-It -Yourself endeavour of small dedicated group of individuals. And you can see each of their personalities and interests in the schedule and speakers. Rob Hyndman (@rhh), Stuart MacDonald(@stuartma), Mark Evans(@markevans), Mathew Ingram(@mathewi), and Mike McDerment (@mikemcderment) have been working very hard since 2006 to build a world-class that has attracted renown speakers, mayors, and attendees. The secret is that Mesh is an event that all of them want to attend. The reason they invest time and effort into this event is because it is really for them.

Ingram, Hyndman, Evans, MacDonald - missing McDerment
Copyright All rights reserved by photojunkie

Why is Mesh Toronto’s most important DIY event?

There are great events ranging from my DemoCamp to EcommerceCamp, from MakerFaireTO to Open Toronto, TechTalksTO to HackTO.  There are a great number of local events that have emerged. The thing about Mesh is that it started in 2006. Over 5 years ago, shortly after the first BarCampToronto. And since the very first Mesh, it has always had an air of professionalism that others should strive to obtain. Mesh from the very first event was an event that was world class. It was Canadian in size (about 1/10th the size of a US event). But it has always been DIY, it has never felt DIY.

Rob, Stuart, Mark, Mathew, Mike and Sheri deserve true accolades for building an event that defines the emerging technology, emerging culture, emerging policy in Canada. Thank you!

I hope to see everyone at the Allstream Centre this week.

Apps for Heatlh

Apps for Health 2011I am not a huge fan of design contests as a motivator or educational tool. However they seem to work, there are business plan competitions like Moot Corp, SIFE Student Entrepreneur Competition, MIT $100K, among others. They do define external criteria, timelines and rewards help structure the process. That aside there is a new competition happening at Mohawk College in Hamilton focused on building “technological solutions to real-world challenges sponsored by health care organizations”.

Ever since I had a heart attack at DemoCampToronto6 I have had a renewed interest in personal health technologies. This shouldn’t be a surprise given that my undergraduate degree in Kinesiology in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences (ask me about how a 17 year old makes decisions about educational programs, and I did seriously want to be an orthopedic surgeon until I realized I’d have to work with sick people). I’ve been interested in reimagining personal health technology:

I have friends at BodyMedia, Massive Health and other organizations that are doing some amazing things. I am fascinated with the change in delivery and practice engagement that Canadian companies like HelloHealth and Myca. So I am impressed to see  Apps for Health that presents a series of challenges:

Teams are then required to do the necessary research, design and iteration to build a presentation. You can think about this as the initial pitch session whether for funding, recruiting, customer development, etc. Teams create a 10 minute presentation that “demos” the solution.  The goal is to concisely present your idea and demonstrate:

  • Must demonstrate a thorough understanding of the health care problem
  • Must be clinically useful in the health care environment
  • Must be created by team for purpose of the competition
  • Must be technologically feasible
  • Degree of completion
  • Cohesive presentation

What’s the best way to present this? Technical details? Screen shots? Demos? Simulators? etc. Up to each team. You need to demonstrate impact and win hearts and minds. I think I’ll look at forking out the $50 to attend including the drive to Hamilton.

 


Mesh 2011

Apparently I’m late to the game with the recognizing that Mesh Conference 2011 has announced a new location and their schedule.

New Location

AllStream Centre at the CNE

The conference moves to the Allstream Centre at the CNE grounds. This is a first year Mesh won’t be at MaRS. I’m hoping the new space allows for new conference experience. MaRS is a fantastic venue, but Mesh has really outgrown the space. It will be interesting to see how Sheri and the team organize lunch, social events, and other interactions to build strong connections between attendees.

Speakers

I’m excited there are a lot of my friends who are speaking at Mesh. These folks are just world class and it will be interesting to hear about their experiences.

I’m also incredibly stoked about Gabe Zichermann (LinkedIn) from GamificationCo. Gabe wrote Game-Based Marketing and hosted The Gamification Summit. Looks like another conference that covers marketing, culture/society, business, and media. It’s a great Canadian take on the web, technology, politics and culture.

I am disappointed that MeshU did not survive the fiscal constraints of running a conference. I know from our past experiences running StartupEmpire the lack of sponsorship and revenue that a smallish conference can generate.  I’m hoping that there will be something for design technologists and entrepreneurial technologists in Toronto in the near future.

