Sunday, July 20, 2014

Startups for Heroes: Help crowd-fund my book!

One of the most important stories I've covered in recent years is the work being done by a number of amazing associations, including Enactus at Memorial University, Futurepreneur and the Prince’s Charities Canada to train armed forces veterans to become more effective entrepreneurs.

You’ve read the stories. You know that members of Canada’s armed forces are retiring and returning to civilian life at a rate unmatched in 60 years. You know the unemployment rate of veterans is unacceptably high. Many face traumatic stress issues in returning to “normal” life and finding a conventional job. For many, the best answer is entrepreneurship: starting a business that allows them to leverage the talents, skills and discipline they’ve learned in their years serving on Canada’s front lines.

“Based in Business” is an amazing week-long bootcamp for entrepreneurially-minded veterans. This summer there are three cohorts – in Quebec City, St. John’s., and Regina. But these programs, with their emphasis on personal help and one-to-one mentoring, can only help a few of the thousands who need this information and motivation.

I want to write a book about the Based in Business program. It will cover the entrepreneurial basics of the course, as well as tell the stories of some of the amazing people who are rebuilding their lives after a career of public service. 

The working title of this ebook is "Startups for Heroes." And I want it to go to every veteran or military member who wants it – for free.

That’s why I'm asking for your help. Through crowdfunding, people who believe in worthwhile, pro-social activities can step up and support programs they believe in. In return for your support, you can get a free copy of the ebook, a hard copy, or even your name in the book. Or even two months’ coaching from me at an deep-discount price. Because I believe in this cause and want to finish this book – yet pay the mortgage, too.

You can access my crowdfunding campaign at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/startups-for-heroes-ebook-for-canada-s-veterans/x/1929114. Click here to read more about this project, scan the contribution levels and "perks," and please contribute what you can.

I have dedicated my career to small business and entrepreneurs because entrepreneurship is the most powerful tool we have for self-improvement, personal empowerment and economic development.  With this project, entrepreneurship also becomes a much-needed solution for Canada’s greatest heroes: the men and women of the military who now want to start over and make their own way in civilian life and business.

They need our support. Please help me help them.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Young Entrepreneurs Changing the World

A fun infographic that's also inspiring. 
Don't tell today's young people that previous generations thought "changing the world" was an impossible dream. Kids today just do it!
Source: http://www.degreelibrary.org/young-entrepreneurs/
young entrepreneurs

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rick's Rules of Writin'


Story-telling is the foundation of great businesses.
Whether you're writing a business plan, mission statement, marketing pitch or social media article, the secrets of story-telling are similar. Understand who you're writing for, and know what you want to say. Tell a good story. Stop when you're done.
For a client, I recently put together my favourite rules of writing. While I had in mind magazine/newsletter articles, most of these rules apply to every type of writing you need to do. 
Never presume you can't write well. You just need to care about good writing, and to take the time to get better. Your pains will pay off. I learned to write well through the patient tutoring of many masters of the craft. I happily pass on to you what I have learned from them. 
 
1.  A story written without enthusiasm will be read without interest.
2. The secret weapon of great writing is rhythm.
3. Simple is better than complex. Fewer words are better than more.
4. Readers are busy people. If you don't tell them in the first minute why they should be reading your story, they're gone.
5. Opening a story in the middle of the action is overdone. But it’s still the best way to pull in reluctant readers.
6. A boring headline is worse than no headline at all.
7. One of the best entry points into any story is an exciting photo caption. So why are they always so dull?
8. Don't fuss over the first sentence or two. Get deep in the story as quickly as you can. Once you know your full story better, the first lines will rewrite themselves.
9. To a skilled writer, the rules of grammar are just suggestions.
10. Call one more source. Conflict tests our ideas and produces better stories.
11. The secret of great writing is rewriting. The second time, throw out everything that isn’t great.
12. It was said of Winston Churchill that “he never wrote a boring sentence.” Make that your goal, too.

Feel free to add a comment with your own writing tips. More is merrier! 
 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Meet the new PROFIT 500!

Congrats to the hard-working entrepreneurs who made the 2014 PROFIT 500 list of Canada's Fastest-Growing Companies, just announced.
Here's the top 20, based on five-year revenue growth. To find out more about any of these fast-growth hotshots, click on any company name.


You can read more about them and the rest of the P500 here.


