Hamilton downtown co-working space survey

A survey is being conducted about a new downtown Hamilton co-working space, check out the details below:


Co-working spaces allow individuals and businesses to rent desks and private offices inside a much larger workspace shared with many others. The individuals within the co-working space form a community that allows entrepreneurs to accelerate their business through increased connectedness and the resulting partnerships. A majority of co-working space members report increased productivity, improved ability to meet deadlines, improved focus and improved standard of work. Here is a video briefly explaining the idea:



This survey is meant to measure the demand and determine the desired features for a co-working space located in downtown Hamilton (i.e. less than a 5 minute walk from Gore Park).

You can fill out the survey here:



REfficient starts next chapter

refficientlogoHamilton, Ontario – November 20, 2013 – REfficient starts a new chapter in its history this week. The three year-old company has moved into a new office, has new product offering on its REfficient.com website and a new cell phone recycling program, in response to customer demand.

REfficient, an online marketplace to buy business equipment cost-effectively and sustainably, now has customers in almost every Canadian province and territory. The company also has customers in 11 other countries on 4 continents.

The company has moved its headquarters into a new office at 605 James St N in Hamilton. The office is twice the size and is located in the historic Hamilton Port Authority main building at overlooking the Hamilton marina. Many environmental features were done to the office, including the flooring, paint and furniture. The move to the new office is not the only change. REfficient CEO Stephanie McLarty explains, “REfficient started out as a solution for telecom companies to buy, resell and recycle industry equipment. That still remains a large part of our business, but we have opened up our focus due to customer demand and requests. We now have digital cable boxes, business phones, projectors, and repurposed furniture on REfficient.com.”

Yet the biggest addition is a cell phone recycling program that includes a tree planting component. “Businesses kept asking us if we recycle cell phones, and so we have decided to create a program specifically for this,” McLarty explains. “We knew that we wanted the program to make a difference for the community, so we have started Phones4Trees. When people hand in their old cell phones or tablets, trees will be planted. Besides that, people will get the chance to plant the trees themselves at a Community Tree Planting Day next spring.” Businesses also receive a Go Green report, so they can use the data and information for any sustainability reporting, website information, RFP responses and more. To participate, businesses can simply start collecting cell phones and tablets, and REfficient will pick them up by December 11th. Details and resources can be found at REfficient.com/cellphonerecycling. Individuals can also participate and drop off or send in their phones to REfficient’s office at 605 James St North, 2nd floor, in Hamilton. A formal open house will be held in 2014 to celebrate the new office.

About REfficient
REfficient’s transactional marketplace is built on a “triple-win” model, providing large telecom and AV companies a trusted and efficient platform for deriving value from surplus inventory, while offering buyers reliable, often new equipment at savings of 20-50% over traditional sources. This innovative new green model benefits everyone by reducing waste and increasing resource efficiency. You can follow REfficient at @REfficient and http://www.facebook.com/REfficient.

If it weren’t for… Netaccess

Originally posted on accidentalblues.com


Every once in a while I reflect on my past experiences and think about the people, places and opportunities in my life that had true effects on the path that led me to where I am today.

When I was in high school I had an opportunity to take a co-op placement at a fresh young company, Netaccess Systems, who were one of a few new Internet providers in Hamilton. Being a BBS kid, I knew about the mysterious Internet, but this was 1995, and at the time, dial-up rates were still a bit pricey, so it was unlikely that I’d be getting a connection any time soon. I’d like to think that I landed the “job” because of my keen understanding of how computers worked, and how to use things like modems and com ports, but in retrospect, I remember being so excited at the interview, that they probably realized just how much having that placement would mean to a dorky teenager like me.

Every day, from 1-5pm, I’d take a bus to their offices, the second floor and top floor of a converted house on Main St West. My official job was customer support, but I was routinely tasked with doing other jobs, such as build up their online support section with FAQ’s and how-to web pages.

I learnt the basics of HTML and some rudimentary PHP and Perl programming from their in-house developer, who also taught me that not all things technical needed to be without a soul. He was a CompSci major who also studied Philosophy and it showed in everything he touched. His web scripts asked philosophical questions of the user, he collected old luggage, fans and cameras, and he was obsessed with Marcel Duchamp. I learnt a lot from working with him, though I’ll ever come close to having as much style as he does.



