Justin Policarpio announced as new student entrepreneurship manager

justinLocal startup community leader Justin Policarpio (@Justin_Polic) has been hired as Manager, Student Entrepreneurship in Student Affairs at McMaster University. Congratulations to Justin, and please help him out in this new role! Check out the announcement below:



I am pleased to introduce Justin Policarpio in the new role of Manager, Student Entrepreneurship in Student Affairs. Justin holds two degrees from McMaster: a BSc (Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences) as well as a Master’s of Engineering, Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He is the Founder of the Women Entrepreneurship program at McMaster and was the Business Development Co-ordinator in our School of Engineering Practice. He is also the CEO of his own startup, Roboteurs. Justin will focus on co-curricular programming, launching this fall, that will help strengthen our culture of entrepreneurship and that will connect students from all disciplines with each other and with the community. Please join me in welcoming Justin to his new role.


Sean Van Koughnett BA, MAES
Associate Vice-President (Students and Learning) and Dean of Students
McMaster University
1280 Main Street West | Hamilton, Ontario L8S4L8 | 905-525-9140 x 27455


Interview with Startup Weekend co-organizer Larissa Drobot

Check out the interview below with Larissa Drobot (@La_Rissa_D), co-organizer of Startup Weekend Hamilton 4 (@starthamilton) happening on April 25th – April 27th at McMaster Innovation Park!


larissaTell me about yourself.

I am a Hamilton native, an alumni of Mohawk College, a production manager (animation), and a freelance video editor. I am also one of Hamilton’s startup cheerleaders and an alumni of Startup Weekend Hamilton 2 & 3. This year I am one of the new team of volunteer organizers for Startup Weekend Hamilton 4. It is our first time collaborating together and we are building a great event on the strong foundation that was left to us by our predecessors.


What’s Startup Weekend Hamilton 4 all about?

Startup Weekend Hamilton 4 is a 54 hour event where developers, designers, marketers, product managers, business and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch a startup.


Where and when is the event, and how can people register for it?

This year’s event will be held at Innovation Factory & The Atrium at McMaster Innovation Park (175 Longwood Rd S, Hamilton). It will run from Friday, April 25th at 6:30pm to Sunday, April 27th at 8:30pm.

People can register for it here.



Why did you decide to co-organize this year’s Startup Weekend event?

Two years ago I saw an article about Startup Weekend Hamilton 2 and I was intrigued by the concept and decided to sign up. I enjoyed the experience so much that I became more involved in the startup community. I have formed lasting relationships and am infected with the enthusiasm of the entrepreneur’s in this town! After participating in Startup Weekend Hamilton 3 I decided that I wanted to help organize the event and create a great experience for others and their future startups.




How did the overall Startup Weekend movement get started? How big has it grown now?

Startup Weekend is a grassroots movement that began in 2007 when a group of individuals worked on a single business idea and developed it over the weekend. Today Startup Weekend events are held all over the world in over 100 countries and involve larger groups of individuals developing multiple startups in competition with one another.


What are some of the more interesting startups that have come out of past Startup Weekend events?

I might be a little biased as I am still involved in the project, but I feel Walkbug was one of the most interesting Startup Weekend startups we’ve had locally. Walkbug is an app that lets you create and share curated walking tours, allowing travellers to experience any city as locals do.

Outside of Hamilton I would say Groupnotes who won Startup Weekend Toronto and then went onto win at the Global Startup Battle. Groupnotes is a tool that you can use to easily share and comment on websites making it easier to share notes with groups of people.




Why should people attend Startup Weekend Hamilton 4?

Startup Weekend attracts the community’s best makers and do-ers. It is a great opportunity to build your network, create lasting relationships, and learn a new skill. If you survive the weekend you will have gained months worth of learning, building and networking by drawing on the resources of other individuals that a startup might not have at their fingertips.


Can anyone take part in Startup Weekend?

Yes. Anyone can join; it takes many different skill sets to develop a business.


What can attendees expect during the weekend?

On the Friday night there will be a rapid ‘Pitch Fire’ event where anyone can pitch their business idea, then the ideas are voted on and groups form around the selected ideas. The group members collaborate for the rest of the weekend to build the startup businesses. During the weekend mentors will be available to guide and answer questions that might arise. On Sunday evening the teams will present to a panel of judges who will then award prizes to the top three groups.



