Real stories by real entrepreneurs next week

When: Wednesday February 15th from 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Where: Thode Library Makerspace at McMaster University

Organizer: The Forge @ Mac (@theforgehamont)




Join The Forge@Mac team and our panelists for Real Stories by Real Entrepreneurs.

Real Stories by Real Entrepreneurs is a live storytelling discussion where (as you guessed it), Real Stories will be told by Real (& local) Entrepreneurs. Our panelists will engage with you by telling you their personal stories and experiences of things such as: managing the early days of starting up, building a winning team, biggest failures and learning from them, experiences with their first customer, etc..

Each panelist will have approx 15-20 minutes to share with us their personal experiences. At the end of the sotrytelling presentations, we’ll be hosting a casual/ networking-style question period, giving you the chance to personally introduce yourself and ask each panelist any questions you might have about theirs or your own experiences.

PANELISTS include:

Graeme Davis (Bruha Inc), Co-Founder & CEO. 

Graeme Davis Bruha CEO

Graeme is a driven and passionate leader with prior experience as the founder and president of Showdom Inc. Graeme’s previous experience as a project manager, coupled with his entrepreneurial instincts, have allowed him to gain familiarity with managing teams and building a software-based business. Graeme remains responsible for contributing and overseeing duties with Brüha including server and backend design, and oversees product development, branding, marketing, sales, and the financial standing of the company.


Peter Mokrycke (Architect Hair Design), Owner Operator 

Peter Mokcrycke Owner AHD

Peter Mokrycke is the Owner Operator of Architect Hair Design located on Hamilton’s James Street North. After completing his studies from the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey Program, Peter joined Target as an Executive Team Leader. He is a natural leader with strengths in operations, marketing and business development.


Dan Johnston (Collective Arts Brewing), Business Development Manager

Dan Johnston Collective Arts

Dan Johnston is the Business Development Manager for Collective Arts Brewing. He cut his teeth in the industry opening and managing some of the largest craft beer bars across Australia before returning home to Toronto. Recent projects with Collective Arts include securing distribution channels into Spain, Australia and the North East of US. Outside of the beer world Dan is an active volunteer in his hometown community, loves his Blue Jays and is always spreading the good word of craft beer!


Bruha interview with Urbanicity


Ubanicity (@urbanicityyhm) recently had an interview with local event ticketing startup Bruha (@BruhaExclusive) about their platform, their experience in Hamilton and thoughts on the ecosystem.

Q: Where did this idea for Brüha come from?

A: The idea came from a simple problem that all of us [partners] had in common; finding out about all the cool local things happening. It wasn’t just something we were experiencing in Hamilton, everywhere we went the same problem kept coming up.

Check out the full interview on, and the infographic below documenting their growth.



Canadian tech leaders publish open letter


Editor’s note: Originally published on with a list of 150 initial signatures.


The Canadian tech community comprises many different nationalities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, mental and physical abilities, and perspectives. We believe that this diversity is a source of strength and opportunity.

On this topic, we are united.

Canadian tech companies understand the power of inclusion and diversity of thought, and that talent and skill know no borders. In choosing to hire, train, and mentor the best people in the world, we can build global companies that grow our economy. By embracing diversity, we can drive innovation to benefit the world.

The 21st century will be driven by pluralistic economies powered by pluralistic societies.

This is a belief founded upon personal experience for many in our community. Many Canadian tech entrepreneurs are immigrants, are the children of immigrants, employ and have been employed by immigrants.

As connected economies, decisions by the United States can directly impact every business north of the border. The recently signed Executive Order to block entry of citizens from seven countries has already impacted several in our community. As a community, we are all affected.

As a community, we stand together in opposition to the marginalization of people based on their birthplace, race, or religion.

The Canadian tech community supports Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s message that Canada will and must remain inclusive to all nationalities. We also stand directly opposed to any and all laws that undermine or attack inclusion, and call on Prime Minister Trudeau and our political leaders to do the same.

