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?