Netaccess homepage circa 1996
(Courtesy The Wayback Machine)


I got my hands on their first Windows NT 3.5 (the original boxes ran BSD), and learnt what a router was for, and how a T1 and an ISDN connection worked. I’ll never forget the room full of dial-up modems, all stacked neatly next to each other on makeshift shelves. The experience of those early days on the Internet, was a definite turning point in my life.

When the semester was done, I was then hired full-time for the summer. While my friends were washing dishes or cutting grass, I was in an office working 9-5. It was great, and to this day, I still can’t think of another time when I was as excited at there being so much to learn. Everything was fresh and new and I was eating it all up.

Working at Netaccess, without a doubt, started me out on a path that culminates with where I am today. Obviously, with the the growing popularity of the web in the late 90′s, it would only be a matter of time until I was exposed to it, but the 6 months I spent at Netaccess definitely gave me a head start, and also valuable insight and knowledge that I would have otherwise never had, at age 16.

I never lost touch with the good folks at Netaccess, and even returned to work for them in 2000, during another turing point on the web: the birth of the modern interactive website. Netaccess was delving into the New Media pool and I was there on the ground floor. Once again, I feel that I was given the opportunity to grow and learn, surrounded by knowledgeable people who gave me great opportunities, that I would have otherwise never experienced. I was in college at the time, and found it fantastic that I was able to apply newfound skills immediately at my workplace. Unfortunately, the web (and business market) wasn’t ready for the boutique web design feel that we all now know.

As the days of dial-up faded away, and broadband became the domain of the phone and cable companies, it appeared that the era of the independent ISP was coming to a close. Rather than fade away into obscurity, Netaccess chose to innovate (or Pivot, as some would say) and moved into emerging technologies like Fibre Connectivity and Hosted Business Solutions.

As far as hometown success stories go, Netaccess is a great example of a business that started, grew up and stayed in Hamilton. A technology company from the early days of the Web that survived the dial-up wars, the Dot-Com Bubble and the Fiscal Crisis.

Over the years, I kept in touch with Netaccess and have always jumped at the opportunity to do business with them. Twenty years after starting up as a humble ISP in an attic office, Netaccess now occupies the 15th floor at Commerce Place in downtown Hamilton. Similarly, I’ve gone from being a zit-faced BBS’ing teenager, to a freelance developer and business consultant.

I guess both of us have come a long way.

Netaccess is hosting a reception to mark its 20th Anniversary. For more information & registration, see the Eventbrite page.

Hamilton-based VivosWeb looking for web hosting partners

Originally posted on vivosweb.com


We are looking for Web Hosting partners to merge with our rapidly growing company!


Do you have experience running a small hosting company, and currently generate anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000 of annual sales web hosting sales?

Jump on this opportunity now!

  1. Whether you desire to expand your operations by strategic partnerships or outsourcing your hosting operations and management, we are open to all options
  2. Keep your relationship with your customers base after the merger.
  3. We have a competitive salary offers and open senior positions to be filled up.
  4. Join a fast growing Canadian company offering web hosting, cloud computing, and online marketing.
  5. Join a young and motivated team of professional, online marketing consultants.
  6. Innovative and productive workspace in the heart of Hamilton, Ontario, with in-house data center facilities.
  7. Over 8 years of web related business experience.

Contact Amro via email amro@vivosweb.com, or call 905-574-1010 ex. 100 for more information today.

Interview with Al Mithani of Walkbug

alwalkbugTell me about yourself

I’m a software engineer with a passion for products. I’ve always been interested in what technology can do for people; how it can make our lives better. For the last few years I’ve been very interested in how technology can be used to bridge the gap between the online world and real life.


What’s Walkbug all about?

Walkbug allows users to create and share tours of their local area. We believe that every neighbourhood is unique, and the people who live there can now share the things that are special to them. This could include an old house with a ton of history, a piece of graffiti that you pass every day on the way to work, or even a shortcut that you use to go to the store.

To me, the most exciting part about Walkbug is that it can be about whatever you want – it’s really just a platform for people to share their personal experiences.