The Canadian tech community also calls on the Canadian federal government to institute an immediate and targeted visa providing those currently displaced by the US Executive Order with temporary residency in Canada. This visa would allow these residents to live and work in Canada with access to benefits until such time as they can complete the application process for permanent residency if they so choose. We encourage provincial and municipal governments across Canada to lend support as they can.

Diversity is our strength. We, as Canadians, recognize our privilege as a prosperous nation. We believe providing refuge to people seeking safety should remain our compass.

In the hours following the US decision, many members of our community have privately shared personal stories of their immigrant experience. We ask them now to share those stories publicly so they may be amplified.

This open letter was drafted, revised, and signed by over 150 members of the Canadian tech community. Those wishing to add their names to the list may email:


Bigger and better: 2016 year in review

This year was unquestionably the biggest in the history of the (admittedly young) Hamilton tech sector.

First off, big exits, in fact what were likely the two biggest exists ever in Hamilton. First in January Mabel’s Labels was acquired for $12 million, followed by VIZIYA being acquired at $21 million in October!

Mabel’s Labels is a storied Hamilton success story… what started out as 4 moms selling identification labels out of a basement grew into a company with a few dozen employees over a 13 year period. And VIZIYA grew like topsy over the last 5 years… they were featured on the Deloitte list of the 50 fastest growing tech companies by revenue for 3 years in a row and became the city’s largest tech company by number of employees.



It wasn’t just these two companies either, health tech startup CareKit was also acquired in a deal worth $2 million in February! These exits are important because they show that “it can be done in Hamilton”, and they pave the way for others to follow by demonstrating how it can be done. Rumour has it that we’ll be seeing a couple more acquisitions in Hamilton next year too! Hopefully these acquisitions add to the pool of experienced entrepreneurs that are able to fund and mentor the next generation.

And on that note… big funding! Data centre technology startup Cinnos was able to raise $2.3 million this year. That’s an incredible achievement that again paves the way for others to follow.



Next up, Big Blue, aka IBM, announced they were moving into town in a partnership with Hamilton Health Sciences to work on health technology! To me this is probably the single biggest piece of news ever for the Hamilton tech sector. IBM’s done great things for communities by opening up satellite offices in recent years (e.g. 500 jobs in Halifax).

IBM does work with McMaster researchers already, and the company is one of the more sought after landing spots by McMaster computer science and software engineering grads in particular. We’ll have to see what this grows in to, but I’m hopeful this could be excellent in terms of retention of Mac students after graduation, creating higher-end technology jobs in the city (i.e. research and development level work), and giving Hamilton’s tech sector more heft to people outside our community (everyone has heard of IBM).


There’s so many more great stories too! Just a few…

Design agencies in town continued to kick ass and take names, with clientele increasingly coming from outside the city.

Hamilton Code Clubs had over 500 students in 20 schools learn computer programming in weekly learn to code clubs, and with future fund dollars the program will continue to scale next year.

A regular gamut of meetup groups and conferences continued to catalyze the community – everything from a bigger Embrace UX, to regular features like AppsForHealth, to new events like HamOnt.js, Hacking Health Hackathon, VR Meetup, and Internet of Things meetup! Each one of these community building initiatives reaches out to a different and new segment of people that fills a different “gap in the marketplace”.

The Forge incubator continued to fill-up, and companies in the space continue to scale and win early funding. The Forge on McMaster campus and SURGE at Mohawk College are stirring the entrepreneurial pot on campus to keep this growth going strong.



There was some sad news with ThinkHaus closing shop, but they helped foster a maker culture in the city that’s still going in new forms like the Mini Make Faire and new artist/maker spaces.


I’ll cut it off here, but suffice to say this past 12 months has been amazing for our community. There’s a very, very long road ahead to get where Hamilton could be, something more akin to Waterloo’s scale in terms of revenue/jobs/funding/exits, but fit to our own strengths. After a year of big exits, big funding, Big Blue moving into town, and bigger than ever community building and startup support activities… we’ve got more reason than ever before to believe that we’ll get there.


