Chris’ Weekly Journal For Week Of September 9/18

Silicon Halton Meetup 107 Was Awesome!

Last week’s meetup 107 was a great opportunity to learn about OMERS Ventures from managing partner Jim Orlando. I first connected with Jim in 2014 when I was working on my 7 Question Series ebook on funding advice for tech startups. OMERS Ventures invests in North American technology companies with market disrupting potential. The chart below outlines OMERS Ventures areas of focus.

Source: OMERS Ventures


To date OMERS Ventures have invested $450M in 40 North American companies creating more that 7,500 jobs attracting two billion in capital. 

OMERS Ventures, Capital Raised

Some key things I learned at the meetup about OMERS Ventures:

  • They’ll invest at any stage in a company! Two founders can get funding even if they’ve not generated revenue yet.
  • They receive 1,000 pitches every year; they fund up to four companies. 
  •  Five key trends they have their eyes on include: Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Cybersecurity and Privacy, Quantum Computing and Synthetic Biology (think Crispr)

A special thank you to Lou Schizas for his continued support of Silicon Halton and our members. Listen to his coverage on 640AM. 

The Network You Didn’t Know About

On Friday, Silicon Halton member Sam Reid from QuaeNet Inc., presented at Silicon Halton’s IoT Peer2Peer on LoRaWAN™, a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWan) protocol. The room was packed! The IoT stack includes communications and in order for some IoT solutions to be financially viable they need low cost yet reliable connectivity delivered via LPWan networks. 

As some of you know I’m advocating that local municipalities become more engaged with the local tech community especially in the area of smart cities technologies such as smart parking. It was good to see a couple of folks from the Town of Oakvile. 

What’s Next in Our Community?

I’m looking forward to tonight’s Software Peer2Peer on Machine Learning with ML.NET and this weekend the TU20 team have their inaugural C3 Conference on Saturday. I’ll be attending both. Hope to see you around the community this week!

Interview with Jim Orlando, OMERS Ventures on 2018 VC scene

Updated:  Jul 30/18 | By: Chris Herbert 

Here’s my next installment in Silicon Halton’s conversation series. I’m interviewing people within the SH community and beyond. The topics and reasons for each interview will vary but the common goal is to help our members and the community to grow.

For us growth is a core part of what keeps the heart of the Silicon Halton community beating. We want you to grow through learning, grow your networks, grow professionally, grow your company and do everything possible to help the hi-tech industry grow in Halton region.

Interview with Jim Orlando, General Partner at OMERS Ventures

OMERS Ventures is the venture capital investment arm of OMERS, one of Canada’s largest pension funds with over $95 billion in net assets. OMERS Ventures is a multi-stage investor in growth-oriented, disruptive technology companies across North America.

This interview is with Jim Orlando who is a Managing Partner and OMERS. Jim’s “Ten Canadian Startups and Venture Capital Predictions for 2018” is a must read. I love that Jim puts himself out there with these predictions but also grades himself on them as the year unfolds!” 

I reached out to Jim to drill a bit deeper into his predictions and to get his take on the health of the venture capital investment and exit scene in Canada for 2018. Enjoy! 


Use the timeline to pick what you want to listen to | Full conversation transcript.

00:43 The Canadian Venture Capital scene: the good news & the bad news
07:50 How many rounds of fundraising are too many?
15:11 Are there enough investment opportunities in Canada? Is the lack of exits due to the lack of “quality” companies? Plus the importance of “optionality”
20:32 Are Canadian startup companies just a bunch of “sellouts”? Is the only way for them to succeed is to be acquired instead of continuing to organically grow or going public? 

Silicon Halton Member Creates Ask Oakville Alexa App

Updated:  July 13/18 | By:  Chris Herbert

Brett Gillett, Chief Orbiter, at Curious Orbit attended Silicon Halton and the Town of Oakville’s meetup on Smart Cities last month. Brett has been supporting smart city initiatives over the past years and he continues to do so with the announcement of his “Ask Oakville Alexa App”.  Brett offers a newsletter that you can subscribe to here.


Hi Chris,

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a Smart Cities meet up co-sponsored by the Town of Oakville and Silicon Halton.  It was interesting to have a chance to hear many different perspectives on what precisely a Smart City is.  Many people spoke at the event including town employees and consultants, as well as from Silicon Halton members.

After the formal part of the meeting had concluded I had the opportunity to chat with a few different folks about Smart Cities in general and in particular Open Data.  We talked about how in some cases there still seems to be a  lack of openness or in certain situations datasets which used to be publicly available are removed when the interests of those who are responsible for publishing and maintaining the data sets shift – or the technology responsible for storing the data makes it more difficult to publish.

I left the meeting energized and with a rediscovered sense that while Smart Cities are inevitable, the real value will come when the data collected is provided to citizens in a form they want, when they want it, and in ways that are easily consumable.

With the idea of making data accessible to consumers, I left the meeting with an idea for an Alexa app.  Over the last week, I’ve built a simple prototype Alexa app, called ‘Ask Oakville.’  Right now, you’re able to get information about your Oakville councilor, when the next town council meeting is scheduled and when should you put out your recycling, green bin or garbage.

Currently, I’ve added data manually from many sources – the town website (councillors and meetings) and the physically printed waste collection calendar, but I’m hoping in the future for some new data sets to be published so the application can be more easily maintained.

Here’s a simple overview of how I built the ‘Ask Oakville’ Alexa application.

(Graphic by Brett Gillett, Curious Orbit)

Until next week – get out there and build cool things,


— Chief Orbiter


Related links:


Chris Herbert

Chris Herbert

Cofounder, Silicon Halton

Chris Herbert is a social entrepreneur. His current ventures are: Silicon Halton, Mi6 Agency and TechIgniters. He's a former squash professional and passionate about helping entrepreneurs, technology companies and professionals achieve success. He's a proud Canadian and plans to make Halton region the greatest place on the planet to live, work and play.

