How I wrote five publishable blog posts in one day

When it rains, it pours, my friends.

In one day this week I wrote 5 blog posts – and this was a day that I worked full-time and volunteered after work.

How did I do it? Beyond being able to type quickly, I followed a simple structure.

I used a brainstorming framework

I followed the first step of Barry Davret’s framework from How I wrote 200 blog posts in 200 days, and created a content list. If you’re too lazy to click the link and read his article, a content list is a list of the stories you like to tell or the feelings you like to leave your readers with.

my content list

In my case, it started off awful but got better along the way. The unfiltered list is pictured below. Don’t judge too harshly. There may be some repeats or redundancies.  

I can’t tell you how much this helped me. Just by laying out the types of stories I like to tell and the way I like to tell them (which I hope is helpful to you, the reader), ideas started to flow.

It’s as if every idea that was sitting in my head, stuck because I didn’t have the right framework or message to share, started to pour out.

I was writing down blog ideas left and right – half barely made sense – and it became easier to think “hey, I can write about these things.”

I took advantage of breaks in my day

I do work full-time, but like most jobs there were some breaks. I was thinking a lot about who I am and why I am doing this project, so I wrote about that. It was a simple post since I am already an expert in the topic. 1st article.

During one break, I was having a conversation with my coworker about our futures – our grand, big, happy days futures. I then thought about my project and how I had grandiose ideals for how famous I would be.

Only problem: I was so paralyzed at my grand ideas that I couldn’t get anything done. I thought about this topic more, talked to my coworker more (who kindly reminded me the difference between dreaming and reality), and then I wrote about that, too. 2nd article.

I got meta in my writing

Writing a lot is hard. Writing a lot of good articles is even harder. I won’t sit here and claim my stuff is all gold; sometimes you write a piece of crap, but it’s about the process and the system of writing frequently.

I’m not sure about you, but I used to write about one topic once and then be done with it. I shied away from writing another piece about the same topic because I thought that people wouldn’t read it. What I was missing, though, was utilizing different angles.

And how did I find different angles? I got sassy (it happens). And then I got meta.

One of my first posts was about my process in finding a blog/website builder to publish my posts on. 3rd article down. This was the hardest one to write.

It was a super frustrating process. I could barely find any Canadian companies to fill this need, and it was a real downer for the triumphant launch of the Great Canadian Tech Experiment.

So I wrote about that. Boom. 4th article.

I wrote about how Canadian companies don’t compete well in this space as they don’t have some of the core features I was looking for (native blogging capabilities – they all merged with WordPress and I figured why not just go to the source).

Getting even more annoyed at how hard it was to actually find these companies, I wrote about that. 5th article, thank you very much.

I wrote about how Canadian startups who do compete pretty well against the global dominant players are so bad at marketing that I could not even find them when searching for “Canadian [company type] companies.” Not a cute look.

How can you do it, too?

You’ll notice that I really only had to think of two ideas – finding a blogging platform and describing myself. The other 3 articles came from the original topic.

If you’re struggling to find new content ideas, consider writing about your experience while developing your initial content (or write about why you think you cannot brainstorm new content ideas). Either one helps you deepen personal understanding and gives you content along the way.

It could even get you out of the rut by helping you get the source of your stuck-ness. If you’re really lucky, that content could potentially help someone else going through the same problem.

Sounds like a good enough reason to me.

3 ways to get yourself out of a working rut

I think I finally understand what successful founders mean when they talk about the high of building a company. Of making something real. Of building something new.

It’s been a good few weeks so far in that regard. I started a blog. I wrote 5 blog posts in a day (more on how I managed that – while having a full-time job and volunteering that night – in another post). I generated multiple ideas for my business and even started to think more about which Canadian companies will be playing a part in it all.

Through all this, I came to really value the power of social media – Twitter in particular. I put out an ask, and my twitter exploded. I loved it.

Realizing the power and kindness of the tech community across Canada to help out a random from the internet was so cool.

