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Reclaiming the Cappuccino

Since 1994, at least once daily I have made myself an espresso drink.  I have owned and operated a variety of machinery used for this purpose and tested all sorts of beans and roasts along the way. My favourite is the cappuccino.

When I moved to NYC in 2004 I witnessed the horrors of North American coffee consumption first hand, already doubting my choice of going to Starbucks before my first day of work I saw a lady pour out half of her drink into the garbage – so that it wouldn’t spill on her hand as she walked to the office you see. 

Starbucks and similar chains have commodified coffee for North Americans and others around the world, and now hipsters have cheekily jumped on the business of delivering coffee as a niche (and upmarket) experience. With cappuccinos costing up to $5 in downtown Toronto I increasingly find myself enjoying them less out of the house.  Especially since we have mainly relegated coffee drinking to sit down cafes or messy takeaway trips…

…Yesterday however I was reminded of what this experience should be – in Siena Sheila and I stopped at an espresso bar for literally just enough time to sip a cappuccino and must have seen, heard, bumped shoulders with and smiled at 100 people passing through for the same experience, priced at a sensible $1.50 per drink.  

I’m back home next week and on the hunt for simple, accessible places to get my creamy caffeine fix without having to sit down or spend wildly.

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FounderDeck is now on indieGoGo


I’ve been in recent stealth mode prototyping a really cool game for entrepreneurs and its just gone live on indieGoGo for pre-order!  Essentially FounderDeck comprises of 70 cards – each with a question about the market, founders and their team, products/services on offer, the competition, marketing and so on.


Looking back on my own entrepreneurial history, I’ve found that I always got stuck asking myself the same questions in order to start-up and create/launch new products and services.  Over the years patterns of behaviour can limit your success and the aim in creating this game is to help entrepreneurs break those patterns with an engaging way to evolve their business perspective and understanding… plus, some of the questions are personal in nature – addressing issues like the nature of risk founders undertake when launching their ventures (the things many of us choose to ignore to varying degrees of our own detriment.)



The past few weeks have evolved a simple prototype printed in my office – in terms of content and design, and I’m really happy with the format that this campaign will allow us to commission of the production partner I’ve found.  The end result will be a game which is printed on professional playing card stock housed in a custom-designed box, asking a wealth of questions which have tested well with VCs, angel investors and serial entrepreneurs in my network.


FounderDeck can be played in a variety of ways – by oneself as queue-cards to prepare for investor meetings, with colleagues to test collective understanding and motivation, with family to share your startup story or by role-playing through taking on the persona of anyone other than yourself.

The more this game is played the nimbler your mind becomes at articulating business positioning and decisions – which is something anyone can use no matter what depth of entrepreneurial experience you have!


indiegogo-logoPlease pop over the the campaign on indieGoGo and order your FounderDeck today – even if you’re not an entrepreneur or don’t work at a startup, they make great gifts for anyone who is/does 😉


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Last Week’s Links (2/8/16)

The magical promise of algorithms to side-step hard work and human acumen has long allured people engaged in finance – recently, Hollywood woke up from its own enchantment with mathematical models to predict slate successes.  Similarly Venture Capital is starting to wake up to the reality that unicorns don’t actually exist and more often than not tortoises win the race to profitability – something that will benefit ecosystems grounded in quality engineering and institutional support (like Kitchener-Waterloo.)

Though Africa’s middle class is still growing and the successes of mobile banking have spawned investment interest globally, China is taking a lead on the continent.  However, opportunity exists for PE locally and globally across Africa amongst SMEs, and some African startups continue to surprise global audiences with unique takes on conventional industries.

 The so called ‘Internet of Things’ is conceptually so much larger than an investment industry vertical – connected devices will become ubiquitous in the next few years and innovation in this area should not only come from consumer devices but hacknology as well.

*The cover photo on this post was taken on a walk last weekend and relates how strange the weather has been in Toronto this winter.

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Last Week’s Links (2/1/16)

Technology is increasingly helping mankind improve its health whilst curbing the effects of disease through helping us better understand how the body works.  We’re supposedly getting happier as we age but perhaps this phenomenon is reserved primarily for people in MDCs with adequate healthcare – again, something technologists , healthcare professionals and businesspeople are attempting to change.

As deflated currencies and crude prices send public markets spiraling downwards this year, investors are taking a new look at valuations whilst opportunist founders are bringing the pump closer to home.  It’s interesting to consider that there are still Communist and post-Communist communities without fast and abundant internet access in various places of the world whilst startup culture has gone pop in America – its legacy icons are often finding a new market relevance – leveraging domain knowledge through roles as co-founders of ‘new media’ plays.

As companies grow to become large enterprises they need to maintain startup values – something Nokia has realized through recent pivots to now find niche in VR.

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