Coworking Stories: Alan Armstrong

Brydon

I work on 20Skaters, ThreeFortyNine, Ontario Startup Train and a few others. My vanity site is brydon.me.

It’s always a challenge explaining what coworking, or shared offices, are about and if they are right for you. Rather than trying to explain, we decided to simply share the stories of the people around ThreeFortyNine. Our hope is that you will have a better idea if coworking is for you while ‘meeting’ someone new from our community.

Next up, meet Alan!

Tell us about yourself and your history with the city of Guelph?

I moved to Guelph from Toronto in 2014 to establish life in a smaller town. I had several friends who had moved here, and felt the call myself too. I was drawn to Guelph because of its downtown core that doesn’t blend into surrounding cities, but rather has a distinct centre and rural surroundings.

Guelph seems to attract people like yourself, who come here with some expectations about what living here will be like, now that you’ve been here a few years what would you say to someone in a similar situation who is considering moving here?

I would say Go for it! Guelph is a progressive city in many ways with a lot of interesting people and natural surroundings. The connections happened quickly for me. I’ve joined the board of Silence, a music venue dedicated to musicians and “adventurous” improvised music. I have also established my business in the downtown core, and I have a red-brick house in the downtown core that would have been inaccessible in Toronto. Plus, it’s been a huge relief to get out of the big city and into something that feels more “human scale”. I joke sometimes that the traffic is bad when there’s a line up at one stoplight, but it’s true.

Where do you work or what is your business venture if you are working on your own thing?

I run Eigenworks, a boutique research firm servicing US technology clients, and draw employees and other collaborators from this area, fellow Toronto migrants, and the KW area. I’m in my 11th year of business, and am working to productize our offering, make it more scalable and sustainable. Also building a tech platform and training offerings.

How are you involved with ThreeFortyNine?

I guess I’m kind of a “graduate” of the ThreeFortyNine School of Business. I took a desk in 2014, and eventually I think my business was occupying 5 or 6 desks until we finally realized it was time to get our own space. That initial two years or so was essential to establishing myself and my business in Guelph. Meeting Brydon was amazing, as I felt a kindred spirit with many common professional experiences. ThreeFortyNine is a hub of interesting people with lots to talk about. Many collaborations have emerged for me!

Can you expand on how ThreeFortyNine was essential and maybe detail a few or the collaborations?

Sure! ThreeFortyNine naturally attracts people who are thoughtful, entrepreneurial, and out of the box. When I took my desk in 2014, I didn’t know many people in town. At ThreeFortyNine, I met and regularly interacted with a really interesting group of people ranging from solo practitioners to remote workers. Everybody I met was open, and so many conversations happened around the kitchen or the board room. I love the slogan, “work for yourself, not by yourself.” That was the main thing – I felt like I had comrades.

I also engaged in Founders Club, and got exposure to a lot of interesting businesses. But more important was the really interesting discussion that came from the folks in Founders Club. Many of those connections are still the backbone of my local professional network. In fact several of the ThreeFortyNine folks joined my team at Eigenworks for periods of time, and two of them permanently. I would say that being at ThreeFortyNine was a big part of helping me get my business to the next level.

Coworking Stories: Kyle

Brydon

I work on 20Skaters, ThreeFortyNine, Ontario Startup Train and a few others. My vanity site is brydon.me.

It’s always a challenge explaining what coworking, or shared offices, are about and if they are right for you. Rather than trying to explain, we decided to simply share the stories of the people around ThreeFortyNine. Our hope is that you will have a better idea if coworking is for you while ‘meeting’ someone new from our community.

First up, meet Kyle!

Tell us about yourself and your history with the city of Guelph?

I lived in Guelph between 1992 and 1997 while completing my BA in Drama at the UofG. After brief stints in Edmonton and Toronto, I bought a house and moved back to the city. I live downtown, about 700 metres away from ThreeFortyNine, with my wife, 2 teenage kids, and 1 furry dog.

Where do you work or what is your business venture if you are working on your own thing?

I worked at the UofG from 2000 to 2013, managing the team that supported online courses. In 2013, I left the University and started an educational consulting business.

In the past 6 years, I’ve worked (directly or indirectly) with a dozen Ontario universities and a dozen Ontario colleges. I help them build online courses and resources for students, training materials for faculty, and other projects. I do a fair amount of learning design, some video work, and a lot of writing and project management.

How are you involved with ThreeFortyNine?