Smart City Meetup with Silicon Halton and Town of Oakville

Updated: Jul 19/18 | By: Chris Herbert

And It Begins!

Tomorrow will be an interesting day as Silicon Halton members and key leaders from the Town of Oakville meet to discuss “Smart Cities” and the Town’s plans to revitalize the downtown core starting in 2019.

How’d This Meeting Surface?

In May, I met with some key town leaders to discuss ways in which Silicon Halton and the Town could connect and collaborate.

My goal was, and continues to be, for local technology companies and professionals to be an integral part in planning and shaping Oakville’s future.

We decided that the first step would be to have a meetup on the topic of “Smart Cities”. Key members of the Town’s leadership team, and WSP,  will be updating a group of Silicon Halton members on plans to revitalize the downtown core starting in 2019.

Major infrastructure upgrades like those planned for downtown Oakville are critical moments in time and an opportunity to reflect on the needs of the community and the role technology, in part, can play. It’s also an opportunity to bring interested parties and stakeholders together to collaborate and work together … especially local citizens and entrepreneurs.

Why Is This So Important?

There are many reasons why this meetup is important and why local groups, people, organizations and companies need to connect and collaborate together in new and better ways.

  • First, perhaps you’ve noticed that storm clouds are starting to form. The thunder you hear is the rhetoric and threats coming from south of our border. Lightning has hit the steel and aluminum industry already and there is the threat of a 25% tariff on auto imports.
  • Second, another clap of thunder is disruption. While an overused buzzword, disruption is ushering in new business models and companies that are changing how we travel (Uber), where we stay (AirBnB) and what we watch (Netflix). All are leveraging data, the cloud, software and the internet to create, deliver and capture value… and create jobs.
  • Third, the competition for talent and the race to lead in key emerging technology fields such as artificial intelligence, security, internet of things, additive manufacturing, robotics and autonomous vehicles is now happening between countries and not just companies. What country isn’t trying to be the leader in AI or Fintech? How do we compete against mega economies, such as China, where two AI companies recently raised over $1B in venture capital alone? We have less people, less resources and maybe we’re a bit complacent to boot.

What is a Smart City Anyways?

Is it technology that makes a city smart? Nope, in fact it can create the opposite effect. A smart city is one that establishes a community culture where connectivity, collaboration, cooperation, co-creation, innovation and shared success is baked into the way we think, feel and work… together for people with varying needs including people like Ron whom put this video together for us.

The reality is no one person or organization will make a city smart. Collectively we can and should work together so we can weather the storm and show the world how its done! Why not?



Related links:

(Image Source: TechTarget)

Chris Herbert

Chris Herbert

Chris Herbert is a social entrepreneur. His current ventures are: Silicon Halton, Mi6 Agency and TechIgniters. He's a former squash professional and passionate about helping entrepreneurs, technology companies and professionals achieve success. He's a proud Canadian and plans to make Halton region the greatest place on the planet to live, work and play.

My scores for this year’s TU20 Cup contestants

Updated: July 22/18 | By: Chris Herbert

On Saturday March 3rd, 2018 the second annual Tech Under Twenty Cup (TU20 Cup) took place. There were 13 teams and over 50 students from local high schools in Halton and Universities. I was a judge and I pledged to the teams that I would post my scores and comments publicly.

About the TU20 Cup

For those of you not familiar with the TU20 Cup, it is a multi-month event focused on motivating youth to get involved with technology and business. Teams of 2-6 students work with the help of a mentor to innovate a solution using technology relating to the yearly theme, in advance to the day of the event. This years’ theme was: how to make your town or city smarter.

How the Judging Worked

Each team had twelve minutes in front of the judging panels broken down as follows:

  • Two minute video about their business idea, product or project
  • Five minute presentation and demo
  • Five minute Q&A with judges panel

There were thirteen teams, six judges and two judging rounds:

  • Round One: teams and judges were split into two groups and presented concurrently in separate rooms to the judges. Participants, attendees and parents were welcome to sit in on the presentations. The top two teams for each group advanced to round two: the finals.
  • Round Two: The four finalists presented to all seven judges. Participants, attendees and parents were welcome to sit in on the presentations.

By the way, you can refer to the judging criteria document [link date: Mar 12/18]  for more details on how teams and judges were prepared by the TU20 executive.

How I Ranked the Teams

In round one, there were three judges including myself in our group. The teams that presented were: RouteE2M (E2M), SensorFlow (SF), Halton Flow (HF), EventHost (EH), Reach (REA) & A2B. Below are my scores:

Criteria Value E2M SF HF EH REA A2B Avg.
Presentation of project /10 5/10 8/10 10/10 8/10 9/10 5/10 7.5/10
Implementation of theme (making smarter cities) /15 13/15 11/15 14/15 11/15 12/15 10/15 11.8/15
Impact /15 12/15 12/15 14/15 13/15 14/15 8/15 12.2/15
Technical Product/Demo /20 18/20 7/20 18/20 14/20 14/20 14/20 14.2/20
Creativity & Innovation /20 15/20 14/20 18/20 16/20 18/20 15/20 16/20
Business plan /15 4/15 8/15 9/15 8/15 10/15 8/15 7.8/15
Project Video /5 3/5 5/5 5/5 5/5 0/5 3/5 3.5/5
Total /100 70/100 65/100 88/100 75/100 77/100 63/100 73/100
Place   4 5 1 3 2 6  

My top three, in this order, were Halton Flow, Reach and EventHost. But, I was one of three judges that were presented to and after factoring in their scores the top two in our group that were put forward for round two were: EventHost and Reach.