 

Top 5 Reasons to go to Grow Conference

Grow Conf, Aug 19-21, 2010 Vancouver, BC

  1. It’s Silicon Valley in Vancouver
    How can you ask for a better lineup of people? You get the opportunity to interact and connect with Lane Becker, Rob Chaplinsky, Dave McClure, Dan Martell, Jeff ClavierDebbie Landa, Chris Albinson and others. This is a world-class list of angels, investors, entrepreneurs and technologists.
  2. It’s Canadian startup royalty
    Royalty is the wrong word. But it’s a chance to get inspired by some of the best Internet startups in Canada. The event is sponsored by the C100 and Debbie Landa, Chris Albinson, Rob Chaplinsky, Lane Becker and Dan Martell are all Canadian. But it’s the connection to all of the others attending and speaking that is most valuable: Rick Segal, Boris Wertz, Mark MacLeod, Danny Robinson, Amar Varma, Chris Arsenault, Steve Woods, Leonard BrodyJonathan Ehrlich and all of the others that will be involved.
  3. Tickets are cheap
    The super early bird tickets were snapped up. Regular tickets are only US$285. It’s not a lot of money for an event. When you consider that food alone is approximately $15 breakfast + $10 morning break + $25 lunch + $10 afternoon break + $30 cocktails = $90, so your ticket is only costing you $195. You might not like my pricing but I can tell you that WiFi at the MTCC is $30/connections. There are hard costs to running an event.
  4. The food
    Vancouver has some of the best food in the world. Tojo’s, Vij’s, Blue Water Cafe, ReFuel, Gotham Steakhouse, Joe Fortes, Lumiere. The list just goes on and on. If you’re creative you can do this on a budget, step one follow someone who is on an expense account or has already had atleast one successful startup.
  5. The Vancouver peeps
    There are some great entrepreneurs, technologists, designers and thinkers living in and around Vancouver. Ben Skelton, Dave Olson, Kris Krug, Meg Cole, Danielle Sipple, Avi Bryant, Andre Charland, Boris Mann, Dave Shea, David Eaves, Kate Trgovac, Alexandra Samuel, Gordon Ross, Jason Mogus, Dick Hardt, Rebecca Bollwitt, Tod Maffin and others. 

And the unwritten sixth reason to attend, though many will tell you this is a reason to avoid, I’ll be there.

Nerds on a train

Make Web, Not War May 27, 2010 in MontrealI’m going to miss this years’ Make Web, Not War event in Montreal on May 27, 2010. I’ll be attending another event in Ottawa. There is a great list of presenters including:

It’s a great training event for developers in Montreal. Thought I might be biased, I keynoted the 2009 event in Toronto. It is great to see continuted support of interoperability and developer choice. Joey and I joined Microsoft after doing most of our recent web development on other platforms (Rails, PHP, ColdFusion and Java2). I still have a deep interest in understanding the impact of emerging technologies (lately I’ve been looking at noSQL and scaling solutions).

Photo by <a href=If you’re going to be in the Montreal area. Or better yet, if you want to make your way from Toronto to Montreal. Join Joey and the gang on the DEVTrain. For $50 you get a subsidized train to Montreal starting on Tuesday May 25 at 9:00am and leaving on Friday, May 28 at 11:25am. Nothing like power, wifi, food, a beverage, and NERDS ON A TRAIN. I think Joey will be playing the role of Samuel L. Jackson on this train ride.

“I’ve had enough of these muthaf***in nerds on this muthaf***in train” – VIARail employee

MeshU – It’s worth the price of admission

MeshU, May 17, 2010It’s time again for MeshU. I wrote about why startups should consider attending MeshU over on StartupNorth. This is a great opportunity to learn and connect.

