Category Archives: StartUps

Need a Mentor? A Mentorship Challenge at UPEI on Nov 21st

Canada startuplogo

Are you starting a business of your own? Do you need a mentor? Do you want to be a mentor?

Find out more on November 21st from 2.30pm – 4.30pm at the Business School at UPEI.

You will hear from the experts, the entrepreneurs and mentors themselves, on what makes a good mentor. The discussion will also help key stakeholders develop ideas around quality mentorship.

The Eventbrite Link is here.

This is being sponsored by StartUp Canada – Link here and is being organized by Georgina Bassett of Bid.Inc

Worried about your future? Why Joining a Co Working Site is a Good Idea

Look at the growth of Co Working sites. What is going on?

What is going on is that we are seeing the emergence of the new face to face workplace that fits the life of the freelancer – who is at the core of the real new economy.  (All images from the 2nd global survey of co working – PDF here)

You can have a job now, be a student, be on the verge of retirement, be just layed off – here is where you can find the network you need and learn how to be a human again.

I think that the Co Working Space is the “Factory” of our time. This is the social space that the Freelancer needs to combat the separation and loneliness of the solo role. This is the social space that opens us each up to the broader network. It is also the space where we learn to be a proper human again – where how we behave matters.

Here is a map that will show you the closest one to you.


What they offer is a real Tribe. While the income has improved – look at all the other parts of life that are better!

They were mainly very urban. But look at how they are growing now in rural areas.

The Queen St Commons was started in 2005 – we were one of the first 5 in the world in a city of less than 35,000. We were an oddity but now are more of the new norm as rural co work grows. As more of us leave the city, the Rural Co Working spot becomes more important. Rural sites also have to have an economic model that fits – much more a co-op than a top down space rental.

Lots to learn from each other as new micro models emerge. So lots of good reasons for Co Working spaces to get connected now to each other.

The next big move I think will be connecting all the co working sites into a global network. So a member of a site in a rural village can get to London or New York or Mumbai! And then think of the power of the connections?

My new book You Don’t Need a Job – explores more of the value of co working for anyone who wants to put a toe into the real new economy.

Why PEI Entrepreneurs are so successful

PEI punches way above its weight – Why?

Few places in Canada could be further away from the main markets of North America. Few places have less resources than PEI.  But I found last week, as I travelled with StartUp Canada around PEI, that our entrepreneurs are doing very well.

Many have operations, such as Marks Work Warehouse and Island Abby Foods, that are amongst the best in class. Many have businesses, such as BioVectra and DME, that have found a niche that makes them unrivaled in the continent. Many are astonishingly novel like Thinking Big and Screenscape.

Why should small businesses in a small place be so competitive?

It’s in the Island DNA

PEI is too small and too far away to attract large mature businesses from away. So business on PEI is naturally always small and owner operated. And because PEI itself is small, PEI business has always had to find a place in the larger markets off Island.  It’s been like this for 200 years.

As Duncan Shaw told me about his family, “Few people ever had a job. We come from a long line of pioneers, farmers, fishers and small business owners.”

Potatoes were run to the Caribbean in exchange for the official cargo of molasses and the unofficial cargo of rum. Fish was run to Boston. Lumber to the UK. Fox fur and lobster to Upper Canada.

So like their forefathers, Lorraine MacAulay had to start her Mosquito repellent business by breaking into the large national stores. Peter Toombs had to sell his brewing equipment all over the world. They had to begin by being very clever and persistent.

So how did they get so smart?

It’s not school – It’s Family and Mentors

We think that having great schools are key to developing smart people. But most of the entrepreneurs I met last week told me that they did not fit into school culture. Some never finished school. Others had to force themselves to finish. Dico Reijers took 7 years to do his BA.

All told me that culture of entrepreneurship was set at home. All told me that they grew up in a family where running your own business was the normal. The dinner table was their classroom.

Some entrepreneurs went to business school. But for most, the best business lessons were taught by mentors. They learned the old fashioned way, like an apprentice, from advice given by a person who lived their life. Entrepreneurs helping Entrepreneurs.

I asked all of them about whether school needed to be changed. None of them dismissed school. They acknowledged that not everyone should be or even could be an entrepreneur. But they hoped that the school system would see that it could help by identifying the characteristics of kids, like Matt below, who were destined to be entrepreneurs. Then the entrepreneurs could help.

