Tag Archives: Canada

The problem with Research In Motion

RIM BlackBerry 7230
Image via Wikipedia

This post will not be the answer to all of RIM‘s current problems (yes, problems). It will, however, help the two-headed beast-led company get back on the path to respectability.

The answer can be found with one word:  Respect.

What I have realized is that RIM does not seem to understand what respect means.  And I hope to address that today here in this post.

Wikipedia defines respect as such: “Respect denotes both a positive feeling of esteem for a person or other entity (such as a nation or a religion), and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem.” The writers of that post might as well have added “company” to that definition. Nevertheless, this definition of respect is suitable for this blog post.

This blog post is not intended to summarize all the blunders that have occurred to RIM in recent months. If that’s what you’re looking for, you won’t wind that here.  Search on your favourite search engine or tech blog to read up on those.

Let’s get into some detail below on this thing called respect:

Respect for the brand

The BlackBerry brand has been an innovator in the mobile and email communications space for many years.  The BlackBerry pager was the first device to offer incoming and outgoing email to the masses.  Many of the users were business people yet everyone wanted one. Unfortunately, affordability was not what it is today.

The BlackBerry brand stood for quality, innovation, and status.  Today? Not so much. The public perception of both RIM and it’s BlackBerry products has fallen. And it seems that RIM is the only player not concerned about this.

Respect for the investor.

It’s one thing to defy public opinion and turn the other cheek. Has anyone ever heard of an investor at RIM suggesting that the company is on solid ground? We all know that the stock has taken a beating. But guess who else has taken a beating? The average Canadian investor who has money invested in Canadian stocks and mutual funds.

Almost every Canadian blue chip fund has a healthy portion of its portfolio invested in RIM. Which means many Canadians have lost a healthy portion of their savings due to the struggles at the Waterloo-based tech company.

Respect for their partners.

Partners such as Rogers, Bell, Telus, WIND, retail outlets, PR agencies, suppliers, employees, and many other partners have seen the BlackBerry and PlayBook portion of their sales here in Canada dwindle.

If it wasn’t for the ubiquitous Android devices or Apple’s iPhone, I’m very curious what the state of Canada’s technology community would look like…

Respect for their employees

How hard must it be to face family members, friends, colleagues and even passers-by when they know you work for RIM?

Respect for the consumer

I’ll be honest with you. I’ve had 2 BlackBerry’s. My current one is the Torch. The only reason I use it is because I received it free at a BlackBerry Torch launch party.

The Torch was supposed to give Apple’s iPhone a run for its money. Never happened.

The PlayBook? No comment. Although everyone who uses one loves it.

I’m not even going to mention the 3 days with no data. And don’t get me started on $100 of free apps as an apology.

Respect.  It is this humble blogger’s opinion that if the suits at Research In Motion respected their customers, partners, employees, investors, and brand that they would be in a better position.

Here’s a quick suggestion to get on the path to respectability: Be humble; start listening to your consumers, employees, investors, and partners; start focusing on your core strengths; and become passionate again for technology and innovation.

What are your thoughts?

Why I do what I do.

Image representing Boris Wertz as depicted in ...
Image via CrunchBase

I love Toronto.  And not just the Blue Jays baseball team or the CN Tower.  I mean what makes Toronto, well, Toronto.

Her people.  Especially those people who are making things happen.  Whether it be community activists like the folks at the Toronto Green Community or the start-up/tech space that I have been involved in for the past couple of years.

Earlier today, I had the opportunity to chat with Canadian entrepreneur, angel investor and venture capitalist Boris Wertz.  He appeared as my guest on The XConnect Show.  It was our 19th episode and the first time we had a live audience.

The reason we invited a select audience was because our team knew that many people in the start-up space would love the opportunity to listen and learn from Boris.  So we had about 10 guests sit in on the session.

Before our taping I introduced Boris to every member of the studio audience.  And that made me feel happy and proud.  Happy that I could do it and proud that I had the chance to do it.

What made me more happier was receiving an email from one friend a few minutes ago who apologized for leaving without talking to me so he could share with Boris a cab ride across the city.