It was the best high of my life (disclosure: I’ve never done any recreational drugs. So I could be a total dweeb right now and not even know it. Indulge me).

But the low inevitably came afterwards.

Creativity isn’t flowing as it used to. I got into a useless Facebook-comment argument (ugh). And in general I’m feeling like the days have been droning on and I just want the weekend and/or that creative high back. Preferably both.

I felt this high-to-low multiple times when I founded my first company, and it’s not a fun feeling. Before, I didn’t know how to deal with it. I would sit, depressed and unable to work, for sometimes days at a time.

Even as I write this, I feel listless, but here’s how I got my groove back and was able to write again the day after, not stuck in a rut for multiple days or even a week.

Accept that it was coming

I know from years of personal experience that I have a low right after a high. Oddly enough, I used to be in denial about this – I always thought this time would be different.

This time, it really was. I accepted that a low was coming. I embraced that the next day(s) were going to be crappy and my brain was going to hurt.

The internal conversation I have with myself is to say “I know this will be bad, and that’s ok. But I will be ok in time as well and this won’t stop me.”

Keep a record of ideas that pop into your head

On low and high days, you sometimes get a ray of light and a cool idea comes to mind. I wrote it down.

Not every idea will get developed (and some sound really bad when you look back at them the next day), but the process of having a pen/paper or a notepad app on my phone handy meant that when I did have ideas, they were documented.

Keep writing anyways

I found myself in a rut of actually coming up with great ideas, but not writing anything. Eventually, the structure I had in my mind would fade and I would never get the piece written – it would just be another cool item on a bullet list that I didn’t accomplish.

For me, the best way out of a rut is to accomplish something. Let me tell you, starting to write this post was painfully slow – I had no ideas and I rambled a lot. I just kept my fingers moving on the keyboard, and words happened.

Eventually, my logical brain kicked in, mad at the poor grammar and lack of structure, and here I am. Not quite back, but certainly productive and no longer feeling like I’m stuck in a rut. Here’s to checking items off your to-do list.

What have you done to break yourself out of a working rut?

No Thank You, Email Marketing

Oh god I cannot believe I am saying this, but I don’t think I will do an email marketing software at this time.

I am angry that Canadian options are so unfriendly to community builders and entrepreneurs. I am angry that I “can’t” use MailChimp – I am seeing if I can succeed using only Canadian technologies here (with the two obvious exceptions of WordPress and Google).

So what I will do instead is go where you all are.

Love the fast-paced world of Twitter? Follow me.

Prefer the storytelling sides of either Wattpad or Medium? It’s storytime.

And, of course, we’ll always have the blog.

Me, if I was talking about Paris instead of a blog

Us, if I we met in Paris instead of online

When the time is right, I will get on a proper email marketing software.

In the meantime, I’ve added a form to the website. Want my updates sent right to your inbox? Let me know.

Are Canadian Email Marketing Companies Out To Get You?

God I wish I could just use MailChimp.

That’s what I’ve been thinking all day, dreading the time when I’d get home and have to do research on other email marketing software that I can use.

After my nuisance with WordPress, however (I’m still bitter BUT I think I found a solution and will be writing about that soon), I was determined to find a homegrown solution for my email subscription list.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Canada has a few chips in this game – with some solid options that show up in normal Google searches (unlike our website builder friends).

Let’s dig into some of the findings. Remember, I need:

  1. CASL compliant email system
  2. Free/cheap subscriptions that let me build up a base without paying
  3. A simple sign-up (HTML form that I can embed in my website at the very least, if not formal integrations)
  4. Some analytics (not expecting much in free version besides open rate and click rate)

Without further ado, here’s what I’m finding.

I put out a call on Twitter, too, which unfortunately did not yield too much

The Solutions


bloomtools toolboxBloomtools is an all-in-one, website and marketing growth agency. From CMS, to website building, to email marketing – these folks are talented.