How did Walkbug get started?

The team met at Startup Weekend Hamilton 3 – I pitched the idea and a ton of people were interested. We ended up taking home the grand prize, and most of the team decided to continue working on it. There are currently 8 of us working on Walkbug. We’ve already released the first version of the app, and we were strangers only a few months ago!




Where did you get the idea for Walkbug from?

The idea was actually my wife’s. We were on our belated honeymoon in the Azores, and she kept seeing this amazing graffiti. She asked a tour guide whether or not there was a walking tour of the graffiti, and he replied that there was, but only for a single week in September when they had the annual graffiti contest.

It was a total letdown, but from that disappointment she figured it out: “You should make an app that lets people creating walking tours!”


What have you learned in the process of creating Walkbug?

One thing our team did well with Walkbug is to validate the idea by talking to a ton of people before we actually spent the time to make it. This validation allowed us to figure out what was really important, so it was easy to prioritize what we needed for our first release. Not only that, but it gave us the confidence to move forward with the idea.

We continue to validate our app and ideas as much as possible. It’s still early, but I like to think that feedback is already built into our team culture.




How do you plan to make money off of Walkbug?

There are a few ways we could monetize, but the most promising route to us at the moment is to work with institutions such as municipalities and schools to create tours that showcase what their area has to offer. We’ve already started working with McMaster and Rotman at U of T to create walking tours of their campuses and the surrounding areas. We’re working with BIAs with the same goal in mind.

We’ve also started talking to tour providers to get their premium content on Walkbug. At the moment, all the tours on Walkbug have been created by the Walkbug team and are 100% free to use. Tour providers (such as HIStory and HERitage) can spend weeks doing research and development of walking tours. The result is that they have very high-quality tours. Our users have actually told us that they’d be willing to pay for high-quality tours, so it’s another potential stream of revenue.




How do you feel about the walkability of Hamilton? Do you have favourite places to tour in the city? How could Hamilton improve its overall walkability?

In general, I actually love the walkability of Hamilton. Aside from the major corridors of King and Main, which are not-so-fun to walk on (due to the traffic), there are a ton of spots in the city that are great! I’m talking about places like Westdale, Victoria Park, the Bayfront Trail, Locke, James North, etc etc.

The culture of Hamilton is slowly shifting too – whereas everyone drove everywhere when I was growing up, there are a lot more people who are choosing to walk or bike as their primary form of transportation. It’s this culture that convinced me that Hamilton was the ideal place to pilot Walkbug.


How can people get Walkbug?

Download it on your phone! It’s available on iOS and Android, just search “Walkbug” in your app store (Kevin: or click the links provided below). Make sure to tell us what you like and what you don’t like – we’ll be using your feedback to make Walkbug better.

appstoreios      googleplay


What’s the future of Walkbug?

The next big feature is the create tour tour feature. At the moment, users can see tours that the Walkbug team has created, but not create their own tours. We’re going to make it easy for everyone to share their favourite places!


How can the community in Hamilton help Walkbug to succeed?

Download the app and tell us what you think! You can leave feedback right in the app, or connect with us at Walkbug.com.

If you’re a tour creator that wants to make a tour, or an institution that thinks Walkbug might be helpful, then contact us at walkebug@gmail.com




Do you have any advice for future Startup Weekend participants?

Trust your teammates. At the end of the day, it’s way too much work to get done in a weekend, so if you don’t trust your team, you’ll just end up burning out and not having fun. The Walkbug team had 12 people and 4 different streams of work, so it was impossible to stay on top of everything. Instead of worrying about that, we just let everyone do what they were good at – the result was amazing!


StartupDrinks this Wednesday

When: Wednesday October 9th 2013 @ 6pm until late

Where: The Winking Judge (2nd floor) @ 25 Augusta Street – Hamilton, Ontario


StartupDrinks Hamilton is a monthly presentation-free and sponsorship-free networking event for Hamilton’s startup community to make connections over drinks and relax a little! Feel free to talk about projects, ideas, funding, technology… or just shoot the breeze!

Normally StartupDrinks has been happening on the 2nd Thursday of every month. This month Lion’s Lair is taking place that day, so it’s been pushed to Wednesday of this week. Maybe it’s time to keep it on Wednesday nights? The Winking Judge does their cheap wings that night!