1
7,308
Energy
2
5,525
Consumer Staples
3
5,514**
Consumer Discretionary
4
5,329
Materials
5
5,005
Information Technology
6
4,903
Industrials
7
4,490
Industrials
8
4,223
Industrials
9
4,004
Telecommunications
10
4,002
Industrials
11
3,951
Consumer Staples
12
3,371
Industrials
13
3,303
Information Technology
14
2,912
Telecommunications
15
2,909
Industrials
16
2,760
Information Technology
17
2,734
Consumer Staples
18
2,733
Materials
19
2,676
Industrials
20
2,594
Industrials

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Steve Blank on the Big Screen

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing startup legend Steve Blank, live via satellite, on the big stage at the Discovery conference hosted by Ontario Centres of Excellence.

Steve is a California-based entrepreneur who originated the concept of the Lean Startup, an influential framework for rethinking the role and objectives of startups. You can read more about that in next Tuesday’s Post. (Link to come. here: http://business.financialpost.com/2014/05/20/silicon-valley-legend-steve-blank-explains-the-lean-startup

In keeping with the concept of “Lean,” I got to sit on a stool by myself on a huge but sparse stage while interviewing Steve. He’s very articulate and very funny, but he had a tendency to answer questions he wanted to answer, rather than the ones I asked, so he required a bit of wrangling. But on the whole it was a fun and eye-opening presentation that a lot of people told me they found fascinating.

Below, some pictures from the set, as snapped by members of the audience and posted on Twitter.

Or you can read more about Steve Blank on his website.




Startup Canada Awards - Ontario

Last week I was honoured to MC the Startup Canada Awards for Ontario held at the delightfully scruffy Hacker Studios, a startup space in London, Ont.


The awards were created to recognize the many hard-working and dedicated individuals and organizations that are helping to grow Canada’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

In London, Startup Canada handed out awards to organizations such as Ryerson University, Microsoft, MaRS, Communitech and Ernst & Young. Individuals recognized included mentor of the year Sean Wise from Ryerson, “ecosystem builder” Joel Adams of London, academic of the year Howard Armitage from University of Waterloo, “Lifetime Achievement” winner Gary Will of Communitech and many other organizations, and, umm, me. Presumably for writing endlessly about entrepreneurs for 25 years.

Enjoy some photos of the event. The names of all the winners appear below.
Rick interviewing event hosts Amanda Stratton and Quinn Lawson


With Jame Bowen and winner Helen Braiter from CBIP 
Sean Wise is way too happy with his Mentor of the Year award! 
Rick and his shiny new hardware, with James Bowen and Startup founder Victoria Lennox  
All the winners....

Entrepreneurial Effect Award
Awarded to the individual, group, community, network or organization that has developed and produced a program, tool, research project or event that has had the greatest impact in advancing entrepreneurship in Canada.
Ontario
Runner-Up: TIM Program
Runner-Up: Humber Launch
Atlantic
Winner: Clarity.fm
Quebec
Prairies
Winner: Launch Party
Runner-Up: Fundica
BC
Winner: Grow Conference
Runner-Up: New Ventures BC

Startup Community of the Year
Awarded to the official Startup Canada Community that has most successfully advanced their local entrepreneur community through both strengthening their local entrepreneurship ecosystem and culture as well as advancing Canada’s entrepreneurship ecosystem through active engagement and contribution nationally.
Ontario
Winner: Startup Waterloo
Atlantic
Quebec
Winner: Quebec Startup
Prairies
Winner: Startup Winnipeg (RampUp Manitoba / AssentWorks)
Runner-Up: Startup Calgary 
BC
Winner: Startup PG

Most Entrepreneurial Post-Secondary Institution of the Year
Awarded to the college or university that demonstrates the largest commitment and impact in advancing entrepreneurship.
Ontario
Runner-Up: Seneca College
Atlantic
Prairies
BC

Professional Services Company of the Year
Awarded to a professional services firm – e.g. banking, legal, accounting, strategic consulting, etc. – that demonstrates the largest commitment and impact in supporting and investing in entrepreneurs, startups, startup communities and entrepreneurial activities locally and nation-wide.
Ontario
Winner: Ernst & Young
Runner-Up: Deloitte
Atlantic
Winner: McInnes Cooper
Prairies
Winner: Boast Capital

Incubator/ Accelerator of the Year
Awarded to a Canadian incubator or accelerator that demonstrates both innovative approaches and the largest impact in advancing the success of entrepreneurs, startups, startup communities and entrepreneurial activities locally and nation-wide.
Ontario
Winner: Communitech
Runner-Up: Invest Ottawa
Atlantic
Winner: Launch 36
Quebec
Winner: FounderFuel
Prairies
Runner-Up: TEC Edmonton
BC
Winner: Growlab
Runner-Up: Wavefront