In round two, there were seven judges, and the top two teams from each group in round one presented. The teams that presented were: Road Alerts, Halton Info, Reach and EventHost. Below are my scores:

Criteria Value RA HI REA EH Avg.
Presentation of project /10 7/10 8/10 8/10 8/10 7.8/10
Implementation of theme (making smarter cities) /15 14/15 11/15 12/15 11/15 12/15
Impact /15 12/15 12/15 12/15 13/15 12.3/15
Technical Product/Demo /20 15/20 16/20 16/20 14/20 15.3/20
Creativity & Innovation /20 14/20 15/20 15/20 16/20 15/20
Business plan /15
Project Video /5 4/5 5/5 5/5 5/5 4.5/5
Total* /100 66/85 67/85 68/85 67/85 67/85
Place   4 2 1 2  

* Note: Judges were not provided with business plans to review from other group so it did not factor into my ranking. During the Q&A sessions I was silent when my groups two finalists were up to allow those judges who were seeing them for the first time to ask questions of the teams.

[NEW] A Word (or two) to All TU20 Cup Participants

After the 2017 TU20 Cup I put this video together that I hope entrepreneurs, of all ages, can use to help them stay motivated, not feel alone and remember to bake “value” into their business models. BTW, I’m a slow talker so bump up the video play speed to 1.25 or 1.5!


Chris Herbert

Chris Herbert

McRock Capital IIoT Symposium 2018

Here’s my next installment in Silicon Halton’s conversation series. I’m interviewing people within the SH community and beyond. The topics and reasons for each interview will vary but the common goal is to help our members and the community to grow.

For us growth is a core part of what keeps the heart of the Silicon Halton community beating. We want you to grow through learning, grow your networks, grow professionally, grow your company and do everything possible to help the hi-tech industry grow in Halton region.

Our Partnership with McRock Capital

Silicon Halton and Mi6 Agency are the exclusive media partners for the 2018 McRock IIoT Symposium

This annual event is very unique and a must attend event for entrepreneurs in the IoT space. The network and relationships that Whitney Rockley and Scott MacDonald and the McRock Capital team have and make in the IoT space are wide and deep.

I can’t stress enough how important the role they are playing in helping put Canada on the map is so many ways.

  • First, they attract corporate firms who are developing and looking to bring to market IoT solutions. These firms will invest in IoT startups and provide them access to their customers to validate and commercialize their IoT products.
  • Second, they get IoT and that they understand the challenges that IoT can solve for municipalities, manufacturers and other industrial segments.
  • Third, they don’t shy away from hardware. Something many software centric VCs do. The reality is hardware matters when it comes to IoT.
  • Fourth, they’re Canadian … eh! The entire team are what I like to call “McRock Stars” in startups and IoT. Too cheesy? 

Also, McRock Capital is different in many ways and as they say “they’re not your fathers VC“. 

Last year I chatted with Whitney about the 2017 event and this year it was Scott’s turn to chat about this year’s  IIoT Symposium. Check it out below.  

Interview with Scott MacDonald, General Partner at McRock Capital



Use the timeline to pick what you want to listen to | Full conversation transcript.

01:21 This is the 7th year for the IIoT Symposium. Why McRock Capital created this event and why it continues
04:56 What is it about this year that makes the event different than previous years?
08:23 How is corporate venture capital different from venture capital? Why is it important for IIoT startups to know the difference?
14:31 How startups are using the IIoT Symposium to network in order to get customers, develop partnerships and this year, a new opportunity,  pitch to raise capital. 
16:39 We talk about this year’s IIoT Awards: 1) IIoT Entrepreneur of the Year; 2) IIoT Corporate Leader of the Year and, 3) IIoT Diversity Leader of the Year
19:26 McRock’s tracking of diversity within their portfolio of companies.
20:27 The fun side of the IIoT Symposium. Jazz, inspiration, arts and laughs! 


Chris Herbert

Chris Herbert


Chris Herbert is the founder of Mi6. Mi6 is a B2B (Business to Business) marketing and business development agency dedicated to helping companies build their brands and develop commercial relationships. He is the founder of ProductCamp Toronto and the Hi-tech community Silicon Halton. He tweets under the handle @B2Bspecialist.

Brief: Does the Federal Government GET Entrepreneurs?

UPDATED: Oct 21/17 see [NEW]

The Federal Government is walking back their proposed tax changes. We will update this post with relevent links. 

Oct 20/17: Federal finance minister Morneau pitches small business on tax reform (CBC)

Oct 20/17: Full package of revised tax proposals requires more analysis, consultation (CFIB)

Oct 20/17: Examining Bill Morneau’s tax-reform tweaks (Canadian Manufacturing)

Oct 20/17: Conservative leader Scheer decries ‘irony’ of small business tax plan (CBC)

Oct 20/17: Morneau announces plans to work with angel investors in Waterloo (570 News)


Oct 20/17: Morneau assures tech community tax changes won’t squeeze out investment capital (Globe and Mail; paywall)

[NEW]  Oct 16/17: CFA reacts to announcement of small business tax changes (Canadian Federation of Agriculture)


Original Post

On July 18th, the Federal Government’s Department of Finance announced significant proposed changes to certain mainstream tax planning. Details have been released in a comprehensive, technical consultation paper focusing on tax practices commonly used involving private corporations.

These tax practices are being labeled by the government as tax loopholes and they are implying that small businesses are taking advantage of them unfairly. That entrepreneurs should be treated equally alongside their employees when it comes to taxation.

