Founders Suck At Grammar


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

So founders suck at grammar, or at least I do. We host a weekly event in our space that we named Founder’s Club. It’s a peer based group of individuals who are starting something, or about to. Actually a lot of members are in between startups as well. Ultimately our event is group therapy for those of us crazy enough to attempt creating something from nothing.

We’ve been running this event weekly for a few years now. It was only yesterday that a new member informed me that our grammar was painfully incorrect….

“Founder’s club: Brydon’s club, Brydon’s a Big Founder, other people are invited.

Founders’ club: Everyone’s club, a bunch of founders get together, Brydon is just the guy who founded the Founders’ club

Big difference! I think you mean the latter, but you use the former spelling.”

So let it be known, we host Founders’ Club events here! Our founders have customers and revenue but we let some other things slide….like grammar.

Roadmaps, Focus Groups, Personas and Other Ugly Crutches


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

Have you ever created and maintained a Product Roadmap? It’s an excellent tool that allows a team, or the execs, to plot the precise path a software development team is heading. You then simply share the roadmap with the team and they start following the directions that will take them on their way to a successful product.

It’s pretty much identical to the way real roadmaps work. You and the kids sit down to plan the road trip down to Florida. Mom and dad, while consulting little existing tools or data, get out the paper and pen and sketch out how you’re going to make your way to the sun. Or wait, does that metaphor even apply?

What about focus groups and surveys, have you used those for product development? Customers always end up doing exactly what they said they’d do right? I’m assuming there were no leading questions in your surveys that lead people to tell you precisely what you wanted to hear, if only to just finish the stupid survey.

How are your personas these days? Do they live and breath? Are your personas so detailed and well written that your team feels like they haunt your offices?

The above are a few examples of tools used in software development in an attempt to guide the development of the product without having to talk to real people. That’s right, without talking to real customers! All of the above can play valuable roles in product development, however, they need to be kept in check.

As an example, surveys shouldn’t be used in place of speaking to real customers. Personas should be abandoned once you have real customers you can engage with, and talk to. A product roadmap is a terrible tool when compared with a development team who is deeply engaged with your real customers.

Use all the above tools and more but please, treat them like the crutches they are. Your goal is to develop your team and it’s connection with your real customers to the point where you can discard these crutches. You want your team running fast not hobbling along burdened by walking aids.

I’ll be digging into this a little more this evening at our weekly Founder’s Club. We typically have room for guests so if you’re interested in discussing this more, contact me about joining us at 8pm Wednesday night.

Ignite Guelph. March 11. Because you only turn 3 once.

Kyle Mackie

Educational Consultant. Community Builder. Technology Champion.

Ignite Guelph

Ignite Guelph is a celebration of geek culture in the Guelph area. At Ignite, presenters use their personal and professional passions to inspire the audience. The catch? They’ve got just 20 slides and five minutes to do it.

Ignite Guelph is part of a global thing. The first Ignite event was held in 2006 in Seattle, and since that time has spread to regular events in over 100 countries. We’ve done this in Guelph twice so far, and it was pretty great.

Check out some of the past Ignite Guelph videos to see how this all goes.

On March 11th, we’re cranking it up again, and it promises to be an inspired evening. Maybe you came in October and you want to come again. Maybe you haven’t been able to attend previously, and the now the time is right. Tickets go quickly, so you likely want to get on this soon.

Ignite Guelph is run by a team of fabulous volunteers, and supported by awesome local businesses and groups (including threefortynine). It couldn’t happen without them, or without you.

So thanks for that, and see you next Tuesday.

Snakes On A Train (almost) Soldout


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

pytrain-strokePyCon is the “largest annual gathering for the community using and developing the open-source Python programming language”. The Montreal community convinced the PyCon conference to step outside of the US for the first time in it’s history. PyCon is being hosted in Montreal Canada in 2014 and 2015.

With an unique opportunity like that, we jumped at the chance to extend our successful StartupTrain concept and fill some private VIA Rail cars with pythonistas for the journey to PyCon. With the support of Albert and the WatPy community, Python On Rails was born.

A sneak peek at what’s happening on our trip….

  • First class service including food and drinks.
  • Our own bar car train car.
  • Mini demo events where you’ll get a chance to share, and see what others are working on these days.

By the time we hit Montreal you’ll be part of our train crew as we all head off to the larger PyCon conference. Join us by grabbing one of the remaining tickets on our site now.

Come Meet Guelph Technology!?


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

Tonight is DemoCampGuelph! Please register and join us tonight at 6:30pm at The EBar in downtown Guelph. You do NOT have to demo to attend. You can show up, quietly have a pint and see some folks demo some interesting tech projects. Or if you’re feeling friendly, you can get all real world social and meet some other folks working in, and around tech here in Guelph.

What you can expect tonight starting at 6:30pm

  • We have a short talk from our invited speaker Brett Shellhammer. Brett’s going to finally explain to us(me) how to ask for money! Brett’s a founder in Hyperdrive alumni Organimi and his new project The Quiet Coach. He’s formerly held Entrepreneur In Residence roles at Communitech and U of W’s Velocity program.
  • Demo’s!! We’ll run through about six. This is open stage for technologists, a chance to share some cool tech or something you’re working on.
  • Award The Crowie for demo of the night.
  • Stick around for another pint and catch a new local band Atlas.

