StartupDrinksHamilton36 on September 10th

startupdrinksThis month’s event will mark 3 years of StartupDrinks taking place in Hamilton. The event concept was founded by Raymond Luk. It spread from Montreal to Toronto to cities all across Canada. The events are intended for anyone founding, working with, working in, or interested in tech and startups in their local community.

The first ever StartupDrinks in Hamilton took place in the basement of the Kelsey’s by McMaster Innovation Park. It was actually done as a pre-event to the first Startup Weekend Hamilton that we were trying to get off the ground. The value of the event is primarily connective – it’s a chance to meet interesting people and have great conversations. I remember the first StartupDrinks whittled down to a single table of people towards the official end of the night, and the conversation at that table went on for hours after the event end.

There’s another key value to StartupDrinks – relaxation! People that keep themselves busy doing interesting things can find themselves wound up, and StartupDrinks is a night off.


When: Wednesday September 10th, 2014 @ 6:30pm – 9:00pm

Where: The Pheasant Plucker (2nd floor) @ 20 Augusta Street – Hamilton, Ontario

What: StartupDrinks Hamilton is a monthly 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!



Two kinds of truth

I’ll get back to posting some neat stuff about the tech and startup scene, once and awhile I like to do an ‘ideas’ post, I’ve had a few in my head lately, and this is one of them…


Truth is a tough concept to the define and fully hash out. I know the theories. But when you boil it down there’s roughly speaking two kinds of truth – social truth and scientific truth.

Social truth is all about agreement between people. We agree about driving on the right-hand side of the road in North America. We agree that stealing is wrong. We agree about Justin Biber lacking talent!

Social truths persist when they create value to groups or to broader societies at large, or sometimes even when they seem to create value. By agreeing which side of the road to drive on, we avoid collisions.

The social truths that only seem to create value tend to get shaken out of favour over time, replaced with better truths. So for example while racism unfortunately still exists, it’s an example of a ‘social truth’ that has been in a process of being shaken out of society (hopefully out of existence entirely). It was once much more accepted as truth than it is now.

Other social truths remain controversial over longer periods of time, and limited to certain groups. People will never stop arguing about about tax rates. Some things are beyond the reach of science to discover truth. We can’t measure, compute and/or reason about everything.

scienceSocial truths are created and spread socially. Powerful members of groups can sometimes use that influence to shape social truths. There’s limits to that though, especially overtime.

Scientific truth is the ‘deeper’ truth in the sense that it’s more testable, repeatable, and detached from what people think about it. It’s the type of truth that evidence supports, or that can be formally proven (mathematically). People can disagree with the force of gravity all they want, but it’ll still be there.

Scientific truth also has huge value to society – think MRI scans, automobiles and instant pizza pies!

A once believed scientific truth can turn out to be false sometimes, usually requiring a revision to some theory about reality, but that doesn’t devalue scientific truths or the value they provide as a whole. It is however a reason to give pause when using science as a tool – science discovers scientific truth, but because it’s a process conducted by people, mistakes can be made.

There’s a huge amount of crossover between scientific truth and social truth. Scientific truths tend to become social truths overtime, because they provide value to society. There are hybrid truths – so for example whether we choose to drive on the left or right hand side of the road is a social truth, but the fact that driving on one hand side of the road works better for everyone is a scientific truth.

The social truths that persist overtime tend to have roots in scientific truths. This is partially why people tend to argue a lot about ‘what the evidence says’ about some matter.

The world is full of social truths battling it out. Social media has enabled anyone to try to create social truths. People tend to congregate in groups that agree on controversial social truths, and bash other groups of people that don’t agree.

I’m biased towards scientific truth. I like the order, objectivity and cleanliness of it all. You can’t spin it into being, it’s already there, you’re just trying to find it and dig it out of the hole.

I’m not crazy about social truth – too often it’s just people trying to dominate each other over some stupid stuff. South Park totally nailed this idea. It’s social animal behaviour that has roots in our ‘monkey ancestry’ let’s say.