A brief summary of the proposed changes:

  • Income splitting (dividends and salaries) with adult related individuals will no longer generally be possible unless the individual contributes to the business
  • Multiplying the Capital Gains Exemption will be severely curtailed
  • Increased reporting requirements for trusts
  • Increased taxation on passive income earned in corporations

Most of the proposed changes apply to 2018 and beyond.  The new rules are subject to a consultation period from now until October 2, 2017. [Courtesy: SB Partners | More details]

The finance minister Bill Morneau, healthcare advisor Michael Wolfson and UBC’s Kevin Milligan are convinced that these tax changes will only affect “top earners” who operate their businesses as Canadian Controlled Private Corporations (CCPC). Small business owners, associations and the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) think otherwise.

Consider these recent headlines from this summer:

Vids to Watch

Minister Morneau grilled by citizens [in Oakville] angry over tax plan

Trudeau dodges questions over tax benefits he receives through family trusts

Silicon Halton Members Weigh In

Earlier this month, Silicon Halton members representing local technology companies met to learn and discuss the impact these changes will have on their businesses if they are implemented.

Providing guidance and advice were Richard Weber, Partner CPA, CA and Gregory Clarke, Partner CPA, CA of SB Partners.

These tech leaders are frustrated, confused and angry. Clearly, the academics, policy advisors and Canadian government don’t get what it takes to be an entrepreneur and build a Canadian company.  There are three things, I believe, that the policy makers fail to understand when it comes to entrepreneurs and the SME market.

Entrepreneurs are:

  • Builders, not earners. They build companies by taking significant risk which they live with each and every waking moment. They use the cash their business generates to invest in people, in ideas and to grow their business. Very often they come last when it comes to “earning” a living because they put their employees first.
  • Practitioners, not theorists. They roll up their sleeves to help their customers be successful. They spend much of their waking hours (often more than 12 hours a day) working on and in their business generating cash by delivering value to the markets and customers they serve. They have little patience for academics, public servants and career politicians who think they know what it takes to be an entrepreneur and how they should should start, grow and scale their business.
  • Producers, not cheaters. Yes, there is a negative narrative right now on social media that portrays entrepreneurs as tax evaders. Entrepreneurs produce jobs, they pay taxes, they pay employment insurance, they pay into Canada’s pension plan.

The reality is that small to midsized companies are the largest contributors to the Canadian economy. They employ over 10M Canadians. Canadian small and mid-sized companies generate significant tax revenue that is used, in part, to pay the 4.4M people employed by the government and government funded organizations.

Finally, the entrepreneurs that become “rich” earn it through hard work, sacrifice and taking risk. They don’t become millionaires like many government employees do via pensions and other entitlements that in my view are fair game to repeal.

Consider what this tech entrepreneur says about these proposed tax changes:

Consider what another tech entrepreneur said to his MP, John Oliver:

“Per the following reports from Statistics Canada you will see that there are 1,165,000 SME businesses in Canada.

  • These SME businesses employ 10,460,000 Canadians
  • Large Entreprise only employs. 1,130,000 Canadians
  • There are another 4.4 million Canadians employed but they are government and government funded employees.

So it looks like the SME sector pays for 90% of government funded employees. And pretty much all government employees retire millionaires because of their guaranteed pensions. For the SME sector there are no guarantees and certainly No pensions, We take huge risks and there is no one to take care of us when things go wrong.”

Robin Smith, co-founder of VL Omni, featured on CBC’s On the Money

How Will These Changes Affect Small Business?

According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) these are most significant tax changes in decades, with the potential to severely harm Canadian small businesses especially in three areas: 1) Making it harder to share income with your family; 2) Dramatically increase the taxes on your business investments, and 3) Prevent you from passing down your business.

In CFIB’s webinar, CEO Dan Kelly and tax expert Evelyn Jacks outline how these changes could affect us all. We’ve provided an indepth timeline and here’s the raw transcript [Direct Download].

02:39 | Opening remarks from Evenlyn Jacks

03:55 | Managing Tax Risk is More Important Than Ever Now. What Evelyn Jacks covers in this webcast

05:04 | Where does the wealth lie in Canada? The three fasted growth assets: 1) Mutual funds, investment funds, income trusts; 2) Business equity, and 3) Stocks

06:04 | What’s at Stake in these tax reforms and why taxman wants a bigger piece of passive investment income earned by private corps

06:58 | Spotlight on Private Business Owners and key definitions federal government is using to define “High Income” and “Unintended Advantages”. An entrepreneurs tax audit risk will be exponentially higher than an employer’s.

09:52 | Principle of Canadian Tax System and the rights of entrepreneurs to pay as little tax as legally allowed

11:02 | The Reality for Governments. Service economy, shift in demographics and high personal tax rates are driving the growth of private corps

12:17 | Federal Personal Income Taxes and new tax bracket introduced in 2016.

13:17 | Provincial Personal Income Taxes (on top of Federal Income Taxes).

15:07 | Risk Assumption: Your Reality Employed and Self Employed. Tax audit risk are proposed to be increased. Integration of Personal Corporate Tax

20:07: | Is it Better to Earn Investment Income Inside or Outside the Corporation?

20:52 | What’s Changing: Taxation of Passive Investments. With new changes the effective tax rate will be 72.7%! Yet, the Finance Canada say:”new rules will have ‘limited impact’ on existing passive investments”. But are they right? The answer is no… the devil is in the details.

23:23 | The Purpose of Small Business Deduction, Jun 18, 1971 and what are the questions for Canadian Controlled Private Corporations (CCPCs)?

26:37 | Income Splitting with Family Members. Specified vs. Connected Individual. Definition of Split Income (now vs. the proposed future). Test for 18 to 25 years old starting in 2018.

30:34 | Gender Issues. Families, by default have a lot to lose.

31:54 | The problem of “reasonableness testing” being re-introduced. How CRA will “second-guess” legitimate business purposes in a vague and arbitrary manner resulted in unfair tax treatment.

33:11 | Capital Gaines Exemptions. Significant proposed changes. What is an ineligible gain going forward? Election to crystalize Capital Gains Exemptions. Talk to your tax accountant immediately.