For entrepreneurship on PEI is a personal and individual thing.  All the older PEI entrepreneurs I spoke to want to reach out and offer more of their time as mentors to the young up and coming new class of rebels. What they want is a better way to connect.

If PEI stays true to its business DNA – we will do well

Large bureaucratic structures are dying. Youth unemployment in Canada and the US is over 20% and in Europe is close to 50%. Many middle aged workers are being made redundant. Pensions that many have relied are being diminished. For societies that have more embraced the job and the bureaucracy, the transition will be very hard.

But here on PEI, I see now that we could adjust quite well. The modern PEI entrepreneur is already competing in the new networked global marketplace. They are hiring. They are growing. They are doing what Island business people have always done.

All they need to do now that is different is to work together.


If the PEI entrepreneurs get together and work with each other to boost the local ecosystem.

If those in government do the same. Then this little Island could do very well.

This insight is the great gift that the visit of StartUp Canada brought. They held up the mirror to who we really are. Now we must not waste this gift. Time to act .

It’s up to us now.

PS Next week I will start a 2 week series on what I have learned from our wonderful entrepreneurs

PEI has own Dragon’s Den for StartUps

Hannah Bell (+ a few friends) is organizing PEI’s first Start Competition – here are the details:

Are you the right candidate?

Start Up PEI Challenge

Have you dreamed of starting your own small business, but haven’t been able to take that first step?  What would it take to get you started?  You know you don’t need much – an idea, a plan, some cash, some support.  Here’s your chance – tell us about your idea, and why you should be the one to win the first Start Up PEI Challenge, and you could win a package of capital, business and management skills to launch your entrepreneurial idea to the next level.
Challenge Award and Benefits: Updated April 26

Start Up Business Package now valued at over $3000, including:

  1. Cash prize of $500 ~ Donated by Hannah Bell, winner of the ACE Regional Competition
  2. Business and project planning consultancy ~  Service and mentoring provided by The Solution Agency (approx. value: $500)
  3. Domain name registration and website design ~ Service and mentoring provided by Logikl (approx. value: $500)
  4. Social media and marketing consultancy and launch ~ Service and mentoring provided by Tinker Media (approx. value: $500)
  5. Search engine optimization, Adwords setup and Google analytics setup ~ Service and mentoring provided by Top Search Result (approx value: $500)
  6. One month full membership at Queen Street Commons, providing meeting and work space, mail and intranet, printing and phone as well as invaluable networking opportunities (approx value: $200)
  7. 500 c0lour single sided business cards plus basic setup from KwikKopy Printing
  8. Valuable media exposure
  9. Ongoing mentorship and networking opportunities

Eligibility Criteria

  • Applicants must be residents of PEI for at least 6 months of the year.
  • No age restriction applies – minors must have the support of an appropriate legal guardian for any financial and legal requirements.
  • If applying as a group rather than an individual, please ensure there is a single point of contact who is nominated as the lead for the submission.
  • All entries must be in English.

Submission Criteria

  • REQUIRED: Name, email, phone number for primary contact
  • Other team members info if applicable
  • Describe the business you want to start, and why it is innovative and/or impactful.
  • Why are you qualified to make this idea happen?  What makes you a (potential) entrepreneur?
  • What are you doing now – are you a student, do you have a day job, is this business idea your ‘passion project’?
  • How would this award make your business happen?  What do you plan to do?
  • What else can you tell us that you think we should know?

Submission Method

Written submission, no more than 3 pages


YouTube Video submission, no more than 3 minutes

Email written submission or YouTube link to

Submissions must be received by 11:59 pm ATL May 20, 2012.  Submissions received after that time will not be considered.

Key Dates

Competition Launch                      April 23 2012

Competition Close                         May 20 2012

Evaluation of Submissions           week of May 21-25 (extend to May 30 if volume required)

Award Announcement                 on or by May 31 2012

Follow Up (6 months)                   December 1 2012

Welcome to the Queen Street Commons

The Queen Street Commons is a simple idea. Bring interesting people together to share space, services, and costs. The commons is set up with private work spaces, common rooms, meeting rooms, a kitchen, and an eating area. As a group we can do more and afford more.

Located in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, the Queen Street Commons is a place for people to work, meet, and relax. The space is designed to be used by individuals and by groups. Services include wireless internet, printers, fax, phones, mail delivery, and boardroom.

The Commons is also a hub for the growing network of artisanal entrepreneurs who offer personal products and services such as artisanal food, pottery, therapy and who tap into the global market for a more trusted and a more human business.