I’ve had a desk at ThreeFortyNine since 2013. Depending on what I have on the go, I’m at the office 3 or 4 days a week. I use it as my base. It gets me out of my house and lets me focus on getting things done. I use the boardroom for meetings with subcontractors. I’m a regular at the office Beer Club, and I love the coffee.

Why work out of ThreeFortyNine rather than a home office?

It’s good to have separation. I’ve got a bunch of hobbies that would distract me at home, so chances are good I wouldn’t get things done if I had an office in my house. I come to ThreeFortyNine to work. From a bookkeeping POV, I think it’s cleaner for business expenses.

A coworking setup is good for me. I don’t need an office all to myself. I do my best work at ThreeFortyNine.

For someone considering a coworking situation, what should they know which you didn’t before you started?

I think there’s an image of coworking as a building filled with hip startup folks drinking green smoothies and chasing the next big thing. That’s not the case.

Working alongside with others, even if we are not working on the same projects, is more motivational than working alone. While we’re all absorbed in our own work, it really is the most supportive environment I’ve worked in. Its really is what you make it, which is a great.

Get on SoftLayer Startup Train!

Brydon

I work on 20Skaters, ThreeFortyNine, Ontario Startup Train and a few others. My vanity site is brydon.me.

back-startupfestWe are less than a week away from our trip. We are almost full. If you are reading this, and you’re a startup, the folks at SoftLayer want to give you one last push to join us. Among other things, coming on our train means you’ll have access to:

  1. First class VIA service, including some drinks to get conversations going.
  2. On train prizes and gifts, most aimed at giving your startup an unfair advantage.
  3. One on one mentoring on the train with experienced folks from the Ontario startup scene.
  4. Access to our Ontario Startup Tent at the festival, which gives you a chance to showcase your startup in Montreal.
  5. A chance to pitch on the main stage in Montreal

There’s more but you get the point. Our train is NOT simply about catching a lift to Montreal.

Now, to the offer….SoftLayer is funding us to offer 20% off our current startup pricing to 5 lucky startups. This is for startups only, and it’s first come-first served. With the SoftLayer discount, the train portion is basically free. Email me directly to get one of these five spots! When they’re gone, they’re gone!

Get Me On The Train!!

Brydon

I work on 20Skaters, ThreeFortyNine, Ontario Startup Train and a few others. My vanity site is brydon.me.

We ran a twitter contest for two free starving startup tickets on the SoftLayer Startup Train this past week. We randomly selected our two winners, one male, one female, and our winners are Beth from Grey Rock Clothing and Ali Jiwani….

We still have a few tickets left for startups, buy your ticket now if you’re joining us! A few more of out twitter entrants…..

Tweet for Free Train Ticket!

Brydon

I work on 20Skaters, ThreeFortyNine, Ontario Startup Train and a few others. My vanity site is brydon.me.

Are you a ‘starving startup’? A simple tweet can get you a lot these days….

We have two full tickets on this year’s Ontario Startup Train to give out to two starving startups. These tickets include our first class train from Toronto to Montreal along with full access to the International Startup Festival.

BsH3EIiCYAE0FavThese tickets are intended for startups that really cannot afford to buy their own tickets. Our train always sells out so if you can afford a ticket then you should just buy your own asap to ensure you get a spot.

Entering into this contest is simple. Follow our Startup Train account on twitter, then post to twitter why you should be on the train with us, making sure you mention @StartupTrain in your post. Some examples….

I’m coming on @StartupTrain to find a cofounder for my new startup that’s disrupting….”

Need to be on @StartupTrain to meet investors for….”

[EDIT] The date below should have said July 3rd!

We’re running this for one week, so it closes 5pm on July 2nd. If you’re curious why people have taken the train previous years, check out their videos!

A Startup Bubble…on a train?

Brydon

I work on 20Skaters, ThreeFortyNine, Ontario Startup Train and a few others. My vanity site is brydon.me.

One aspect of the Ontario Startup Train which we don’t talk about online often is that we have our own bar car! Yes, it’s a train car that’s a bar. Your trip on Startup Train includes first class service, so you start in your seat where you’re served a cocktail, then a hot meal along with wine.

After we complete meal service, we move to our bar car where we begin our one on one mentoring. This is your chance to sit one on one with industry mentors. We’re still completing our list of mentors for this year but previous year’s mentors include awesome fCanada-skyline-domeolks such as April Dunford, Mike Kirkup, and Jim Estill. Once we open the bar car and break into these sessions, we have lot’s of room for you to move around our train cars, meet others. You can socialize or pull people into a section of seats for more one on one talks.