Ultimately, though, their calls to action are about connecting and getting a free assessment – they are not playing in my space of a young company that just needs a functional out-of-the-box solution.

I wonder how many large enterprises also want a functional out of the box solution, with customizations on top of it?


cakemail fold

A Quebec-based startup, Cakemail has a high quality website and impressive features. Their segmentation abilities are really cool, and the ability to make custom templates “in a few clicks” makes them a really attractive alternative to MailChimp.

Pricing, though, is an issue for a small business/upstart. I’m extremely price sensitive in this area, and their base package for up to 500 subscribers is $8 USD per month (which could be God knows how much in CAD, depending on the exchange rate that day).

I also see nothing on the website about putting a signup form on your website, which makes me think this is less of an email growth tool and more of a manage-and-optimize what you have tool, pulling in leads from either marketing automation or from other signup forms.


I’m liking what I’m seeing so far. CyberImpact seems to be the closest thing to a MailChimp in Canada (“proudly built in Canada for Canadian SMBs”) when it comes to features and how the website is laid out.

Funny how the design of a website instills confidence, or in the case of VIPlus below, fear and second thoughts. It really does make a difference.

I’m a tad bummed, though, at pricing (I’m sensing a trend). It’s only free for the first 250 subscribers then jumps to $10 per month. Not bad, but not good either. MailChimp is free for the first 2,000.

They also talk about being able to put a signup form on your own website, which none of the others explicitly called out.

Not ideal because money, but keeping this one in my back pocket.


Right off the bat, I’m not sure this is the system for me. It is heavily enterprise focused, with a huge angle on CASL compliance (a need for me, but the messaging sounds more like they are aiming to save large enterprise from huge fees and a PR nightmare).

Their calls to action are “Book a Demo,” not “Sign Up,” which makes me definitely feel like they are focused on the enterprise.

A quick look at their pricing confirms this hunch. They charge by a credit system for email sends – definitely made for high volume senders with so many subscribers (i.e. millions of customers) that a per-subscriber fee model like MailChimp would be too costly.



It’s not a fit – their branding is entirely enterprise focused. But I had to include it for the name.

You go, Glen Coco.


VIPlus is a Canadian email marketing software. In case its inclusion in this list didn’t make that clear. I’m a little bit scared of their landing page and overall website, as it lacks professionalism, in my opinion, instead going for that nostalgic, early 2000’s style.

See and judge for yourself.

VIPlus landing page

It’s cutsie, right? But cutesie isn’t always the best emotion to evoke when trying to sell to SMBs.

It is in my space, though, so it’s worth considering. Only challenge – pricing. VIPlus only allows 200 subscribers on their free plan, then they start charging. I don’t fashion myself an instant celebrity, but I definitely hope to hit over 200 subscribers in the lifetime of my mailing list and I don’t want to have to start paying.

Oh, and their base price – for up to 500 subscribers – is $13 per month, which is on the high end of all SMB-focused email marketing plans I’ve seen. They are decent at scale, though, with up to 20k subscribers for just over $100 per month.

If I had to use it, I don’t think it would be bad. But I’m not sold on the value.

So what’s next?

There seem to be a lot of email marketing technologies and agencies targeting enterprise accounts – there were a couple more that didn’t make this list, even – and not many that are looking at solid, out-of-the-box-but-scalable solutions for SMBs.

Maybe they are scared of MailChimp. Maybe they don’t think they can compete? Cakemail and CyberImpact have done the best job so far, but financially I’m not sure it makes sense for a small-timer such as myself.

It seems like the solutions are intended for more traditional SMBs who are already established and are now trying to get into email marketing, not startups and bloggers aiming to build a large community.  

Here’s a quick costs chart I drew up for comparison – the money adds up over a pretty short period of time.