But you need both. Scientific truth without social truth is irrelevant, and social truth without scientific truth is at best unproductive, and at worst very dangerous.

It’s really too bad that some of the best practitioners of scientific truths are the worst practitioners of social truth, and vice versa. I think that’s part of why a lot of bad politicians succeed, why a lot of good ideas go unheeded, and why startups need ‘both sides of the brain’ to succeed.

But on the flip side, to end on a more positive note… when both truths are combined, some pretty amazing stuff can happen.


McMaster startup QReserve awarded $25k from OCE

QHamilton, Ontario, September 2, 2014 — McMaster University startup, QReserve Inc., is excited to be awarded $24,896 through Ontario Centres of Excellence’s (OCE) SmartStart program to introduce its publicly available research equipment database platform to universities and colleges across Canada.

“Every year, the federal and provincial governments invest millions of dollars in research tools and resources”, says QReserve Inc.’s CEO, Brandon Aubie. “This funding from OCE will help us help researchers and industry better utilize these resources. The QReserve platform works as a search engine for research equipment and we plan to bring it into university and college campuses across Ontario and the rest of Canada starting this fall.”

QReserve was founded in March of this year by McMaster University PhD graduate, Dr. Brandon Aubie, and McMaster University professors Dr. Fred Capretta and Dr. John Brennan. Their service provides universities and colleges with a turn-key research equipment database platform that is automatically connected with other institutions. This enables students, researchers and industrial users to discover and access resources across campuses and research institutions.

Dr. Capretta explains the impact QReserve’s resource database will have on Canadian researchers: “Obtaining funding for research gets harder and harder every year. So when a university purchases new equipment it’s more important than ever that it gets utilized to its full potential. With QReserve we’re helping people to find this equipment and encouraging collaborative use of existing resources. Bottom line is we’re trying to help research get done and save money at the same time.”

Their proof-of-concept platform was launched this summer at McMaster University containing nearly 300 pieces of equipment and research services and is quickly gaining traction. Aubie adds, “We’ve demonstrated a clear need for this service and are excited to add thousands of new resources for students, researchers and industrial users across the country to discover”.

QReserve is free to access at


About QReserve Inc.

QReserve Inc. was founded in 2014 at McMaster University with the aim of making research equipment and resources more accessible to students, faculty and industry. The company provides an open-access online platform for cataloguing and searching research equipment and services across university and college campuses and industrial research service providers. QReserve’s search platform integrates with existing university technology infrastructures to provide a turn-key internal institutional resource database that automatically integrates with other institutional databases. QReserve currently operates out of the McMaster Innovation Park in Hamilton, Ontario.

About Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc. (

Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) drives the commercialization of cutting-edge research to build the economy of tomorrow and secure Ontario’s global competitiveness. OCE fosters the training and development of the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs and is a key partner with Ontario’s industry, universities, colleges, research hospitals, domestic and foreign investors, and government ministries. A champion of leading-edge technologies, best practices, innovation, entrepreneurship and research, OCE invests in such areas as advanced health, information and communications technology, digital media, advanced materials and manufacturing, agri-food, aerospace, transportation, energy, and the environment including water and mining. OCE is a key partner in delivering Ontario’s Innovation Agenda as a member of the province’s Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE), which helps Ontario-based entrepreneurs and industry rapidly grow their company and create jobs. Learn more at

DemoCampHamilton18 with Malgosia Green of Top Hat on September 29th


When: Monday September 29th, 2014 from 6:30pm to 9:00pm.

Where: Twelve Eighty Pub @ McMaster University – 1280 Main Street West Hamilton, Ontario

What: DemoCamp is an event format that involves a keynote speaker, about 5 software demos which each consist of 5 minutes of actually demoing the software and 5 minutes of Q&A, followed by general socializing with the good company in attendance.