Learning

There are a lot of smart, talented, successful and engaging people at MeshU. You want my list of who I can’t wait to see:

  1. Bill Buxton
    Bill is a colleague of mine at Microsoft. He also had a profound influence on my career. I was training to be an academic. I wanted to do research like my idols (including Bill Buxton), but Bill’s session at CHI’97 in Atlanta is where he espoused that we’re all designers. We’re all designing and building and shipping software that people use. Imagine that. He is an exciting, engaging speaker that any startup, executive, designer, developer should listen to.
  2. Sean Ellis
    The #leanstartup thing has become a movement. Whether you’re lean or you’re fat, you there’s something to learn about product development and marketing from the guy that brought Xobni, EventBrite and Dropbox to market. I think every startup and every marketer needs to at least listen to what Sean Ellis is saying.
  3. Aza Raskin
    I’ve never met Aza, but he works with 4 people that I think are top notch at Mozilla (I’m looking at you Beltzner, Shaver, Lilly and Surman). I’ve written about his work at Humanized, I used his product Enso as my launcher in Vista. And one of my close friends actually worked on the Canon Cat with Aza’s father, Jef. Aza is the creative lead for Firefox. If you were looking to learn from someone that is helping to build the fabric of every web experience (well technically 24.69% of all web experiences ;-), there’s a good chance that Aza will teach you something.
  4. Diana Clarke
    Diana is a developer rockstar. She’s moving the entire backend at Freshbooks from PHP to Python. This is a crazy project. Switching languages in real-time with the application still running. This is like performing a heart transplant with the patient still conscious. You can learn something about engineering complex systems from Diana.
  5. Dan Martell
    Profitable in 2 months at Flowtown, that’s crazy. Hopefully that includes founder salaries. But you get to hear from the trenches about building a startup using customer development. You’ll learn about “customer development, feature prioritization, split testing, product metrics and agile development as approaches to increase your probabilities of succeeding”.
  6. Joe Stump
    Geolocation infrastructure startup with “the” set of investors (Ron Conway, First Round Capital, Chris Sacca, Kevin Rose, Tim Ferriss, Shawn Fanning people). He was the lead architect at Digg. So if you don’t think you can learn something from the guy who built the infrastructure that created the tsunami that spawns “The Digg Effect“. Then forget about scalable architectures and ask him about raising money.

And this is only 6 of the 13 speakers. There are world class people coming to Toronto. Hopefully everyone from Montreal to Waterloo realizes that this a big deal. The speakers are of the calibre that you’ll find at a conference in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, New York , Austin, Vegas, where ever.

Connecting

MaRS only hold 400 attendees. This is an incredibly small conference venue. If you’re smart, lucky, outgoing without being douchey, you have a pretty good chance of meeting the speakers and other attendees that are pretty awesome.

The thing to remember is that a chance meeting at a conference with any of these individuals isn’t going to change the course of our startups. You’re looking to make some initial connections. I feel like I tell a lot of entrepreneurs that you don’t have to get everything about your startup on the table in 30 seconds. None of these people have the power to change your life in 30 seconds. It’s like dating, as much as you want to “hop on the good foot and do the bad thing”, it does require a little bit of conversation. (If you really need instant gratification, there are a lot of consultants/charlatans/snakeoil salesmen that will take your money and tell you that if you do these 3 things you’ll be more awesome). 

Events like MeshU aren’t tradeshows. You’re not likely to find customers. You’re not going to find booth candy. You’re probably not going to find an investor (though if I was a Canadian angel or early-stage investor I’d be there just to meet the entrepreneurs and maybe learn something to help my portfolio). You’re there to meet potential hires, other entrepreneurs that you can share war stories and lessons. The whole point of an ecosystem is to enable the exchange of value. The value can only be exchanged between connected nodes in the network. The ecosystem gets strong and more valuable the more connections we build.  

My advice is to start thinking about the connections and the learnings that will justify the price. Then go register for MeshU.

I’ll see you there.

MEIC and NextMedia

I realize that I sit on the Board of Directors for the MEIC and on the Board of Advisors for NextMedia, however, I didn’t know about this great partnership and opportunity. It’s a contest focused on taking early concepts for tablet computing and media consumption, the goal isn’t to build the technology, it’s to get people to sketch and explore new opportunities enabled by mass penentration of tablets.

This is a fun contest for designers (and aren’t we all designers). All you need to submit is an outline of the value proposition, the initial design concepts including IA or prototype screens, the audience and the business model. It’s a great

  • goal of the application, and specifics of functionality
  • audience target
  • intentions for development
  • information architecture or up to five screen shots

The prize

The winner will recieve a development deal worth $25,000 in development services from Trapeze to go from concept to reality. And business development, strategic relationships and incubation with the MEIC.