Tag Archives: Toronto

Networking Advice From Some of Toronto’s Digital Media Entrepreneurs

photo illustrate networking - tin cans with a stringIn the past month or so, I’ve been out gathering advice on how to network effectively as a freelancer to grow my list of potential clients.  I’ve received some truly invaluable advice from a number of digital media entrepreneurs in Toronto – you all know who you are!  I figure that there must be others out there who are in the same position as I am.  So, I thought I’d share some of the pearls of wisdom that I have received to date.


1) The 3 Feet Rule and/or Talk to Anyone Who Will Give You an Hour of Their Time

The first part of this tip is the idea that if anyone is standing within 3 feet of you at a party or an event, talk to them about what you do and what you are trying to accomplish.  It’s so surprising how this sparks other people’s ideas and you’ll either get great new perspectives on what to do, or people will share names and contact info of other people with whom you may want to speak.  The second part of this tip is that if someone is willing to give you an hour of their time to share their advice and insight, take it!  They say that the best listeners get the best advice. So, if you don’t go out and listen to what others in your industry have to say, you’re not going to get any new leads, advice or ideas to move you on to the next step in your journey.

2) Social Media is the New Cold Call – Be Easy to Find Online
I’m still pretty new to the world of social media but I have read a lot lately about the notion that social media is the new cold call.  If you are properly focused on who your target customer is and are sharing ideas and information that is of interest to them, they will eventually contact you. A great resource for learning how to do this properly and to get found online is a book called Inbound Marketing. I have already started to meet some really interesting and inspiring people through this platform and can already see how it is beneficial.  The other piece of advice that I have learned is to definitely take your online social networking relationships offline and meet with these people face to face – this goes back to tip #1.

3) The Ripple Effect – Be Grateful and Help Others
I had a great conversation with someone today who told me that by constantly helping others with their business and seeking out new connections, you are building up a network of people who will help you in return.  Of course, you should be doing this because you want to help – don’t do it just for the sake of wanting anything else in return.

4) Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch – Sometimes Your Chicken Will Cross the Road
I learned this rule the hard way when I met with one of my first potential clients.  I thought I had a potential contract in the bag and so I slowed down on my networking for a while and focused on what I was going to do for that client.  Two weeks later, when I still hadn’t heard back from the client, I followed up and discovered that he had left the company.  I had counted on that chicken and was kinda blind-sided when I found out that he had crossed the road – lesson learned!  This reminded me that a freelancer should always be networking – never slow down unless you have a contract in hand.

5) Learn From Others’ Mistakes
This again goes back to point #1.  When you’re out talking to others who might be able to share tips and advice on how they have been successful in your field, definitely ask them about what mistakes they’ve made along the way.  Again, one of the people who I spoke with recently told me that entrepreneurs should be comfortable with failure.  However, he told me that there is no reason to be making the same mistakes that other people have already made – if you can avoid it.  Find out how other people have failed and learn from them so that you don’t make the same mistakes.

If you come across this blog and have other pearls of wisdom that you’d like to share – definitely post a comment and let’s help each other out 😉

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If You Build It, Technology Companies Will Come – GO Train is Expanding Rail Service in Ontario to Kitchener-Waterloo

Google Maps Screenshots of California and Ontario Transportation via CalTrain and GO Train

Source: Google Maps

I was chatting with someone at a party about a month ago about what Ontario needs to help kick-start our already budding technology industry into high gear and make us even more like “Silicon Valley North”.  We got on the topic of why there needs to be a GO Train service from Waterloo to Toronto – just like the Caltrain in California from Palo Alto to San Francisco.  The distances between these cities in California and Ontario are very similar and having a train from Waterloo to Toronto would tie the cities closer together – with Waterloo as an R&D technology hub and Toronto as a major business center in Ontario.

Someone from Metrolinx must have been listening in on our conversation – or at least had the idea before we did.  A week ago, I read the good news that GO Transit announced that it will be expanding rail service on the Georgetown line to Acton, Guelph and Kitchener-Waterloo by the end of 2011.  Until this happens, you can only take the GO Train as far as Milton from Toronto and then you have to take a bus or drive from Milton to Waterloo (see the Google Maps image above).