Keynote Speaker



Malgosia Green




Chief Product Officer at Top Hat




Malgosia Green (@HeyGosia) is the Chief Product Officer at Top Hat (@TopHat). Malgosia has over 10 years experience working in the consumer internet and education industries. Her most recent positions held include CEO of Savvica Inc. and Director of Product at Affinity Labs (acq. by Monster Worldwide). Malgosia has been featured in Canadian Business Magazine’s “20 Young Women in Power”, The Agenda with Steve Paikin, and Toronto Life. Malgosia holds a B.Sc. (Hons) in System Design Engineering from the University of Waterloo.





background          background







Submission of Demos


Demos for DemoCampHamilton can be submitted to: You will have an internet connection, a power outlet and a VGA input to a projector. You will have 5 minutes to demo your software, and 5 minutes for Q&A.


Making of AMazeBot Animations Vinny’s Decision and Bright Idea

Guest post by Ken K. Wong – originally posted on Ken is a graduate of the Animation program at Mohawk, currently working for iDeaWORKS.


AMazeBot was a programming competition held at Mohawk College. In 2011 I joined iDeaWORKS and I developed three animations with multiple characters, several posters, consulted on the t-shirts, and ran the marketing campaign to promote the annual event. It has since completed after 10 years, but there are rumours it may start up again!

I thought I’d share some of my process for the making of two of the animations, Vinny’s Decision and Bright Idea. I’ve broken this post into small sections:


The Amazebot competition was created by Mark Yendt of Mohawk College, ran by Aravin Duraikannan, and was to teach students a programming language that challenged them to design a ‘bot’ to efficiently navigate a maze. The event is sponsored by local software companies with cash prizes to top ‘bots’.

AMazeBot User Inteface

a maze interface for bots to navigate

The AMazeBot team believed that while the programming competition was cool to programming students, outside of that world, most people didn’t know what AMazeBot was really about and therefore wouldn’t attend the competition. When I joined I saw the potential of developing small stories to be used as promos on the campus tvs, alongside posters to promote the event. The emphasis on characters would drive interest, much like that little luchador does for Koodoo. Using Aravin’s bot Vinny as inspiration, I developed Tina, Bob, and Baron Von Koggenweil.



For the first animation, Vinny’s Decision, to develop Tina, I started with a rough drawing with a simple turnaround, and then began modelling her in 3ds Max. There wasn’t a lot of time, so I just had to go with what I had. I also knew that she wouldn’t need to be rigged for the animation I had in mind, so skipped that step as well. This was Spring 2011.

process drawings of Tina for Amazebot 2011

The following spring, a couple months before that years competition, I wanted to amp up her design, so I re-modelled her and added a custom rig. This would allow me to create more emotive animations, which is what I wanted to do with Bright Idea. She is probably my favourite character I’ve made yet.

process drawings of Tina for Amazebot 2012

The Baron!

For Baron Von Koggenweil, I basically used Snidely Whiplash as my main inspiration (alongside some help from Aaron Ross and Aravin). Man I love Snidely. Anyway, I just merged Snidely with a segway. He came together pretty quickly, but I only really needed to rig his torso and arms. I had no intention of rigging his hands. Once again this was due to time.

process drawings of baron for amazebot


Bob was developed for the first animation in 2011. He was my idea of jet engine combined with a semi-truck with a stereotypical trucker moustache. He is not a happy bot so I gave him a grill face.

process drawings of bob for amazebot


Vinny was built by Aravin way back in the early days of the competition. When I first saw the bot I thought, man this is pretty slick. Simple design, straight forward – nice. I immediately saw that he was the perfect everyman for the first animation I wanted to do. I did some basic redesigns for him, and then in 2012, I re-visited him to add more of a Victorian Steampunk aesthetic that was going to drive the theme for that years campaign.

process images of vinny for amazebot


For the first promo animation (2011), Vinny’s Decision, I just had in mind that the robots interact in the maze, and then it pans out to reveal a birds-eye view of the maze. The bots then transform into arrows, which is what they will actually look like at the competition. I made the storyboard in a half hour and just went with it.

storyboard for amazebot vinnys decision

For Bright Idea (2012), I wanted to do a vaudevillian story. Because of the tight deadline and what I wanted to do, this story format served several functions: the camera was locked so it saved me from building a ‘world’, I didn’t have to animate the bots wheels in motion, and I could focus strictly on expressions. The storyboard for this was also simple and clean, with my main character moving very little, but expressing a whole lot.