35:08 | Surplus Stripping. More concerns when it comes to succession planning?

35:34 | Questions on the Proposals with respect to double and triple taxing. And don’t forget there are other changes for professional practices that will increase costs to run a business.

36:41 | Key things to think about and ask your MP

37:34 | Who Bears the Burden of Corporate Tax Increases? For every $1 increased in Corporate Income Taxes wages fall by $1.52 in AB, $2.72 in MB and $3.85 in PEI

38:16 | Questions and Strategies.

39:06 | Summary and your voice matters so talk to your MP, talk to your tax accountant

39:50 | Hand over to Dan Kelly from CFIB to present on: “The Fight Against #unfairtaxchanges.

41:00 | Entrepreneurs are concerned that the Canadian government is accusing them of being tax cheats. That the value of the Canadian entrepreneur is not truly understood and that small business is the major contributor for jobs, economic prosperity and growth.

42:20 | Proposed tax changes but why are their lower tax rate on small businesses in the first place? There are three major reasons.

43:56 | The Four Key Issues Facing Small Businesses Because of Proposed Tax Changes. They will create a decade of uncertainty.

45:03 | Small Businesses are Firmly in the Middle Class. CFIB believes all small businesses will be affected by these proposed tax changes not just the ones earning $150K and up.

45:51 | How the Canadian government is confused. They are encouraging innovation but taxing the funds that small businesses use to innovate.

47:16 | Taxation Facts that All Levels of Government Need to be Reminded Of. Employer vs. Employee tax fairness

48:40 | What We Want from Government.

49:42 | What The Small Business Community Needs to Do Now.

52:06 | Important Dates

54:00 | Q&A

54:21 | “Is there a document that we can have access to that provides the specifics of the tax proposals?”

55:01 | “Does government think that a different government might reverse all of these tax changes?”

56:10 | Comment from angry tax accountant on impact on small business and entrepreneurs

What Can You Do?

At the very least it’s important that we better understand and appreciate the role entrepreneurs play in making Canada successful. And, that entrepreneurs are some of the hardest working people and not tax evaders. Government needs to provide entrepreneurs with incentives, tools and a climate that motivates them to start and grow companies.

Learn more about how these proposed tax changes will affect entrepreneurs and their companies. Discuss this with your MP, with other Silicon Halton members and regardless of which side of this debate you’re on… recognize that the Canadian economy and employment is driven mostly by small and mid-sized businesses and the entrepreneurs and employees that start and run them.


The Story Behind the Re-branding of SB Partners

Here’s my next installment in Silicon Halton’s conversation series. I’m reaching out to people within the SH community and beyond. The topics and reasons vary but what is common that drives interviews is Silicon Halton’s continued goal of helping our members grow.  

For us growth is a core part of what keeps the heart of the Silicon Halton community beating. We want you to grow through learning, grow your networks, grow professionally, grow your company and do everything possible to help the hi-tech industry grow in Halton region.

SB Partners has been a partner and sponsor of Silicon Halton since the community started in 2009. Their contributions have been important to the growth of SH.

In addition to the financial contributions they’ve made, many of the Partners have presented at SH meetups on a variety of topics, have been guests at our peer to peer events, and made themselves available as subject matter experts. It’s an amazing community focused partnership!

Something Wonderful Happened This Year at SB Partners

This February, CEO John Chisholm announced the rebranding of SB Partners which included a new brand, tagline and website. But it was much more than a “new look and feel”. It was more strategic and launched SB Partners on their newest journey with their clients and within Halton community.

Call me curious (or maybe nosey) I wanted to learn more and get the backstory! Why did SB Partners feel the need to rebrand? How did they do it? Should other companies rebrand, if so when and why? What was the experience of re-creating the SB Partners brand like?

So, I reached out to Elaine Holding, Director Client Services and Business Development at SB Partners to ask these questions and others. Below is our full interview.

Interview Timeline

You can fast forward/rewind by clicking on the play button. Mouseover the waveform chart above and/or use the > key on your keyboard .

00:00 | Introduction and conversation starter

01:06 | Elaine gives us a bit of an overview of SB Partners and some of the key leaders important for Silicon Halton members to get to know. She talks about the value SB Partners offers to the local community and delivers to private tech businesses and entrepreneurs

03:32 | We talk about how SB Partners have been involved in the Silicon Halton and broader business community to date and the importance of “doing the right thing”

05:36 | SB Partners focus and role in providing thought leadership and informing the community on key matters that can impact their business

07:15 | Elaine and I discuss:

  • How Silicon Halton members can engage and get value from engaging with SB Partners
  • How SB Partners is helping technology companies of various sizes, stages of growth and development
  • How it’s important to establish the right corporate and accounting structure at the outset

10:28 | Elaine outlines ways to engage with SB Partners:

  1. When your business model is in place and you need to ask about the corporate and financial structure
  2. When you’re starting to earn revenue and you need to ask about CRA (Canadian Revenue Agency) compliance
  3. How to pay yourself as an owner. Understanding what your options are
  4. Understanding how the tax system is going to work for you in the best way, and as the company matures
  5. Getting advice on succession planning, valuation of your company and others for mergers and acquisitions AND setting up family trusts to fully capitalize on being an entrepreneur

13:15 | I ask Elaine how SB Partners is designed to help growth oriented technology entrepreneurs and their companies. And, the importance of choosing an accounting firm that can scale with your growth

15:06 | Elaine explains how SB Partners has being getting value from their partnership and sponsorship with Silicon Halton. Also, she offers her perspective on how Silicon Halton is delivering value to tech companies in Halton region

17:30 | I talk briefly about a new Silicon Halton program being launched with SB Partners designed for CEOs of local tech entrepreneurs aspiring to grow. Stay tuned!