StartupDrinks has been going on for the last 2 years now, and it’s a purely social pub night. Most events provide value through some specific educational content, like a series of talks or demos. StartupDrinks provides value by getting a chance to really to get know other people beyond the exchange of business cards.

So for example we’ve had people work one another on projects or as employees after connecting at StartupDrinks events. We’ve had a lot of “informal education” at these events too, as people can meet with their peers to describe specific problems they are having and get tailored responses. It’s also pretty typical to come away with some new friends at these events!

So if you’ve been thinking about coming out for awhile, make this Wednesday the day!



Automation is the new assembly line

The “Why technology jobs matter” article was mostly written in response to an argument that cities like Hamilton shouldn’t or can’t focus on multiple sectors, and that we should rely on government investments in a few specific sectors to “position our economy” rather than growing or attracting technology jobs. I ran across a couple articles today that I feel fit in pretty well with my response to the contrary.

First off a report by Oxford researchers has suggested that nearly half off all American jobs are vulnerable to being taken over by computer software over the next 20 years:

“These results were calculated with a common statistical modelling method. More than 700 jobs on O*Net, an online career network, were considered, as well as the skills and education required for each. These features were weighted according to how automatable they were, and according to the engineering obstacles currently preventing computerization.”

ASSEMBLY LINEBad news for workers, right? There’s even some people saying that we’ve reached a point where “technology is destroying more jobs than it creates”. Well, not necessarily. If we go back to the 1800s, prior to machine-assisted mass production and the assembly line, goods were manufactured by craftsman. But the assembly line could mass produce cars and all kinds of products much more efficiently than craftsman, and these became the new jobs.

What’s happening right now isn’t so different. Automation is becoming so effective that writing computer software to do x, y, z tasks is becoming the new industrial job. Cities that get this are prospering accordingly. Forbes recently went over a report on job growth in US cities:

“But perhaps the biggest takeaway from the map is that while the regions with the most vibrant economies don’t just specialize in one industry or cluster of industries, almost all of them have established tech sectors.

For half of the 20 metros that have added the most jobs per capita since 2010, software publishing is one of the major driver industries.”

What’s great about technology jobs is that they represent true private sector growth – that is, growth that organically breeds even more growth:

But what role does the tech sector have in creating jobs elsewhere in these metros? Just consider San Francisco. It has 30,000 jobs specifically in computer system design services — a detailed industry with a jobs multiplier of 4.35. This means for every one job in the industry, another 3.35 are created in the San Francisco economy. That’s a powerful ripple effect.

The article goes on to describe how even in cities where technology is not a major industry, it is an emerging industry and key driver of growth.

Not to flog a dead horse here, but I just want to reiterate that it’s not a matter of technology being one sector amongst x, y, z other sectors anymore. It’s that technology is taking over x, y, z sectors as they become automatable via computer software.

This really isn’t much different than when assembly lines replaced the craftsman in so many sectors a century ago. If we’re aware of this reality and pursue the opportunities, we can reap the rewards.

Why technology jobs matter

My `Back to school’ article talked about a survey of McMaster Computing & Software students that showed that while few stayed in Hamilton to work in industry after graduation, over 90% of the students would be open to staying in Hamilton given job opportunities competitive with those in other cities. Rick Calder wrote a `Hamilton deserves better’ article talking about bringing higher-paying technology jobs to Hamilton – the type of jobs that could retain these students. One of the comments on that article was fairly pessimistic about the prospects for technology jobs in Hamilton, citing healthcare and materials research as what the government has “positioned” for Hamilton, and claiming that cities like Hamilton have to focus on specific sectors.

I disagree with the point made and the thinking behind it, but it’s a thoughtful point of view that I think others may share. Why do technology jobs even matter for Hamilton? Why can’t we just rely on the government to choose what our economy is going to look like by putting money into a few specific sectors?