Do the startup projects at Startup Weekend have to be technology based, or are other types of startups allowed too?

Any business ideas are eligible however we strongly recommend that even non-tech projects focus on a tech-related deliverable such as a website for Sunday’s presentations.


What will be different about this year’s Startup Weekend Hamilton event than previous years?

This year we are having an entrepreneur exclusive after-party on the Sunday night at a different venue (Stonewalls 339 York Blvd) where we will announce and award our prizes.


Where do you see Hamilton’s startup community going in the future?

The startup community is like a snowball going down a hill. As it gains momentum there’s no way in telling how big it’s going to get. Hamilton has a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem with organizations, networks, resources and opportunities that foster the region’s new generation of entrepreneurs and young professionals.




What role do you see Startup Weekend playing in that community?

Startup Weekend plays a vital role in the startup ecosystem by giving startups a chance to meet cofounders, find developers, build a website, establish market validation, get support and get advice from experienced mentors. This process would normally take months but it all happens in 54 hours. It’s a great time saver and a way for entrepreneurs to learn and try new things and possibly develop an even greater idea.


How can the local community help you make Startup Weekend Hamilton 4 a success?

The local community can help us in many ways. Firstly get the word out. Everyone knows someone who would benefit from an event like this. Secondly, the ‘weekend warriors’ as the participants are called need to keep up their energy, and any businesses that would care to support us this year or next year that could help out with refreshment/food donations, or sponsorship of prizes is always appreciated.


Startup Weekend Ideas

Coming to Startup Weekend on April 25th-27th?

Good! Now here are some ideas to pitch!

Idea #1

A solution for the “too many tabs open” problem. Need a way to save my history in an organized and interactive manner, with a nice looking UI. Sort of like the old WebMynd (http://webmynd.com). I find that most of my tabs are open as a form of reminder.

“We’re a reminder + tab management + todo list system all in one.” – Your Company

If I close it, I’ll forget it and might as well not have seen it. Same if I hide it away in some kind of bookmarking app. I think it would be best to apply a UI layer over my entire history in a way that makes it easy to search and recall things that I found interesting int he past.
Need to store all data locally for privacy reasons, and have a way to logically group urls by content and bring them back to the front occasionally (maybe with some kind of gamification?) so they don’t disappear.


Idea #2

I want to search for furniture, and other products, based on dimensions. My girlfriend and I furnished a new apartment recently, and had to be space conscious..

“We let you search for furniture, and other products, based on dimensions.” – Your Company

This spot next to the couch could fit a 10″ wide table. It’s not easy to search for that, yet the information is there. My original plan was going to use the Amazon API and take a search term and page through looking for dimensions that fit. I still think it’s a great idea, but obviously not huge, and I don’t really have time to build it. If you do, hook me up.



Idea #3

I have a strange fascination with knowing exactly how I discovered a particular artist, film, website, etc.

I’d really love a browser extension that could keep track of how the user reached a given site. Then they could go back later and input, say, a YouTube URL, and it would show exactly what lead them to that song.

“We tell you how exactly you discovered a particular artist, film, website, etc” – Your Company

I started writing such an extension myself, but I was clearly out of my element. So when Mozilla shut down their Firefox Add-on Builder, I lost motivation completely. For someone with experience created extensions, though, I imagine this would be pretty straightforward.

EDIT: no, using the browser history is not good enough. Browsing is a non-linear activity (especially with multiple tabs open), and to visualize your path through the web you need a graph, not just a list of sites.



Idea #4

Idea: Airbnb for food. An app where you buy meals cooked by your neighbors.

I see two big trends these days.

1) People seems more willing to connect back with their neighbors and community.

2) People have less time but want to eat more healthy.

“We connect you with your neighbours over a meal” – Your Company

Imagine this scenario:

While going back home, a student could check on the app what’s available to eat for tonight. Next to his place, there’s a family willing to sell the extra tacos for a few bucks. The student would then just stop by and pick them up.

Obviously, there would be quality rating and the possibility to reserve a few days in advance.

What is Startup Weekend Hamilton?

All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 54 hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. The weekends culminate with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback.

Find out more at Startup Weekend Hamilton.