Subscribers Cakemail CyberImpact MailChimp
0-250 $8 USD/month Free Free
251-500 $8 USD/month $10 CAD/month Free
501-1,000 $14 USD/month $15 CAD/month Free
1,001-1,500 $14 USD/month $20 CAD/month Free
1,501-2,000 $14 USD/month $25 CAD/Month Free
2,001-2,500 $14 USD/month $30 CAD/month $30 USD/month
2,501-3,000 $24 USD/month $35 CAD/month ~$40 USD/month

If it takes you six months to hit 2,000 subscribers, you’ll be spending an average $64 USD (around $100 CAD) on Cakemail and about $90 CAD on CyberImpact. You’d spend $0 on MailChimp.

These costs increase over time, too – if it takes longer to reach 2,000, MailChimp is still free while these other options are charging you each month. A really hard sell when your primary goal is building a community and you’re not charging people to follow along in your journey.

Is this a tax on being Canadian? I’m not sure, but I’m not happy.

I have to be honest with you – I’m concerned about incurring monthly costs before hitting 2,000 subscribers. It bugs me that Canada is so unable to compete in this space.

Getting entrepreneurs going is the hallmark of any SMB software, and you often give a lot for free to the little guys in the hope that when they grow, they will love your platform and be willing to pay for it. So far, in the email marketing world, Canada is pay to play.

Which will I ultimately choose? Stay tuned.

Grand Ideas Are Bull

When I first started thinking about this experiment, every idea came into my head. I was going to start a store, consult, blog, public speak, podcast, vlog, and go to every party ever.

I was going to do it all. Because I am an entrepreneur (dammit).

I was so excited. Nay – elated – at my newfound genius. I’d become a marketing guru in about the 20 minutes it took me to think of all the things I should be doing.

And you know what happened? I got an anxiety attack.

I kept thinking about everything that could go wrong. In my mind I was suddenly spending hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars (Shopify subscription + inventory + apps, premium blogging subscription + multiple domains, travel + food for public speaking engagements that didn’t pay, camera/mic for podcasting and vlogging. The list goes on).

Suddenly, I had another full-time job between writing, editing, meeting with suppliers, setting up my store, and responding to customer requests (oh, and finding customers).

It was painful. I nearly quit. All because I had good ideas.


That’s when I realized: Grand ideas are bullshit.

They don’t get you anywhere. They especially don’t help you take action. They sit, gold and shiny on the shelf… in the bathroom, collecting dust. Like Kate Winslet’s Oscar.

So what did I do? I parsed out my project and then started talking to people only about the first section, being the idea for the experiment.

My grand idea of being a tech whiz got boiled down to being a blogger, to start.

I told some friends I was looking to write more about the Canadian tech ecosystem and see if I can build a company using only Canadian technology. That was it. No grand idea. No podcasting, vlogging guru here.

Suddenly, the ideas started flowing.

I’m a consultant, if you believe my resume, so I brought in some frameworks to help organize my thoughts. My friends saw that framework, and instantly started asking me why I hadn’t written about subject A or B yet (ok, hyperbole a bit – they asked if I thought writing about subject A or B would be in line with my goals. I said yes, meekly).

This is how I set up my initial posts. This was the push I needed to get going. If you can believe it, I hadn’t even bought the domain of before I started planning my guru-dom.

But now, with a few blog posts to write an a couple friends who actually said they’d read them (god bless friends), I had work to do – and I needed a place to showcase that work. That’s how the website got started (and my sob story about needing to use WordPress because no Canadian alternatives exist and/or are findable).

It really can be that simple, folks. If you’re stressing about your big idea, break it down into parts and only talk about the first part.

I take an adage from Reinventing Organizations, one of the best books I’ve ever read – “Think 30 years ahead, and plan for tomorrow”

What are you going to do tomorrow that will make you the person you want to be in 30 years?

Canadian Startups Suck at Marketing

As you know if you’ve been reading my previous posts, I went through quite the heart-wrenching process to have to choose WordPress for my blog instead of a Canadian solution.

Right out the gate, breaking the rules. Thanks, Justin Trudeau.

It definitely sucked to have to start out my experiment with an exception (never fear, there are stellar companies in this country and I will find them and I will use them to build an equally stellar company).