First off, yes, these jobs are great to have. But they won’t be enough to fill the jobs gap. Right now about 50% of Hamiltonians are employed in precarious employment situations. Part-time or full-time work with no job security or benefits, or temporary, contract or casual work. These McJobs aren’t healthy for individual household stress levels or the community as a whole (e.g. participation in volunteer work drops). As the manufacturing sector has declined, the amount of precarious employment in the region has increased by 50 per cent in the past 20 years. We’ve got 90,000 below the poverty line and Code Red neighbourhoods. It’s great for us to have 450 jobs at the downtown health campus or the 50-90 jobs at CAMNET (apparently, not sure about the source). But what about the rest of the city?

I’ll say it again just to be clear: these jobs really are great to have. I’m not meaning to criticize them. But they only put a nice dent in the overall problem. How do we fill the rest of the void?

Technology jobs must be a big part of any solution. Technology jobs should no longer be thought of as a distinct and individual “sector”. Technology is now the driving force behind the job growth of many, many sectors. That’s because software is eating the world, as discussed by Marc Andreesen,

“My own theory is that we are in the middle of a dramatic and broad technological and economic shift in which software companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy. More and more major businesses and industries are being run on software and delivered as online services—from movies to agriculture to national defense.”

In fact, 71% of STEM jobs created between now and 2018 are projected to be in computing. How can Hamilton expect to fix the jobs problem without utilizing the most pertinent solution?




Former Pittsburgh mayor Tom Murphy gave a talk at SuperCrawl about the revitalization of his city, and in The Spectator article covering the talk the importance of technology jobs is mentioned:

“Sixty per cent of its population once worked in manufacturing. That is now 10 per cent, while 40 per cent work in technology.”

I don’t think anyone would suggest that it’s somehow a bad thing to invest in sectors like health care, education, advanced manufacturing and/or materials research. Pittsburg’s Universities and hospitals are also cited as being pivotal to its recovery. But the fact that technology has become the new manufacturing is not something we have any control over. It’s a massive trend that’s reshaping employment in cities much like ours.

Hamilton can only choose whether to swim with the economic currents, or against them.


Hamilton deserves better!

Kevin’s recent Back to School post inspired me to write this post.

This has been a pet peeve of mine for as long as I can remember. There is this idea that Hamilton is a steel town and this concept is just wrong these days. Hamilton WAS a steel town, even when I was a kid it was a steel town. Dofasco, Stelco and the other smaller steel companies were a major force in the economy, they employed 10’s of thousands of people, they paid very well even for unskilled labourers and they were a goal for many kids coming out of high school.

Those days are long gone but the concept is still around, and I feel it’s being perpetuated by our local government. What needs to happen is the government needs to entice high tech companies to Hamilton, give them incentives to be here.

Hamilton has so many positives, especially in the last few years.
– A thriving arts culture.
– A beautiful bayfront area (that admittedly could still use some development)
– Lower cost housing compared to most cities of our size in the area.

We’re growing and evolving, we’re no longer the grungy steel town (and I do not mean any offense to any of our current or past steel workers, my father spent 40+ years at Dofasco and they provided our family a good living) with nothing to offer the outside world. We’re a great centre for the arts, we still have more green space than most cities our size with beautiful parks and trails to explore. Yet we still have this stigma, this great weight hanging over our heads that we’re somehow a second class city compared to somewhere like Toronto and that makes me sad.




We need to show the world how beautiful a city we are, what we have to offer residents and even more important companies (read high tech companies) that are willing to relocate here. We need to promote ourselves, get the word out there. I read on this blog that the city is planning to redo their website, I really hope they focus on making it more attractive and promoting the city rather than being strictly informational the way it is now. Bright pictures, benefits of the city and information about US is what needs to be front and centre. Yes we need the regular bus routes, garbage pick up and other resident information, but it needs to advertise us to the world first. Our government needs to stop doing things like hoarding domain names (seriously go to www.myhamilton.ca and see what you get. A brilliant domain like that which has so many excellent promotional possibilities is a redirect to our library? Really? Why? Who decided that was a good idea and why are we allowing them to do these things?)

I honestly believe we need to offer financial incentives to these companies too. How about no property taxes for say 10 years for larger tech companies to relocate here. Sounds extreme, we need taxes right? Well yes, of course we do, but what’s more important? What is going to be more beneficial in the long run? A few dollars a year from one building, or the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of high level jobs a company like Microsoft or Adobe could offer by being in our fair city?