Or reach out to one of the organizers:

Ideas sourced from:


Interview with Shreya Tekriwal of Hacking Health

Check out the following interview with Hacking Health (@hackinghealthca) team member Shreya Tekriwal (@ShreyaT), and don’t forget to register for the first ever Hacking Health Hamilton event taking place April 25th – April 27th at Mohawk College!


Tell me about yourself.

I graduated in 2012 from Western University with a business degree and am looking to start law school in September. While I was working at a local tech startup, I happened to volunteer for Hacking Health’s first event in Toronto. I was absolutely mesmerized by everything that happened that weekend and really enjoyed working with Hacking Health’s co-founders, Jeeshan Chowdhury, Dominic Savoie and Luc Sirois. Since then, I’ve been doing anything and everything I can to help grow this movement.


What can you tell us about Hacking Health Hamilton?

Hacking Health Hamilton is a weekend-long hackathon focused on bringing innovation to healthcare. We want to bring healthcare professionals together with technologists, entrepreneurs, policy makers, patient representatives and other stakeholders to not only identify the various problems in healthcare but to also develop ways in which we can remedy them using technology.




Why are you bringing Hacking Health to Hamilton?

The idea of bringing Hacking Health to Hamilton came about when David Kemper, our lead organizer in Hamilton, approached us. With the help of some awesome volunteers, the local team organized a Hacking Health Cafe held at the Innovation Factory back in October. The event was very well attended and it was clear that Hamilton had a thriving health-tech community. Hamilton is also home to Apps for Health and when Duane Bender proposed joining forces to bring a weekend full of innovation to the community, it was really a no-brainer.


Where and when is the event, and how can people register for it?

The weekend-long hackathon will be held on April 25-27, 2014 at Mohawk College. We’re collaborating with Apps for Health and Startup Weekend Hamilton to make this a very exciting weekend, full of innovation for those in and around Hamilton.

You can find out more about HH Hamilton and register through our website or email us at hamilton@hackinghealth.ca if you have any questions!




How did you become interested in health tech?

It was actually quite random and not at all planned. After graduation, I happened to grab coffee with the founder of a local design and development studio, which was really the first time I got into tech. About 4-5 months into my job, I ended up volunteering at Hacking Health Toronto in 2012 and that was my first time getting involved in anything health-tech. It may sound cheesy but I’d been trying to find something I truly felt passionate about – Hacking Health and health tech filled that gap for me.


Why did you start organizing Hacking Health?

I remember asking one of Hacking Health’s founders this same question and here’s what he said: hackers love to solve problems and healthcare has plenty to go around.

However, there was a problem that prevented innovation in healthcare. Healthcare professionals and technologists remained in silos. Lots of clinicians had ideas but didn’t have the right skills set or know the technologists who could turn these ideas into reality. That is essentially why Hacking Health came around – to foster the much needed collaboration. All stakeholders needed to be involved in building a solution right from the beginning and that really wasn’t happening before.




Where have Hacking Health events taken place so far?

We started in Montreal and have now organized events in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, London (ON), Hamilton, Cape Town (South Africa), Stockholm (Sweden), Strasbourg and Paris (France). We’ve got teams in Saskatoon, Calgary, New York City, Boston, Hong Kong, Whitehorse, Berlin, Zurich, Bucharest (and many more) working towards organizing events in 2014. A full list of upcoming events can be found here.


What are some of the most interesting health tech solutions that have been developed at Hacking Health events?

I could never pick the most interesting one – they’re all so different and so uniquely interesting in their own way. What we find amazing is the variety of solutions that are developed and the people who drive them. They’re not just software solutions but also hardware. Hacking Health Strasbourg even had an animal health project! The project leaders aren’t always healthcare professionals or technologists either – one of our successful projects was driven by a team of social workers in Toronto. A glimpse of past projects and some of our success stories can be found here.




Why should people attend Hacking Health?

I think the reasons vary from person to person. Hacking Health events provide participants with the opportunity to make a difference, to learn new skills and to meet some amazing people in the community who you wouldn’t interact with otherwise. Many others join us because they’re looking to validate their idea and this is a very easy, cost-effective way of doing so.


What can attendees expect at Hacking Health Hamilton?