That being said, something pissed me off more than PageCloud not having a native blogging solution.

Canadian startups are un-findable

It took me so damn long even find Canadian brands.

I searched “Canadian website builder” and the first ad result was Wix. The first organic result was weebly.

canadian website builder google search
HostPapa at least made the first page (if scroll down a bit more, anyways), but it was so buried and not referenced anywhere that I didn’t know if it was legit or not.

PageCloud didn’t even show up at all. Not a good look, PageCloud.

This was after long and arduous searches for “WordPress alternatives,” and “Canadian WordPress alternatives,” and “WordPress competitors.”

All turned up American and European results, mostly.

Where was my Canada?

The only reason I knew anything about PageCloud is because they were a host sponsor for HackerNest Ottawa, a tech nonprofit that I used to work for. Even then, it was more of an “oh, duh!” moment that I remembered – the brand didn’t stick initially in my mind when I thought “website builder.”

Now maybe that’s my fault, since both HostPapa and PageCloud have thousands of customers.

Lacking SEO

But… where’s the SEO investment? Where’s the PR and branding teams going full tilt to make their brand so visible it feels like it’s imprinted behind your eyelids? Lord knows that’s WordPress’ strategy (or at least how it feels).

Further, in a WordPress-dominated web-world, other competitors are setting themselves up (in marketing language, anyways), as better than WP; more intuitive, or more insert-positive-attribute-here.

I’m not saying that this is a good strategy for your product development teams; I’m a firm believer in focusing on your customers, not competitors. However, in a marketing world it adds up!

It’s time for Canadian startups to step up their marketing

I’d love to see Canadian companies get more aggressive with marketing and getting their own name out there.

We’re polite, sure, but being polite doesn’t inhibit you from mentioning when you excel at a specific thing that you do indeed excel at.

Web Hosting + Blogging: The real Canadian Struggle

Alright, y’all. Finding a Canadian blogging technology is hard. Heck, comparing blogging sites is hard in general – let alone trying to find one made in the Great White North.

I tried. I found two solid Canadian options – PageCloud HostPapa – but it just didn’t fit what I really needed (spoiler alert: I really needed a blog).

When you’re starting a business, often your first instinct is to go to WordPress. It’s what I did when I founded my consulting company, PulseBlueprint. And why wouldn’t you? It’s the gold standard as far as the web is concerned for easy web hosting + web building + content management system (CMS). Even some major publishers use WordPress as their CMS.

But, true to this experiment of trying to build a profitable company using Canadian technology, I had to look elsewhere for Canadian opportunities first and foremost – you can’t create an exception without exhausting all options.

So here goes. First, we can cross off non-Canadian options:

  • Blogger
  • Ghost
  • Medium (Canadians helped to build it, though, so points for that)
  • Squarespace
  • Tumblr
  • Weebly
  • Wix
  • And many others.

With all these wonderful (mostly American) options, it does beg the question: Does Canada need a competitor in this space? It’s so saturated and blogging platforms are so 2005.

Thinking back to this experiment, it’s time to look at some of the Canadian options for hosting and website building:

Web Hosting Canada

On their landing page it advertises how their services are optimized for WordPress as your website builder. ‘Nuff said.

Dynamic Hosting

WordPress optimized to use WP as your blogging/website builder.


WordPress is the standard website builder on this hosting service. I think you get the trend I’m hinting at here.

Ok… so the hosting services are not gonna do it. It seems Canadian companies are afraid of the do-it-all approach to website construction.

Never fear, strong contenders are here!


A very clear and easy to read website – and they are from Oakville, Ontario (just when I was starting to lose faith in Canadian tech less than one week into the experiment). They’ve hosted over 500,000 websites, says their website, which is a huge damn deal.

Their plans are legit – from $3.95 a month. So easily a competitor in this arena.
Hostpapa landing page

I was so excited. I thought I’d found the Canadian WordPress. Until I searched for “blog” on their knowledge base and three results on the first page were about WordPress.