Hifyre helps turn Mettrum into a blazing success

Editor’s note:

This is a guest blog article from local firm Hifyre (@hifyre).

Similar articles like this are welcome from any and all other agencies in town if you’ve got something cool you’d like to share!



This past week we have had one of the greatest rewards you can get in our industry. Something all of us at Hifyre are incredibly proud to be a part of.

It all started around 4 years ago. A couple of former colleagues reached out to us. They were looking to establish themselves in an emerging medical marijuana market in Canada.

Our first reaction was one of surprise. Hifyre knew nothing about this industry, and had many questions. But we quickly learned as much as we could about this new opportunity, and instinctively knew we had to be a part of it. It aligned with everything that Hifyre stands for; challenge, new products, innovation, and ultimately… trailblazing. And so started the journey with our new client Mettrum.

Hifyre’s first job for Mettrum was to create a brand, website and supporting marketing materials in preparation for a community meeting in the small Ontario town of MacTier. The town had offered Mettrum the possibility of turning their fledgling local arena into Mettrum’s first growing facility.

Enter Canadian hockey legend Bobby Orr. Like trailblazing in any new industry, there are going to be challenges. To read about the connection between Bobby Orr and Mettrum, click here:

Fast forward one year. Mettrum established their new facility in the more welcoming town of Bowmanville. They received one of the first licenses to produce marijuana in Canada. And so began the challenge of taking on new patients and educating physicians on a product they really didn’t know much about.

Over the next two years, Hifyre was tasked with developing an industry first system that would allow physicians to create, sign and submit patient medical documents online. Hifyre developed a new and innovative software program that also streamlined the patient registration from a two week manual approval process to one that could be done within the hour online. This proved to be an interesting process for Hifyre. Working within the constraints of Health Canada’s strict regulations proved to be a challenge. But ultimately, one worth taking.

Up next was the online store. Creating any old e-commerce site is a breeze, but creating one that has many restrictions, limitations, and deviations from the standard ‘add to cart’ is a whole other ball game! But given the fact that we have always embraced challenges as opportunities to create and innovate… we managed to build and maintain the most robust and tightly controlled online shopping experience in the industry today.

The final piece in the digital toolset we created for Mettrum was a portal for their Customer Service Reps. This portal would make managing their quickly growing patient base more efficient and precise. After working closely with Mettrum’s operations, customer service, and finance departments, we were able to create a custom tool that would not only deliver easy access to the deep information needed to better serve their patients, but helped maintain the constraints required to stay within compliance of the Health Canada regulations. This CSR tool also helps manage all of their physicians, expands on the streamlining of the patient approval process, manages all digital documents, tracks orders (both phone and online) and includes instant access to much need reporting.

Mettrum today stands as the second largest Licensed Producer of Medical Marijuana in Canada. Over 15,000 patients. Tens of millions of dollars in online sales. And growing rapidly. We believe this is partly to do with the systems that Hifyre helped them build. And partly to do with all of the great employees at Mettrum.

Which brings us to our proudest moment yet. On December 1, 2016, we woke up to the news that the largest Medical Marijuana company in Canada, Canopy Growth Corporation, made an offer to purchase Mettrum for $430 million.

Helping a client go from $0 to $430 million had it’s glorious moments, and it’s challenges. For us at Hifyre, it’s been a wild ride. For the team at Mettrum, we’re sure it’s been even crazier. We have grown with Mettrum. We have learned from Mettrum. They have provided us with a platform to do some of our most challenging and rewarding work to date. We look to the future, and can’t help but get excited about what is coming next, as Mettrum joins the Canopy family.


Tech North report aims to foster regional tech supercluster

A roundtable of regional tech startup heavyweights (including founders, ecosystem supporters, school deans, etc.) helped to put together an excellent report entitled Tech North: Building Canada’s first technology supercluster.

“Canada’s nascent technology supercluster in the Toronto-Waterloo region has the potential to become one of the world’s top innovation ecosystems. This report examines how this can be achieved and what could move Toronto-Waterloo to global technology supercluster status.