amazebot bright idea storyboard rough

AMazeBot Bright Idea Storyboard


The animatics came together fairly easily. For Vinny’s Decision I used Adobe Premiere and just cut together the shots that I quickly drew in Photoshop. For Bright Idea, I scanned in my original storyboard, and just began to cut the animation into the required key poses I wanted to hit. I then also used Premiere to put it all together. Finally, using the animatic for timing, I created a shot-list that dictated how may frames were needed for each pose. The shot-list for Bright Idea is a bit chaotic, but it served it’s purpose. For my animation Downtown (which I did immediately after Bright Idea), my shot-list was a 100 times better, but I owe that to the learning experience of this shot-list.

shot list


For both Vinny’s Decision and Bright Idea, I used pose-to-pose based off of animatics and shot-list. Vinny’s Decision is all about movement, so I just had to capture that as best I could. For Bright Idea, it’s all about expressions and emotion, so Tina’s face and body language was the real driver of the animation. Looking at the animations now I see the benefit of pose-to-pose animation in that it helps to provide structure, but I do think in my case, the pose-to-pose animation is a bit mechanical. For Downtown I used straight-ahead animation, and the results were a lot more vibrant.

scenes from bright idea

Lighting & Rendering

Rendering is always a challenge. After I had configured the lights to how I felt looked best, the question always was: do we have enough time to render?! Most often, the answer is no. So to adapt I’d either scale back the quality, or render in layers.

For Vinny’s Decision we were fortunate to have some idle machines, so with Aravin’s help we set-up a render farm. Because of this we were able to render the animation over the weekend, all the while keeping mental ray lighting, chrome materials, and reflective qualities we wanted to achieve. It was pretty cool to do it this way.

For Bright Idea, we didn’t have idle machines, so we couldn’t set up the render farm. This forced me to accelerate my animation so that I could allow at least a week to render. While it did not take a week, I needed that time just to be safe. It was rendered all in one go, no layers, mental ray. This one layer approach created some problems, but I’ll get into that below.


Once the frames were rendered, it was just a matter of bringing them into Premiere, compiling them as a sequence, adding sound, and encoding it. Because I had rendered the frames as one layered images, anything that went wrong required a re-rendering. In both years, there were little things that were wrong in the final frame, so instead or rendering the whole sequence of frames where the problem was, I just rendered that section, and layered it overtop in Premiere. No fuss, no muss. For Bright Idea I added an animated filter of an 8mm dirty film projection. I think it adds to the vaudevillian look, but it might be a bit thick as it obscures some of the details of the characters.

amazebot bright idea fix


Overall these promo animations were tough and challenging, but I was very happy with the results. Our attendance for both competitions went up and included guests from not just the programming world, but also the graphics and animation world. So I’ll take that as a win. Take a look at other works I did to promote the event in 2011 and 2012. Thanks for reading!

Tina and Vinny out walking their dog – maybe they’ll go see a show?! – by myself and Aravin

vinny and tina are walking their robot dog

A quick snap of some of the posters made for 2012

amazebot graphic header image

Amazebot posters

A promo poster used for generic purposes

amazebot eye exam poster

The 2011 show opening slide was Tron-homage. I think Tron Legacy had just come out beforehand. Not a great movie, but great design! This was a collaborative piece between me, Aravin, and Jory.

tron version of Amazebot

The opening slide for the 2012 competition

vinny and baron hide behind tina as she faces down the maze monster

And here’s the third animation I made for AMazeBot. It’s a tutorial. I used After Effects, 3ds Max, Premiere, and Photoshop. I really enjoyed the different look I was able to achieve by adding a different material to the bots.

Read more about my AMazeBot Campaign and about the other volunteers who helped make this a cool event.

And I would be remiss to not mention how I learned all this: I took the Animation program at Mohawk College. They teaches good!

