Category Archives: crowdsourcing

My new Markhor shoes

Kickstarter (and Indiegogo) is one of my favourite websites. I’ve had the honour (and excitement!) of funding a number of projects. I’ve funded everything from the Pebble Time to Neil Young’s Pono music player. However, there is one project that I was really excited to fund: Markhor.

The story of Markhor goes something like this: a group of Pakistani entrepreneurs wanted to design and craft local shoes. They turned to Kickstarter to raise funds so that they would be able to raise enough money to source local materials and hire local designers and shoemakers to make shoes. You can visit Markhor for the longer version.

Well, my shoes came! And I’m so excited to show them to you. And wear them!

Markhor | #WearMarkhor


Markhor | #WearMarkhor


Markhor | #WearMarkhor


Markhor | #WearMarkhor

#LexusInstaFilm: Verdict? #Fail

At first glance #LexusInstaFilm looks cool. Especially the combination of Instagram and Lexus. However, when I watched the commercial and the quick “making of” I was thoroughly disappointed.

What I thought I was going to experience was a crowd sourced commercial from Instagram via a pre-determined hashtag. Instead, what we have is a slick-produced commercial using individual’s smartphones and Instagram accounts. There is absolutely nothing unique about this. Instead of using 2 cameras to film a commercial, Team One (the agency behind this “idea”) got 200 social media happy users to bring their smartphones to the shoot.

What could have been a really cool concept turned out to be a lazy attempt at being cool. #LexusInstaFilm? More like #LexusInstaFail

What do you think?


creating community: part 1

the GREENtuity chapter

There’s always a beginning to a story.  And so there is with my story.  It all began with an initiative I headed up called

The purpose of GREENtuity was to help raise money and awareness for a local non-profit called Toronto Green Community.  TGC, as it is fondly known as, is a grassroots community organization in Toronto which focuses on teaching and empowering people to make positive environmental choices.

The GREENtuity concept was to have patrons at selected vendor partners donate their gratuities (hence the term GREENtuity) to TGC. The concept was powered by our blog as well as by Twitter.  I thought that because we were using social media we would get massive support from the Toronto Twitter community.  And why wouldn’t we? We were raising money for a good cause and I was a cool person.

And thus my lesson on creating community began.

Our goal was to raise $5000 for TGC as well as generate some media mentions.  We succeeded on the media side by getting coverage from blogTO. The financial side? Not so much. $500 raised. In my eyes a failure. But a lesson learned.

Why did I fail?  Because I didn’t understand the importance of being part of a community, building a community and, finally, mobilizing a community.

community membership:

Being part of an online community is more than just taking out a membership.  It is all about being a productive member of that community. And being productive means giving. And by giving you accumulate social capital.

building community:

Once you’ve identified yourself as a member of the online community you are now able to build your own community. The key here is to not forget what brought you here in the first place: provide compelling content that spurs discussion amongst the community. At this “stage” you’ve identified yourself as a “trust agent”.

mobilizing community:

Once you’ve become a “trust agent” you are now ready (as far as the community is concerned) to mobilize the community. You can ask for comments, “likes”, RT’s or even time and money.

So where did I fail?

All of the above is the correct answer.

I wasn’t a contributing member of the online community. As such, when I asked for support I did not receive it to the extent that I hoped.

The great thing about the online community is that it is very forgiving and it is also a great place to learn. And since then I have learned a great deal.  But that story will have to wait for another chapter.

to be continued…

Toronto’s Independent Free Wifi Coffee Shops

If you’re a start-up or a freelancer you will want to contribute to this post, share it and save it for future use.  Honest.  And here’s why:  

After starting thirdocean with Carolyn Van a few months ago we’ve spent most of our “office time” in our local Starbucks.  We have not yet reached the point of wanting to spend financial resources on an office yet so we appreciate that our local coffee shop let’s us hang there for hours and hours on end.

But there comes a time when a change is called for.  I’ve had enough of Starbucks and Second Cup.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not anti “big coffee”.  I continue to spend time and money in these places.  And I plan to continue this.

Recently, I’ve been introduced to a couple of neighbourhood gems:  The independent coffee shop that also has free wifi and amazing staff.

Following underneath will be a working and incomplete list of all the independent free wifi coffee shops in Toronto.  If you see that your favourite spot is not included please feel free to add them (with a link) in the comments section below.