Attendees can expect to step outside of their comfort zones and learn how to communicate and work with individuals from completely different backgrounds as themselves. The whole weekend is so full of activity! It starts off with pitches on Friday night and ends with demos on Sunday afternoon and it’s amazing how much teams can accomplish over a weekend.

You can also check out some of the videos from our past hackathons!




How can the community help you make Hacking Health Hamilton a success?

Tell your friends about Hacking Health Hamilton and bring at least five people along with you! Other than that, it’s really about keeping the conversation going. We’re always looking for volunteers and leaders in the community to join forces with so if you’re interested, definitely get in touch!


How to Protect Yourself When Having Custom Software Developed

Originally posted on BrianHogg.com


I was recently brought in to assess a site that was developed. Though it was supposed to have been custom written to fit the needs of the business, it turns out the local company simply purchased a pre-written (originally from 2004) piece of software but tried to pass it off as custom developed by changing the copyright. Legal action likely pending.

Custom software rather than very old, off-the-shelf software can still suffer from poorly architected and difficult to maintain code, and regardless of how well architected the code might be it still needs to be maintained over time. Even if you’re non-technical there are still steps you can and should take to mitigate the risk as much as possible and to maintain full control over the work you’re paying for.

Ensure They Can’t Subcontract The Work

Make sure the contract has a clause where the work cannot be subcontracted without your authorization. You’re hiring that developer or firm not someone else of their choosing, yet still paying their rates.


These are difficult to verify, as you pretty much need to know them or they have a decent public presence to have earned trust through a referral. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Ensure the Software Is Custom or Built on a Framework With an Appropriate License

There should be a clause that it’s custom in your contract, or based on an open source project with an appropriate license. Software like WordPress is licensed under GPL, which means there’s technically no restrictions on sharing the code that’s developed on top of it. If you have sensitive business processes you don’t want to expose, you’ll want to make sure you trust the developer or have another framework chosen.

Agile or Weekly Billing Instead of Fixed-Cost With a Large Deposit

Using a developer who offers weekly billing means you get to control how things are going and if you’re not happy with the direction, you can stop at any time. Major components can and will take more than a week, but this is still much better than a large fixed-cost project where you’re locked in after giving a 50% deposit and cannot change the direction when you learn more about the needs of your business.

Weekly Meetings

Even if you’re not working with a developer that offers agile development or weekly billing, weekly meetings ensure you can review progress, verify priorities, and answer any questions they have.

3rd Party Audit

Bring in a 3rd party developer like myself who can audit the code at various stages of development, and even interview or work with your developer about their current and future plans to architect the system. Tell the developer you’ll be doing this and if they have a problem with it, this may be a sign that they don’t want you finding something they’re trying to hide.

Ensure You Have Backups That the Developer Can’t Access

If you are paying for the software, you should have full control of hosting and backups. In addition, some backups need to be set up that the developer can’t access in case of a dispute. Keep incremental backups over a period of time of code and your data.

Though the hosting may not set something like this up for you as part of the package, they should be able to guide you through. Before you sign up for hosting ask the hosting company if having separate backups is a possibility. If not, you should find another hosting company, at least during development. You may need to spring for more expensive but fully managed solutions where you can get the support you need by phone or email.

Paying Too Little

If you think you’ll get Etsy or Youtube custom created for the equivalent of a week’s worth of work, you’re mistaken. If you’re getting the software developed on the cheap as an MVP with the realization you’ll likely need to throw it away later after you’ve proved there’s demand for your idea, this might work. Otherwise you’re fooling yourself.

Ultimately you’re responsible for the outcome but I hope these tips can help prevent you from paying a lot of money for software that no one but the original developers will maintain. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or get in touch, and I’ll be adding more detail on some of the points above in future posts.


Co-founder in need

“Ideas are worthless…execution is everything.”
“Ideas are cheap…but implementation is key.”

I hear these quotes all the time in the startup scene and read them in the entrepreneurial blogs. I tend to agree, however, I still find myself in the “I can implement” camp without a good business idea.

I’d describe myself as an entrepreneurial developer looking for cool projects to help co-found. After chatting with Kevin Browne, I decided to write this blog post with the hope of finding someone that has a good business idea but might be missing the implementation know-how (or just doesn’t have the technical skills to make it happen).