You can find the report here. Obviously for branding reasons there’s a logic in calling it the Toronto-Waterloo corridor… Waterloo’s brand in tech is first-class and Toronto is a major centre in North America – but it’s nice to see Hamilton, other urban centres, and their assets are included in the report and vision for the region as well.



Ho Ho Hamilton tech for kids music program

Originally posted on


Mr. Shannon, the Music teacher at Dr. Davey Elementary in Hamilton, has only 20 guitars in his under funded music program, which is 10 guitars short of a complete class set and the ability to actually teach guitar.

Weever Apps has supported the Jump Start program in the past – a great charity that provides children with the opportunity to participate in sports. This year we have decided to support Mr. Shannon and his music program by collecting donations. Our goal is to raise $2,000 by December 15th so that Mr. Shannon can purchase the guitars over the Christmas break.

We are inviting other tech companies in Hamilton to take a collection in your office. Funds raised can then be dropped off to Weever Apps @ 144 James Street S. Studio 3 before December 15th.

Let’s give these kids a chance to be the next Hamilton success story. The next Junkhouse, Arkells, Monster Truck, Teenage Head may be at Dr. Davey right now! If you have any questions or would like to make a donation please contact


Hack the City looking for volunteers



Hack The City is looking for volunteers to interview groups of post-secondary students tackling challenges in health, energy and transportation! Check out the details below:


Volunteers Needed to Interview Student Change Makers
We are still on the hunt for additional volunteers to interview teams of local postsecondary students eager to advance to the next stage of Hack the City, an innovative project designed to engage young innovators in helping to tackle complex community challenges.
Volunteers are needed:
Sat. Nov 26, 9-12 noon at the Hamilton Chamber Offices, 120 King Street West in downtown Hamilton.

To sign-up, contact Richard Allen at or 905-572-0363.
The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce is a proud sponsor of Hack the City. Other key sponsors include City of Hamilton, HCE Energy Inc., HCE Telecom, Hamilton Health Sciences, Hamilton HIVE, Hamilton Utilities Corporation, IBM and McMaster University. If you work for any of these organizations, please consider acting on this exciting and highly rewarding volunteer opportunity.



HamOnt.js follow-up meetup with Alex Spokinka

When: Thursday December 1st at 6:30pm – 9:00pm

Where: CoMotion on King at 115 King Street East, Hamilton, Ontario



Just a casual meetup to follow-up on the HamOnt.js JavaScript conference we had on October 22nd!


Alex Spokina – CEO of Tasytt

Alex Sopinka (@alexsopinka) will describe how he built an award-winning Slack bot in just 30 days.  They are commonly done in node.js and that’s what we used with Obie (  Alex will talk about building the bot (arguably the easiest part), common things to watch out for, integrating with large existing systems, and handling upgrades.  One award Obie has won so far: of the Year 2016 – Human Resources).  Also currently nominated for Canadian HR Awards’s Choice: Best Service Provider)


First ever F#ck up Friday event October 21st



When: Friday October 21st 2016 from 8:00am – 10:00am

Where: CoMotion 302 at 302 Cumberland Avenue Hamilton, Ontario

Organizer: CoMotion 302



bronwynEver feel like you are doing everything wrong while everyone else has got it right? That’s where F#ck Up Fridays come in. It allows entrepreneurs to share their stories of where they “f#cked up” and what they learned from it.

Everyone gets to share their stories and swap ideas. Once a month will feature a different keynote speaker and then open discussions. Meet with others and remind yourself you aren’t a F#ck Up.

Join us for the inaugural session October 21, with Keynote Speaker Bronwyn Mondoux.

Some of the topics covered include:

– HR Practices, contracts, and documentation

– Red flags & when to walk away

– Pricing structure & getting PAID!

– Confidence & Control (when it’s worth it, and when you let it go)

Breakfast will start at 8am with time for networking, then Bronwyn starts at 8:30!