I say our government needs to do these things because they have the power to grant the incentives that would entice these companies to relocate here, but it’s up to us to promote our city, it’s up to us to push our government to do these things and make them realize that it’s important for Hamilton to put itself out there as a viable option for these companies. It’s up to us to make them aware of things like Kevin’s impromptu poll’s results showing that more students would stay here given viable job opportunities. We’re 40 miles ish from Toronto, think about that. The commute from Toronto to Hamilton is far better than the reverse, there are tons of tech types living in Toronto and Hamilton has tons of us too. The people resources already exist. It’s time we showed the WORLD what a wonderful city we have, why are we guarding this knowledge like it was some sort of national secret?

Now don’t get me wrong, Hamilton hasn’t been completely stagnant on this front. People like Kevin and things like the StartupDrinks and DemoCamps. Organizations like the Innovation Factory and competitions like Lion’s Lair, these things are all great and I love the fact they exist, but they’re all focused on Start Ups. Which is awesome, Hamilton should be putting ourselves on the map for new innovation too but it doesn’t (shouldn’t) end there. Start ups are great, sometimes they even work and become huge companies, some times they don’t. They’re almost always stuck with lower budgets meaning lower than average wages for the employees, which face it isn’t going to entice a student to stay here. Gee I can make $40k in Hamilton or $110k in Toronto, New York, Vancouver… Start ups are great, and they’re a wonderful opportunity for many of us, but they aren’t the only answer. We need the big tech companies.

I’m a Hamiltonian. I say that with pride now (I didn’t always) and it’s time we made the world aware of why we’re proud to live here, what our city has to offer and why large tech companies should consider Hamilton seriously when they’re considering their Canadian offices!

We’re not a steel town anymore, we need to stop acting like one. We’re already Hollywood North, why not Silicon Valley North too?

Ladies Learning Code comes to Hamilton


The first ever Ladies Learning Code workshop in Hamilton is happening at Platform 302 on September 21st!

Ladies Learning Code has been doing an incredible job teaching women (and men) how to code in Toronto and in chapters across Canada that run non-profit hands-on workshops. This workshop will be taking place concurrently with others run by Ladies Learning Code across the country as part of National Learn to Code Day.

Erin Laura O’Neil (@erinlauraoneil) is leading the way on bringing the workshop here as part of Mac10. It’s awesome that they’re stepping up and making this happen. The low number of female software developers in our industry is something that all of us are responsible for addressing, along with improving digital literacy in general.

I encourage everyone in our community to get behind Erin, Mac10 and Ladies Learning Code to make this event as successful as possible. If you know HTML and CSS, you can help by signing up to volunteer mentor that day. All of us can spread the word to anyone who may be interested in registering for the event at ladieslearningcode.com/codeday.

Check out this interview with Erin below for more details.


erinTell me about yourself.

I work at McMaster for the Alumni Association and adore my job. I coordinate our young alumni program, Mac10, which is there to offer career development and job support to recent graduates, as well as social events and opportunities to come back to the University for lectures and other learning opportunities. I’m a Mac grad myself, as well as a Mohawk grad, and I have lived in Hamilton since high school.


What can you tell us about Ladies Learning Code and national “Learn to Code” day?

Ladies Learning Code is a not-for-profit that started up in Toronto just over two years ago. They offer one-day classes to women (and men) in a range of coding-related topics – everything from programming languages to Photoshop to 3D printing. Each event is quite intimate, only 40 or so students, and is heavily supported by volunteer mentors from the tech community. Ladies Learning Code guarantees a 4:1 student to mentor ratio, so there’s always someone to offer a little bit of extra help if you need it. The founder, Heather Payne (who is awesome, as is her whole team), started LLC because she wanted to find a friendly and inclusive way that she herself to learn code. Once she started it up, she realized that Ladies Learning Code and other similar groups could have an impact on the number of women in technology just by creating an easily accessible opportunity for women and girls to get exposed to programming and web-making. Now they have chapters across Canada and a Girls Learning Code and Kids Learning Code series in Toronto, pretty cool.

