General


Over the past year I have been horrible about blogging. In fact after writing 50+ articles in a year, I went to virtually nil. What happened? It was all going so well. Well, life happened. Between building a business, helping my wife start her business, having a new baby, moving to a new home, traveling, trying to stay in shape etc. etc. I haven’t been on the ball. This is no excuse, because others seem to do it, but something I need to fix. I recently completed some personal projects and now am going to make some time for more blogging. Not necessarily for other people, but for myself. I found it to be a wonderfully cathartic exercise that I miss out on. Here are some updates that I will be sharing News on Printchomp – There is so much goodness going on that I need to do a better job sharing how awesome our team is and how much we are growing. Lots of news on this coming soon! Community News – Last year, I wrote my then last blog article on Why I moved back to the Waterloo Region. I have been kindly asked by Kara Swisher to contribute to her new kick-ass blog Re/code. You can expect for me to do a killer update on all the goodness going on with startups near me and the entire scene Startup lessons learned – Over the past 2 years with Printchomp and interacting with other startups, I have learned so much. After having a series of dinners with friends and colleagues namely ones with Scott Oldford and Alkarim Nasser, I realized that if I don’t share these lessons, I think I am missing out on the opportunity to crystallize them in my head and more importantly share them with others. I had an amazing trip to San Francisco a couple months ago and was so neglectful not to share all the cool people I got to meet with. Nope I won’t review your product – I am still getting regular requests to review new products. Unless it is something I stumble upon myself and is absolutely amazing I probably won’t write about it. I won’t do fake sponsored blogs either, unless what you are shilling is absolutely amazing and you’ll give me one (or have a truck full of cash show up). Trends – Being head down in my startup I am seeing a lot of cool technology trends, more importantly potholes and things to avoid. I’m going to try to share this stuff because there are some amazing things going on. Video Studio – I’m happy to...

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Over the past week, there has been lots of news about the uncertain future of BlackBerry, the impact of it shedding jobs and speculation about the impact to the community and the tech future of Waterloo Region. I couldn’t help but reflect back on why I returned to this area. Nearly two years ago, as I sat in gridlock in Toronto struggling to pick up my daughter from day care on time, I had a revelation. I couldn’t scale a business and a family in Toronto, given that both my wife and I were busy professionals. I loved Toronto for many reasons but ultimately couldn’t reconcile spending 20 hours on the road each week instead of spending that time with family, my business or taking care of myself. Once we made the decision, we knew what we had to do. We loved our urban lifestyle, but it was time to return to our hometown to achieve a better work/life balance. I spent the first 25 years of my life living in Waterloo Region. I went to high school in Waterloo and drove past Research In Motion (now BlackBerry) when it only had one building (not a sprawling campus). Before even starting school, I was able to go to computer camp and learn from some great minds showing off the first iterations of a GUI in the early 80s. I got my first computer when I was five years old and didn’t look back. I progressed through school, and ultimately attended both University of Waterloo andWilfrid Laurier University. Upon reflection, I don’t think I realized how much this area had to offer to others and myself. The plain reality is that there is a significant talent pool and two internationally recognized universities creating high-quality engineers, programs and business grads. Historically, it has been a hotbed for technology in Canada, and that has only increased as more startups flock to the community. It has reached a point of critical mass in the past 5 years. In June of 2012, I founded my company Printchomp. One of the first decisions I made was to base my company in Waterloo Region. I did so because I saw huge opportunity in the area. When people hear the word “startup,” they automatically seem to think of Silicon Valley in California, but as much as I love the Valley, I realized the benefits of being in Waterloo Region. There is an amazing wealth of talent coming out of University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College. This is a huge boon to companies looking to grow. The University of Waterloo co-op program is one of the most aggressive for placing quality...