There will be snacks and drinks and it’s a very social event so please plan to stop by tonight.

DemoCampGuelph 23


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

Our 23rd instance of DemoCampGuelph is coming up on Feb 19th. The rumour is that folks who won demo of the night at our last event are now down south in YCombinator, however, The Crowie award was retrieved before they left town.

As always, we need your help to make this event awesome! Please spread the word anyway you can so attendees can get registered. As well, we need demo submissions!

What can you demo?

  • Ideally something technical, software, hardware etc.
  • Ideally something you’ve had a hand in creating, however, it may just be something awesome they crowd needs to know about.
  • It does NOT have to be a startup with a business model. It is DEMOcamp not startupCamp.
  • Most important, it’s something the crowd is dying to see demo’d!

PS..On April 10th, we’re chartering our own VIA trains and filling them with folks travelling to this year’s PyCon in Montreal. Early bird tickets go on sale to the public tomorrow but here’s a super secret link to make sure you get your tickets.

Gardening-focused Mobile Startup Needs Your iPhone


Digital marketing professional and gardening enthusiast. I blog about the intersection of gardening and information technology at .

Are you forgetting the names of your plants, and where you purchased them? Do you wish you could find new plants without driving to the garden centre?  We are building a mobile App that makes it easy for gardeners to catalog and share their plants with friends and retailers. The App will be released this spring, and will be available for download through the iTunes App Store.

We Need Testers!

Plantola_feed (1)Would you like to have a highly influential role in how our App’s features develop? You’ll be one of a small group of experienced gardeners who’ll get to try it out, provide feedback and work with us directly as we get the App ready for release.

All you need to participate is an iPhone or iPod touch with a Wifi connection running IOS7, and be an active user of Twitter or Facebook. Oh yes, and you need to really love plants.

The Beta is currently open to people in Guelph, Kitchener/Waterloo, Cambridge and surrounding areas.

Think you have what it takes to be a Beta Tester? We would love to hear from you.  Please send an email to

Visit for more information.

Human Scale Startups


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

I recently read Small Giants in which they mention the idea of ‘human scale’ companies. These are not lifestyle or franchise businesses. As defined in the book,

“Human scale, that is, a size at which it’s still possible for an individual to be acquainted with everyone else in the organization, still possible for the CEO to meet with new hires, still possible for employees to feel closely connected to the rest of the company.”

These companies remain private and closely held and place other goals before growth for growth’s sake. What do they get in return? Control and time.

Control + Time = Freedom

Another observation of these companies is their relationship with their community, “each company had an extraordinarily intimate relationship with the local city“. In fact “the community helped mold the character of the business“. I love this! It’s why I’m not a fan of province and country-wide programs as they rarely fit within my city. It’s easy to lose sight of the role our communities play when we start dreaming of the scale technology offers startups.

I’m excited to figure out how we, at ThreeFortyNine, can foster this concept, specifically the local connections. Can we help individuals in our city engage and play a stronger role in shaping the projects our entrepreneurs are launching? On the other side, can we help local entrepreneurs open up and leverage the wider community they operate within?

All of this has me using the phrase human-scale startups of late, and yes I grabbed the domain. How is this concept of human scale applied in the context of startups? What are the attributes that make a startup human-scale?

Headshot Day (Jan 23rd)


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

guitarIf you’re freelancing, starting a business, or even just looking for a new job, that iphone selfie may not be the best foot forward. Our headshot day is back on Jan 23rd. We’ll have Noelle here again shooting headshots for our ThreeFortyNine members.

It takes less than 30 minutes. You’ll receive two final versions that have been edited and all the bloopers you can handle. This is free for our members, $50 for non-members. If you’re curious about the difference, have a peek at the 20Skaters crew.

If you’d like a headshot, just contact me to see if we have room.

What’s Your Crazy Idea?


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

In our early conversations with companies about our new Leverage program, it’s becoming clear we have to shift the conversations into the context of their company quickly. In most cases we’re speaking to the companies founder or exec team. One way to shift into their context is to simply ask…

“what crazy ideas have you not shared with your team?”

Why ask about the ideas they have not shared with their team? Simple, it gets to the core of the tension between leverage and control.

They haven’t shared those ideas with their team because they know their team will likely squash their idea. It’s still in the stage where it’s indistinguishable from a stupid, wasteful idea. As a leader of that business, they demand their team kill these wasteful ideas and focus on their core business.

The role we want to play is to help kill these ideas, in a proactive way. We want to get to work identifying the simple next steps to figure out if this idea has real merit. In the case you really haven’t shared the idea with your team, let’s start there. What will it take for you to share this with your team? Through that process we’ll quickly justify spending more time, more resources on it or we’ll all agree to kill it once and for all!

PS..check out this 15 minute talk about how a company is disrupting the biotech space. I’m not sure the problems they’re solving are truly unique to biotech are they?