There’s a slight change in this year’s travel. We do NOT have our bar car…..

That’s the ‘bad news’ The good news is that we’re replacing our usual bar car with the Skyline car. Yes, we’ll have that train with the bubble on top. The Startup Train just up’d it’s swank level!

Note: We do not have enough spots for everyone on the train to get time one on one with a mentor. We offer those spots based on when you purchase your ticket. If you value mentoring time, don’t wait to buy your ticket.

Win $100K For Your Startup?

Brydon

I work on 20Skaters, ThreeFortyNine, Ontario Startup Train and a few others. My vanity site is brydon.me.

Does your startup want a shot at winning $100K?

How about some 1 on 1 time with top startup mentors to perfect your pitch before you take that shot? How about filling the crowd with newly acquired Ontario startup friends to cheer you on?

Among the many reasons to come on our Ontario Startup Train, there is new twist. Twelve startups will have a chance to pitch on the main stage at the International Startup Festival in Montreal.  Beyond being incredible exposure for your startup, you could win cash and prizes. Startups from our train last year won both the big prize of $100K as well as the FounderFuel Cohort prize.

This year, we have the opportunity to select one of our on-train startups to be one of those twelve main stage companies!

back-startupfestOnce we select our company, we’re lining up one on one pitch coaching with some of the mentors taking the train with us. Our selected company will get time during the train trip with experienced startup mentors to help prepare them for their on-stage spot in Montreal. This is an amazing opportunity for exposure, improving your pitch and maybe even walking away with some cash.

Our on-train mentors include Mark Macleod, who’s mission in life is to help fund, grow and exit startups and Alan Armstrong, who spends his days dissecting how startups are winning and losing their sales.

There are a few ways to become a finalist to win our on-stage spot (edit: only 1 way left):

  1. Win our pitch event at our DMZ pre-train event. (not without a time machine)
  2. Win our pitch event in Guelph on June 18.
  3. Win our online pitch submission, apply now! Yes, you should buy your train tickets first.

Win Free Startup Train Tickets

Brydon

I work on 20Skaters, ThreeFortyNine, Ontario Startup Train and a few others. My vanity site is brydon.me.

Join us tomorrow night (June 18) at the future home of Eigenworks here in Guelph for a chance to win free tickets on this year’s Ontario Startup Train, which includes full access to the 3 day International Startup Festival. Thanks to sponsors, we’ll be giving away two free starving startup tickets on the Startup Train tomorrow night. We’ll be giving these to 2 people in attendance at the event. These include our train and full access to Startup Festival.

Register for a spot now if you can join us tomorrow night.

Reasons to join us tomorrow night?

  1. You’re an alumni of a previous Startup Train. We’re hoping to get as many or our alumni together as we can to catch up.
  2. You’re curious about Startup Train and want to learn more about why you should consider taking it with us on July 15.
  3. You’re coming on the Startup Train and want a shot at being 1 of 12 companies pitching on the main stage in Montreal.
  4. You want those starving startup tickets.
  5. Have some beers with some Guelph tech folks…

Pitch On Main Stage at Startup Festival!

Brydon

I work on 20Skaters, ThreeFortyNine, Ontario Startup Train and a few others. My vanity site is brydon.me.

Mark your calendars for the evening of June 9th and plan to join us in Toronto. We’re working with the folks at The DMZ to host a pre Ontario Startup Train event. You can register for the event here, more details are coming soon as we plan the evening….

Who should attend?

  1. If you’re curious about what the Startup Train is and want to find out more, make sure you join us.
  2. If you’re an alumni of our train, having attended one of our previous three years, then please join us as well. We want this to be a Startup Train reunion and a chance for us to catchup with friends from previous trains.

A Chance to Pitch at Startup Festival?

12 companies will have the chance to pitch on the main stage at this year’s Startup Festival. We, at Startup Train, have 1 ‘wildcard’ spot that allows us to put one of our startups on stage.

There are many reasons to take the train with us instead of travelling alone, add this to the list! We’re going to be hosting several of these pre-train events. These events will include a pitch event. We will be selecting the company that gets our wildard spot from these finalists.

So, if you want this wildcard spot, the first step is to attend one of these in-person events and win the night!

We’ll announce more events as we nail down the details. For now, register for June 9th and we’ll see you in Toronto. PS, one of our startups won $100K for their company last year.

Register for Toronto event June 9th.

Buy your tickets for this year’s Startup Train!