18:22 | Really cool discussion with Elaine about SB Partners new branding and why they did it. Key areas covered:

  • Why did SB Partners rebrand? A very important change in the accounting industry was a contributing factor
  • Firm has evolved and current branding was becoming a bit disjointed and inconsistent. It was time to refresh the brand to reflect where it is today and where SB Partners is heading
  • Why new hires chose SB Partners recently and the role the new brand played in this decision
  • The role “archetypes” play in branding a company. For example an example of an Outlaw archetype would be Harley Davidson. It’s important that your brand represents who you are not what you want it to be. The archetype that SB Partners chose was the Hero
  • Elaine talks about the meaning behind the brand, the logo and their tagline: “Accounting for Our Community”

26:51 | Elaine shares the story about the internal launch of the rebranding and the role the movie: “It’s a Wonderful Life” played. We talk about how other companies should think about branding over the longer term in order to stay relevant and in SB Partner’s case independent. Here’s a key moment in the the movie that resonates with me that I want to share with you:

31:47 | Chris asks Elaine “what are the keys to success for today’s tech companies and tech entrepreneurs”. Hint: it boils down to leadership and humility. We wrap up the interview

Thank You SB Partners!

Thanks to Elaine and the SB Partners team for all you do for our community and Silicon Halton. Check these presentations delivered by members of the SB Partners team at past Silicon Halton events and you’ll see why they’re a great community partner!

More About “It’s a Wonderful Life”

It’s a Wonderful Life is one of my favourite movies and the meaning behind it strikes a deep chord with me. Below is a music video that I found and wanted to share. It demonstrates how each one of us, in our community, can be intertwined and positively impact other people’s lives.



Chris Herbert is the founder of Mi6 Agency. Mi6 is a B2B (Business to Business) marketing and business development agency dedicated to helping companies build their brands and develop commercial relationships. He is the founder of ProductCamp Toronto and the Hi-tech community Silicon Halton. He tweets under the handle @B2Bspecialist.

Silicon Halton Partners with McRock Capital for IIoT Symposium

Here’s my first installment in Silicon Halton’s conversation series. I’m interviewing people within the SH community and beyond. The topics and reasons for each interview will vary but the common goal is to help our members and the community to grow.

For us growth is a core part of what keeps the heart of the Silicon Halton community beating. We want you to grow through learning, grow your networks, grow professionally, grow your company and do everything possible to help the hi-tech industry grow in Halton region.

Silicon Halton, and my firm Mi6 Agency,  are communications partners for the upcoming IIoT Symposium being produced by McRock Capital taking place on May 18, 2017 in Montreal, Canada.

McRock Capital, was the very first Venture Capital Firm and Fund in Canada and most likely the world, to be exclusively focused on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) market. I’ve attended this event twice and will be covering it on behalf of Silicon Halton this year.

What’s very interesting about this event is how the McRock Capital team have brought together the right mix of stakeholders in the IIoT scene.

  • Large global enterprises: companies that provide market insights and are looking to invest, partner and go to market with IIoT startups

  • Entrepreneurs: emerging leaders and risk takers who are forging new paths in the IIoT space through their ideas, startups and passion

  • Funders: people and organizations that finance and fund IIoT ideas and startups

  • Subject Matter Experts: who can help you understand market challenges and opportunities and give you a view into the future of IIoT

  • Government orgs: those that support entrepreneurs to start and grow their business

And finally, there’s celebrities, music, comedy, food and networking  as part of the socializing and entertainment that this event is known for. If you’re in the IIoT space I strongly recommend that you attend this event.  To learn more about McRock Capital and the upcoming IIoT Symposium check out my interview with co-founder and Managing Director Whitney Rockley.

Report and Recommendation from Region of Halton Economic Development


I recently was made aware of the presentation made by John Davidson, Director of Economic Development for the Region of Halton. As a small business owner (Silicon Halton and Mi6 Agency) the decisions and investments being made by government organizations, public servants and elected officials can affect me, my businesses and the people and organizations I work with every day. This applies to all members of Silicon Halton.


This presentation is of particular importance for a few reasons:


  •  A study was recently done, by MDB Insight, that identified key issues facing small and mid-sized businesses in Halton with respect to growth
  •  The Region is proposing taking a leadership role in helping companies scale up, export and globalize
  •  It’s being proposed that the Region and key support services along with Haltech co-locate physically


I encourage members to watch the presentation below and if you have any thoughts, questions or comments that you share them via the following options:


  •  Via this discussion post in Silicon Halton’s LinkedIn group
  •  Leaving a comment below or on Twitter using the hashtag #SiliconHalton
  •  Reaching out to me personally via my Linkedin profile and send me a message (you may need to connect with me first; if you do mention in your connection request this blog post)

I’ve uploaded this video [source] to YouTube so you can watch it below. Here’s the transcript as well.



NOTE: Any views and opinions associated to this post are not necessarily shared by my cofounders of Silicon Halton nor our 1300 members.


Chris Herbert is the founder of Mi6 Agency. Mi6 is a B2B (Business to Business) marketing and business development agency dedicated to helping technology companies build their brands and develop commercial relationships. He is the founder of ProductCamp Toronto and the Hi-tech community Silicon Halton. He tweets under the handle @B2Bspecialist.




IBM: Community Briefing Note and Discussion

IBM: Community Briefing Note and Discussion

UPDATED: Jan 29/16. Look for [NEW]

This briefing note and discussion is intended to stimulate conversation, interactions, ideas and thoughts regarding IBM among Silicon Halton members. The goal of this activity is to find common interests, uncover information gaps and potential go forward projects, programs and ideas that will help SH members learn, grow using IBM technologies.

Right now I’m using this post and LinkedIn for private discussion among members to try and engage with SH members but we are looking at better ways to gather online to dig and learn deeper together on exploratory areas like this.