I’m a two-time Mac grad (Software Engineering and MBA) residing in Hamilton. I love mobile and I work day-to-day in the web and mobile space. I’m committed to my full-time job, but I’m definitely interested in filling my evenings/weekends with something cool.

If you have an idea and want to discuss it, drop me a line. I’d love to chat with like-minded entrepreneurs who are looking for a partner to build an awesome business.


kzych at kayzeesolutions . com


Hacking Health Hamilton Hackathon


Hacking Health Hamilton, in collaboration with Mohawk College’s Apps for Health event, will hold the city’s first health hackathon on the 25, 26 and 27 of April, 2014, at Mohawk College, in which doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals and health system administrators, will collaborate with computer scientists, technologists, programmers and designers in the creation of digital solutions to improve the health of Hamiltonians. Hacking Health hackathons are fun, intense, hands­on events where small teams tackle tough problems in a supportive community of peers and mentors.

Register for Hacking Health Hamilton Hackathon:


About Hacking Health

Hacking Health is a social organization that seeks to foster and facilitate collaboration and interdisciplinary experimentation between healthcare professionals and technologists to enable them to work together on realistic, human­centric solutions to front­line healthcare problems, design prototypes (games, apps, websites, web applications, services) and problem­solve new ways to deliver and transform healthcare and ultimately improve patient outcomes.

Hacking Health hosts monthly Hacking Health Cafes and weekend­long Hackathons. By creating such creative and innovative spaces, Hacking Health seeks to build bridges between healthcare professionals working in the field, who have ideas of their technological needs, and technology experts who understand how to design and develop such new technologies.

Technology alone cannot necessarily deliver change. However, well­designed, user­informed digital tools can influence individual behaviour and disrupt the traditional methods in which healthcare is delivered and patients treated.

About Hacking Health Hamilton

Hacking Health Hamilton started in the Summer of 2013, when David Kemper, who had relocated to the city a few months before, took note of the city’s robust institutions of higher education, burgeoning technology startup scene, and numerous hospitals and healthcare centres, and saw the potential of bringing the Hacking Health movement to the Steel Town.

Working with other Hamilton volunteers, Hacking Health Hamilton was formed and held its first event, Hacking Health Cafe, on October 22, 2013 at Innovation Factory in the McMaster Innovation Park. The informal free event­­attended by roughly by 50 professionals for the health and IT sectors­­was a success and set the stage for the upcoming hackathon event.

The overarching goal of Hacking Health Hamilton is to bring people from all sectors and disciplines together, but especially from health and technology, and to support collaboration and build partnerships of innovation as the city of Hamilton continues its economic shift from large, heavy industries to education and health services.

Examples of Hackathon pitches and projects (Montreal Hackathon 2014):

David Kemper
on behalf of Hacking Health Hamilton


Finding B2B Clients: 4 Strategies We Use

Getting more clientsAs a B2B sales and marketing agency, we are often asked how VA Partners finds new customers. Here are four tactics we use on an on-going basis to build a funnel of potential clients.

1. Use Inbound Marketing

Using a mix of blogs, white papers, email newsletters, website content, social media and SEO, we have built a great inbound lead generation process at VA Partners. We generate close to 60 inbound leads every month, qualify all our leads and then add them to the sales effort.

2. Be a Leader in the Local Startup Space

VA Partners has been in business since 2006 and since that time we have worked hard to build relationships with many well respected organizations. This has led to monthly speaking opportunities, mentoring opportunities, and leading peer-to-peer sessions. This is not a one-time effort, but an ongoing and consistent pursuit.

3. Network and Attend Events

The team is regularly at startup or small business events through the Toronto and GTA region, including KW, Halton and Hamilton. This has been a great way to meet prospects and potential partners.

4. Look for Sales Triggers on Social Media

Social media is a wonderful tool for growing firms. Every member of our team has a strong presence on social media. One of the great opportunities from a sales effort is finding sales triggers that can then be acted upon quickly. Early this year we signed a new B2B customer and also helped a client close a customer through a conversation that started on Twitter and Linkedin. Both of these opportunities closed in less than a month.

What strategies does your business use to find new clients?

Need help getting started with sales? Download our free Introduction to Startup Sales white paper to learn about researching prospects, using LinkedIn for sales and handling sales objections.

« Older Entries