Too good to be true, it seems; their website builder, domain purchasing, and web hosting plans don’t include a blogging CMS.

So close, HostPapa. You could have been the one.

Ok, but then there’s PageCloud.

It’s one of the most beautiful, intuitive website designer tools in the world, and it’s from Ottawa! On the pricing side, it’s simple, if a tad expensive for the DIY-experimenter – only one plan, at $20 USD per month (when billed annually. $24 USD per month billed monthly) – but my gosh is it gorgeous.

It also has everything. Integrations up the wazoo (including Tumblr, Shopify, all social, etc.). Easy to use tools that make it feel like you’re building a PowerPoint (which is how I built the first wireframe of Ziversity, anecdotally).

It also does not integrate with WordPress! A good sign to start, until you realize that the reason is because they market themselves as a WordPress alternative.

But wait, you say. Stefan, you are trying to find a Canadian WordPress alternative, and PageCloud is precisely that! Why are you mad?

Well, friend, I’ll tell you. PageCloud does not have a native blog capability at the moment. Right there, in black and white, in their knowledge base. I cried a bit.

pagecloud no blog

A quick look at their competitors – thanks Crunchbase – and you see it’s Weebly, WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace.

If you’re building a marketing website, PageCloud or HostPapa are value-driven for days. Both businesses are doing well, so clearly they are hitting at something Canadians – and all techies/entrepreneurs – care about. When you need a beautiful website, they are serious contenders.

I’ve learned my lesson. Canadians hate blogging. Or at least hate supporting it.  More on this later.

But what about Wattpad?

For those of you who haven’t heard of Wattpad, it’s one of the largest storytelling apps in the world and is founded/HQ-ed in good ole’ Toronto.

Founder Allen Lau is a huge proponent of bring more tech talent into Canada and is a vocal advocate and investor in Canadian tech.
Wattpad landing page

It is a great option, and one that I have chosen for re-publishing (Check out my Wattpad story!).

However, given that is is a walled-garden (you have to have an account to read and create on Wattpad), it does not serve the primary purpose that I need to make the Great Canadian Tech Experiment available to new users.

While I love Wattpad, my project is not to increase their user base (though if folks do go make a Wattpad account after reading this, all the better to have supported a great Canadian tech company).

Host Papa and PageCloud are still great options

When you need a blog that has multiple integrations and be simple to use, use WordPress. Not going to lie, I’m kind of annoyed that PageCloud or HostPapa didn’t think to build a native blogging solution – either one would have 100% had my business even if it wasn’t the highest quality CMS.

For those of you thinking, “K, so integrate with WordPress on HostPapa or PageCloud and be more Canadian with your experiment,” I have to say I agree with you on premise.

However, there’s one additional thing to it: the experiment is to build a profitable company with Canadian technology. It would be absurd if I paid for a WordPress site to have a blog and then paid for another site hosting situation just to have the facade of being Canadian (it would still fundamentally be a WordPress website with a Canadian face-lift).

If Canadian solutions are not competitive for the specific needs of a business, then they are not the right solution. I’d never advocate someone using a solution that didn’t fit their needs (or a workaround that cost double) just to be able to call themselves half-baked Canadian. It’s not worth it.

That being said, WordPress for this blog is ultimately just a blog for the experiment, not the company itself.

Do you know of a Canadian solution that would solve my needs? Add it to the Canadian tech company list and let me know! I’m not above switching if there’s a Canadian company that I couldn’t find in my searching.

One day in, and wow

I have to say, I am overwhelmed. Day one was crazy! I started out the day absolutely terrified. In retrospect, for a stupid reason.

I started to socialize the idea the Great Canadian Tech Experiment for a few weeks before I actually launched it, as I wanted to have some of the process already completed and have some content written (I aimed to have 20 pieces of content written, publishing 2 per week, which would give me a 10 week runway to start things off).