Redline Coffee and Espresso – Queen and Parliament

saving gigi – Bloor and Ossington

Aroma EspressoYonge and Eglinton, Bloor and Bathurst, King and York

Cloud Espresso Bar – Queen and Ossington

Te Aro Roasted – in Leslieville on Ossington

Sense Appeal – Spadina and Adelaide

Manic Coffee – College and Bathurst

Little Nicky’s – Queen and Peter

Dark Horse Queen West, Riverside, Chinatown

Quaff Cafe – Queen West and Palmerston

Urbana Coffee – Yonge and Church, Bay and Irwin

La Merceria – Adelaide West and Portland

The Mascot – Queen West and Elm Grove

What am I missing?  What’s your favourite independent coffee shop in Toronto?

Please comment below!

the (in)complete list of coworking spaces in Canada

As a brand new business owner finding space to work out of can be a challenge.  I do appreciate the free wifi at the local Starbucks and The Second Cup‘s across the city.  However, sometimes my and my business partner need to collaborate and feed off of the energy of others.

And this is where a coworking space can come in handy.  According to our friends at Wikipedia:

Coworking is a style of work which involves a shared working environment, sometimes an office, yet independent activity. Unlike in a typical office environment, those coworking are usually not employed by the same organization. Typically it is attractive to work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, or people who travel frequently who end up working in relative isolation. Coworking is the social gathering of a group of people, who are still working independently, but who share values, and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with talented people in the same space.”

And so I got to thinking of space that I would use.  And then I thought why not start a list that we can all add to.  Here are some coworking spaces I found in various places online.  Thanks to everyone on Twitter who helped me find these places.

karimkanji: Hey Canada! I’m compiling a list of co-working spaces in Canada. If you know of one or are one, please msg me as soon as possible.

coworkYYC – Calgary coworking space in the Ramsay neighbourhood.

10carden – This space is right across City Hall in Guelph.

401 Bay Centre – In the Financial District of Canada. Which is in downtown Toronto.

Longbranch Coworking – Want to work in a former bowling alley?  I know you do. This space is in the west end of Toronto.

Camaraderie – A cozy new place in downtown Toronto.

Centre for Social Innovation – Are you involved in a social change venture?  Then the 2 spaces that make up the CSI in Toronto just might be the place for you.

The Code Factory – Collaborative coworking space in downtown Ottawa.

The Network Hub – This space is found in the heart of downtown Vancouver.

Treehaus Collaborative Workspace – Found in Kitchener, this space also offers training and workshops.

KoworkLdn – Opening in London, Ontario in January 2011.

CoWorkative – based north of Toronto in Richmond Hill.

The Creative Space – Located in Barrie on the west shores of Lake Simcoe.

the hub Halifax – Located in Halifax, Nova Scotia this space offers work space, meeting space and events.

Queen Street Commons – Located in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, the Queen Street Commons is a place for people to work, meet, and relax.

Station C – Montreal’s first coworking space.

Yaletown209 – Located in trendy Yaletown in Vancouver.

Spark Box Studio – This Picton, Ontario space aims to encourage discovery and cultivation of new ideas, provide career-building opportunities for artists at all stages and to engage with the community through the arts.

I’m sure to have missed a few Canadian spaces.  Please feel free to add your favourite coworking space in the comments section below.

Let’s play ball fans

I don’t pretend to have all the answers. Nor do I look at everything as “the glass is half full.” However, I must say that the current attendance numbers for our Toronto Blue Jays is a little concerning. Ok, very concerning.

The Jays, again, are off to a hot start. There is no competition from the Maple Leafs or the Raptors and Toronto FC are off to a horrible start again.

10,610 paying customers walked into the Rogers Centre last night. This was only two days after selling out the place during Opening Day.

This is the problem.

As a baseball fan and as a fan of the Blue Jays I want to help. And I’m hoping you want to help too.

So, for the next 7 days please leave a comment. Really, leave a suggestion or two. (If you’re reading this on Facebook, please take the time to come on over to and fill out the comments section)  And invite your friends and fellow fans to come hear and voice their opinion.

Here’s the question I’m asking:

What should the Toronto Blue Jays do to increase the average attendance to games to 30,000 this year?


I’m going to set up a meeting with the person in charge of marketing and social media and share with him our thoughts and suggestion. (He is starting to listen and has agreed to meet with me and a colleague to hear our thoughts.)

Thank you for reading.

Let’s play ball!