Having just left a very large technology company that had offices in both Toronto and Waterloo, I am very much aware of the challenge in commuting between the two cities for meetings.  I had a co-worker who lived in Waterloo and took a GO Bus to Toronto at 5am every morning to come in to work.  I can’t even fathom what his commute must be like every day. We also had clients in Waterloo and we had to rent a car to drive there from Toronto every time we wanted to go for a meeting.  It’s not that driving is so bad but having a train would be so much better for getting work done while commuting.  It would also make for a much more enjoyable commute in harsh winter weather.

I believe that building this train is a major leap forward towards making Toronto/Waterloo a world-class technology and innovation center.  A major parallel between Toronto/Waterloo and San Francisco/Palo Alto is their proximity to high-profile technology universities in Waterloo and Palo Alto (Stanford).  I truly believe that building this train will attract more technology companies to set-up shop in Ontario.

Please share your thoughts on what else you think is needed to make us a true “Silicon Valley North”?

A List of 8 Great Canadian Mobile Apps

Image of iphone apps
Canadians are doing amazing work in the mobile space.  Just recently, Microsoft hired Toronto-based developer Polar Mobile to develop 500 mobile apps for their Windows 7 phone. After reading about that huge win for Canada, I thought it was worth digging around a little to see who else is doing interesting things in this space. Below is a list of some great Canadian apps and Canadian start-ups in the mobile space that I have discovered in the past few months.

(1) Simply Good AppsThis Canadian company considers themselves “more than an apps developer” as they use their proprietary point-of-interest and image processing platforms to redefine the way people navigate and participate with your brand.  They recently signed a contract with Scotiabank to provide free mobile applications for their sponsored Toronto festivals.  The app boasts the ability to share images using their proprietary Capturefy© technology, integrated GPS/Mapping, event-specific information and social connection, and location-specific mapping to events and public transit.

(2)  Burstn – This made in Canada app is a simple tool to help you snap and share photos instantly on the web and via mobile devices. Burstn is also a social network of photos, people and places.

(3) Pushlife Mobile Media Player – This Toronto-based company has taken the experience of playing all of your music on your desktop media player (if you’re not an Apple user) and made it accessible on your Blackberry.  According to their website, the Blackberry app features and “easy-to-use, interactive Media Carousel which gives you one finger control of playing a song, going to the next or previous song, seeking forwards and backwards in a song, accessing the Mobile Jewel Case, rating a song, posting acomment about the song on TwitterTM, editing playlists, editing track information and more.”

(4) iMock-ups – Endloop Studios is a Toronto-based start-up that has created iMock-ups as a downloadable app on iTunes for your iPad.  This tool helps designers on the move to mock-up Websites and layouts by choosing from a menu of options that include device wireframes.  The options include video and text icons that can be swept onto a digital whiteboard.  Within the whiteboard, a designer can shrink, enlarge and move things about on the screen as clients sit next to them.

(5) Toronto Maple Leafs – This wouldn’t be a blog about Canadian apps without mentioning how they are helping hockey sports fans to stay connected to their favourite game. I thought it was worth mentioning Polar Mobile’s app for the Toronto Maple Leafs because I grew up in Toronto. This tool helps Leafs fans to stay connected to their favourite team on their smartphone.  App users can get live game scores, past results, current roster stats, league standings, game schedules, and all the latest team news and updates.

(6) Nat Decants – This app is great for foodies and wine lovers as it is a comprehensive and delicious guide for the iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Android, Nexus, Nokia, Palm Pre and other smartphones.  This app is an evolution from Natalie MacLean’s original bestselling “Drinks Matcher” app. Basically, Natalie has developed ten wine apps rolled into one. The app will help you when you’re trying to figure out what wine to pair with what meal when you’re out shopping at the grocery and liquor store.  The app also boasts wine reviews, winery listings, recipes, articles and more.

(7) TripItCreated by Five Mobile Inc., this Blackberry app allows users to access their upcoming travel itineraries from their phone. The app boasts the ability to access calendar integration, flight monitoring and travel confirmations – making it a best in class travel application.  Five mobile makes a whole slew of mobile apps worth noting – check them out here: http://www.fivemobile.com/portfolio

(8) The Score for iPad – Score media recently acquired 20% of NuLayer Inc., a developer of web, mobile and iPad applications.  The Score recently launched an iPad version of their sports results app which was created by NuLayer Inc.  This app allows sports fans to get the latest sports scores, stats, news and more about their favourite team or league.

If you know of any other interesting Canadian apps that should be added to the list, definitely let me know.

Related Articles:
Toronto: mobile app centre of the universe, Toronto Life, July 23, 2010
Apps born in Toronto, The Globe and Mail, May 28, 2010