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Well my cute daughter Anna is running around with our generation one iPad. Since the tech is relatively new there are no hard and fast rules for managing your child’s iPad usage. We have tried to figure it out as we have gone along, but finding quality apps is always a challenge. It is a challenge because you want to find something interative and can teach you something instead of just mindless drivel. She is now 2.5 and now these are her favorites that we totally approve. As a result here are our recommendations for Apps Endless Alphabet – This is a fantastic app for increasing your child’s vocabulary and getting them to start spelling and sounding out letters. Download Endless Alphabet           Toca Boca Kitchen/Doctor/Hair Salon – Toca Boca produces some fun games for kids. These three are our favorites. Download Toca Boca Kitchen / Doctor and Hair Salon  Princess Fairy Tale Maker – Don’t let the name fool you. This is a fun little app for creating visual stories with your kid increasing their imagination. Duck Duck Moose is a great studio for kids games. Download Princess Fairy Tale Maker. Download Princess Fairy Tale Maker   Recommendations on Youtube Peppa Pig – While this is not limited to just the web it is a great show that has been adapted for countless languages. Mother Goose Club It is a great series of unique songs, very friendly and catchy. I still can’t get the Dinosaur stop song out of my...

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So I have been horrible at keeping up my blog lately. This is my vain attempt to get back into the swing of things now that my life is getting close to a new normal. I moved back to Waterloo 2 months ago to help achieve some work/life/health balance.  My workout life has been a roller coaster, one minute I can run 41k another seemingly I am wheezing to run 5k. I wanted to take things back under control, so I joined Crossfit. For those that are not familiar it is a pretty intense series of workouts designed to push you and essentially make you Stronger, Fitter and  Faster. So after tonight of completing an epic workout and can’t sleep because my muscles ache I was reflecting on what Printchomp and Crossfit have in common. 1.     Push your limits – Whether it is building a new business or getting in shape it is all about pushing your limits. Seeing how far you can push yourself. You don’t know how far you can go or achieve if you don’t push yourself hard. Whenever you stop pushing yourself, you deprive yourself from getting to a goal faster or sooner. So don’t take your foot off the gas pedal, you only have limited time on this earth so make the most of it. 2.     Surround yourself with people that push you – You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with. If you only hang out with uninspired, lazy individuals soon you will become one. Both in Printchomp or Crossfit both are highly motivated to achieve their goals. At a critical point of my workout I was behind (it was a timed workout). I might not have completed it in the allotted time if a colleague hadn’t pushed me to work harder to complete the workout. You also need good people to help you constantly raise your game and constantly improve. 3.     It is ok to be uncomfortable  – The old adage of getting out of your comfort zone.  It has become so clichéd. Pushing yourself to do new and tough things is the only way you improve. If you don’t fail or had a chance of failing you have no way to get better. When I first ventured out to create my own business, it was a scary experience. However if I didn’t take that first step to start something, I would have never went beyond what I knew. For me never trying is far scarier than trying something with a chance of failure. 4.     Form is everything – Form is everything when working out, so to does...

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So a year has passed since Printchomp came into the world. Suffice it to say it hasn’t been an uneventful year.  Calling it an emotional roller coaster ride wouldn’t even properly characterize it. In order to make this startup journey possible, I had to change all facets of my life. Over a year ago, I sold my house, I began commuting an hour back to Waterloo (as I prepared to move back), and I changed everything and turned things on their head.  One would think that changing their entire life in their early 30’s was a natural progression. The backdrop was quite unusual in this case. My wife was in the process of finishing an epic journey of realizing her own dream in become an anesthesiologist. This is no small feat, and took over 13 years of post-secondary education to complete.  Between that and watching my daughter  grow from a baby to a little girl, this year has been nothing short of busy. In many ways I had to put aside the trappings of having steady income in order to go after a dream. It was the belief that I had something more in me than just being a cog in a wheel at one organization after another. I knew the journey wouldn’t be easy. Nothing is handed to you. A year later, I have a company with 10 colleagues. I wouldn’t call them employees; they are more like companions in this epic adventure. Rather like the Lord of the Rings it has been a trek through sometimes-treacherous terrain. Although, I often catch myself admiring the beautiful scenery I know I must keep pushing forward to my goal. We now have thousands of clients on the system. When I tell people I run my own company they always say must be nice to be your own boss. The thing that many do not realize is that when you have customers you have thousands of bosses. Each one of them must be properly taken care of and addressed. The connection with the customers has been invaluable to shaping the product. Since we launched only 3 months in, there were many things that weren’t fully built out. Features were sparse, but the vision was there and that is what people kept responding to. Little by little, we began addressing each crucial piece of functionality and made it easier and easier to do seemingly simple tasks. The way that our development team has evolved the site with the number of constraints they have faced over the year is nothing short of amazing – evolving a simple flow into something far more elegant...

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