National “Learn to Code” Day is incredibly exciting. It’s taking place in 9 cities across Canada, on the same day, with the same program. The whole LLC team is buzzing about it, and actually Heather will be the lead instructor for our Hamilton day, which is going to be a lot of fun. The day will focus on learning HTML and CSS, but with a focus on a specific project: building a beautiful WordPress site. So at the end of the day, students will have a site of their own that they can use for their business or blog or just to show off!




Why are you bringing Ladies Learning Code to Hamilton?

I’m an absolute coding n00b (that’s right, isn’t it?) but I’ve been attending Ladies Learning Code events in Toronto for a while now and I’m starting to get the hang of things. It’s ridiculously fun so I keep going back, and I tell as many people as I can about it. I met with Heather a while ago to talk about doing an event in Hamilton because I knew that our tech community is so robust and so supportive and would help make this event a real success. National Learn to Code Day seemed like the perfect opportunity to make it happen, and I’m so appreciative of all the help Software Hamilton has offered already. I can’t wait to see dozens of Hamilton ladies learning code together! In my role organizing events for young alumni at McMaster, this also appealed to me as a unique event that we could connect our graduates to through the Alumni Association, so we’re sponsoring the day and offering a discount to our alumni through our site as well.




When and where is the event, and how can people register for it?

National Learn to Code Day is Saturday, September 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and in Hamilton we’ll be at Platform 302, which has generously offered part of the co-working space to us for the event. People can register at www.ladieslearningcode.com/codeday. We’re also actively looking for mentors who are experienced in HTML and CSS to sign up to be mentors for the day. The link to sign up for mentoring is also available on the code day site.




Why do you think it’s important for more women to learn how to code?

I think it’s important for everyone to learn how to code, not only women, but it’s clear that there is a gender gap in tech. At the last Ladies Learning Code event I attended, I was speaking to the instructor, who works in Toronto at a software company. Of his 80 or so programmer colleagues, only 6 are women, and that ratio is pretty typical. It’s changing gradually and I think organizations like Ladies Learning Code are fantastic because they demystify coding in a friendly, open environment that is also quite affordable. I’ve read commentary that says coding will essentially be a required second language for our younger generations entering the job market of the future. I think it’s important for more women to learn how to code now because it opens doors. There are many women who are unfulfilled in their current careers or who are entering second careers after their kids grow up, and they’re looking for an edge. Coding is a great opportunity for career development because it’s creative, widely applicable, challenging and, as a result, really empowering.




Besides learning HTML & CSS, what do you hope attendees get out of the event?

When I’ve attended Ladies Learning Code events in the past, I’ve realized that coding isn’t as hard to learn as I thought and so I’ve continued learning outside of the classes. My hope is that Hamilton attendees will come away from the event feeling less intimidated by the idea of coding and invigorated to learn more skills on their own. These events also have a great community atmosphere, so I hope attendees come with an open mind and have a really fun time. I’m also thrilled that we’re hosting the event at Platform 302, an organization that supports young entrepreneurs in Hamilton, so I hope attendees get a chance to explore the facility and see some of the fantastic entrepreneurial work going on in the city.




What can the community in Hamilton do to help you make this event as successful as possible?

Spread the word! Talk about Ladies Learning Code and share the idea with your friends. We’ll also need mentors for the event, so if you’re enthusiastic about coding and teaching coding, then sign up! The volunteer link is up at www.ladieslearningcode.com/codeday.




How do you hope the Hamilton tech community will benefit from this event?

My hope is that this event will be a celebration of the Hamilton tech community. Hamilton has an incredible tech community that is welcoming and passionate and inventive and enthusiastic, and we’ll get to share that with a class full of people who might not know about this element of the Hamilton community. Also, hopefully, the event will inspire a few people to become passionate about coding and programming, and this will grow the local tech community. At its most basic, I think these events are about celebrating how cool this technology is, and how accessible and empowering it can be, and everyone benefits from that!




Are there any plans for future Ladies Learning Code events in Hamilton?

I hope so! This event is the first in Hamilton, so if it’s well received and popular then I think we can look at doing it again. I’m looking forward to showing off Hamilton to the Ladies Learning Code team, and I think they’ll be impressed.


100% agreed! Let’s make September 21st a great day for our community!