IBM is pushing forwards, aggresivelly, in the areas of Cognitive Computing, Predictive Analytics, Cloud and Artificial Intelligence. They are trying to develop an “ecosystem” of technology professionals (entrepreneurs, developers, data scientists) and partners to further advance the use and adoption of Bluemix, Softlayer and Watson. They’ve recently struck deals with Apple who recently announced that they will be opensource their new programming language “Swift”.

I believe, but need to validate with SH community and other key people in my networks and yours that there are business, commercial and career opportunities for those who invest time and effort in doing “stuff” with IBM “stuff”. Pretty elegant huh? But you get my point.

This briefing note/discussion is intended to share, what I believe is relevant and useful information along with good discussion with you to explore this further.

Key announcements and information that, I believe, are contextually relevant and to help frame this exploratory conversation:

=> [NEW] Jan 29/16 |  IBM Watson Developer Cloud services on Bluemix (Published Jun 04/15)

=> [NEW] Jan 29/16 | Is Watson the Key to IBM’s Turnaround? (Interview with David Kenny, new GM of IBM Watson)

=> [NEW] Jan 29/16 | IBM Closes Weather Co. Purchase, Names David Kenny New Head Of Watson Platform

=> [NEW] Jan 29/16 | Announcing our largest release of Watson Developer Cloud services (Published Sep 24/15)

=> Jan 16/16 | How AI Is Changing The Healthcare Industry With Brian Garcia who recently received a new round of funding led by Canadian VC firm Georgian Partners. See Chris Herbert’s interview with Managing Partner Simon Chong to learn more about Georgian Partners approach to investing in technology companies. This follow up interview, by Robin Smith of Virtual Logistics, is a good one as well. Ben Wilde answers a series of questions including the types of companies Georgian Partners are investing in.

=> Jan 14/16 | Building With Watson in 2016

=> Jan 07/16 | Under Armour And IBM To Transform Personal Health And Fitness, Powered By IBM Watson

=> Dec 12/15 | IBM Internet of Things Platform  

=> Dec 04/15 | IBM injects new Watson smarts into Commerce Insights platform

=> Dec 03/15 | Apple and IBM made a brilliant new move to infiltrate large businesses

=> Nov 25/15 | IBM Canada invests $65 million for innovative collaborations

=> Nov 23/15 | The Future of Cognitive Computing

=> Nov 21/15 | Tweet from President of IBM Canada: At Smith School of Business at Queen’s celebrating Watson at work with the winners of Retail Analytics Competition

=> Nov 09/15 | Video: IBM Introduces Powerful Analytics for Everyone

=> Oct 08/14  | IBM Brings Watson APIs to Bluemix PaaS 

=> Sep 22/15 | Special Interview with Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers at IBM (NOTE: This is an interview my firm, Mi6 Agency, produced for Virtual Logistics)

=> May 22/15 | Governments of Canada and Ontario officially announce $123.5-million Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation at Baycrest


Discuss100x100Please feel free to ask questions, challenge us about what it might be like working (or not) with IBM and add information that you think is useful to help us better frame opportunities for us as entrepreneurs, developers and professionals in the technology industry. Silicon Halton members can discuss this brief here


Chris Herbert, Cofounder.

Silicon Halton Proud to Sponsor Angel One’s 2014 Founders and Funders Celebration

Silicon Halton Proud to Sponsor Angel One’s 2014 Founders and Funders Celebration


We’re honoured and proud to be a sponsor and supporter of Angel One’s Founders and Funders Celebration taking place June 18th at the Ron Joyce Centre located at McMaster University’s Degroote School of Business in Burlington, Ontario.

The evening is an opportunity to meet with and learn more about Angel One’s members and their investee companies. This year will mark a special milestone for Angel One Network with the recognition of two successful exits in 2013.

Silicon Halton members are invited to come out and help us celebrate the winners of the Pauli Awards for Founder of the Year, Funder of the Year and Contributor of the Year.  Last years winners are depicted below. Members can register here.


2013 Founders and Funders Celbrants (left to right):  Dan Lawrie – Funder of the Year; Paul Subject – Contributor of the Year; Larry Innanen – Chair; Karen Grant – Executive Director; Stefano Plati – Founder of the Year.

About Angel One

Since incorporating in September 2011, Angel One members have invested over $12 million into 45 investments.  According to the National Angel Capital Organization’s surveys on angel group activity, Angel One has ranked as one of the top angel groups in Canada for 2012 and 2013.

Additional facts:

  • Syndication investments with: Golden Triangle Angelnet, Niagara Angel Network, York Angel Investors, Georgian Angel Network, Capital Angel Network, Maple Leaf Angels, Boston Harbor Angels and MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund
  • Members are accredited investors who live, work or have strong interests in Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton and other communities in Southern Ontario.
  • Close to have of their investments are in technology companies
  • Network works with the following RIC Centres: Innovation Factory (Hamilton), HalTech Regional Centre (Halton Region); Innovation Guelph, The RIC Centre (Mississauga), VentureLab (Markham), and Innovate Niagara (St. Catharines)

[Sources: 2013 Founders and Funding Program Guide; Karen Grant, Executive Director of Angel One]

You can check out Angel One member investments and follow them on my unofficial investees Twitter list. Better yet, come and meet some of the founders and funders June 18th! Remember to register, there’s limited seats!


What Are Your Priorities for Silicon Halton in 2014? Here’s Mine.

UPDATE [Nov 27/13]: At the present time these priorities are on the back burner due to important priorities and focus areas for Mi6 Agency clients. I continue to be a supporter of Silicon Halton and am passionate about where the community can go and grow. My ongoing involvement and leadership on these will continue based on my availability and capacity to volunteer my time.