I almost didn’t launch the experiment because of one person

Most of the folks I spoke to were positive about the experiment. They wanted to know more – why was I doing this, isn’t it simple to make the project successful now that Shopify exists, etc.

One person, however, was a bit of a negative nancy.

Not in a “this is stupid” kind of way, but he is a pretty influential person who could really help the experiment get off the ground and get the types of recognition I ideally want.

When I told him about the project, he immediately questioned whether it was possible since I’d have to build my own computer just to have a place to type (I explained the obvious exceptions). He then responded with “oh cool, yeah email me about it for sure,” which is tech speak for ‘go away.’

The worst thing happened. I let it bother me.

I doubted myself. I thought that he is an influencer in this space and if he didn’t like it then it wasn’t worth trying. I discredited all the positive commentary I got from people (who are also in the tech world, I might add) all because one person was a tad flippant. He didn’t even say he didn’t like the project!

For those of you thinking about launching a business, I get how painful it is to hear one person (a potentially important person) be lukewarm about the project. For me, it was worse than if he came right out and said he thought it was stupid – at least then my competitive drive would have kicked in and I’d have told him precisely where he can put his doubt.

Talk about getting into your own head.

Then I decided to bite the bullet and hit publish. I wasn’t going to let someone ruin my experiment before I’d even tried. After all, it’s an experiment. It could totally fail. That’s not the point of an experiment – the point is to validate or invalidate a hypothesis, documenting as you go.

The response was so cool

I asked some friends to amplify my tweet announcement because I didn’t want to launch it and then have it land with a big thud.

So a couple of the initial retweets were kind asks of friends in the tech world who told me they liked the project (to which I said “thanks – would you mind retweeting/liking my tweet?” Most obliged with no issue).

Then I got my first “organic” quote-tweet from a senior tech leader in Toronto saying it was a super cool project.

I nearly died of excitement. From one little tweet. I don’t get out much.

Throughout the day, more folks started to retweet and comment on the project. They even visited the website and clicked around. 

Day 1 analytics
Not bad for one tweet, eh?



Looking at the first day of analytics from my website, I got just about 90 views from about 50 visitors. That’s so cool from just one tweet!

It’s not perfect, obviously (nor is it that high), but one of the things I think is really cool is that as I write this (at 9 am on the 27th), there have already been 20 views from 17 visitors. That, to me, is the best feeling because it means the content is carrying.

Ending on a bang

Out of nowhere, someone who followed me from a while ago at a tech event (attending 100+ tech events in 2016 is starting to pay off!) tweeted at me – they want to do an interview with me to get my perspectives on Canadian tech and hear about my experiences as a founder/working at a startup.


I couldn’t believe it. Talk about a happy signal.

Final tally from day 1:

  • 4 collaboration requests/conversation openers
  • 3 meetings booked
  • 1 interview booked (stay tuned!)

This is by no means a guarantee of success. I need to keep working hard, and some of the things on my to-do list feel daunting. But I am so excited about this after day one. Let’s keep it going, folks.

Where my Canadian tech companies at?!

Realizing the importance of actually finding Canadian tech companies, it’s probably a good idea to get a repository of them all. Thank you to Maury Rubin on Twitter for the suggestion to make an open sheet where folks can input Canadian tech companies and what they do.

Anyone can edit the list – add your favourite Canadian tech companies!

I’ll also be making call-outs on #CDNTechExperiment for folks to submit company names if I have a need for it. Follow me on Twitter to stay up to date.

To those who have already followed me to keep up with this journey, I’m so happy to have you on this journey with me.

If you haven’t followed me yet, what are you waiting for? I’m funny sometimes.

The Great Canadian Tech Experiment

Canada is having a global moment for our technology. Not only are we often seen as the Silicon Valley of the north, Canada (and Toronto) is uniquely poised to explode on the global scene as a top producer of technology startups.

This has been a long time coming, with great technology coming out of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and other Canadian cities for quite some time. However, in 2017 and beyond we are sitting on a goldmine of talent, resources, and ideas.