3StyleAvenue rounds out mobile app development offering with Weever Apps

3sHamilton, Canada — (ReleaseWire) — 08/25/2014 – 3StyleAvenue Bespoke Digital Agency is now utilizing Weever Apps’ patented application framework to round out their digital solutions offering. With offices in New York, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan, and with clients including Samsung and LG, 3StyleAvenue wanted to build out their end-to-end digital services by enhancing their focus on mobile solutions.

“Going Mobile is not an option anymore,” says Calvin Cai, Founder 3StyleAvenue, “and we want to be the best at translating digital experiences to the mobile landscape.” Currently over 50% of time spent on the Internet is through mobile devices and this is expected to increase to over 90% by 2017, according to

The Weever Apps framework helps agencies go from Concept-to-Demo-to-App in less time, so they can spend more time thinking about the solution and less time building it. The framework is used to develop apps in 65 countries and a total of 11 languages to date around the world.

“We love the flexibility of the Weever Apps solution,” explains Calvin. “We can develop and deploy web-based and published applications with very little effort. The functionality is all there, so we can spend our time more on strategy, design and shaping the user experience.”

The worldwide partnership will include expansion of Weever Apps’ platform into Asia through 3StyleAvenue’s client network. 3StyleAvenue will maintain the client relationship, including consultation and front-end design, while Weever Apps will provide back-end consultation, development and direct technical support.

With a focus on mobile use cases and architecture, 3StyleAvenue thrives on delivering seamless experience to help their client’s brands stand above others. Mobile development is another way 3StyleAvenue boosts client’s digital marketing presence. 3StyleAvenue works through a consultative process to understand client challenges and design mobile solutions that work to solve them.

“Our clients are realizing the power of mobile solutions,” concludes Calvin, “It’s helping them be more productive and efficient – and they’re seeing immediate results.”


About 3StyleAvenue

3StyleAvenue is a full service digital agency. Think strategy, innovation, marketing and media, but solely focused around online and the digital world. We believe that digital is at the forefront of commercial marketing and requires experts in the field to guide business’ forward.

Rather than just treat ‘online’ as an extension of your traditional marketing approach, 3StyleAvenue will help your business work for you with an approach specifically targeted towards online. The digital world is continuously evolving; 3StyleAvenue will ensure that your brand is at the forefront of this evolution and help you to drive leadership within your industry.

Rather than choose an agency that treats digital as a second priority, choose an agency where digital business is their core objective. True to our motto, “We build businesses, not just websites”.

Weever Apps: To learn more go to email or call 800-299-0623.

Andy Pritchard
Marketing Manager
906-630-7939 or 800-299-0623

For more information on this press release visit:

Media Relations Contact
Andy Pritchard
Marketing Manager
Weever Apps
Telephone: 906-630-7939
Email: Click to Email Andy Pritchard

Read more:

Spectrum can fill key infastructure gap

spectrumCampus incubators and accelerators have been on the rise for some time now. The form they take varies from institution to institution, but generally speaking they offer regular events, access to mentors, space for startups, and sometimes even in a startup dedicated residence. The most notable regional examples are Velocity and Ryerson DMZ. These programs offer students a ‘third path’ from the traditional co-op / workforce or further graduate / professional school.

Velocity has been a tremendous success, with an alumni that includes Kik, Thalmic Labs, BufferBox, Vidyard and MappedIn.

This Fall McMaster will be launching a series of events as part of a new program called Spectrum, aimed at supporting and developing students interested in entrepreneurism. The events will culminate in the Spectrum Student Startup Competition next March, where $50,000 in prizes will be awarded. While the program may not have the resources of Velocity just yet, it can be a very important piece of infrastructure for Hamilton. Probably the most important since Innovation Factory was launched.

Jim Rudnick was advocating for this years ago, amongst others.