No need to apologize.

It’s why I do what I do.

Growing at GROW

Atlantic Canada Entrepreneurs @ GrowConf
Image by bmann via Flickr

I’m typing this blog post on my Dell Inspiron Mini on a West Jet flight some 40,000+ feet over the Canadian Prairies.

I don’t usually use this space to blog about my professional life. So I hope you don’t mind if I make an exception today.

This week I’m proud to represent thirdocean and XConnect at Canada’s top technology and start-up conference in Vancouver: GROW Conference.  If you’re a regular here you probably already know that I am a co-founder and partner of both thirdocean (which is a social media and community management agency) and XConnect (which we’re building into Canada’s top technology and new media resource).

Both companies are less than one year old. Which makes this trip all the more important from a business perspective.  Not only am I in attending GROW in order to learn from some of the top entrepreneurs and business minds across North America but I’m in Vancouver to network and solidify some professional relationships.  The goal, obviously, is to grow both of our businesses.

So I hope to be able to share some good news with everyone soon after I return from this trip.

For the rest of the week I’ll be blogging over at XConnect.  I’ll be sharing my thoughts on both what I’ve learned and whom I’ve met.  If you’re a fan of our XConnect Show (live every Wednesday at 11am EST) this week we’ll be chatting with Alyssa Richard and Matthew Slutsky.  Both Toronto-based entrepreneurs are disrupting the national real estate industry.  Rachel McConnell (our Community Manager) will be filling in for me as host of the show.  I hope you’re able to watch.

If you want to receive this blog post in your email click on the button on the right hand column that says sign me up under the Email Subscription header.  In the meantime, please feel free to register on our communications system.  You will be able to easily follow my journey here in Vancouver as well as everything else we’re doing at thirdocean and XConnect.

The Canadian Queen of Apps Answers 5 Questions

Melody Adhami (@MelodyAdhami on Twitter) 
Mobile, an 
  Melody co‐founded
2007 and
named the
 Women.  Today she has reached the pinnacle of her career by being featured in 5 Questions! 😉  

What motivates you to do what you do on a daily basis?

Innovation is one of the biggest motivating factors for me.  To know that every day I go to work and do things that are at the cutting edge of technology makes every day more exciting than the day before.  I love the fact that what I do surprises and amazes so many people.  Making an impact also motivates me to continue to do what I do. When I know that our initiatives change the way people conduct business or the way consumers conduct their daily lives, any amount of hard work seems entirely worth it.

If you had 30 seconds to impart your wisdom on a classroom of soon-to-be graduates, what would you say?

Do what you love because then it doesn’t feel like work.  If you find yourself in a job you hate, re-evaluate and make a change.  Work hard and play harder.

In your opinion, what has been one of the most important technological developments over the past 12 months?

Tablet technology and their proliferation/mainstream adoption. The tablets are changing the way consumers are digesting content both in the types of content and the location in which they consume.  So what I mean is that people don’t have to be limited to watch YouTube clips or reach the news at their desktops.  They can do it virtually anywhere.

If you had a crystal ball, what would you say will be the most important technological development over the next 12 months?

NFC technology and the effects that can be anticipated in the next 12-24 years.  Ultimately, all payment transactions can take place in one single mobile device.  Your phone will not only be your email client, your internet, but also your wallet.

Who is one of Canada’s tech stars and why?

My personal favourite tech star is Amber Mac. I had the opportunity to meet with her a few months ago and I love her energy, enthusiasm and overall tech knowledge.  She is definitely a great Canadian tech star. 

5 questions with Aidan Nulman

Aidan Nulman loves the internet. After being denied a marriage license twice, he’s been starting web companies left, right, and centre: Busy Bee (with three amazing partners), Cronyizm, and YouPhonics.

Hopefully, you’ll hear of one of them someday when you’re not reading his bio.

What motivates you to do what you do on a daily basis?

People. A lot of folks like to think about who they’re impacting, how they’re making a difference, whose lives they’re improving… I like to think about who I’m making smile.