So here’s the idea

To build a profitable tech-based company that is entirely Canadian-made, down to the studs. Everything about the company must be Canadian; our products, our technological infrastructure, our sourcing, and our service providers.

All Canada, all the time.

Can it be done, or will competitive pressures force this experiment to dabble in foreign lands?

How I developed this idea

I got involved in the startup world in 2015 when I founded my own company, Ziversity. We aimed to help companies recruit more diverse talent, but the business ultimately folded in February 2017.

While I didn’t build a growing, profitable business that time around, I learnt a ton about what it takes to start a business and got tons of information all about the Toronto/Canadian startup ecosystem – there’s a TON going on here.

The idea came to me when I was thinking of some of the big tech giants coming out of Canada: Shopify, Hootsuite, Slack, OpenText, and others.

It started just as a list – what Canadian alternatives are there to every major service provider? When it comes to what Canadian technology can offer, I was shocked to see the depth and breadth.

No matter what you need, it seems there’s a Canadian company tackling that problem.

The rules

It’s pretty simple: I have to use Canadian companies/technology for everything I use to power my business, unless no competitive Canadian alternative exists for a product or service. If they are a multi-national, they must be either founded by Canadians in Canada or be headquartered in Canada.

I’ve come up with the term “Substantively Canadian” to help me make quick decisions about what is and is not Canadian for the purposes of this experiment.

A Substantively Canadian company is one that has at least one of the following:

  • Canadian founder who founded the company in Canada
  • A company with their global HQ in Canada
  • Run by Canadians at the top, with more than 50% of their core employees being Canadian (not including contractors or outsourced work)

The exception

As with every good rule, there is bound to be at least one exception. For this experiment, that exception is Google and G-Suite. There is no viable Canadian alternative to the services that Gmail can offer for hosting your email, and so many tech companies – Canadian and non – integrate with G-Suite as it’s the industry standard.

I will also be making exceptions as needed for crucial business elements where no viable Canadian option exists. This will be a scrutinized process that I will document in at least one blog post per decision, so follow that process with me.

The goal is to build a thriving business, take a critical eye to Canadian tech, and use Canadian tech wherever I can. But if I have an absolute business need that either cannot be fulfilled by Canadian tech OR cannot be directly fulfilled (i.e. the “Canadian way” requires intense extra work, set up, or costs), then it is not aligned to the idea that I need to build a profitable business.

What I hope to accomplish

Beyond building a successful, profitable company, I hope to show the world that Built In Canada is not a second tier option and certainly not a joke (sorry for the aggressive tone).

As well, I’m here to have fun!

Building a company is stressful, and forcing any constraints on yourself is bound to make things more difficult. But, and I’ve seen this now from building one failed company and one moderately successful one, building a company is one of the most exciting things you can ever do in your life.

I’ll also be taking a critical look at where the gaps are in Canadian tech. More on that soon.

Who is this project for?

Well, I certainly hope that everyone will enjoy the stories and the look into the Canadian tech ecosystem, but it seems there are three types of folks who might find this experiment particularly valuable:

People actively following the Canadian tech ecosystem:

This could be founders of Canadian startups, journalists, or enthusiasts about Canadian tech.

People in public service who want to better understand how tech will impact them:

Part of this project will be some serious documentation of Canadian startups. If you’re working in public policy, this experiment can help you learn more about what’s going on in the tech world.

Entrepreneurs who want to start – and stay – Canadian:

There’s so much talent in this country, but often we feel we have to go the US because Canadian companies are too difficult to work with or too focused on selling to foreign buyers. This experiment will hopefully show you that you can build and stay Canadian (and hey, maybe show you a company or two you hadn’t heard of before that could be your next partner, customer, or place to buy from).

Join the journey

Follow along as I build this business – and let me know what you’re interested in seeing more of!

This is going to be a fun ride, so welcome one and all. Let’s complete The Great Canadian Tech Experiment.