I’ve argued in the past that the Hamilton startup ecosystem depends on a pipe all the way from primary and secondary schools out to industry. Right now we have co-op programs that are capable of connecting grads to local industry, at the tail end of that pipe. But in terms of fostering and developing entrepreneurial students to found startups at the tail end of the pipe, there’s been a gap that Spectrum can potentially fill. Ideally so that one-day Spectrum participants are developed enough to become future Innovation Factory clients, and McMaster Innovation Park, Platform 302, business park, and downtown office tenants.

We’ve had top McMaster students move to student incubators at other schools, or Hamilton-area students take up post-secondary education at schools with incubators, and do very well for themselves in the process. The presence of a program like Spectrum can prevent some of the brain drain, and hopefully even act as gravity well in its own right. And this is the time – after years of building, and a growing number of student startups, the community at McMaster is ready now.

Over the last 5 years there has been a rise in initiatives at McMaster to support entreprenerism – at the course level with the software entrepreneurism course, at the program level with the MEEI program, and at the student club level with McMaster Entrepreneur Association. A program like this year’s iteration of Spectrum can compliment and expand on this existing activity, and can lay the groundwork for more.


Event Calendar Newsletter WordPress plugin released by Brian Hogg



I pushed out the usual Software Hamilton Events Newsletter, and unfortunately, as is often the case, there was an error, in this case a date/time error. Somehow, despite double checking, every time I push out a newsletter there seems to be one error. Maybe there’s just so much stuff going on in the Hamilton tech startup community that it’s inevitable now? ;-)

In reality the problem is that I have the data in more than one place. Whenever you try to manually maintain or otherwise manipulate two sets of the same data it’s just asking for some kind of human error. Better to maintain it once and automatically generate any other representations.

Thankfully Brian Hogg (@BrianHogg) noticed the error and created a new WordPress plug-in called Event Calendar Newsletter plug-in to help solve the problem! The plug-in automatically generates newsletter campaign text based on the contents of WordPress event calendars (so far supporting The Event Calendar and Ajax Event Calendar).

This really helps me – thanks Brian! But it can obviously help anyone in the same boat too. Maybe you can use it on your WordPress website and/or pass it along to someone who may be interested?

I don’t know what his long term plans are for the plug-in, but I think it has potential as a freemium product, with some of the extra proposed features below included for a fee.


Plug-in page:


Plug-in details

Take your events calendar feed and turn it into newsletter-friendly text! No more manual copying and pasting from your calendar.

Compatible with:

- The Events Calendar
- Ajax Event Calendar

Is your calendar not supported or looking for other features? Let me know in the support threads and I’ll see what I can do! Contributions also welcome.

Some additional features I’m considering:

- Easier text formatting
- Conditional formatting tags (ie. to show certain text for start time and end time, only if it’s not an all-day event)
- Support for additional event calendars (such as Google Calendar)
- Direct integration with MailChimp, Constant Contact, and others to create newsletters
- Support for outputting events newsletter into a custom post type

But let me know in the support threads or by email what features you’d like to see.

New McMaster Spectrum program launches

Spectrum Alumni Speaker Series + Opening Night
WHEN: Wednesday, September 10, 2014 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
WHERE: Twelve Eighty Bar & Grill – McMaster Student Centre
1280 Main Street West
McMaster University, Hamilton, ON L8S 4L8
COST: Free
FOOD: Free Pub Grub (ie. chips, nachoes, etc.) and Soda

Join us for our opening night where we will be starting up our Spectrum Speaker Series. We’ll be bringing in McMaster alumni who have taken the leap into entrepreneurship to teach you the ropes and give you insight and ideas on how to start your own business.


Matthew Gardner

Co-founder – Videostream

Matthew Gardner is a McMaster alumnus and the co-founder of Videostream, whose team formed at a Startup Weekend over a year ago. The team went on to win Global Startup Battle 2012 and entered into the HYPERDRIVE accelerator in Waterloo, Ontario where they continue to live and work today. The company has grown to 5 full-time employees and has been expanding its user-base rapidly. Videostream has passed 330,000 installs in just 20 weeks, helping people worldwide stream videos wirelessly to their TVs.

You can follow Matt on twitter @thatmattgardner
Or download Videostream at




« Older Entries Recent Entries »