If you had 30 seconds to impart your wisdom on a classroom of soon-to-be graduates, what would you say?

If they have their skin in the game, you need to agree. If they don’t, be ready to say yes, but confident to say no.

In your opinion, what has been one of the most important technological developments over the past 12 months?

You probably get this a lot, but location. Since the late ’90s, I’ve considered Google as a perennial cheat sheet. With mobile browsing, that became even more truthful – I didn’t need to be at a computer to access it anymore. And now we’re only just cracking the surface on location; when our apps know where we are, they’ll be able to filter the wheat from the chaff based on the most powerful contextual indicator: our location.

If you had a crystal ball, what would you say will be the most important technological development over the next 12 months?

Karim Kanji. I’m expecting Skynet to finally incorporate, and figure out how to scale your awesomeness so everyone can experience it. Then maybe a few K-1000s will go sour and try to Kariminate the human population. Which is why I’m glad Arnold had to leave office: he’s the only one who can save us. (KK – I swear Aidan wrote this.)

Who is one of Canada’s tech stars and why?

I’m working alongside 39 of them this summer: Krista Caldwell, Mindy Lau, Yilun Zhang (my partners at Busy Bee), and all of the others in The Next 36. I’m inspired and pushed by them every day. And I’m certain that, come August, each and every one will impress the crap out of you.

creating community: part 2

Money Mart
Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

Just over a month ago I blogged about creating community: part 1.  The beginning of this story was a refresher on my experience with GREENtuity and my first lessons in creating communities online.

The next step of my journey brings us to a company I used to work for called RealCash.

RealCash was a finance company in the residential real estate space.  They factored a portion of an agent’s earned commissions.  In short, RealCash was the Money Mart equivalent for real estate agents.

My role with the company was in marketing.  I put together email campaigns, trade show strategies and even set-up strategic partnerships with major real estate companies across Canada.  After a while, due to market conditions, I was forced to slash our budget and look for creative ways to market for free.

Enter social media.  Here are some lessons I learned:


Almost everyday I blogged.  And the results were phenomenal!  Searching for “commission advance in Canada” on Google resulted in RealCash moving from the 5th page to the 1st page.  Not bad I’d say.  Remember, we had a zero budget for marketing at this stage.

Active Rain:

Active Rain is the social network for professionals involved in the real estate space in North America.  After leaving RealCash more than six months ago I STILL receive calls from people finding the RealCash profile online through searching online.


Would you ever tell your professional friends, family and close friends that you use “Money Mart”?  Neither would I.   Facebook didn’t result in any community traction at all.


A great tool that RealCash used to promote itself as a thought leader in the real estate social space.

Overall, RealCash had success at creating an online community online.  So much so that potential clients called alot.  How much?  Too much. RealCash advanced more financial resources than they had access to.  Now they’re out of business.  Yikes!

What’s the overall lesson:  Don’t make promises (on social media or otherwise) that the company’s bank account can’t cash.

To be continued…

President and CEO of L’Oreal Canada provides some ‘Food For Thought’

Yesterday I had the good fortune of being invited by Aditya Shah of Loose Button to their Food For Thought series at the La Maquette Italian restaurant in downtown Toronto.

This particular series featured guests from companies such as Syncapse, AshCity, TIFF, LinkedIn Canada, Guardly, Rogers, and Environics.  Representing thirdocean and XConnect at this luncheon with these other companies was exciting and humbling to say the least.

This month’s featured speaker was Javier San Juan, President and CEO of L’Oreal Canada.  To give you an idea of how large L’Oreal Canada is, they have sales of over $1 billion in Canada with a market share of over 30% which leads the entire beauty market in Canada.

The talk of the afternoon, however, was not on the state of the beauty and cosmetics industry in Canada.  The discussion was on the reason L’Oreal has pursued a digital and social strategy.