Since we founded Silicon Halton in November of 2009 our fundamental beliefs and values have not changed regarding the purpose of our community. Our purpose was and still is to be a catalyst that enables technology professionals to connect and build relationships, partnerships, products and learn from each other.

We believed and now have confirmed that the technology industry is vibrant and full of talented professionals and awesome technology companies. Some of which will be featured in 2014 via a spotlight series of posts and soft hat tech tours [please talk to me about this if you’re interested in sponsoring this initiative].

I wanted to begin the conversation with Silicon Halton members. Specifically, what are your priorities for Silicon Halton in 2014. Please don’t misread this as a challenge. Think of it as an opportunity. Silicon Halton is your community just as it is any other member. So, think about how your priorities for your career, your product idea or your company can dovetail into your community. Use the community to help you and others grow.

Here are my priorities for 2014 (yes, they are ambitious! But, members are stepping up to help. Let me know if you’re interested):

1) Technology Product Commercialization Peer to Peer Group (Twitter Tag: #TPCp2p)

2)  Big Data & Analytics Hub

3) Technology Conference and Exposition

4) Funding for our community

If you’re interested in learning more about these priorities read on! Please note that these initiatives are exclusive to Silicon Halton members. SH members must physically work and/or live in Halton Region to qualify. We may change this condition at some point to include members from Silicon Peel.

Technology Product Commercialization Peer to Peer (#TPCp2p)

I am co-leading this with Silicon Halton member Josh Hagan, Managing Partner of One Motion Technologies who is extremely passionate about technology and startups. This program is for individuals, who on their own or through their company, have an idea for a technology product that they want to commercialize. The product idea can be software based (including SaaS), hardware based or a combination of both. 

The p2p will have 8-12 people which will form our first “cohort”. Over the coming months we will learn and apply the Lean Startup methods and share and support each other on our paths to commercializing our product ideas. Think of it as a hands on workshop, accelerator, startups team and mastermind group all rolled into one! Contact Josh or myself if you’d like to learn more.

Big Data and Analytics Hub

Led by Silicon Halton member Guy Pearce, Managing Partner of REData and yours truly and in collaboration with the Big Data/Analytics peer to peer (#BDAp2p) group this is a brand new strategic initiative for us. What is a hub? A hub is defined as: “The central part of a wheel, rotating on or with the axle, and from which the spokes radiate. A place or thing that forms the effective center of an activity, region, or network.” The Big Data & Analytics Hub’s goal is to be a global centre for innovation, products, services, technologies, students and professionals in the areas of big data and analytics. Yes, this is ambitious, yes we may fail but you’d be surprised at how much is already happening in this space in Silicon Halton. The best way to learn more and get involved is to join our Big Data & Analytics Peer to Peer (p2p) group.

Technology Conference and Exposition

My agency, Mi6, will be producing this event in 2014. The core of this event will evolve around the people and companies that are making the Silicon Halton community an amazing ecosystem of talent, ideas, products and companies. I will be looking for participants, sponsors, suppliers, volunteers, funding and public support from politicians and municipalities. Let me know if you’re interested!

Funding for our community

I’ll be supporting and advising the team who is looking into incorporation and funding sources for Silicon Halton. I’ll do everything I can to put in place the right model that stays true to the spirit and values that have made Silicon Halton what it is today and what it can become tomorrow. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I will provide updates on this post when we have something meaningful to share in terms of our progress.

Take some time and reflect on how your priorities in 2014 might help both you and Silicon Halton. Remember, this is our community…let’s continue to shape it together!

Feel free to add your thoughts by commenting below or the members only Linkedin group here.

Chris Herbert is the founder of Mi6 Agency. Mi6 Agency is a B2B (Business to Business) marketing and business development agency dedicated to helping companies build their brands and develop commercial relationships. He is the co-founder of ProductCamp Toronto and the Hi-tech community Silicon Halton. He tweets under the handle @B2Bspecialist.

What is Big Data?

There’s been lots of talk, buzz and confusion regarding “Big Data”. When I mention we have a “Big Data” peer to peer group some members ask me: “what is big data?”. Is it just hype, a marketing made up word or is it a legitimate market opportunity? Is “Big Data” something that I should be aware of with respect to my career or my company. The simple answer is yes! In fact Big Data analysis is a priority for CIOs in 2013. Read more about CIOs 2013 priorities here.

 There’s lots of hype, there is confusion but somewhere in the middle of the market muck there exists opportunity for jobs, products, solutions and businesses. The presentation below is a good primer on what “Big Data” is all about. 

Big Data Primer

Gartner Hype Cycles for Big Data

Below are the Garter Hype Cyles for Emerging Tech and Big Data. In the first chart you’ll see that Big Data has just hit “The Peak of Inflated Expectations”. 

Source: via Chris on Pinterest




Interested in Big Data and Analytics?

The Silicon Halton Big Data and Analytics P2P group consists of professionals interested and immersed in the field of data management, analytics, business intelligence and big data. If you’re a Silicon Halton member (if you’ve not joined yet learn more here) you can join this P2P group here. 


Artist Amanda Palmer’s recent Ted Talk is something I wanted to share with our community because much of what she has learned by taking risks and trusting people has shaped her experience as a musician and a human being.

She talks about the importance of making a connection with someone, of not being afraid (too proud) to ask and how quality experiences with people matters. She talks about how the “model” for making money for her music is different through the use of crowdfunding, passing the hat and asking people to help her and other bands be successful.

From my perspective, this approach to engaging with people, trusting people and asking them to help is key to building strong relationships and communities. In 2013 we’ll be asking our members what the future should look like for Silicon Halton and we’ll be passing the hat (crowdfunding) so we can continue to grow and give back to this amazing community of tech professionals, entreprepreneurs and fans of technology in Halton region. 

Pin It on Pinterest