Government Organization of the Year
Awarded to a municipal, provincial or federal government program, department, office, agency or entity that demonstrates both innovative approaches and the largest impact in advancing the success of entrepreneurs, startups, startup communities and entrepreneurial activities locally and nation-wide.
Ontario
Prairies
BC

Non-Profit Support Organization of the Year
Awarded to a non-profit organization that demonstrates both innovative approaches and the largest impact in advancing the success of entrepreneurs, startups, startup communities and entrepreneurial activities locally and nation-wide.
Ontario
Atlantic
Winner: Hub Halifax
Quebec
Prairies
BC
Winner: CYBF BC
Runner-Up: Launch Academy

Anchor Company of the Year
Awarded to a large private sector firm that demonstrates the largest commitment and impact in supporting and investing in entrepreneurs, startups, startup communities and entrepreneurial activities within their community and nation-wide
Ontario
Winner: Microsoft
Runner-Up: Shopify
Quebec
Winner: Videotron
BC
Winner: Hootsuite

Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builder of the Year
Awarded to a Canadian who has demonstrated the greatest impact in advancing the success of entrepreneurs, startups, startup communities and entrepreneurial activities locally, regionally and / or nationally and who has been a leading evangelist and champion of entrepreneurship, demonstrably contributing to more entrepreneurial attitudes, behaviours and activities.
Ontario
Winner: Joel Adams
Runner-Up: Reza Satchu
Atlantic
Winner: Robert Pelley
Quebec
Runner-Up: Phil Telio
Prairies
Winner: Chris Johnson
Runner-Up: Joelle Foster
BC
Winner: Dan Gunn
Runner-Up: Jeff Keen

Entrepreneur Mentor of the Year
Awarded to a Canadian entrepreneur mentor who has demonstrated the greatest impact in advancing the success of entrepreneurs, startups, startup communities and entrepreneurial activities locally, regionally and / or nationally through no-cost mentorship of entrepreneurs as evidenced by their rate of growth.
Ontario
Winner: Sean Wise
Runner-Up: Jeff Dennis
Atlantic
Winner: Robert Zed
Quebec
Winner: LP Maurice
Prairies
Winner: Randy Yatscoff
Runner-Up: Stephen King 
BC
Winner: Ray Walia
Runner-Up: Cathy Kuzel

Entrepreneurship Educator of the Year
Awarded to a Canadian educator who has:
  • Demonstrated excellence in educating, empowering and equipping entrepreneurship students with the attitudes, skills, experiential learning opportunities and networks needed to pursue successful entrepreneurial ventures; 
  • Made a significant impact in both fostering student-led entrepreneurship initiatives and motivating senior campus leadership to adopt entrepreneurial policies and priorities; and / or, 
  • Engaged actively in the local startup community through bringing strudents into the community and bringing the community onto the campus.
Ontario
Winner: Howard Armitage
Runner-Up: Ajay Agrawal
Atlantic
Quebec
Prairies
Winner: Scott MacAulay
BC
Winner: Brent Mainprize

Media Person of the Year
Awarded to a Canadian media person who has:
  • Demonstrated the greatest impact in advancing public awareness about entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurial issues and / or 
  • Leveraged their public voice to champion entrepreneurship through the media and through their community service.
Ontario
Winner: Rick Spence
Runner-Up: Ian Hardy of Betakit
Atlantic
Winner: Peter Moreira
Prairies
Winner: Martin Cash
BC
Winner: Rob Lewis

Young Entrepreneur of the Year
The Young Entrepreneur Award is a celebration of youth entrepreneurship – reminding us of the importance of cultivating entrepreneurial awareness and acumen both at home and through early education to fuel the next generation of Canada’s great entrepreneurs.
Ontario
Runner-Up: William Zhou
Prairies
Winner: Mandy Balak

Wolf Blass Lifetime Achievement Award
Awarded to a Canadian who has demonstrated the greatest impact in advancing the success of entrepreneurs, startups, startup communities and entrepreneurial activities locally, regionally and / or nationally throughout their lifetime.
Ontario
Winner: Gary Will
Atlantic
Winner: Gerry Pond
Quebec
Winner: John Dobson (Foundation)
Prairies
Winner: Allan Scott

Investor of the Year
Awarded to a Canadian investor who has demonstrated the greatest impact in advancing the success of entrepreneurs, startups, startup communities and entrepreneurial activities locally, regionally and / or nationally through a blend of monetary investment and mentorship.
Prairies
Winner: Randy Thompson
Runner-Up: Dan Park