Javier discussed 5 points on L’Oreal and social media:

  1. Internal Culture and Communications.  Previously, communications was a top-down activity.  With the integration of internal social tools, however, employees are now obligated to voice their views.  Said Javier, “We listen to our customers and our employees.”
  2. Brand Ownership. “We don’t own our brands anymore.  But we can shape the discussion and conversation that is taking place about our brands.”
  3. Relevancy.  Unlike traditional push-marketing social media marketing is more about discussion.  As a result, messaging has become more relevant and more about conversations.
  4. Content Revolution.  Today when you watch or listen to a commercial, or drive by a billboard there is almost zero chance of that content spreading.  The very definition of social media includes the ability to share and discuss this content with friends, family and acquaintances.
  5. Connect.  L’Oreal decided to become involved in social media not because it was sexy but because it allowed L’Oreal to connect, communicate and share with their employees and consumers.
Why does your company use social media and how does it approach a social strategy?

Canadian Angel and Investment Community – does it exist?

I hear Angel Investors want to see revenue.  Is this a Canadian thing?  Twitter and Facebook received angel funding before making money.  What are your thoughts?

This was my question to my Twitter and Facebook communities about one month ago.  And it is interesting the answers I received.  I am going to share with you many of the responses and conversations that took place on Twitter and Facebook as a result of my question.

Here are some of my thoughts:


Who the heck do people go to in the first place.  You have an idea.  You’ve even created a product and have started to gain a few customers.  But to grow your business you need someone to invest in your business and maybe mentor you along the way.  But you have no clue who to approach.


You finally find someone who may listen to you.  But you’re not sure what the criteria is.  What questions will they ask and what answers will you need to provide?  Maybe your company is not the right fit for this “serial investor”.  What sort of criteria, information and metrics will you need to provide?

The world of startups and the startup investment community seems fractured here in Canada.  Do you need to have a positive cash flow before seeking out investors?  Do you need to have a successful startup resume to capture the attention of potential investors?  Do you need to have one million subscribers before someone will answer your phone call?

In my opinion, its time for the angel and investment community in Canada to get together and make yourselves available to the startup community.  I believe there are many investors in Canada willing to mentor and pony up the financial resources to help a company flourish and grow.  And there is undoubtedly many smart people here in Canada working on new and cutting edge companies, ideas and technologies.

The conversation:

Dave Coleman: It’s actually an east coast thing … NY/Toronto for example are all about business models and showing revenue (not profit, but revenue) … West coast is all about building, generating users and then figuring it out from there.  It’s worthy of debate Karim. I do not think either are right or wrong. The chance of an east coast start-up succeeding is higher (IMHO), however the volume of startups out West is greater

Farhan Lalji:  Don’t think it’s just a Toronto/NY thing, it happens in London as well.  Angel investors want to see revenue here as well, though they say they will invest in an idea, rarely does it happen. Just look at Seedcamp in the EU – says it’s like Y Combinator but all of the companies had product and traction/customers if not revenue.   I think that’s what makes Silicon Valley unique; it has a culture of risk – trusting the team to take advantage of the market. It also has a culture of reinvestment, several people made money off companies like Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft, eBay, PayPal, Cisco etc and those new rich took flyers on the founders of Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare etc.

Rahim Adatia: There is a lot more to this than East coast vs West coast and business models vs no business model. New York is far more risk-taking than Toronto. In the US and more so in the Valley, smart money invests into teams not business models. Smart money knows that business models change in the early days and you need a team that has the brains, will, and experience to adapt quickly. There is also more maturity as an industry in the Valley in regards to tech investments. This is the 4th or 5th cycle here, while in most other areas, this is the 2nd. The first being the dot-com boom, and the current dot-com 2.0 boom. That has benefits in terms of banking, legal, business development, sales, etc.  The problem is that soon greed starts to set in, and in all areas dumb money floods in. For example, a person who normally invests into real estate, will throw money into the tech world trying to cash in quick and then bad teams get invested, or the teams in Toronto/London without biz-models get invested. That ends up temporary skewing everything. This is the premise I present at many of my talks.  General comment I get is that you can already start to see the dumb money (greed) coming into the Valley.

There were many more Facebook comments and Tweets that were shared regarding this question.  Thanks to everyone who participated and will continue to participate in the comments section below:

How would you improve the funding and startup disconnect in Canada?